My friend Nancy got me started couponing a few years ago. I remember thinking it wouldn't be worth the work, and that I probably saved just as much money simply buying store brand products and carefully shopping at Sam's Club or Costco. It took me a little while to understand all the ways I could save money using coupons, and that it really is the least expensive way to feed my family. Over the next few days I'll share some basic coupon information for anyone starting out.
How to Organize Coupons
There are tons of ways to organize coupons. What I've found works for me is to use two (cute!) boxes that are 8×11 and 10×14 (I found mine at Tuesday Morning). The smaller box holds any coupons that I get in the mail, print, or pick up while I'm at the store. Then if I see a deal I hopefully remember that the coupon is in there!
The large box holds all my Sunday coupons sorted by date. I've done best keeping this pretty simple – I just file each weeks coupons in file folders and then place them on top of the previous weeks; then when I sit down to organize my coupons once a week for shopping, I take them out by date and clip only the ones I need. About once a month I throw out coupon inserts that are 4 months or older (sometimes there are coupons in those that haven't expired, but I can only stand so much paper running around my house so I may miss a deal every now and then because the clutter makes me crazy!)
Once a week (usually Thursday or Friday because Publix runs their sale ads Wednesday to Tuesday), I sit down and print out my printable coupons, and write down which ones I need to clip as well as my grocery list. That night, with my kids in bed and my hubby watching football, I clip my coupons. It really doesn't take that much time, and the amount of money I save makes it completely worth it. On average my family of five spends $50 a week for groceries and toiletries (including diapers!), so I probably save $100 in the hour or two it takes me to plan my grocery shopping.
I know when I first started couponing I visited tons of websites and rarely understood all the “coupon lingo”. So here's a basic list of coupon jargon that I typically use for shopping at Publix. For detailed information on drug store “lingo” I suggest you take a start here for Walgreens and http://www.iheartsavingmoney.com/?page_id=111 for CVS.
- BOGO Buy One Get One Free – At Publix here in North Alabama, this does not mean you have to purchase two. Instead it “halves” the price of the item so you can purchase one item instead of two.
- SS This references the Smart Source insert found in Sunday papers
- RP This references the Red Plum insert found in Sunday papers
- PG This references the Proctor Gamble insert found typically once a month in Sunday papers.
- GM This references the General Mills insert found about once a month in Sunday papers.
- Blinkie The in-store coupon machine in front of a product that “blinks”.
- Peelie A coupon attached to a product that you can peel off.
- Catalina A coupon that prints at the register towards your next purchase.
I know there are lots of other ways to organize your coupons, so if you have another way to do it I'd love to know what's working for you! Also, check back for more posts on how to build your coupon stash, stockpiling, and Publix coupon policy information.
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