When you have a million things to do, it can be hard to even entertain the idea of couponing, yet we all know it can save us HUGE amounts of money off our grocery bill every month. On average, a woman who uses coupons saves about $50 every shopping trip, totaling to about $2,400 per year!
The hardest part for most women is just getting started on the idea of couponing. Where do you begin? I mean afterall, it looks like most women who do this spend hours upon hours clipping from newspapers! You’re probably thinking to yourself, I don’t have that kind of time.
Let me encourage you, you do have the time to start saving today, and with a few gradual baby steps, you will be carving out a good chunk of your grocery bill each week.
Here are the simple and easy steps to get yourself on track to coupon:
1. Start by Getting Your Very First Sunday Paper
Eventually you will want to step up your game and get a full subscription, maybe even to multiple newspapers, but for now: Pick up a copy of the LA Times at any coffee house, and start to look through the ads and coupons inside.
2. Do this Every Sunday for a Few Weeks in a Row
If you are out of town for a week, make sure to ask your girlfriend to grab you a copy, and start to take out the middle inserts with all the coupons. File those coupons away by date inside of a box or file folder. Make sure you don’t mix them up, because these dates with become useful in the future.
3. Make a Coupon Binder
This is definitely the fun part! Organize coupons either by name, category, or date, and make sure you have them in a good binder so you can easily find what you are looking for. Now you’re asking: Do I do this with ALL of my coupons?! And my answer would be to that, Well how intense do you want to be? At times, I would file away most of the coupons. This can be time consuming, so most women will only clip what they know their family might enjoy. As a young married couple, I knew because of our tight budget, we needed to experiment and try new things, so I would clip a good portion of them and stick them in my binder.
Tip: Baseball-card holder inserts work REALLY well for coupons!
4. Scope Out the Stores
Now you’re ready for the planning phase! Gather all the ads for your local stores, and search through each of the ads to find products that match up with your coupons. Rather than do all of this yourself, there are very helpful blogs out there that will tip off the hot deals for the week and show you exactly what you should be looking for. Here is a list of Best Coupon Mommy Blogs that will get you started on real saving. A lot of these sites also have electronic coupons, if newspapers aren’t really your thing.
5. Make Your List with Purpose
And now it’s time to make your very first coupon grocery list. This is not like any other grocery list you’ve made in the past, this is a purposeful, planned-out list that will guide you through every step in that store. The way I like to make my list is simply by listing the item, its original price, the coupon I will use with it, and the new discounted price. At the end of my list I total up all of the discounted prices so that when I get to the register, I am completely aware of what I will be paying.
6. Getting Serious
There are some great tools to utilize out there that will help you in this process and give you more time to get through your busy schedule instead of looking through ads for hours. This is only for those who plan to stick with this, and will utilize the service with the intent of couponing for almost every shopping trip. One of the greatest tools out there is the Grocery Game. On this website, you can specifically customize the stores you shop at, and they will tell you what coupons to clip at what time. A HUGE time-saver! Of course, they do charge a service fee for this, but I have found the savings I get from them kind of pays for the membership 5 times over!
If you want more tools that will help you start couponing, Common Sense with Money has a free e-book to download called “Extreme Couponing 101”. Check this out, and don’t be hesitant to start doing this TODAY!
By: Erika Pizzo
4 thoughts on “How Do I Start Couponing?”
Boy do I need this !!! Thanks for the GREAT tips !!!! Judy…
Great post! We’ve definitely been amazed with how much we save via couponing!
I don’t use a binder. I use a 14 x 10 clear plastic box. Every Sunday I pull out the coupons from the newspaper. I paper clip the SmartSource, RedPlum, etc. altogether and write the date on the first page in large print. That goes into the box on top of all of my previous ones.
I log into the Grocery Game. After I print my customizable list, I go to my coupon box. Starting with the first product on my list, I pull the date to which it corresponds. (the G.G. list displays & prints the newspaper date) I then flip through and find the coupon to cut.
I have learned through trial and error that this way is less laborious. I had a hard time cutting so many coupons and then throwing many (or most) out when they expired which was another huge chore. This way they are held “in-tact” until it comes up on my list.
In addition, it’s easier to determine expired coupons when they are held “in-tact”.
Lisa, thanks so much for all the advice! You’ve got this down 🙂