My mother has always been frugal, so growing up, coupons were not a choice, they were a necessity. If I wanted something, it needed to be on sale, and we had to have a coupon. No questions about it. Needless to say, this apple didn't fall very far from the tree. I spend a good two hours, at the very least, clipping coupons once a week, usually a bit longer. And even more time is spent combing through the Sunday paper/grocery fliers/online coupon sites to find the big deals. I plan ahead, its the only way to be able to do it. It can be overwhelming, but if you start small, get the hang of it, you'll be saving in no time!
So, if you don't already "Coupon", here are some pointers that can help you begin. (Ive never had a huge purchase (My largest has been a $90 total reduced to $12, and a free $25 total), such as the ones portrayed on Extreme Couponing, but I have had some very good savings.)
Let's start Saving!
Items Needed: Binder, Clear Baseball Pages, Dividers, Scissors
- Binder - I use a Five Star zippered binder, it has an accordion folder attached on the inside to hold my ads, plus a small zippered pouch (Good for holding loose coupons), along with a pen/marker/scissor holder. Very nifty!
- Baseball card pages - I use clear baseball card pages, but you could also use photograph pages that come in various sizes. I like to keep it simple, baseball pages work great, and are usually less expensive than the other clear organizational pages. It's a good idea to keep an extra pack of baseball pages at the back of your binder, your coupons will fluctuate, and you'll probably need more sooner rather than later.
- Dividers -I tried using clear dividers, but didn't enjoy the hectic look of the coupons, so I switched to your basic yellow dividers. This way, each category had it's own, separated area.
- Scissors - I like to keep my coupon scissors inside my folder, they dont get lost being used for other purposes, and I always have them handy when needed.
- Get organized - Try to have all your coupons in the groups they're going to be in once inside the binder. For example, my binder has non-food item coupons at the front, Food coupons at the back. So when I organize my coupons, I put all Food items together when cutting, and all non-food together. Some people have their coupons alphabetized by category (Air fresheners, Baby, Batteries, Bread)...it's your binder, you have to find what works for you.
- Here is how my binder is sorted:
- Non-Food Items
- Cleaning Products
- Paper Goods (Toilet paper, napkins, tissue, etc;)
- Deodorizers (Air fresheners, candles, plug ins, etc;)
- Plastics (Bags, containers, throw-away plates/cups, etc;)
- Health Items
- Dental Hygiene
- Women's Hygiene
- Men's Hygiene
- Shaving Products
- Hair Products
- Noah (Child products)
- Meat, Fish, Chicken
- Ready-Made Meals (nuggets, Pizza, skillets, Diet meals, etc;)
- Breakfast Items
Where can I find coupons?
- Sunday Paper - Be sure to buy your Sunday paper, I like to get at least two sets of them, especially if they have coupons on products my family favors.
- Coupon Swap - Get your friends/family involved. If you know people who coupon, or that want to start, get them involved as well. Trade coupons that you dont want/need, for those you do. Having friends to coupon with is a good way to save, and to spend designated time with friends!
- Visit store sites - One of my favorite stores is TARGET, and I love TARGET even more for their store issued coupons. (Not only does TARGET issue their own coupons, they accept their coupons, IN ADDITION to the manufacturer coupons as well. For example: Lets say you're price matching toilet paper at TARGET. GregGrocery is offering it 1.00 cheaper. BUT, TARGET has a print coupon on their site for .75 off. You also have a manufacturer coupon for .50 off. TARGET will allow you to price match, and use both coupons. That's a savings of $2.25, AWESOME!) Many stores issue out coupons on their websites, let your fingers do the walking, and the snipping, so you can do the saving!
- Online coupon printing - Sites such as CouponMom, or Coupons are also great sites to load up on savings.
- Price-match - All those grocery circulars you receive in your mail are very important. Those little fliers contain all the sale prices of your grocer's competitor. Most stores allow price-matching (Ya havta' love Wal-Mart), and will honor the prices listed. So you get the lowest price, plus your coupons, homerun!
- Triple your coupons - If there is a grocery store near you that "Triples" coupons, this is the place to be! (Our local KROGER no longer allows this, it was quickly phased out after Extreme Couponing...Hmm...)
- Use your sales wisely - KROGER offers an occasional 10-for-5 sale. Buy ten items, save $5. THIS IS A GREAT PROMOTION! For example, on the 10-for-5 sale, toothbrushes came out to $1.50 after any ten items on the list were purchased. I had coupons for said toothbrushes. 4 - $1.00 off a single toothbrush, and 3 - buy two save $2.00. Total after coupons, free!
- Learn from others - Use the internet to it's fullest advantage. I highly advise becoming familiar with FreeStuffTimes. They offer printable coupons, Forums in which fellow Coupon Queens/Kings share their deals, Free samples, etc; Its a great site, visit it today!