Tuesday, February 21, 2012

organizing coupons

Week 7 in the 52 Weeks to an Organized Home Challenge  was about organizing coupons.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, money in our household is few and far between.  One way I stretch my dollar is using coupons. 

I have seen many systems, binders and even closets. I used to watch, the Extreme Couponing show --but got exhausted watching the show.  A few years ago, I went to a community ed. class on finances and the teacher talked about how to combine coupons with sales to get the most for one's buck.  The teacher had quite the system.  And I was impressed.  Our teacher spent hours and hours planning, plotting and organizing to get fabulous deals locally and online. 

I don't feel like I have hours and hours to organize, plan and plot out visiting many stores around town.  I am a mom to a kindergartner and a step-mom to three other children.  I teach part time and help my husband run our up-and-coming jewelry business. But those who can spend the time, find it worth every minute in their savings!

My way of using coupons is simpler ---though I am sure I am missing our on many great buys. And I am OK with that. I do what works for me.

We start by receiving 3 Sunday newspapers to get 3x the Sunday inserts.  And I get another set of coupons from a friend who doesn't use them. If you don't want to buy 3 Sunday papers, ask around. Many people will give you their coupons-- friends, family, co-workers and neighbors.  I then file the coupon inserts by date. So all of last Sunday's coupons will go in one file, the previous Sunday's are in another file, etc.  I don't cut out individual coupons.

My file drawer for coupons. Most coupons are good for 1-3 months.

I look through the Sunday ads and make up my grocery list. I don't look at all the ads as I know I won't go  to all the stores.  I have 1 grocery store that I really like and another that I go to once in a while.  I also like 2 drugstores in town.  Once I have my list, I go to the coupon list from Pinching Your Pennies.  They have lists of all the coupons available from the Sunday inserts. And they are in alphabetical order by product/brand name. So if I need toothpaste and I see that Colgate is on sale at my local store, I look at the coupon list and see: Colgate Optic White, Total Advanced or Sensitive Pro-Relief Toothpaste, any 4 oz. or larger .75/1 (3-3-12) SS-2/12
This tells me that there is a $.75 coupon for 1 Colgate Optic White or Total Advanced or Sensitive Pro-Relief toothpaste. The date in parenthesis is the expiration date and SS 2/12 tells me that it is from the Smart Source coupon insert from February 12th.  Then, I go to my file for Feb. 12th, pull out the Smart Source inserts and cut out the coupon I need for Colgate.

I then purchase the as many products at the sale price as I have coupons for. Then, I have extras on hand and won't need to buy more toothpaste until I can get another great buy. Great sale prices usually cycle through every 3 months for grocery items.

Coupons are filed by date, and I reuse the stickers with a new date to save on stickers
I have a pretty good idea of the items we buy if the store is offering a good sale or not. I have an informal price book (or here is another price book link) and am working on formalize mine. But if I am not sure if the sale is a good deal, I use the GrocerySmarts  This site lists the major grocery store weekly advertisement sales-- with the prices rates 1-5 stars (5 Stars being the best of best prices).  It also lists if there are coupons available--in print and online. The idea being, again, stocking up with items at their lowest prices.

I usually have my grocery list, coupons cut and organized within an hour's time.  With the web site's help, I am able to keep our grocery budget to about $200/month. I set aside $50/month for case lot sales that our grocery stores have in the fall, and about $30/month for our Community Co-Op food and then the rest of about $120/month goes for groceries, hygiene, paper and drug store purchases.  Not bad for our family of three!

S  T  R  E  T  C  H  I  N  G  and pinching our money is, my friends,


PS Pinchingyourpennies.com coupon guide mainly concentrates on serving those in the western USA. Below is a list of sites that offer coupons across the country: (note: just try one or two websites to see if it works for you. No need to try them all.)

General grocery coupon sites:

Coupons for groceries and more:

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