I received the email below from one of my Mommy friends, and I am excited she asked! I have always loved a good sale or savings, but I became a real coupon junkie when I became a SAHM. I found myself in the same place my friend is in, I went from making a full-time salary to suddenly a full-time, non-paying mommy job! Since I wasn’t contributing with a paycheck, I started using coupons like it was my job. So, here is my friend’s email and my answers to her questions…
Ok, first off…what an amazing job you are doing with Suburban Mom! I love reading all of your posts. How do you find the time to do all of this research and writing? I wish I had your time management skills!!!
Now, the reason for this message… I need more info. about coupons. It’s time I start trying to save our family some money. I figure I’m not making money, so I might as well do what I can to save. I have no idea where to start. Can you put together something on your blog…
1. Where do you go to find all of your coupons?
2. How do you organize them (by store? by item?)
3. What do you use to organize your coupons?
I am all about organization, so I need some serious details to do my new project right 🙂
Thanks. Look forward to seeing you soon.
First, to her question about how I find the time… I am a computer junkie and I love it! My motivation is when I get comments and emails from people who like what I write and save money themselves, so keep on encouraging me, and I will keep writing 🙂
Now to coupons — this is an overview of what I do. There are tons of ways to do this, but this works for me.
The first thing you have to know is the coupon policy of the store you are shopping at. In our area, there are 3 major grocery stores Publix, Winn-Dixie and Albertsons — my fav is Publix. Publix takes manufacture coupons, store coupons and competitor coupons. Plus, it’s own store coupons it takes even after they expire… Important to know…
1) Where do I find my coupons? Best place to start, the Sunday paper — Red Plum and PG Saver are the best! If you have never clipped coupons, you have to start there. Clip ONLY coupons for things you will use. Saving money with a coupon does you no good if the item will sit in your pantry until you breakdown and throw it away 🙂
The second place is online, there are TONS of coupon sites out there including manufacture sites. I could overload you with online places to look, but for now I will tell you to start with the paper and TheSuburbanMom. In my last grocery store trip, I saved $68 and change! I’ll continue to teach you new places to find the best deals, but you don’t need all the info at once.
Third, Albertons and Winn Dixie often run $5 off $50 coupons in the Wednesday paper. Since Publix takes competitor coupons, I collect these to use on my regular trips to Publix.
2) How do I organize my coupons? I find it best to organize by category. Here are my categories: Food, Medicine, House, Face, Body, Baby and Retail.
3) What do I use to store them? I have an expanding organizer. It it like the one pictured below (from Office Depot), but I found mine in the $1 spot at Target. Get something cheap and small that you can throw in your bag.
How to plan: Before I go to the store, I go through my coupons and pull out everything I need to get that day. But I also bring my coupon organizer to the store with me in case something comes up. There are people who plan every purchase before hand and spend only pennies for $100 of groceries (for real). But my family is specific about what we like to eat, so I plan my my list and then use coupons for things I need vs using my coupons to build my list. I could save more if I did it the other way, but we wouldn’t get exactly what we want. That said, if something we eat is on special and I have a coupon I stock up!
Ok, so that is a very basic overview of how to start. Once you get started, you will discover a whole world of coupons and savings (and if you are like me, it will become addicting to see how much you can save!). I will pass along other (more advanced stratgies) later, but this will get you started. See how much you can save on Sunday!!!
Jen- please, keep sharing the tips!! I’ve gotten pretty good at the coupon thing too while I was on my “relocation vacation”. I’m not sure about Publix, Albertsons or Winn-Dixie, but the Kroger reqards card will let you link up to a website and select coupons that download right to your card. So no clipping, just send them to your card, have the cashier swipe it and you are good to go!
I used to clip my coupons until I discovered CouponMom.com. Now I use the binder method, which saves me a lot of time and money. When I get my Sunday papers (I get two, so when items are BOGO free I have two coupons to use), I pull the SmartSource, RedPlum and P&G coupon inserts and write the date on the front. Then I put them in a tabbed divider with pockets in a 3-ring binder. On Thursday when the new Publix ad comes out, I go to CouponMom.com and look at the list of all the items in their weekly ad. I put a check mark in the box next to every item I want to buy and view selected items, which lists all the items I have checked and tells me if there is a coupon and what coupon insert it is in. Then I print this list and start clipping. If I am not distracted, this process takes about 30 minutes.
If there are additional items I need that are not in the Publix ad for the week, CouponMom.com also has a Grocery Coupon Database, which lists all the current coupons from the paper that are not expired. You can search for any item on your list and find out which insert has your coupon.
CouponMom.com also has lists of the sale items at CVS and Walgreens which I use every Sunday, as well as lists for other grocery stores such as Winn Dixie. My favorite part about their lists (for all grocery and drug stores) is that in the far right column it tells you what percentage you will save after the sale price and your coupons. I usually go down the list and look for items that are 75-100% off and see if I can use them. If I can’t use them, but they will cost only pennies, I donate them to the next food drive.
I also have an accordian file for coupons I clip but do not use. I have this divided into categories such as “cereals, breads & grains” and “bathroom products.” This file is also handy for coupons that come in the mail or from tear pads in the store.
I love going to the store and saving more than I spent! Happy couponing!
there are NO coupons in this Sunday’s paper….so if you buy a paper for just the coupons, (or I buy 4 for the coupons) don’t this week!!!
www. Southernsavers.com is AMAZING- she does ALL the work for you!!!!
Also, I use a 3 inch binder with baseball card protector sheets and organzize my coupons that way. I have each section (baby, frozen, dairy Etc), and it’s nice having a binder to shop clearance fast with coupns!!
I have become a coupon JUNKIE
Great tips!! Keep ’em comin!! I have just found a new love for SuperTarget as well. They will take Target coupons and Manufacturer coupons for the same item! This works out really well for diapers and such! Hotcouponworld.com has all the target coupons listed!
I cannot coupon without Southern Savers – it is all the work done for you! Just go to SouthernSavers.com and choose the store – they offer lists to help you for Publix, plus CVS and Walgreens. The do other grocery stores too, but they aren’t really around our area. Anyway, I go to the weekly Publix post and they list all the sales for the week AND match them up with where coupons can be found for that sale item (such as which week and which insert in the newspaper or which website to find online printables). They include competitor coupons since you can use those at Publix. So, I look at the sale list, base my list off what I need from there and then pull all the coupons to match. It is great – you don’t even need to spend time looking at the store sale flyers – it is just listed right there for you! The truly best way to save money with coupons is to use them when items are on sale – maximizing your savings – and Southern Savers lets you do it so so so easily! And a great Publix tip if you didn’t know already – you can use two coupons on a buy one get one deal. So, if you are buying Ritz at $3.00 and buy one get one free, you get 2 for $3.00. Then, if you happen to have 2 Ritz coupons for .75 each, you can use both and get the total for both boxes down to $1.50. I often take coupon inserts from friends who don’t coupon so I can get 2 coupons for each item I want. Even though one item is free, you still can use a coupon to get money off the price!!
Link all your store loyalty cards to upromise.com. My baby is less than two weeks old, and he has almost a dollar in his upromise account. The good part about this site, it allows you to get rewards, without changing your shoping habits. Grandparents and frends can help contribute to your kids upromise account too.