I started intensely clipping coupons about 2 months ago and have, since that time, cut our grocery bill significantly. In addition to cutting our grocery bill, we have also given away 2 boxes of food to friends in need and are planning to give away a few more bags this week. As I seek to learn how to shop wisely with the money the Lord has blessed us with, He blesses even more by allowing us to have an abundance in order to bless others! It has been an incredible adventure that I look forward to continuing!
Last weekend, two managers (one at Kroger and one at CVS) complimented me on my coupon book (a.k.a. Trapper Keeper STUFFED full of coupons). I was happy to know that they didn't mind me using so many coupons in their stores. But it got to me thinking. Perhaps I should share with you how I coupon and you could share with me how you coupon. We are always learning and who better to learn with/from than fellow couponers?
So this afternoon (my normal coupon-clipping time), I took pictures of each step for couponing my way, so you can see how I do things.
Step 1: Gather your coupons. I get coupons from my friends, neighbors, and family members - I typically end up with 3-4 copies of each circular each week.
Step 2: Lay out all coupons. Like coupons go on top of like coupons. I'm sure you could have figured that out on your own. You can see that I have 4 identical coupon sheets in each pile.
Step 3: Staple over product picture. Stapling over the description works just as well, but the idea is to make sure you don't staple over the bar code. Be very careful to line up the coupons exactly so you don't cut off bar codes, expiration dates, etc.
Step 4: After you staple all like coupons together, cut them out. Again, double check to make sure you are not cutting off expirations dates or bar codes.
Step 5: Sort coupons alphabetically. I can now say from experience that alphabetically is the very best way to sort your coupons. I originally organized my coupon book in categories because I thought it would be more efficient. Then I read a book that suggested I try doing it alphabetically. I was wary, but I gave it a shot. It is SO much better! Here are my coupons sorted alphabetically by brand name (Dove, Lysol, Betty Crocker, etc.). I file store-specific coupons under the store name (T for Target).
UPDATE: I have heard several people say that this sounds like more work than categorial filing. So I do need to clarify a bit. By alphabetically, I do not mean every single letter. I mean only the first letter. All the 'A's go together, but not necessarily Aleve and then All and then Angel Soft. If you did things that way, you would constantly be moving coupons around and that would never work.
Step 6: File coupons. As I mentioned before, my coupon book is a trapper keeper. I use baseball card holder sheets for all of my coupons.
Here is another shot of my coupon book. You can see that it holds scissors, paper clips, pens, notecards, calculator, etc. to keep my shopping trips as organized as possible. On the far left, you can see a tip of a store circular. They fit into the wide pocket. Sorry about the glare.
Whew! So that's my method. It does take me about 2 hours each week, but I try to look at it this way: My 2 hours of coupon clipping saves our family an average of $50-$100/week (or more)! I don't mind getting paid $25-$50/hour just to clip and organize coupons each week!
What do you do? Have you blogged about your coupon method? If you have, send me the link and I would be more than happy to link to your blog so we can all learn from each other.