I decided not to make any New Years’ Resolutions this year. Not that I don’t have any goals or things I want to become better at–I just didn’t want to make a crazy commitment that I know I would probably break within a matter of weeks (or days). However, I know lots of people who would like to get a better hold of their spending habits in 2012. This is an area I still need to get better at, but would say that I’ve improved greatly in over the past year or so.
Managing a household of 7 people, the grocery bill can be a major monthly expense. One of the main ways I’ve cut spending in our household is by using coupons on a very regular, intentional basis. I know I’ve mentioned my use of coupons before, but for today I thought I’d do a little show and tell, explaining how I use my coupon binder. There are tons of couponing websites and blogs out there, and each person who is really into it has their own system for organizing and utilizing their coupons. If you are interested in starting to use coupons, the best system for you is the one that you, personally, will actually use. I have to admit that I started out doing it differently and have since modified my system, tailoring it to my preferences. So, how do I organize mine? For starters, I purchased a 3-ring binder with pockets on the inside.
I filled it with baseball card holder pages. The first page, which I printed out from thekrazycouponlady.com, lists the pages of items according to the layout of most stores. This way you can flip through your binder as you go through a typical store and all your similar items will be on the same page. For example, all of the freezer items are on the one page, bread items on another, etc. This is the main reason why I like to use a binder–I can see all of my coupons in one category at the same time.
Certain items which I seem to have lots of coupons for (and not enough spots to hold them), I will insert an extra page in my binder for. As I shop and find the items that match up with the coupons I want to use, I simply pull them out and hold on to them until I get to the cash register.
Where do I get most of my coupons? I print a few out online, but the majority of mine come from the Sunday newspaper. I get one subscription, which I usually go through either Sunday or Monday. Here’s my typical routine:
*Go through my binder and pull out any expired coupons.
*Take time to go through the coupon circulars and cut out all coupons I may actually use.
*Lay all cut coupons in piles of similar items. For example, all paper products in one pile, soups in another, etc. These will be according to how they are categorized in your binder.
*Flip through each page in the binder, inserting new coupons by category as you go.
After I do all this, I usually go to couponmom.com and write out or print out the deals of the week. I love this site because it matches up all sale deals of the week with all of the available coupons out there, breaking down the final price and the percentage saved. Though my local grocery store that I frequent is not on there, all other national chain stores are listed. We do have a Rite Aid in our town, so I usually look up their deals. Or, for instance, if I know I may go to Wal Mart that week, I’ll print out all the really good deals from there.
Is couponing worth it? To me it is, or else I wouldn’t do it! Once I committed to really trying and using them, it did take a little while for me to work out my personal system. Once I found what really worked for me, the little routine I just described takes a minimal amount of time. If you keep up with it, it is very worth it. Just as an example, I did go to Wal Mart for groceries and a variety of other items this past week. I saved about $30 in one trip. To me, that was worth the little bit of time I took to clip and organize my coupons. Even the cashier, who at first balked at my pile of coupons, commented that it must be worth it once she saw how much I saved.
Also, here’s a funny little story before I sign off. The very first time I took my pink coupon binder to the grocery store, I was feeling a little self-conscious. Partway through the store, there was a cute little old man who had been sort of watching me flip through it as I shopped. (Little old men seem to like me for some reason!) He finally drove his cart up beside mine, stopped me, and said he just had to tell me how impressed he was by my binder. It made me smile the rest of the way through the store!