24/7 MOMS

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Couponing: Savings are Created Before You Shop

Couponing’s benefits, beyond money saved, are the important virtues and skills you’ll learn (or refine) to become a successful couponer.   Contrary to spectacular savings seen on TV in the space of 15 minutes of super shopping, these skills are required before you enter the store.  Simply couponing to get a “good deal” can lead to overspending and a pantry full of ingredients – but no meals. 
Patience is needed both in the store and with your coupons.  Marketers want you to clip the Sunday coupons – and use them sooner than is most valuable to you.  Experience will show you that coupons held until the corresponding sale occurs will save you more money.  You may score further savings with a “Catalina” instant rebate or free item.  That’s patience at work; creating opportunity with your preparation – so you score the best deal.
Proper Organization – Clip your coupons and organize them in a manner which is ready to go with you – where you’ll find them when you need them.  Maintained organization means less work and more value from the time you’ve spent on preparation.  Most couponers do not remain with their initial organization methods, so choose one and be ready to revise as your couponing increases. 
 Organization Possibilities:
 Individual envelopes for each store (with your meal plan and/or shopping list written on the outside)
An index/recipe/shoe box containing separated coupons (in envelopes or other sorts of dividers)
Purse-size coupon file; for longevity, choose plastic files.  File coupons by common grocery categories, alphabetically by brand name, or in order of your most shopped grocery store – it’s your choice. 
Coupon Binder; transform a zipper-closure, 3-ring binder into an ergonomic couponing tool.  Utilize 3-ring folders and page protector sleeves to hold coupon policies, weekly ads, etc.  Pockets are handy for calculators, scissors, pens, envelopes, etc.  Many money-saving couponer websites have photos and narrative instructions on how they organize coupons.
“The Couponizer”;  A ready-to-use tool that is also designed with some custom features.  This visual organizer includes pockets for receipts, grocery list, and savings tracker.  Its design is a combination between a coupon file and a coupon binder.  You can use the included categories or using mailing labels, change the groupings for what you buy most often. 
As space allows, add files, pages or pockets for “RAOCK’s” (Random Acts of Coupon Kindesses), coupons you’ve found along the way but have yet to file, “CheckOut Goodies”, and “Checkout Stack” – and, perhaps a file or pocket for each individual store on your route.
Coupon Insert Files:  As you spread the word you’re couponing, you’ll collect more inserts than you may clip from.  To utilize online coupon databases, you’ll want to organize your inserts chronologically.  An accordion file, filing cabinet drawer or large shoebox works well.  Write the distribution date of the insert in permanent marker on the front cover – as covers can be similar within a month’s time.  The date is found on the spine of the insert.  Where the coupon insert came from is also on the spine, and helpful information if you want to seek out more of that particular insert.
Other Useful Tools:
From the same websites which you printed shopping lists, you can also find “pantry” or “freezer” inventories.  At-a-glance you can see what you have to plan meals with, and what perhaps needs to be added to your shopping list.   Once you find an inventory sheet that you like, expand your forms to include gift-closet lists and other places in your life where important items come and go from.  Use of what you have on hand, (that you already spent your money on) saves you time, money and energy over buying it again at a higher price.  “One-item” trips to the store or last minute holiday buying blitzes we know, can be very damaging to our savings goals.
“Good Meals, Better Deals” is our next discussion, as we talk about how to make great meals out of our shopping trips.  Please share your organization ideas – and stay tuned for July’s series as we continue to share money-saving skills.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great tips!!! Staying organized is the key!

~ Leslie P

July 1, 2011 at 12:08 AM  

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