One of the most popular feature of The Pittsburgh Tote Bag Project is "Yinz Save n' Share" - a community couponing column and workshops.
Community couponing? This is our way of presenting an alternative to the idea of extreme couponing, instead focusing on how to realistically reduce household expenses and generate a way to share with the community. A good example is when you find a coupon and match with a retail deal to be able to get something for free. Rather than clear the shelf, we suggest you purchase what you need and at least one of this item for your food pantry.
The "Yinz Save n' Share" initiative began with a weekly blog column describing sales and deals on items most useful to food pantries. It quickly became one of our most popular features. I noticed that we had quite a few visits through LinkedIn, a professional networking social media site which reinforced my belief that working families were looking for ways to manage their grocery budgets.
Perhaps the most popular post was shared recently - a class paper on the topic of gender and socioeconomic status in the use of couponing. The author found that women tend to coupon more than men and that middle class women had more time to coupon than working poor families. That research was from 2010 and the author herself who works in promotions has stated that more men are accepting coupons than in the past.
Still, we realize that couponing is complicated especially when faced with the daunting reality shows of people purchasing hundreds of dollars for pennies. Between traditional coupons, grocery & drug store ads, loyalty cards and website deals - its complicated!
Recognizing a need, we decided to offer "Yinz Save n' Share" Community Couponing Workshops. The first session is scheduled for Saturday, November 10 from 1-3:30 at Assemble in Friendship. Space is limited to 15 participants; as of today 9 slots are available. We will permit children 12 and over to attend as we know some of them are couponing themselves. Light refreshments will be served and each participant will take home a Community Couponing Kit. Admission is a tote bag with food to be donated to Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank. To register, contact us email@example.com with your name, contact information and any questions.
The workshop will cover where to find coupons, how to match them with advertise specials, how to use couponing websites, and more. We will specifically focus on the ethical component of couponing - complying with stores coupon policies, joining clubs with "free" incentives, and making reasonable choices about the number of items you buy. We will wrap up with a discussion on how to use coupons to support the Food Bank.
This approach does work. I've taken advantage of freebies to acquire anything from coffee samples to diapers which go into a tote bag. I've also used a coupon and an in-store special to get feminine hygiene products for free then donated them as well - I only bought 4 packages so others could take advantage and I wasn't using gas to drive around town to various stores. I buy cereal and soup in quantities of 3 or 4 per the coupon. When matched with a deal, I save enough to donate one of these items. This list goes on and on. See Top Ten Items You Never Thought To Donate.
We hope to continue to expand this initiative. We have plans to offer a youth oriented session and offer the workshop to local financial literacy programs. We'll be dedicating columns to explaining rewards cards and other complicated topics. We have a post detailing coupon lingo.
We hope to see you at our workshop. I'd also love to see some ideas in the comments section - how do use coupons? what would you like to learn? would you be willing to coupon for community groups? what's your favorite type of coupon (cereal, coffee, diapers, etc)?