Friday, April 24, 2009

Get on Board A Coupon Train

I see a lot of coupons on a near-daily basis (you might have guessed this after reading about my giveaway for over $210 in coupons! :). I don't subscribe to a Sunday paper, so I receive most of my coupons from the Internet. I also take closer looks at the packaging the products I buy comes in; often, there might be a coupon or two inside.

Even still, I often feel like I'm missing out on some great deals simply because my coupon resources are limited. But there is a way around that!

Ever heard of a coupon train? This is where you share coupons with friends and/or family via snail mail. This can be an incredible opportunity , or it could turn into a total train wreck. It all depends on the coupon train participants.

My mother-in-law and I have recently started sharing our coupons with each other. She receives the coupon inserts in the Sunday newspaper; I print off Internet coupons. It's a win-win situation for both of us. My husband's grandmother in Minnesota will also mail coupons to all of us out here in North Carolina, and we each take turns sifting through the coupons to find something we need.

Now this isn't quite a coupon train, but it's a good place to start, and it has certainly helped me in my search for coupons. If you are interested in starting a real coupon train, here are some pointers to help you get started:
  1. Find a few friends or family members that you can trust. It would probably help if they are spread out across the country, that way you know you're likely to receive a larger variety of coupons. Additionally, try to include "train passengers" with different needs--they may be old/young, married/single, with/without children, or have children of varying stages such as infant/toddler/youth/adolescent.

  2. After you have "found" your friends and family members, give them a call and invite them to get on board your coupon train! They'll probably want to know what a coupon train is, so be ready to answer their questions. ;)
    Once everyone has accepted, and hopefully not rejected, your coupon train offer, create a "train route". This is a list of everyone's name and mailing address and should show who starts the coupon train (i.e. this should be you!) and who they will mail it to, then where that person will mail it to, etc., until it is rerouted back to the first person and the coupon train starts all over again. Make sure you share this train route with everyone on the list.

  3. When it's time for the coupon train's "departure", place a stack of coupons that you don't want or know you will not be able to use into your envelope and send it off to the next person next on the train route. Remember not to discard any unexpired coupons that you think aren't any good--these just may be what the next person on the list is looking for!

  4. The person who receives the coupon train sifts through the coupons, takes out what she/he wants, places the unused portion into a new envelope, adds her/his own unwanted coupons, and mails it to the next person on the list within 2-3 days to keep it moving.

  5. As the coupon train moves down the line, anyone who sees expired coupons pulls them out and sets them aside. (Click here for what to do with your expired manufacturer coupons!)

  6. Once the coupon train reaches the "train conductor" (yeah, that's you!), the process starts all over.

As long as everyone participates by placing unused coupons into the envelope and passing it along within a reasonablye time like 2-3 days, your coupon train will stay on the tracks and not derail.

If you're not able to find any interested family or friends to participate, there are coupon trains out there on the Internet. Try visiting Startsampling Forums. Under Products & Services, there is a forum set aside for coupon trains (which you can also access here). In order to participate in a coupon train, you will need to register for Startsampling Forums, and you will first need to post at least 100 comments. This may take anywhere from a couple days to a month or two, depending on how much you like to talk! :D There are specific instructions for joining one of the coupon trains; the main thing is they don't want someone to sign up and then "derail" the coupon train by not fulfilling the agreement to participate.

And while you're waiting to join a coupon train, the Startsampling forums have excellent information on freebies, coupons, and great websites!


  1. Coupon trains are a lot of fun (when I have time to actually participate in them!) Hot Coupon World and also have places where you can sign up for coupon trains.

  2. This is a great idea! I want to join the coupon train :) I do share the coupons that I know I won't use with friends, but this sounds like fun!
    Thanks for the great idea!

  3. I really haven't utilized the resources at Babycenter like I should have. I didn't know they had coupon trains!


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