My favorite way to save is to coupon. I love coupons! While some may say it takes too much time to coupon, I think it’s too expensive not to. I love matching up great coupons with store sales and clearance items. And while I may not be as good at saving (and giving) as the extreme couponers or “hoarders” featured on TV, I have been able to cut down on our expenses, and help others to do the same.
There are two coupon sites I use to help: Grocerysmarts.com and Freebies2deals.com. Grocerysmarts requires you to enter the state you live in as well as the store you are looking for, in order to provide you the best coupons they can. Once you do that, the site automatically shows you what’s on sale there and what coupons match up with it.
Grocerysmarts usually only shows advertised deals, but their layout is easy to use, makes it easy to print, and makes it easy to see how much you’re saving, as they display item price with and without the coupon.
Freebies2Deals (F2D) displays tons of different store logos on the right hand side of its webpage; click the link of the store you want and there will be a post full of matching coupons, often including unadvertised deals – which can be some of the most awesome deals out there. The site lists these items and easily directs you to their given coupons: Some are printable, and many others are from the Sunday coupon inserts.
Couponing can take some time, and I suggest preparing yourself for that by organizing!
Organizing Your Coupons
Although I am still adjusting my method, I see three “preferred” ways to organize your couponing, but you must first decide how much time and effor tyou want to spend with coupons. If you’re casual, then I suggest using the accordion file system; if you want to coupon well, but don’t have the time to spend hours coupon clipping,, I suggest using the drop file system or the hybrid folder system; and, if you want to be “extreme,” then you’ll need the binder… the big one!
The Accordion File System
The accordion file system is simple and easy to understand. I use two “My Lil Budget Book” (MLBB) organizers: one larger “check book” size and one standard, or “pocket size.”
The only reason I use thepocket book size is because it’s perfect for online printable coupons. I like having all of my printed coupons in one place by themselves – if you don’t care, you can just mix them in with the larger organizers! I use one of the large MLBB’s for all my “food” items.
I use the second accordion organizer for all household coupons, like for cleaners, toiletries, batteries, toys, and so forth. (Of course, you should name your categories in a way that is easy and makes sense for you and your coupons.) I also try to organize coupons by date of expiration: It’s hard to stay organized if you have unusable coupons taking up space!
The Drop File System
The drop file system, or the hybrid binder system, may be the most time efficient way to coupon. GrocerySmarts.com suggest you have a binder or a drop file system in a filing cabinet. They also suggest you get one Sunday newspaper per family member in your family, as to quickly build an efficient stock pile sufficient for the size of your family. Here’s an example of how you might use this system:
Each Sunday, you take the coupon inserts for a brand, such as Proctor & Gamble (P&G), Smart Source (SS), Red Plum (RP), and General Mills (GM), write the date the coupons were dispersed (you can find it in tiny writing on the spine of each insert), and then file them in scrapbook slip-covers. Use one slip-cover for each type of insert. For example; use one slip-cover for Proctor & Gamble (P&G), Smart Source (SS), Red Plum (RP), and General Mills (GM). If you have a family of five – like me – and you get five Sunday newspapers, then each slip-cover would have all five of the same coupon inserts in it. All five Proctor & Gamble (P&G) inserts go in one, all five Smart Source (SS) in another, and so forth.
When you look at GrocerySmarts.com or Freebies2Deals.com, you will notice that they refer you to the date of the insert and the type of the insert, usually one of the following: Proctor & Gamble (P&G), Smart Source (SS), Red Plum (RP), and General Mills (GM). Flip to that insert in your binder and pull them all out and clip just the necessary coupons for that shopping trip. The process gets easier and simpler after a while, but do remember it takes time when you’re just starting out. Don’t rush yourself and I suggest, if at all possible, leave the kids at home… just trust me!
The Binder System
This is the method for those wanting to go all out with coupons! But I don’t want to scare anyone away from this method at all: It will save you the most money! But it will also take more time and more organization. If you choose this method, start out right: You’ll need a binder (most say a zippered binder), baseball card protector sheets (9 to a page), dividers, a pencil pouch, scissors, scrap book page protectors and writing utensils. I made the mistake of starting wrong – I’m still trying to recoup.
Use the dividers to make sections for your binder. The more descriptive you can be the better. For example, in the accordion file system I have the toiletries section. In my binder, I might have specific sections for shampoos, conditioners, shaving cream, etc…
Make sure you have a few scrap book page protectors in the front of the binder for store coupon and ad matching policies – you’ll find they may come in handy.
This is just a brief outline of three ways to coupon. There are other methods, and other systems may work better for you. Either way, I hope this can help you get started saving money and living financially smarter!
Are you a “coupon-er”? How do you find, organize, and use your coupons? Let us know in the comments section below!
Julie Thompson is a Christian, a wife and mother of three children. Julie’s favorite way to save is by using coupons. She loves to budget, save money, craft, paint, and sew… then blog about it so others can learn as she learns. Her favorite quote is, “The greatest tragedy in life is when you give up what you want most for what you want now.” When she has time, she runs an Etsy shop and a personal blog to help others learn how to save.