My new favorite hobby is couponing -- I know, how old am I? But seriously! I HAVE to buy groceries and household items, so why not save a few dollars along the way? I love it so much, I've developed a weekly routine for it. Since I'm a
neat freak rather organized person, I love when people share their techniques for daily duties (cleaning, couponing, meal planning, whatever!) that will also make my life easier. With this in mind, I thought I'd share my couponing process. =)
DISCLAIMER: I am in no way, shape, or form, an expert on couponing. I'll be sharing some blogs by REAL experts if that's what you're looking for. The following information is just how I do my couponing and what works for ME. It may or may not work for you too. Feel free to take it or leave it.
SO! Let's start with the basics. Couponing can be REALLY overwhelming -- there's newspaper coups, internet coups, store coups, manufacturers coups, etc. etc. If you're not careful, it can easily become more effort than it's worth. I try to keep the process as simple as possible to avoid being scared off. My main sources of coupons are newspaper and web coupons.
Every Sunday, I'll buy two papers: one local and one for a larger metro area near me. This has been working great as I usually get some different, regional coupons in each paper. I also get a lot of duplicates, so when there's a Pop-Tarts coupon, I get twice as many. =) This costs me $4. I have EASILY saved more than that on each trip.
My next big source are coupon blogs. I don't just go around the web printing internet coupons. I only print specific coupons that I know I'll use. All of these come from coupon blogs that match-up coupons and sales for me, so all I have to do is print and shop! It's AMAZING. These are my favorite sources:
Military Wives Saving
Raining Hot Coupons
The Krazy Coupon Lady
I follow these blogs (as well as the other blogs I follow) using Google Reader. This way, if I'm browsing my blog feed on my phone at lunch and find a great coupon deal posted, I can star it and then print it later when I get home! It works really well.
Now that you know where I get my coupons, let's talk organizing. I had some extra space beneath my microwave that fit a long narrow basket perfectly -- this became my couponing basket.
My pink coupon organizer holds the other two kinds:
When I'm planning my shopping trips, I have a two step process. The first would be the one mentioned above: I see good deals posted on the coupon blogs, clip or print the coupons, then add it to my list for that store and paperclip the coupon behind it. I have one list for each store I go to (I always go to Target, but sometimes I do Wal-Mart, Walgreens, or Kroger as well).
The other process is making a list of what I need (milk, eggs, whatever) then I search my sale ads and look at my coupons to see if they will match up. This does take some time, but I think it's worth it. If I find a match, it'll go on that store's list. If not, I'll just add it to a store list so I remember to buy it.
I try to use coupons to AID my shopping -- I don't go coupon crazy and buy EVERYTHING just because I have a coupon. I have my own rules I like to follow to help me:
-- Staples (milk, eggs, butter) get bought when needed, coupon and/or sale or not.
-- Snacks are purchased only when on sale WITH a coupon as well. This is where I save the most money and it's fun because I'm always getting new snacks, so I get to keep trying new things.
-- Personal items (razors, toothpaste) I'll buy if it's a SUPER DEAL (like I got Josh 8 of his $4/each deodorant for $3 TOTAL when on sale plus coupons) OR if it's a dollar or less. These things don't go bad, so I don't mind stockpiling them. Plus, I can always send them in care packages to the guys.
I have a small stash of products from sales (like cleaning products and toothpaste), but I'm definitely not in this to be on extreme couponing. I use the process to SAVE money, not spend more than I normally would on things I normally wouldn't buy.
Like I said, I'm not an expert by any means, but hopefully this will help someone out there who is into couponing for the same reasons as me. =)