When I was just a pre-teen, my mom started teaching me about couponing. I never really thought anything of it—it was just something we did in my family. Recently I read an article in the Daily Mail (U.K.) about a teen they’re calling "The Coupon Kid." This amazing youngster, Jordan Cox, is using couponing to help others—he finds great deals and gives what he buys to charity. Wow. There are so many reasons to start teaching your teens about budgeting through couponing—and perhaps the most important reason is to teach them the true buying power of the money in their pocket. This post will guide you in how to begin teaching your teen about couponing.
What you’ll need
Because couponing and budgeting are inextricably linked, you’ll need to offer lessons in both if your teen is to grasp the complete picture of couponing's power. But first, you might want to take yourself for a trip down memory lane by visiting KCL's "Beginners" page—the more you remember what it was like to be a beginning couponer yourself, the better teacher you’ll be for your teen.
Here are the supplies you’ll need:
- A simple budgeting spreadsheet: Dave Ramsey has a great online budget tool for teens.
- A coupon savings spreadsheet: Download ours here.
- A pad and paper: Or you can use a smart device app like Evernote for taking notes.
- A selection of videos of couponing teens: I suggest Frugal Teens, Teen Does Extreme Couponing, Extreme Couponing Star.
- A selection of mobile coupons apps. You can use your current favorites, or consider Checkout51, Ibotta, and Shopkick, which are all highly rated by fellow KCLs.
Getting started: budgeting
Budgeting is all about financial literacy. Your teen will only understand the true value of coupons when s/he sees how coupon use can impact cash flow. So your first task with your teen is to build a basic budget so s/he can get a sense of current spending patterns, goals, shortfalls, and choices.
Here’s what to do:
- Make a list of spending categories: Have your teen make a list of major spending categories (e.g., food, entertainment, gas or bus fare, clothing, school supplies, etc.).
- Create a 30-day budget: Initiate a 30-day budgeting project. During this time, have your teen track all spending to increase knowledge of where the money really goes – make sure all cash outflow is plotted on the budget.
- Reconvene and review: Reconvene and review spending patterns. Ask your teen to identify areas where more cash would be a) most desirable, b) most likely to be found (for instance, through finding deals on eating out or locating a cheaper gas station).
- Introduce couponing: Now is your perfect moment to introduce couponing!!
Getting started: couponing
With teen couponing, you may want to steer clear of paper coupons for all but basic shopping (groceries, household items). Reason being—most teens won't be amenable to carrying a coupon binder around with them as they shop!
Note: What you might be able to get away with for non-mall shopping trips is using Joanie & Heather's new binder-free file box system—it takes less than five minutes to prep all your coupons for the whole week—so super teen-friendly!
Here’s what you need:
- A file box (accordion-style if possible)
- Clipping scissors
- Labels and a pencil (for writing in dates)
- A pad and pencil (or Evernote)
- Your teen's smart device
- The app(s) of choice for organization and couponing
- Grocery and drugstore loyalty cards
Here’s a simple step-by-step starter guide:
Start your teen out with a single category–for instance, grocery shopping or eating out (teen bellies are rarely ever full, so this should be a category of fairly universal interest).
1. Show your teen three basic ways to find coupons: Demonstrate how to locate coupons in the Sunday paper inserts, online (at krazycouponlady.com, of course!), and on his or her mobile app.
2. Sort and file the coupons: File the paper coupons in the file box. Print out the online coupons and file them in the file box. Tag or mark the app coupons (or transfer them to a store loyalty card).
3. Use the system of choice (pad/paper or app) to get organized for a shopping trip: Plan out your grocery list, placing a star next to all the items your teen has coupons for. Be sure your teen knows to pay close attention to sizes, quantities, brand names, and expiration dates.
4. Go shopping together: Now it’s time for "show and tell," as your teen learns from you how to shop with coupons and redeem them for discounts at checkout. After your first shopping trip, celebrate your savings together.
Other ways to save with couponing
Your teen may or may not find couponing at the grocery store to be exciting enough to pursue with dedication. But he or she may have more fun with other ways to save.
Here are three options your teen is sure to appreciate:
- Text-based coupons: An example is this text-based coupon alert option from Target.
- Coupons via location check-ins: Shopkick is a great app for this.
- Loyalty club coupon savings: The Fandango theater card is a great example of how to earn free movie tickets through a loyalty program.
Check out Joanie and Heather’s new way to organize coupons here!