The Coupon Queen, Susan Samtur, revels in sharing that she saves as much as 97% on her grocery purchases with coupons. Before you guffaw and humph, some of the items she purchased probably weren’t exactly on that week’s dinner menu. But true bargain hunters know when it pays to stock up on hugely discounted essentials.
I won't lie to you. Shopping with coupons is a big hassle. All those minute scraps of papers stuck to the fridge or floating through the junk drawer just add clutter and always seem to expire too soon. Don't fret, newbie couponer. This saving money business is rewarding and will only get easier with time. You need to start from square one before reaping the gargantuan savings of Ms. Coupon Queen.
1. Input advertised sale dates into your electronic calendar.
Most of us have an electronic calendar that can be coded for specific categories like work, home, travel, etc. Make one of those entries a "sales" category to log any major advertised sales. When visiting the bookstore or baby supply store ask when the next major sale is (or do your own research online) and plug it into the calendar. Set it with a specific reminder tone and you won't have to worry about missing rock bottom sales. It also helps to make a list of sale items you would want to purchase before going to avoid impulse buying.
2. Get a physical binder.
If you want to get serious about clipping coupons, you'll need to get a storage facility for them. Ladies, this does not mean dropping half your paycheck at Franklin Covey. Something innocuous and simple will do the trick. What needs the most consideration is the layout of your coupons in the binder or accordion. Do you mind sifting through your deals pocket-style or would you rather have plastic page-protector inserts to help you see them better? I personally like the page inserts that hold business cards so I can fold the coupon with the product name showing and quickly browse my collection.
3. Select an organization style that works for you.
Every brain ticks differently. Maybe you are an alphabet guy and can easily sift through with the product name sorted. Or you might prefer categories that make it easier to browse in your preferred grocery store. Some might like keeping the coupons based on expiration date. If you opt for the store category title, allow me to suggest using: produce, meats, breads, dairy, canned goods, baking products and spices, beverages, condiments and sauces, pet supplies, baby needs, paper goods, and laundry/cleaning supplies.
4. Always keep it up to date.
Don't be bummed by an expired coupon after you've already wheeled it to the front. Each time you add several coupons to the binder/accordion folder, clear out the dead wood.
5. Branch out from traditional clipping methods.
Coupons are morphing. No longer are you required to haul in the 10 lb. Sunday (future firewood) paper to find your deals. Go online to find printable coupons directly from the manufacturer or the grocer's current flier. Subscribing to dealmail, albeit heavy on the inbox, will keep you in the know on the latest specials. It's not hard to give a little personal information, review the emailed savings, and delete.
6. Sync your coupons with the grocery list.
Most importantly, match your shopping goods with that fabulous binder you've now stocked with deals. Indicate the couponed items with a star or something obvious to remind yourself to have the coupons handy. And don't forget to look for sales on necessities you have a coupon for. The big power shoppers get the largest bang for the buck combining sales with coupons.
Extend some courtesy to the shoppers in line behind you. Don't give us coupon clippers a bad name--have your deals out, ready to scan and the folks in line will start to wonder if maybe they should do the same.
Related: Grocery Coupons
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