Monday, April 26, 2010
My coupon book
Every time I shop, I have someone ask to look at my book. I have shared it on here before a few years ago, but will again to kick off this new section of my blog on saving money.
First, understand I only use a coupon on an item IF that allows me to get it cheaper than the generic, or cheaper than at Aldi. Often, when combining coupons with sales, CVS bonus bucks, or Walgreen's rebates, I get items free--such as toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo... But, to take full advantage of this, you usually can not be brand loyal.
Also, remember that often stores such as Dollar Tree and Dollar General also take coupons and also have name brand items at much less. This allows me to get name brand cereal often for $1 a box or sometimes free.
My coupon book goes everywhere with me. (My kids and husband will attest to this-we can't leave the house without it!) You never know when you may come across an unadvertised special or discounted item that you have coupons for, and you want your coupons with you-not at home.
After having my coupons in folders, envelopes, boxes and coupon holders, I came across keeping them in a 3 ring notebook binder. Inside the binder I have clear plastic photo sheets (the type with pockets that hold pictures).
Each pocket is labeled with a different category, and they are arranged in alphabetical order. I don't like standing in a store searching, so I have lots of categories--so I can find a coupon quicker. I have around 50 pockets. Some of my pockets are labeled as followed--air fresheners, baby, baking goods, batteries, beverages, bread & crackers, candy & gum, canned goods, cereals and breakfast foods, chips,.... You will want to adjust your categories for your needs.
After my pocket section, I then have a section of my book that has the large plastic page protector sheets. I have around 7 of those. Inside those sheets, I keep the current weekly ad for a store. Each store has its own protector sheets. As I study the ad, I move coupons for the sale items to that pocket for the store I plan to use them in. As I enter the store, I can easily flip to that ad and see those coupons for that visit. So, I have a page for Dollar General, CVW, Walgreen, Price Chopper, HyKlas, HyVee and Office Depot.
For my area, most of these stores are just a couple blocks from each other, so I don't waste a lot of time or fuel going from one to another. Also, I generally do not hit all these stores in a week.
As my coupons expire, I pull them out and pass them on to a military family who can use them. (Most commissaries take expired coupons.)
I generally spend about 90 minutes a week clipping my coupons and organizing them with the sale ads. My time to do this is on Sunday night while the kids are in youth group. We live 30 minutes from church, so I take them and then go to an empty Sunday School classroom and do my coupons. Sometimes a couple other moms join me in doing the same.
If you see an item you can get for free or next to free that you don't use--get it anyway and then donate it. I have given several blood sugar testers to our local food pantry to pass on to someone who could not afford one. They were ones I got free at CVS after rebates and CVS bucks. When you donate them, be sure to ask for a receipt for your taxes for donation purposes.
Also, check your area and join the free frequent shopper programs, such as CVS bonus bucks, Price Chopper frequent shopper and Office Depot work rewards....and many more.