This is a guest post by my friend Patti who I admit is soooooo much more organized than I am!
Hi, my name is Patti Miller and I am in no way a professional blogger, coupon master, or writer. But what I am is an OCD wife of a Marine and a mother who loves to spend her husband’s money WISELY!!
I remember growing up and my mom always had a messy clutch of coupons and I could have cared less why. When I became an adult (if I am one yet) I started tearing coupons out of the paper and shoving them in an envelope with no plan in site once I got to the store. Finally one day, my neat freak husband said why don’t you organize those things. So I went out and bought my first organizer which looking back 20 years really wasn’t worth the time it took to organize the coupons. So, 20 years later, I have found a system that anyone can follow and modify to fit your own situation. It keeps me organized, keeps my husband happy because everything is neat and orderly and it SAVES us a TON OF MONEY.
About 4 months ago I really got into couponing heavily. I had a day planner crammed with the paper things and every time I went to the store they fell all over the place. So I purchased a binder and some baseball card sheets at Walmart for about $10. I took my new toys home and until I had every coupon filed I did not log on to the internet and read blogs or print coupons and I did not open the newspaper. WHY? You ask? Because it will only burden you and overwhelm you and you will end up not being able to serve dinner on the dining room table or sit on the couch to watch tv. Organize your binder the best way that fits you, but mine is store cards in one of the zip pockets, scissors in another zip pocket, pen in another, store coupon policies in the front, Walmart All You magazines in the pocket fold area inside of binder, section one is food items broken down into categories, meats, frozen, can, desserts, fruit, veggies, drinks, baby food, breads, baking, etc. Then in the middle I put Target coupons and clip coupons that can pair up with the Target coupon and attach them together in the pockets. Behind that section I have toiletries; shampoo and conditioner, bath wash, deodorant, dental, etc. In the final section I put ECB’s and Catalina’s from CVS and Walgreen’s. YOU SHOULD NOT BE DOING ANYTHING WITH COUPONING UNTIL THIS BINDER IS STORE READY!!!
DON’T GO SHOPPING YET…Get a feel for your own plan. Here is mine. My binder is ready. Now I can start fresh on reading blogs each day. There are thousands of them out there and you will drive yourself nuts trying to read them all. I have the following that I check everyday. I check out someone who focuses on CVS, Target, Walmart, and three that cover it all. I read each blog first, most have same info on them. I jot down who has something on their blog that I want to go back to, mostly for coupon printing. After all blogs have been read, I go back and print coupons from the ones I jotted down prior. I do this once in the morning and once in the evening. Make sure you also subscribe to these blogs and you will receive emails daily with all their deals in case you can’t go online for some reason that day. Now, you have printed all these coupons and can’t remember why, and I can fix that. I have a very large kitchen and I have one area that I use for my shopping area. I have my ongoing grocery list and only purchase items on it that are on sale. Next to the list is where I keep my weekly sale papers lined up like little soldiers. As I print a coupon I put it on top of that weeks store ad. My grocery ads come on Wednesday’s. So Wednesday afternoon I scan the ad, lay it on the counter and start my coupon hunt from my binder. By the time I do this I have already checked out that days blogs and the deals are already listed on these blogs and I most likely have printed the coupons or pulled them from the binder. I do this for Randalls, HEB and Kroger. I also have the past Sundays CVS and Walgreen’s ads in case I find a deal I may have missed on the prior Sunday. If I did miss something I will purchase it on Saturday evening while I am at the store also doing the early Sunday deals. In addition to that I have a piece of paper marked CVS and Walgreens where I place coupons for the upcoming Sunday’s deals which you can find a week in advance online. I live in Houston and it is HOT. So I try to shop in the evening and hit all three grocery stores in one night. I use to hit three grocery stores and 2 drug stores in one weekend and found it took longer because of the crowds and because of that it took time away from my family. So now I break it down. I shop drug stores late Saturday night or early Sunday morning. Most drug stores start their Sunday sales on Saturday evening.
At this point you shouldn’t have any unattended coupons lingering around the house like dust. They should be in your binder or on the counter waiting to go to the store along with the ad.
After you go shopping, don’t toss the ads. Keep them until they expire. Put away groceries first and then file any coupons you didn’t use immediately. Put receipts in one place in case a rebate pops up. I keep mine in an aluminum pan in one of my pantries.
I purchase the ALL YOU at Walmart and I read it immediately, and then cut out the coupons. I get the Sunday paper and immediately pull the ads I shop (Target, CVS, Walgreen’s) scan them, look for coupons in binder, and place them on counter. Usually by the time I get the ads my coupons are ready because I have been collecting them all week as I stated prior. I clip the current coupons and immediately file them. DON’T PROCRASINATE!!! This gets you in trouble, leads to messes and frustration.
Online coupon sites are nice but take a lot of time. I only go to them once a week to do all my printing unless a blog states that there is a deal I just can’t refuse. But when I do go online I usually only go to a few, like blogs you can hit too many and it can get overwhelming. I usually do coupons.com, target.com, Pillsbury.com shortcuts.com smartsource.com and redplum.com.
Monday-check blogs, print from blogs
Tuesday-check blogs, print from blogs
Wednesday-check blogs, print from blogs, scan grocery ads, shop grocery stores/Walmart
Thursday-check blogs, print from blogs, print from online sources, prepare for drugstores
Friday-check blogs, print from blogs
Saturday-check blogs, print from blogs, shop drugstores in evening
Sunday-check blogs,print from blogs, pull ads and coupons from paper-file,shop target
**I always do the 4 and 5 A DAY deals on couponingtodisney
**Remember if you shop drugstores on Saturday evening you will be doing it without the sale ad unless you get the early edition of the Sunday paper on Saturday. So make sure that you write down everything you are going for and the deal, because most times the shelves won’t be marked yet and you will need to know exactly what you are shopping for and what the prices are.
**Only go to each of your stores once a week otherwise you are wasting gas and not really saving in the end. Some weeks you won’t shop at all your stores and that is ok. You don’t have to hit all your stores every week. You aren’t missing anything.
**The key is to not get overwhelmed. Don’t shop everyday, don’t print everyday, keep your coupons filed, and keep ads on counter so all you have to do each day is add coupons to the correct pile so you are ready for shopping day.
**Binder is best way to store, find, and carry your coupons. If they are tossed in a drawer you will never find what you need without digging through a ton of ads and that is time consuming. Plus if they are in a drawer they aren’t with you at the store when that once in lifetime deal is going on and you are caught without a coupon. And a file folder is too awkward to be digging in while shopping. Although I carry my binder every where I go, I usually have already pulled everything out of it I need before I leave home, but still take it with you in case you find something on sale that no one had mentioned online. Then remember to notify your favorite blog (couponingtodisney) so she can post it for others.