With the start of TLC's "Extreme Couponing" series, couponing classes have taken off in cities across the US. These classes are set up to teach people how to effectively use coupons and are great resources for those who are struggling to buy food. It's not hard to start a couponing class, and it's a great way to help out your community.

What topics should be included in the class?

Pull from your own experiences and start writing down everything that you—and even your family and friends—do when you use coupons. For example, where do you find your coupons? How do you organize them? Do you use them along with store sales and deals? You might also want to think about whether you will start out with the basics first and then work up to more extreme couponing practices. Once you've written down all of your ideas and tips, make an outline of what you’ll teach. Make the outline easy to read, so you can use it later for class packets.

When should I have the class?

Consider who your students are. Are they mostly working moms, stay-at-home moms or elderly people? To make it easier for attendees and to attract more people, work the time and place of the class around the guests. If you know that your guests will be stay-at-home-moms and senior citizens, planning the class to be on a Wednesday at 4:00 p.m. might be an ideal choice so moms can find babysitters and it won’t be too late for the elderly. If your guests are mainly working moms and dads, plan the class to be after 6:00 p.m. to make sure they won't have to miss work to attend.

Where should I have the class?

I usually hold classes at places like a local church, senior centers, the local YMCA or other public locations, including libraries (always contact the head librarian to make sure you can have a class there). You could also set it up at a MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) Club, at a school, community center, local grocery store, or even your own home. Another idea is to have the class at a shelter, to help low-income women learn how to save money using coupons and food stamps.

How do I advertise the class?

Here are a few tried-and-true methods to advertise classes: social media like Facebook or Twitter, e-mail or telephone, text messaging, church bulletins, library bulletin boards or local newspapers. If you want guests to pre-register so you know how many will be attending, try setting up a Facebook page for the class. Word of mouth is one of the best advertising methods, so be sure to let as many people (friends, family, acquaintances) know about the class as possible.

Do I want to do this class for free or for profit?

Many couponers who hold classes charge a nominal fee—usually just enough to cover the supplies needed for the class. Between $10 and $20 is the norm. However, if you’re in a low-income area or  know that many guests who are attending don't have extra income to spend, then you might decide to do the class for free. It's completely up to you–just make sure to include this info on any advertising.

How will I relay information to my guests?

This might depend on where you're having the class, how many guests are attending, and what you're comfortable with. Some people use PowerPoint for large classes while simply speaking loudly so everyone can hear for smaller groups will suffice. Handouts are a great way for guests to keep up with what you're teaching them, and if guests have laptops, have them bring theirs along and do a few activities online when there’s connectivity.

The extras

Some questions I’ve had to ask myself in the past include: Do I hand out door prizes? What games could we play? How do I keep the class from becoming boring or monotonous? One idea I came across was to put a bunch of your own money-saving receipts into a jar and have guests guess how much money was saved (a play on the "how many jelly-beans in a jar" game). Another idea is to bring in items that you used coupons for and play a "guess how much I paid for this?" game.

This is a guest post by Kristy from Catawba, VA. 

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