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Sunday, August 24, 2008

Couponing 101 - Getting Started

Getting started on your coupon-clipping adventure may seem a bit overwhelming at first. Here are few tips and tricks to get you started and to keep you organized:
  • Get it Together - Keeping your coupons organized will save you loads of time at the grocery store. I use several methods... I have a plastic, expandable 13-divider file "folder" that I use to carry my coupons for short trips. It's small enough to fit into my bag, so I am never without my coupons. These $1 treasures can be found in dollar bins at Target or local dollar stores. I also have a larger zippered notebook for my main stash that I filled with clear baseball card protector sheets and dividers. I have a friend who uses a baby wipes container with envelopes as her box, others use plastic carrying boxes. Do what works for you.

  • Sort it Out- Once you clip your coupons, you'll want to divide them into categories. Since I mainly do my shopping at Fry's, I have separated my coupons according to their aisles... this makes my shopping trip very efficient. For example, my dividers are labeled:
  1. Produce (Rarely get any coupons here, mostly salad mixes)
  2. Baking/Spices
  3. Cereal/Granola Bars/Peanut Butter/Coffee/Tea
  4. Canned Goods/Condiments/International Foods
  5. Grains/Pasta/Sauces
  6. Dairy
  7. Frozen Foods
  8. Snacks/Beverages
  9. Meats/Cheese
  10. Health/Beauty
  11. Household
  12. Baby/Pet
  13. Retail/Restaurants
  • More Sorting - Inside each of these categories, I have sub-categories to keep 'like' coupons together. This helps me quickly find coupons and sift through expired coupons. For example, on our Baking aisle we have spices, canned fruit, baking mixes, olive oil, pudding, etc. You can use a paper clip to group the like products together. This is especially useful on Beauty, Health, and Household items. Sub-categories for those items would include: Toothpaste, Deodorant, Shampoo, Body wash, Makeup, Medicine, Paper goods, etc. Once you have your initial organization system set-up, it's fast and easy to maintain.
  • Set your Plan - One sure fire way of getting overwhelmed is heading to the grocery store without a plan. Trust me, spending a few extra minutes making a grocery list and pulling those coupons aside will make a world of difference in keeping your sanity. Once you have your grocery list (I like to organize mine by aisle), go through your coupons and pull any that you may use. Clip those together and put in a separate envelope. As you put those items into your shopping cart, set those coupons aside so you have a nice, neat pile ready to hand to the cashier. Your cashier and every else in line behind you will be very grateful.
  • Keep it Together - I have heard from so many moms that they clip the coupons but then forget to use them. Or they become flustered or impatient in the store and don't want the hassle. If you are armed and organized to begin with (see above), then you are already off to a good start. Once you clip new coupons, you will be able to quickly add these to your stacks... just locate the category and sub-category, and then add to the stack. Take note of expired coupons and toss those into the recycled bin.

    Couponing could easily become overwhelming if you are not organize. Whatever method you choose, spend the extra time and attention getting a system in place. You'll soon see the benefits! Look on the right sidebar for a list of links for printable coupons...

**To get a sneak peek at next week's manufacturer coupons, head over to Taylortown Preview.


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