Charm is deceptive and beauty disappears, but a woman who honors the Lord should be praised. Proverbs 31:30

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

How to Coupon...what works for me...


A lot of people have asked, how do you coupon. There are many ways, no one way is a right way and just because one way worked earlier for you, it may not work for you now. It’s an ever changing process for me, that I think I’ve finally perfected to my style. So read what I do, and take bits and pieces to fit your lifestyle. By no means am I an expert, yet.

First thing you should do is look at what you buy each week, what are your “normal” items. You want to have a list of these and keep a good idea on the sale prices. You’ll eventually create a stockpile. As a note, grocery stores rotate on a 12 week cycle. Meaning, that sales go in 12 weeks, so this week soup's on-sale, so typically in 12 weeks it'll be on sale again. Not always, but normally! I usually never pay full price for an item unless is an item we can’t live without, which is almost never. Example: Kelloggs cereal was on sale 3 for $5, I had 8 Kelloggs coupons (from the newspaper and online printing) that varied between $1 off 3 boxes or $1 off 2 boxes. That week I bought 20 boxes of cereal, paid close to $18 for it total. Now, you’re thinking 20 boxes of cereal is a lot, well in 12 weeks, we’ll probably go through just about that. I typically buy what I know my family will be able to consume within the grocery store cycle in sales. Yes, it’s a lot, but you’ll save a ton of money. Do this “stockpiling” with lots of items, especially free items.

Free, now you ask how can I get free things? Say you see a great coupon, don’t go out and use it right away. Save it and match it with a great sale. If you have a $1off one item coupon, and that item then goes on sale for $1, boom, it’s free!

When your shopping know your store policies too. Like walmart, if your coupon EXCEEDs the value (ie, this past Sunday's paper had a $2 off tide, no restrictions, then I could get a travel tide for .97 and MAKE $1.03, that's right, walmart pays me...hence why I bought a lot of extra papers.

Now papers…do you get the weekly Sunday paper. Typically Dollar Tree sells the Sunday paper (which has the coupons in it) for $1! That’s cheaper than normal, usually papers run $1.50 to $1.75 per Sunday paper. I get a home subscription of 5 Sunday papers a week. Don’t think just because ONE coupon in the inserts are expired they all are. Save your coupon inserts for 3 months (or until ALL coupons expire). I have a coupon binder. It was a process to set up, but once you have a system its fast. Some clip ALL coupons and store them, but I think that's personally a waste of time. I follow a LOT of blogs during the week, that help me with coupon match up. I typically go through the coupons, cut out the ones I know my family will use, put them in my binder, and then label the coupon inserts and store them.  

My binder is set up like this: (it’s a 3 ring binder, zippers shut, has a front back pocket on the inside and outside of the zipper. 
I use page protectors, football card holders, and some coupon holders for my coupons. The first part of my binder is my FREE coupons. I put these in the front so I won’t “forget” to use them…because that’d be really sad, it’s like throwing money out the window!
This is my "free" section of coupons.
The accordion folder, front of binder, where I store coupons I'm using this week
 Next you’ll find football card holders holding all extra coupons, things I get in the mail (even though I may not use it, if it’s not expired, it may be on sale and I could score it for cheap or better, free). I sort my coupons by food, health and beauty, baby, household, etc. 

Then all my printed coupons from coupons.com, and other sites are put in holders that hold three long coupons. I pull out the ones I know I'll use right away and put in my store envelopes (Walmart, Walgreens-WAGS, Fred Meyer

 
Lastly, I have all my coupon "inserts" (some call flyers) I date the first page and put it in the page protector, that way next week if there's a coupon in last week's paper and a sale this week, you know where the coupon is from. Make sense? 


I also follow http://fabulesslyfrugal.com/coupon-insert-lists/idaho-insert-lists that lists the coupons in the Sunday paper which is EXTREMELY helpful and takes much less time on my part when getting ready to shop. This is an Idaho based blog, so may not be as accurate for you all, because coupons are regional. 

I also get extra papers each week, because it's a deal with our paper subscription (and some weeks I do use 5 sets of coupons!). I store the extra coupons in a file folder holder in hanging files. I store them 3 months (or more) out. 
So, when you’re going to have your try at your first coupon shopping, take it slow. Go when a time is slow (morning, weekday). Just do a couple coupons at first. You won’t see extreme savings for a while, but you’ll get the hang of it.

Here are places to check for coupons online.
INTERNET PRINTABLES
  •  Coupons.com
  • Smartsource.com
  • Redplum.com
  • Shortcuts.com
  • Couponnetwork.com
  • mambosprouts.com (powered by coupons.com)
  • AllYou.com (powered by coupons.com)
  • Eatbetteramerica.com (powered by coupons.com)
  • bettycrocker.com (powered by coupons.com)
  • cellfire.com
Look on my sidebar to see the top blogs I follow. They are awesome! 

Questions? I'd love to answer any I can. 

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