Want to start using coupons? Not sure how to get started? Think it is too much trouble? The average shopper can save 15-25% off of a trip to the grocery store and over time, the savings can really add up. In addition to saving money, pre-planning your grocery store trips will save you time inside the store, eliminate extra trips for forgotten items, and provide you with a meal plan for the week.
Begin by signing up for your stores affinity card and keep it with you always. Next, set aside the coupons from the Sunday paper. I use envelopes to separate my coupons by category and as I file them, I write the name of the product, the amount of the coupon and how many of those coupons I have on the outside of the envelope-on the flap side. Often you can use two coupons for buy one, get one free offers. This method takes a few more minutes at home but saves time and frustration inside the store. You don’t have to shuffle through your stack of coupons while trying to decide which detergent is a better value – simply look on the envelope and do the math.
I keep my coupon envelopes inside a gallon-size baggie. They fit perfectly in there if you stand the envelopes up the long way. I organize the envelopes alphabetically. Mine start with baking items and end with toiletries. You may prefer smaller categories. Start with fewer coupons so this doesn’t become a huge project and only clip the coupons for items that you use. If you are already feeling like this is too much work, begin with just coupons for toiletries and cleaning items and then add from there.
Also keep one quart-sized baggie inside the gallon baggie. Use this to keep your unfiled coupons during the week and then once inside the store, use it to keep the coupons you will be redeeming at check-out.
Try to limit your trips to the store to once a week. Before you go, take time to organize your coupons if you haven’t done so yet. Save the weekly circular from your grocery store or look it up online and see what is on sale. Make a menu for the week based upon those sale items. Pay special attention to those items that you also have a coupon for and stock up. Think about your schedule for the upcoming week and which nights are the busiest. Try to incorporate your slow cooker or cook a double batch of the entrée and re-purpose it on your busiest nights. When making your shopping list and your weekly menu plan, use your word processing software and save it to update next week.
If you have expired coupons and/or coupons you did not use you can send them to the troops. Read more about his great program at “Coupons for Military Families”.
If you are looking for grocery savings WITHOUT clipping coupons, see these two stories for alternatives:
Automatic -E Coupons that load directly to your store affinity card, read about how to do this HERE.