As I mentioned last week, I am going to see if a total non coupon person can really get great savings by using coupons with the help of a coupon expert. So I turned to Flash for some advice and this is what she gave me:
Join a coupon train. The train itself does not come around for at least another week, depending where you are on the route. By then you will also have your own newspaper inserts and whatever else you find around the store, by contacting manufacturers, etc. The coupon train itself is usually 200 – 400 coupons, although a few trains are getting pretty heavy, so there are lots to choose from.
I have not done this yet. It was a fairly busy week last week and I want to get a bit more prepared for when the train does arrive so that I have a good selection of coupons to pass along to others. I hope to be part of one by the end of this week…
Go to every local store (safeway, vons, giant, etc) and find the customer service desk. Tell them you are new to the area, or even country, and ask if they have a shopping card/store card/loyalty card, etc. There is usually a short form, name and address…fill it out at the desk, and have them activate the card. Takes less than 5 minutes, as opposed to postal mail. Also, ASK ABOUT THEIR COUPON POLICIES (double, printable, etc.)
Accomplished. There are three main grocery store sin my area – Albertson’s, Safeway and Whole Foods. Unfortunately, Whole Foods doesn’t take coupons, but I applied and received the loyalty cards from Albertson’s and Safeway.
After you have the card, tell them you would just like to look around and get familiar with the store, brands they carry, products, etc. As long as they know this is what you are doing, they won’t confuse you with shoplifters or other suspicious activities (lots of surveillance cameras these days).
Accomplished. I took a look around and quite frankly, US grocery stores are full of junk. I mean there is so much more in the form of junk food in US stores than in Japan it is shocking. I could go on a pretty long and detailed rant here, but it would get off of the subject so I will save it for another post
Do just that. Look for in-store coupons, compare brands, prices, and note items that you might purchase in Japan under a different name.
In addition to joining a train, doing inserts, and all the other things we describe for where to find coupons, contact the manufacturers. Simple requests for coupons will get a few. Asking a question, expressing disappointment, or a compliment, will get the most. I’d ask brands with different names in Japan if the products vary, express concerns about it, or how much you have loved something and hope you can find it locally. At the end of your comment, ask if they have coupons or other offers.
Complaints get the largest coupons from big companies. Praise will get more at the smaller companies trying to build a business and just fighting to keep their product lines on the shelves. But, since you can’t contact the same company too frequently before you get ignored, it has some limitations as a renewable resource. I’m still exploring the ins and outs of this one.
I had the perfect opportunity to try out a complaint to a major manufacturer last week due to a product not working well for me. What I plan to do this week is to make a list of all the major brands or products we use and possible send out letters (or contact them by email) to these companies. This will also give me a good list of the products we use so that I know what type of coupons I’m looking for. I will also be collecting coupons from the Sunday paper and anywhere else I happen to come across them.
Assuming living space in Japan is somewhat as I remember, the concept of stockpiling, and using space to stockpile, is going to be a bit of a shock. Evaluate your storage space.
Luckily, we do have quite a bit of space to stockpile so I hope this will not turn into an issue. Flash ended her advice saying that “there’s lots more” but this should keep me occupied to begin which it certainly will. I’ll continue to update on the progress and see if it is possible to turn a complete coupon newbie into a saving machine…