Couponing - Getting Organized




First Things First!


Couponing can be very time consuming if you don't have an efficient system for organizing your coupons, coupon matching, and shopping.  A little extra time spent before can save lots of time later!









  • Getting Started:  Everything I first learned about couponing came from Stephanie at Couponing101.  This site will help you understand the lingo and how to use coupons.  This is my go-to site because Stephanie lives close to DFW and uses most of the same stores I do.  Some of the other big couponing sites can be helpful with national chains like Walmart, Target, and Walgreen's, but will also list deals for stores that are not in our area.   

  • Organizing your coupons:  At first, I used envelopes for each category, then I decided to try filing the weekly coupon circulars in files.  The filing system is o.k. if you only rely on couponing sites to tell you which coupons to use.  If you do your own matchups, it makes it difficult to know what you have.  I tried printing lists, but since I am such a visual person, I found that I needed to SEE the coupons. Sooo....I went to the binder method.  The Krazy Coupon Lady has a good tutorial on this. 

  • Clipping Coupons:  Every Sunday I collect my coupons.  We usually buy 2 papers and several family members donate their coupons to me.  I generally end up with about 5 or 6 of the same coupons.  Having this amount of coupons is great for stockpiling items that I get great deals on.  I usually tear the circulars apart and lay out like pages.  I use my handy spring-hinge sewing scissors to cut all of them at once.  Once I have cut the coupons, I file them in my categorized binder.









    • Expired Coupons:  Before filing the new coupons in my binder I go through and make sure all of the expired coupons are pulled out.  Don't throw them away!  These can be donated to the troops overseas.  See Coupon Cat Says....for more information.


    • Unused Coupons: There are a lot of coupons that I don't use. We don't have a dog, we don't use a lot of over the counter medications or vitamins, and we don't buy diapers.  Instead of throwing these away, I donate them to friends who will use them.  My favorite antique store has a table set up so customers can swap coupons. I have considered starting this at my school next year.  These coupons can also be sent to the troops overseas.

    • Printable Coupons:  Some coupons are only available online and must be printed.  The coupons sites, Facebook, and Twitter will keep you informed daily on the new coupons. Most of the coupons come from Smartsource, RedPlum, and Coupons.com..  These are some of the sites I trust.  I don't usually print coupons in the PDF format because they may have been tampered with.  You are breaking the law if you use a fake coupon -even if you didn't know it was a fake. You can also search for coupons by name or product using a coupon database.  This comes in handy when doing matchups.

    • Matchups:  Once I have organized my coupons, I am ready to do my matchups with the the weekly store circulars. Matchups maximize the amount of money I will save at the store.  I used to take my coupons to the store, find the product and end up buying the store brand because the name brand item price was still higher with the coupon.  In order to maximize savings, wait until items are on sale and then use the coupons.  This is a great way to get rock-bottom prices so that you can stock up.   I usually do my own matchups and then check the sites to make sure I haven't missed any.  I don't try to do matchups for Walmart, Target, or Walgreens because the coupon gals and guys do such a great job!

    • Make a list:  Once I have decided what I will buy at each store, I make a list, pull the coupons from the binder, and put them in an envelope.  When I get to the store I only get the things on the list and use the coupons I have brought.  This gets me in and out of the store quickly and I don't get distracted by other deals.  I will sometimes put my binder in the car "just in case" I happen to see a deal ;-)  Occasionally, when I have time, I will take my binder with me and peruse the aisles looking for deals.  I hit the clearance racks and look for closeout items that may not be advertised.  Generally, I do better when I just plan and stick to the list.

    • Keep it real:  After watching TLC's Extreme Couponing I thought I would be getting all kinds of stuff for free, but in reality the items I normally buy won't ever be free. But that's o.k. because I am getting them at much lower prices. Occassionally I get some some fun freebies, but on a weekly basis, the goal is to spend as little as possible on the items we like to use.  What I like to do is compare what we used to spend with what we spend now and compare what our pantry looks like now to what it used to look like.  That's why I coupon!

















    • My Stores







      I mainly shop at these stores during the school year: 



      Kroger





      Alberston's



      Aldi




      Walmart



      Walgreen's














      Occasionally I will hit these stores when there is a good deal:




      Sprouts



      CVS 




      Dollar Tree



      Dollar General




      Family Dollar















      During the summer I will have more time shop at:



      Target  - I know there are great deals but it's not real convenient to my house and the store coupons AND manufacturers coupons take a little more time and effort to figure out.












      First Things First!












      The first thing you have to do is decide which store you like best and stick with it.  My main store is Kroger, because I earn fuel points on my Kroger Plus Card, but I will hit Albertson's for stock up items when they are at rock-bottom prices.  Walmart can also have some great deals, and I love to buy my produce and frozen salmon (awesome recipe forthcoming) at Aldi.  All of these stores including Walgreens andDollar Tree are within 1 mile of each other so I don't mind going to several different stores. But you should do what you are comfortable with.  Some people don't want the hassle of going to several different stores.  For me, if I can get an item a lot cheaper (or free), it's worth it!












      Once you decide which stores you will be using, print and learn their coupon policy.  Each store is different so it's important to know what you are doing at each one.  There is nothing more disappointing than a miscalculated shopping trip due to coupon policy ignorance. When I first started couponing I took a notepad with me to every store and asked the manager the following questions:












      1)  What is the doubling and tripling policy?



      2)  What is the limit for doubled and tripled coupons? (Some stores only allow 4 or 5 of the same coupon to be doubled or tripled.)



      3) Are expired coupons accepted?












      This basic information allows me to plan ahead and figure out which store has the best deals and most important:  NO SURPRISES AT CHECK OUT!




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