As an all American broke college student, a hobby I picked up throughout my college years is moderate couponing.
What is moderate couponing?
It’s the habitual practice of collecting, organizing, and using coupons frequently enough to embarrass your mother when you hold up the grocery check-out line, but not frequently enough to where your couponed treasures have their own room in your house or a tv show.
See? I am not an extreme couponer, but I do have a method to my madness which I will share with you today. Couponing takes organization, time, and patience; however, once you consistently start saving money, it suddenly seems less burdensome. My mom regularly rolls her eyes at me because while she can smell a sale from a mile away, she gets embarrassed by my coupon clipping.
Similarly, Benny was hesitant to be enthused about this hobby until I knocked his grocery bill down from $170 to $80. That’s right, almost $100 of money saved. Bam, doubt me now.
Hopefully I’ve made a believer out of you, but in the event I have not, I am going to walk you through my typical couponing process, and I hope you will start seeing the savings rolling in too!
- 3-ring binder
- Sheet protectors
- Baseball card sheet protectors
- Your city’s latest Sunday paper
For starters, you will want to purchase your latest Sunday paper.
Notice on the top right of the front page, it indicates the savings value of the coupons. I advise never purchasing the paper if it has less than $100 worth of savings because you can figure only one-third to one-half of the coupons will be relevant to your needs. If the paper has high savings, I sometimes snag two!
Next, you’ll want to separate the coupons from the rest of the newspaper.
Once you’ve pulled out your coupons, go ahead and pick out any that won’t be of use to you. For instance, I pulled out the Havertys and hardware store ads because I know that I will not purchase anything from these, even with a coupon.
The next thing I do is look for the glossy event ads because they often contain coupons with quick approaching expiration dates. For instance, in this Sunday’s paper, I found this 4th of July themed Michaels ad which has two coupons that expire this week. I cut these out and place them in my planner to remind myself through this week that I have them in the event I need an item from that store, or can think of something I’ll need from there soon.
After discarding ads I don’t need and pulling out coupons that will expire soon, I begin cutting out the various manufacturers’ coupons. I place the weekly ads and specials of specific stores to the side.
As I am clipping the manufacturers’ coupons, I put them in piles based on the product to which they pertain. For instance, I categorize mine according to groceries, toiletries/beauty products, restaurants/fast food, and fashion/retail.
Once I’ve clipped all of the coupons that interest me, I begin organizing them in my budget binder. I have sheet protectors to place the weekly ads and retail catalogues in.
I organize my coupons by category into the baseball card sheet protectors. I order them according to expiration date.
And there you have it! That’s my couponing routine.
Here are some tips I advise keeping in mind when couponing:
1. Brand loyalty has to go out the door to maximize savings.
2. Buy items when there’s a coupon for them versus waiting until you need them. It’s called stocking up, and although at first it may feel unnatural, it saves more in the long run.
3. Clip coupons for items you wouldn’t necessarily buy without a coupon (try out products), but don’t waste time clipping coupons for lawnmowers if you live in a high rise.
4. Keep your coupons in your car because you never know when you will need them!
5. Get rewards cards to all the drugstores and some nearby grocery stores. I have cards to CVS, Walgreens, Krogers, etc. Nothing is better than checking out at Walgreens and finding out I have $10 worth of points I can put towards my purchase. All of these cards are FREE, and for places like Krogers and Publix, you can upload digital coupons on your card.
6. Know when your stores come out with their ads. I know that CVS and Walgreens will always supply their weekly ads in the Sunday paper, but Public and Krogers put theirs out on Wednesdays.
7. To maximize savings, be willing to visit multiple stores to kick out your list.
I hope this helps you save some moolah and helps you organize your couponing! If you are already a seasoned couponer, what advice do you have for newbies?