Coupon Swaps

by Bethanie Frank

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When I was younger, I traded baseball cards with my brother and some friends in our neighborhood. Those lazy days of sitting on our porch sipping Kool-Aid are long gone. Now we're all rushing home from work, getting dinner on the table, keeping appointments and trying to keep the budget under control at the same time. How can we ever re-live those days of trading cards on the front porch? Though it's not going to reduce the number of appointments you have to keep while stuck in rush hour traffic, a coupon swap will help save you more money than you've been saving with your own coupons. It's easy, fun, and will keep your budget in control for groceries, toiletries and other items. And you'll make friends along the way.

There are many ways you can set up a coupon swap. One popular way is through Yahoo Groups. Just plugging in the words "coupon" or "coupons" leads you to a wealth of groups that are exchanging coupons right now. Ask to join one of the many groups that appeal to your needs and interests. There are even ones that devote themselves to baby coupons only. They trade coupons for baby food, diapers, and other products for baby. Or, there are many that just trade any and every coupon available. Now that's my kind of swap.

Or, if you prefer to "keep it in the family," ask your friends, family and co-workers if they want to join a swap with you. To set up this easy and fun way to save money, you first need to gather the names and addresses of everyone participating. Of course, a website or email list would work well with this idea but isn't necessary. Once the group is assembled, figure out some random order in which the coupon pack will be mailed. For example, maybe when you're done with the pack, you give it to your co-worker who in turns drops it off to her day care provider. That person in turn mails it off to her cousin in another state. The cousin will pass it along, and so on. Just don't let the group get too big, or you'll only get your coupon pack once in awhile and that's not worth it. Getting it back once a month would be a great help with your grocery shopping.

So now the circle is assembled and everyone knows the person they are supposed to give the pack to. The object is to fill the pack with coupons you don't use. Remember to double check expiration dates, as you don't want to be giving out useless expired coupons. Then when you get the pack, you take what you want and replace it with coupons you don't use. Tell everyone to clip any and all coupons they see. That way, you ensure a variety.

Having a group of people from different parts of the city or state can provide you with a variety of coupons you may not see in your local Sunday papers. Even refunds can be included in the swap package. Many people toss refunds when they know they won't be purchasing that particular item ever again. How wonderful to be able to pass along the savings to one of your friends or family members. By broadening this circle, you will be able to meet new people and save money at the same time. Or, if your group is particularly big, have a few swap packages traveling at the same time. That way, you'll always be able to find savings every couple of weeks.

Have fun with this project and let it grow how it may. Hopefully, you'll have a fun and active group and be able to save money and try new products all at the same time. Coupon swaps aren't just about stretching that dollar, but they allow us to make friends and receive snail mail while we're keeping that budget on track. Have fun swapping!

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