Thursday, October 30, 2008

Coupons, revisited

A couple of friends have asked me some questions about coupons, so I thought I'd repeat the questions and answers here. 

How do you organize your coupons? 
Well, I have an accordion binder, labeled with all the letters (XYZ are on one slot), and a few extra slots, labeled "Store Specific, Catalinas, Rainchecks, and Last Chance." In the "store specific" spot, I have coupons that are specific to a particular store (Wags coupons for Walgreens, Kroger coupons for Kroger, etc.) Catalina's slot is for catalina coupons (you know, the ones that print out at the register, at the end of your transaction?) Rainchecks - I live by rainchecks!! And Last Chance is for coupons that are about to expire. That doesn't mean I have to use them, but it does make me a bit more mindful of them. 
When shopping, I paperclip my coupons to my list, in the same order as my grocery list. If I decide not to use a coupon during my trip, then I drop it back into my binder. I put coupons in their alphabetical slot by how I do my list - all toothpastes, for example, go under "T" - not "C" for Crest or "A" for Aquafresh. 

Do you go through your coupons regularly for expireds?
No, not regularly. Usually, I just pull expireds out as I come across them. And if I'm making a grocery list, I'm going through my stash anyway, so I pull the expireds then. (and I pull and re-file the "Last Chance" at the same time.)

How do you decide what to clip? 
I ask myself, "If I could get this for free, would I bring it home?" If the answer is yes, then I clip the coupon. Believe it or not, there are some things that I wouldn't get, even if they were free. (Cleaning products and diapers come to mind, but that's for another post.) 

How do you make a grocery list? 
1. I look at my kitchen inventory, and see what I already have. Shop at home first! 
3. I look through my sale flyers from my local grocery stores and write down anything that looks like it may be a good deal. This isn't a shopping list, just a highlight list of the ads. 
4. Now that I know what the sales are, and I have a good idea of my coupon stash (from the ads and HCW), I start throwing breakfast/lunch/dinner/snack ideas around.  And then I start my list. After it's all on paper, I... 
5. Put my list in order by the store layout, and organize the coupons I'll use. 

Where do you get your circulars or inserts?
My mom saves hers for me, and gets some from her neighbors and friends. I buy a paper most Sundays, and sometimes my neighbors give me theirs. If I'm out and I see inserts (at the recycling bin, at the library, restaurants) then I'll snag them. Hey, the librarians aren't going to use the coupons - if they were, they'd have already pulled them! Finders keepers! 

What's the best deal you've gotten? 
Welllllll... I get things for free pretty often (toothpaste, shampoo), but right now I'm working a Johnson & Johnson's Buddy Bar deal. If you've got a Meijer nearby, go buy 3 Buddy Bars and you'll figure it out pretty quickly. Right now, I've stockpiled 30 Buddy Bars. I'm going to start buying them to donate to our church's food pantry, since I obviously have enough. 

Any tips? 
Look at travel size toiletries, and always check the clearance tables at the grocery store. Don't be brand loyal. Just because it's cheap doesn't mean that you need it. (Yes, I do have 2 dozen or so bottles of glue. No, I don't need them, even though they were free.) 

I am by no means a coupon pro, but I do have the basics down. There are women out there who are serious, SERIOUS, about their coupons. I like to play a coupon game with myself - I like to see how little I can spend at the grocery store, so I challenge myself to do a little better every week. Hubby likes to tease me about how excited I get when I find a good deal. 

Happy Couponing! 

No comments: