Getting started using coupons is not as hard as you may believe. I took a basic couponing class and from there, I gleaned a lot of helpful information, but then I needed to find my own way to make things work. When standing in line at the supermarket, I get tons of questions. This post should address many of them.
So where do you find coupons?
There are many places where you can get coupons, such as on-line printable coupons, e-coupons that you can download to your store loyalty card, and in flyers distributed by local stores. Of course, we all know that coupons come in our area newspapers. This is probably the location from which most shoppers acquire their coupons, thus I’ll focus primarily on this resource. Usually, an individual will buy only one paper a week. I purchase four and recommend that you purchase multiple papers a week as well.
Every week there are usually one to three sets; such as Red Plum, Smart Source, as well as P&G (Proctor and Gamble) brand in each paper. Make sure that when you buy your papers that each one has the correct number of sets in it. Really all you need for easy couponing is…coupons!
1. Preparing: Now that you have the coupons, you can start clipping. Make sure that you have a large, flat, clean area to work on. Next, take all the sets of one type, for example all of the Red Plum sets, and then take the first page of each set and stack them on top of each other. I cut each set of pages stacked together. Repeat this process with the other pages.
2. Cutting: Avoiding the bar-code, staple the coupons together or use paperclips to prevent the pages from sliding around. Cut your coupons out slowly and carefully, to keep from cutting the bar-code. Paperclipping or stapling is optional. It just helps keep everything straight and neat.
3. Sorting: After cutting out the coupons, the sorting begins. During the cutting process, I sort my coupons by alphabetical order into an index card filer. You can also sort them by product, such as: meat, fresh produce, dairy, breads/crackers, household cleaners, medicine, and so on. Alphabetical is the way I settled upon after much trial and error.
4. Organizing: After coupons are cut out and sorted, you will need to put them into some type of organizer. There are many different styles out there. I use a three-ring binder with baseball card protector pages in it. I place tabs in alphabetical order on thirty-six pages (one for each letter). You will find that most letters will need additional pages. The beginning of each week check what type of deals your store is having and pull the coupons you plan to use. Place them into an envelope and they are ready to use. On days that I have limited time I take the envelope of coupons for advertised deals only. When I have plenty of time to shop, I take my binder with me, to match up unadvertised deals and clearance items.