I have had multiple people comment lately that they are looking at my blog trying to figure out how to use coupons and it is all so overwhelming. I really hope to be able to express how to do things so that it does not seem so intimidating. I am an organizer. I also am the weird person that absolutely loves to make budgets and balance the checkbook. I love to sort it by the month and into catagories and play with the numbers. So, when I started really couponing it was along that path of going headfirst into it for me. It is really hard for me to understand the feelings a lot of people describe about it all. I don't know what people know as far as the lingo and understanding all the rules and stuff so I may know something and forget to mention it because I forget that everyone doesn't know some of what I am talking about. So, please, if you are ever scratching your head wondering what the heck I am talking about ask a question. Apparantly, YOU ARE NOT ALONE, more people are like you and just feel like they are drowning with paper all around them- little bits of paper that say 25¢ on them:)
I take the insert from the Sunday paper and punch holes in it with a three ring hole punch. I put it in a binder and mark the date on the front section. I have a few dividers where you mark the date with a grease pencil, but not enough. (If you look at the inserts the date is written very small on the binded edge...just in case you throw them all in a drawer to do later and later have about 3 weeks worth there)
When the coupon matches are made you will notice that beside the amount of the coupon match up everyone always has a date and symbols there. The date is the date of the insert section- when it came out, and the symbols are for which insert section. There are Red Plum(RP), Smart Source (SS), Proctor and Gamble(PG) which are the suppliers of coupons for the paper. Everyone lists the date and which insert so that when it matches a sale you go to that date and know the coupon is in the Smart Source and can just cut it out then. No clipping all the coupons.
Now, I have regular envelopes that I use when shopping. I wrote the name of the store on the outside and make a list. I put all the coupons in the store envelope. I don't like to write my list on the envelope because I reuse it. I actually use the center strip of paper left after printing coupons to write my list. On my list I write it like this:
Domino sugar 5 lb. $1.99- $.40 Q= $1.59
3-Pillsbury Sweet Rolls 8ct $1.66 ea; 35¢Q=70¢,$1/2Q
I list the product, what size is required or on sale, the sale price, then each coupon amount. That way I can just shop with my list and not have coupons in my hand. I have the size required so I don't have to search for the coupon. If it specifically says any size on the coupon- I put AS so I know to get the smallest size.
I keep my CVS card and all my ECBs in my envelope for CVS. I usually put the ECBs where the first to expire is on top. I put my gift cards for Walgreens and Rite Aid in that store's envelope. I put all my receipts in the front pocket of my purse. It is really easy to lose those little bugers.
Don't let all this overwhelm you. Find the coupons and immediately put them in an envelope. I make my list by putting the item on my list as I put the coupon in the envelope. That way I only have items that I have the coupon for. If i have a really good coupon that I think may be a free or cheap item I note it at the bottom of the list. I still specify the item, size and coupon amount. I can then check the price of the item and whether the price is good enough after the coupon.
Find a quiet out of the way spot right before checking out and go through your envelope to sort out any coupons that you are not going to use because it was out of stock or for whatever reason. Go wow them with your savings. Watch snotty cashiers roll their eyes when you hand them your stack of coupons. Hear the sighs from the people behind you- especially the guys with a bottle of wine and some flowers. Really, most people are so fun and really like to see how you lower your bill. And, because you are prepared the people behind you don't realize anything. Try not to actually skip out of the store chanting, " I saved 50 dollars, I saved 50 dollars!"