Saturday, April 25, 2009

Coupons 101

Ok, finally. Many of you have been after me to tell you how I use coupons. So I thought I'd blog about it and get you all off my back. Just kidding. I'm going to give an overview and then break it down store by store so hopefully it's not a lot of information just thrown at you that you have to wade through.

Where do I find coupons?
In your Sunday Paper of course and in a magazine called All You that's found only at Wal-Mart or through a Southern Living At Home consultant for a yearly subscription. There are also many websites that you can print coupons from. I'll talk about internet coupons later and add the links to the websites on that post.

The picture above is some coupon inserts from the Sunday paper and the cover of the May issue of All You. The first thing to do when you get these inserts is to cut or clip all of the coupons for the things you think you'll actually buy. I don't buy candles unless they are on sale so I wouldn't clip the candle coupons for my coupon book. So I'll leave them attached to the insert and file them way for later on. Once you've clipped all your coupons Do Not Throw Out The Sunday Coupon Inserts!!!!!! Write the date on the front of the inserts and then grab a binder or file box and store these away for later use. I'll go into why a little later.

Now I've got a stack of clipped coupons. What do I do with them?
Get yourself a binder, whatever kind you like and something that can hold a lot of inserts. Here's what I picked for my own. I like the clear cover so I could easily spot my coupon folder from the kids folders in the house.

I also picked up some baseball card sleeves to hold all my coupons instead of using pockets. When I was using the little coupon dividers you can find in Wal-Mart I was still having to pull out the entire stack of coupons and go through them before I went to the store. VERY time consuming. Using the baseball card sleeves allows me to see all my coupons and quickly flip through to see if I have a coupon for the item I want to buy.

I also used a label maker to label my coupons into specific groups. Frozen Food, Cold food, Snacks, Cereal, Baking Needs, Shampoos, Toothpaste and Mouthwash, Deodorant etc. However you want to group your coupons is fine, as long as it's a time saver and works for you. I even know of a few that group their coupons by store aisles. This is just the method that works for me.
(The other day I finally picked up some sticky tabs so I'm going to put a sticky tab above the label so I can flip through groups at a time and not a page at a time. I'll post about that too I'm sure.)

I also have a purple, blue, yellow and green divider in my folder. I have all food coupons in a different section than I have all the non-food products like shampoo and deodorant and I use the blue divider to, well, divide them. I also have a section for restaurant coupons and Target coupons; which I'll get more into later on.

Really, it's your folder, organize it to be efficient and for what works for you and how you shop. I'm just going over my style of couponing. :)

Once you've clipped all your coupons, and got them organized and put the Sunday inserts away for later use; you're ready to start looking for what I like to call Steals and Deals of the Week.

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