It's All Frugal

Effective Couponing and Other Frugal Tips & Tricks

Week 3

Coupon Shopping Basics

This week we will discuss strategies of coupon shopping. Coupon shopping is a different experience than what you may be used to. I suggest you start out small with less than 10 items on your spreadsheet. Keep this shopping separate from your everyday shopping at first. Once you have been a couponer for a while, it will be easier to add your everyday needs items to your couponing spreadsheet.

Preparing for your shopping trip

I narrow down my lists each week and come up with a list I call “Final Roundup”. This list will be my final shopping trip list and not all the available deals. The next thing to do is clip my coupons. Since you have all the info you need in your spreadsheet, it is so much easier to pull all the inserts you need (or coupons if you are using a binder) and file by store.

I keep a Purse Size Coupon Organizer Wallet  on me for my weekly shopping trips, like the one below.

It has lots of pockets and I use the following categories:

  • One for each store
  • One for “Other” or “Misc” coupons
  • One for “High Value” & “Freebie” coupons (after a while, you will know which coupons will regularly give you freebies-I cut these and have them on me at all times)
  • One for Baby coupons (this category will obviously not pertain to everyone)
  • One for “Soon to Expire” coupons
  • One for receipts that I receive – I enter these into a spreadsheet to track my savings. I like to know at the end of the year how much I have saved.
  • The front pocket I keep as a “current collection” pocket. At each store I will pull the coupon as I put the product in my basket. This way all your coupons are together and ready to go at checkout.

As I cut the coupons I will be using each week, I put them in my coupon sorter by store. I arrange the coupons in order of my spreadsheet so they are easy to find and use a paper clip (or binder clip) to keep them together. This is where I pull from as I am shopping and drop the coupons into the “current collection” pocket. It sounds like a lot of work, but it is super easy as long as you are organized. Sometimes you will clip coupons and the store will be out of that item or the sale will be different due to regional differences. I put the unused coupons back in that store’s section and I clean out my organizer on Monday mornings when I update my Savings spreadsheet with my receipts. This is also why I keep envelopes in my coupon purse. There are 20 envelopes and they are labeled with categories. I file these clipped coupons here since they will not go back into my file cabinet. This is also where I file my printable coupons.

At the store

I organize my spreadsheet by aisle so that I am not backtracking and wasting time. When I get to the aisle, I grab the product I am looking for and using my spreadsheet, I know how many of that item I need to put in my cart and how many coupons I will be using for those items. After I put each product in the cart, I pull out the coupon(s) for that product and put in the front pocket of my coupon divider. That way, when I reach the checkout lane, each coupon is together and ready. I can compare the total number of coupons I have with the amount I have on my spreadsheet. That way, I know that all coupons have been accounted for.

A few things to Note:

As you learn to coupon, you will run into “quirky” situations at each store that will throw your planning off. Do not be afraid to ask them to cancel the transaction and start again. It is your money, and your time……do not be embarrassed when things do not go as planned!

Since I can shop at up to 7 stores each week, I like to keep a cooler or insulated tote bag in my trunk for cold or frozen items. It’s not saving money if you have to throw an item away from spoiling.

Make sure you always ask customer service for a raincheck on the advertised sale items that are out of stock. These rain checks allow you to come back at a later date to take advantage of the sale price. See each store for limitations on these rain checks.

Week 3 Wrap Up

At the end of week 3, you should have tried at least one couponing trip. As with everything else, practice makes perfect so don’t be discouraged if the trip does not go exactly as you planned. It will only get easier and I enjoy all of my coupon shopping trips now that I consider myself an expert.

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