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With the holidays winding down, I am sitting here looking at the last stocking still hanging on the wall. (Of course, the kids emptied it and hung it back up!) And I just can’t help but revel in the fact that couponing saved our Christmas.

For the last few years, money has been pretty tight. I hated to hear, "I'm out of deodorant" or "I just used the last of the laundry soap." My stock response would be, "Can you scrape any more out of it?" or "Did you put water in the bottle and shake it?  Payday isn't here yet, make it work." We lived very tight, and when Christmas was here, it always hurt.

But last year a friend of mine showed me her coupon binder. My first reaction was to chuckle and think she was silly.  I'd go into work and listen to her share a deal she got.  She kept trying to get me to go do this one diaper deal at Rite Aid. I told her I didn't want to do it, mainly because I really didn’t understand this whole couponing thing.  In secret, I went to The Krazy Coupon Lady website and started reading the posting called "10 Days to Become a Krazy Coupon Lady."  I was very interested, so my friend and I went shopping and she showed me the ropes.  And now I have been krazy couponing for a little over a year.

Last year after Christmas, I went shopping and bought new lights for our house and a fake tree during a 90% off sale.  Then I spent the entire year looking for great deals on stuff for the kids.  I watched for toys that were 50% off clearance.  I couponed for everything I could, and I tell you what…Christmas was insane this year.

Each of our kids had at least eleven nice gifts!  Not only that, but I was able to give each of my sisters two big boxes full of household items for their Christmas gifts.  I gave my mom fancy new dinner plates I had couponed for and my niece a beautiful stroller. Instead of searching for the best stuff I could find at the dollar store, I was able to give awesome gifts in abundance.

It was wonderful to hear my children's reaction to all the gifts. My son looked under the tree and said, “What the heck! Santa came early this year!” My daughter even commented that this was the best Christmas we’ve had in a long time! Thank you, coupons!

Maybe you're here today checking out this whole couponing thing, trying to decide if it's worth doing. As a former skeptic myself, let me tell: it is way more than worth it. You'll save so much money! As I write this, I have two closets full of stuff to help my family throughout the year. I don't feel so stressed when we run out of stuff.  I just sit down and look for the cheapest deal I can find.

So for Beginners and Pros alike, here are a few helpful hints that have kept me going:

  • Check the blogs regularly. There are several different couponing blogs – check them all the time!
  • Clip your coupons right away. After my kids are tucked in bed, I clip away. I like to line up the inserts and staple them together before I cut them.
  • Find as many deals ahead of time and put them together. I like to print the list of deals from The Krazy Coupon Lady for the stores I shop, cut out the deals I want, and then paper clip it with the coupons I'll need for that deal. I put all the deals in my purse into a Ziploc bag labeled with the store name, and I am ready for my shopping trip. That way, I know ahead of time what I'm looking for.
  • Always shop with your binder. Even though I have my deals all lined out, I always bring my binder. I may not always pull it out, but it is always with me. My kids sit on the binder, and if I run across a deal – such as a clearance item – I can look through it for any relevant coupons. Just a word of advice from experience: if your kid says they have to go potty, don't make them wait or you might end up with a soggy binder. Trust me, that's not a good thing!
  • Find a couponing friend. You'll have times that you get tired of couponing. It takes work and can sometimes be overwhelming. But if you have someone in your life who coupons and tells you the great deals they got this week, it helps to rejuvenate you!
  • Always check the clearance racks. It only takes a minute, but you can find some sweet deals when you take the time to cross-check against your binder.
  • Know what you're willing to spend. My idea of a good price has drastically changed over the past year of couponing. Just because something is on sale doesn't mean it's a good deal.

So, if you're still wondering if you should become a Krazy Coupon Lady the answer is: Yes Yes Yes!

This has been a guest post by Becky from Pendleton, OR
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