Thursday, June 7, 2012

How I Organize, Track, and Use Coupons

It is common knowledge that clipping coupons can help save money.  Knowing how to institute a coupon system on the other hand, is not as easy.  Before I had a structure to follow, I rarely used the coupons I had.  Most of the time, they sat in my purse, and I forgot I even had them.  When I finally remembered, they had already expired.  Now, I have a solid coupon routine, and it helps enormously.  I save an average of $15 a week on groceries just using the coupons found in the Sunday paper.  I need to add here that I am not one of those coupon clippers that buys a pallet of deodorant just because it was free.  I purchase healthy items that my family needs and likes.  Here is my coupon tools, methods, and strategies:

I have a small binder divided into multiple sections or categories. My divider is called "The Couponizer" and can be found online.  If you want to make your own, you can use a small 3-ring binder, sandwich zip lock bags, and labels.   There is an empty section in the front that I use during my shopping trip to keep the coupons I will need at the register.   The rest of the sections are alphabetically ordered categories, and are as follows:

Baking & Staples
Bread & Bakery
Canned Goods
Condiments, Dressings, & Spices
Frozen Foods
Health & Medicine
Household Cleaning
Household Maintenance
Paper & Plastic
Pasta & Quick Meals
Personal Hygiene & Beauty

I shop the same day every week, Friday, which helps to keep track of what I am doing.  I also keep a running list of items we need on the dry erase board on our refrigerator.  I write down items that are running low a few weeks before we will actually run out.  This gives me time to buy it when it is on sale.

Every Monday, I go through the binder and throw out any coupons that are expired, or will be expired by my next shopping trip.

On Wednesdays, I clip coupons, and put them into the appropriate category of my binder.  I check online to see if there are any coupons I can use, and I check my store website as well, since they have digital coupons that they add directly to my price plus card.

The rest of my week consists of matching coupons to the current store circular.  I go through the circular and circle items that are both on sale, I have coupon for, and my family can/will use.  I put a little "c" in the circled item to remember I have a coupon.  After that, I look through the circular and mark items that are just on sale and are worthwhile.

Next, I make my shopping list using the store advertisement that I marked.  When writing my list, I put the"c" mark next to products I have a coupon for.  When I use my list at the supermarket, I know to find the coupon for the particular item marked with a "c," and I put that coupon in the empty space in the front of the binder.  At the register, I simply pull out all the coupons in the front section, and hand them over!

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