If you feel that coupons have taken over your life, and your pantry, and your basement, don't worry. Here are some strategies to get couponing back to a reasonable level. You can put some money in your pocket, help others, and get some good karma at the same time. Here's how to do it.
The first thing to do is take a breath and figure out what items you have, so you'll know if you should buy more when you see a deep discount, or if you can let it go. The way to do that is by inventorying what you already have. Certain items come up on sale or rebate over and over, and the temptation is difficult to pass them by. But once you realize you have more than you'll ever need, it's easier to deal with. You may be surprised you had THAT MUCH toothpaste.
Couponing is a fun sport. The thrill of the hunt and all that. It is especially fun to get products for free. And it does help your family save money. So this is not about stopping, it's just about getting back in control. Now that you know what items you have, the next time you are looking at a super buy on a bottle of shampoo, take 10 seconds and decide if you really need it, or if your inventory showed that you probably have enough. Then decide if you can pass it by or not.
How about making some money from couponing? Many people do this already. You can have a yard sale and sell some of your stockpile. You can also sell some of your items on Ebay. Check the closed sales to see what your items are selling for. You may do better by grouping them into lots. If you want to sell liquids that are heavy, try Craigslist or a local Yahoo For Sale list, that way there's no shipping involved.
You can also donate items and get a tax deduction for the donation. Check with local food pantries, homeless shelters or women's shelters to see what they need. Don't forget about animal shelters, they can always use unopened pet food. They will also take old towels or bedding if you are doing a general declutter.
If you enjoy collecting coupons and have a system together, maybe you can bypass the accumulation phase completely by selling groups of coupons on Ebay. If you have refined your collection techniques and know what is in demand, this is an easy way to make a few dollars. Shipping just requires an envelope.
Expired coupons are still accepted in military commissaries overseas for 6 months past the expiration date. Young military families can benefit from coupons that would otherwise be discarded. Go to www.ocpnet.org for further information (link below).
Finally, share your expertise with others. Perhaps you can start a couponing blog and make some money by writing about your experiences, and sharing bargain-hunting stories with others.
Hope you can apply some of these ideas. Coupons are a great tool to help your family save money. As with anything else, moderation is the key. Happy clipping!