Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Grocery Store Savings - Part 2 (Organizing Coupons)

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I can hear the collective groan now. "I don't want to clip coupons!"  I truly feel your pain.  There is a stigma with clipping coupons that either you are cheap or a little old lady or simply crazy.  Let me share with you that this is no longer the case.  I see more people using coupons than not at the stores these days.  In fact, it is nearly getting chic to do so and post your success on the internet.  It's the new version of "who has the most money" except now it's "who SAVES the most money"!  So get excited about saving money, and just look at coupons as another vehicle to keep those pennies for something really important, like a vacation!

First, and most important, you must get organized.  I cannot stress this enough.  If you have to search for more than 10 seconds for the coupon you need, you simply won't do it.  You can go out and purchase any number of file folders or coupon organizers, but I will share with you my homemade version that works great for a lot less.  You probably have most of what you need at the house already or can find it on sale right now with all the back-to-school deals.  Here is your list of supplies:
  1. 1-inch 3-ring binder with pockets
  2. tab dividers with see-through pockets (13-16)
  3. trading or baseball card sleeves (20 - you can find these at any office supply store)
  4. pen/pencil bag for 3-ring binder
  5. envelopes (1 for each store you shop at)
  6. small pair of scissors
  7. pens
This is the set-up.  Label your dividers by rows or areas in the store.  Organize them in the way the store you shop at most is set up.
  1. Condiments
  2. Other non-perishables
  3. Cereal
  4. Snacks
  5. Dairy/Meat/Frozen
  6. Cleaners
  7. Paper
  8. Baby
  9. Toiletries
  10. Makeup
  11. Medicine
  12. Household (for items like batteries, garbage bags, etc.)
  13. Other Stores (for store-specific coupons)
  14. Rebates (forms to mail in)
I also have a section specifically for Kroger since they send me stacks of coupons quarterly.  Feel free to add a section or leave any section out that you won't use.  Place 1 or 2 trading card sleeves behind each section and any extras in the back for future use. You can put your weekly sales ads in the front pocket of the notebook and your rebate forms in the pocket of the divider.  Label envelopes with the names of each store you shop at.  These are for compiling coupons for each store, either ahead of time or as you shop.  Trust me; it works much better than your pocket.  Place the pen/pencil bag in the front of the notebook with your scissors, pens, and envelopes.

Most coupons will fit neatly into the baseball card sleeves, and you can use front and back.  You can also fold the coupon so that the item and expiration date are still showing through the window.  If the coupon is too big to fold, simply place them in the pocket of the divider.

Do you have a goal in my mind for all the money you will save?  Put it on the cover of your notebook as a reminder.  Here's mine.  I can feel those island breezes now.

Now, what do you clip?  I only clip those coupons that I think I could use or would want to try if it is super cheap.  I know a lot of folks tell you to clip everything and give free items to charity.  If that is something you have time to do, by all means do so.  Make sure you are getting your Sunday paper each week, possibly two each week if the coupons are great.  Each Sunday or Monday, take time to purge any out-of-date coupons and add your new ones to your binder.  That way you are always ready to shop.

I know what you're thinking.  "You expect me to take a notebook to the store?"  It may seem bulky, but if you already take your own bags, what's a little notebook?  Or, "This is seriously embarrassing!"  I have NEVER, repeat NEVER, had anyone point, stare, snicker at me, or fall on the floor laughing while pointing in my general direction, other than my teenage daughter.  My cure for that is giving her a handful of makeup coupons, and she gets quiet after that.  In fact, I have had numerous people stop me to ask me how I put my notebook together.  Also, the clerks appreciate your organization and won't give you grief when you aren't holding up their line searching for coupons.

Tomorrow I will show you where to get the best coupons (other than your Sunday paper) and how and when to use them.  Don't forget I will be giving away a Coupon Organizer on Friday.  Here's a preview of all you can win.

So keep reading, and keep saving!

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