3.28.2012

Extreme Couponing […Or Not]

I HATE spending money on groceries.

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So yes, I’m jumping on the couponing bandwagon.

Not sure how “extreme” I’ll get. You know the TLC show? I’ll admit - it’s pretty impressive to watch those people get $500 loads of groceries for nothing, but what bugs me is the things they come home with are NOT things that could feed a family for a week. I mean who needs 27 bags of Doritos and 8 cases of Vitamin Water? And their stockpiles?? I don’t see how anyone could consume that much junk stuff before it expired. (Although one time I saw a guy who donated most of it to food pantries, which I approved of.) But we need meats and veggies. And I’ll be honest… I sometimes get stuck on certain brands, and I don’t know if I could just use whatever.

So yeah - I’m not looking to get THAT extreme, but I do think it’d be nice to use coupons on the things we buy anyway whenever I can. Every little bit counts right?

I usually DO grab coupons when I see something we use. But up until now I’ve just thrown them in my catch-all basket in the kitchen and then I rarely remember to grab them before they expire.

So my first step was to create a designated spot for my coupons…

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I had a lot of Pinterest guidance in putting this together. I got most of the supplies at Target…

  • 3 ring binder
  • page protectors
  • pocket pages (Near the baseball cards by the checkout. I got 2 packages of 35, but only have the first package in my binder so far.)
  • durable stick-on filing tabs (Post-It makes these.)
  • Other things I used… Printer paper and cardstock, a printer, pens, a Sharpie, scissors, binder clips.

I found some cute printables on this site. I printed them on cardstock, but only the ones I planned on using. And I may or may not have altered the text on a few to accommodate my needs? (….….)

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This is my cover page, which I ended up reprinting to include my name and phone number at the bottom just in case someone happened upon my precious coupons.

I chose my categories based on how I shop and the layout of most stores. Each section starts with the category printable in a page protector (marked with a tab) and is followed by a few pocket pages for coupons.

These are my categories…

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Produce, deli, bakery, butcher, etc.

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Cereal, condiments, snacks, bread, baking, juice, bottled water… Basically everything in the middle isles.

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Meats, cheeses, milk, yogurt…

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Self explanatory.

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Trash bags, foil, toilet paper, Ziplocs, paper towels, etc.

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Any and all cleaning products, detergents, laundry products.

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Diapers and wipes, soaps, hair stuff, oral care, medicine, cosmetics, etc.

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Mainly for my craft store coupons but could also include paper, pens, school supplies, ink cartridges, you name it.

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Decor, organization, kitchen supplies, small appliances… Right now there’s a World Market coupon in there and a few for Bed Bath & Beyond (which are in a page protector since they’re huge). This also includes home improvement - I filed a Sherwin Williams and a few Lowe’s coupons here.

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Toys, DVDs, movie theaters, “fun” places like Chuck E. Cheese, events…

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Pizza, ice cream, Chick-fil-A, restaurants…

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Most of these are coupons I get in the mail. The Children’s Place, Osh Kosh, Carter’s, DSW, Famous Footwear…

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Right now I have one Buy Buy Baby coupon in here. If I still had an infant I’d probably have a separate Baby section for diapers, formula, and all that good stuff.

And my last section contains blank grocery lists in a page protector…

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I created this printable because it’s how my brain is organized while I shop.

The top box is for the weekly menu. I’ve found menu planning to be essential in cutting the grocery bill. Otherwise I end up aimlessly shopping and find myself going back several times a week for dinner items.

Then there is a box for each store section, in the order that I come to them. The Misc box is for any toys/clothes/office supplies/home items I may need to pick up, and the last one I labeled as Central Market because I usually do a main grocery run on Sunday and then make a separate trip to CM on Monday or Tuesday to pick up fresh produce or fish.

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I put a few clips on my binder to hold my grocery list on the outside and the coupons I plan on using on the inside while I shop.

The final step was adding coupons! I organized all the ones I had, then hopped online to print even more…

  • Target - I do a lot of my shopping there and they have a huge printable coupon database on their site. They have a lot of good deals on toys right now for Easter. Specifically, 50% off most of their Fisher Price and Disney toys.
  • Coupons.com - I got a ton from here.
  • Red Plum
  • Manufacturer Sites - I went directly to the sites of products we like and found a few printable coupons. (Huggies, Cottonelle, Coffee Mate, etc.)
  • Sunday Paper - We usually don’t get the paper, but I signed up for Sunday just for the coupons.

So my binder is pretty decently stocked now. The baseball card holders are like the perfect size. I didn’t realize this until later, but I tri-folded most of my printed coupons to fit, and look…

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It shows the picture on the front for quick reference, and the coupon specifics on the back. Perfect!

Now I’m interested in how much I can save by incorporating couponing in to my normal shopping routine. Typically…

  • I make 1 trip a month to Costco to stock up on meat (they have the best quality for the best deal), cereal, prepackaged kid snacks, juice, organic milk, eggs, diapers, etc. I actually need to add another section in my binder for our monthly Costco coupons.
  • Then I make 1 trip to Target a week (Ok , 1 grocery trip to Target a week…) to get most of what I need for that week’s dinners and whatever we’re out of.
  • And like I said - now that we’re near Central Market, we love going there at the beginning of the week to get a few dinner ingredients that I prefer to have fresh - fish, vegetables, fruit, bread…
  • Once we get settled in a house, I’d love to join a co-op for fruits and veggies and there are also several organic ranches around here that will deliver whole and half “cows.” I’d love to do that a few times a year to stock our freezer with quality beef.

Right now the plan is to clip and print coupons every Sunday, and weed out expired ones monthly. I’m sure I’ll be tweaking my system as I learn the ins and outs of this crazy little thing called Couponing.

Any and all suggestions are welcome!


**I decided to go ahead and share this as a PDF for those of you who’s brain may work like mine. I omitted “Central Market” in the last box so it can be used for anything…

ShoppingList

{ Click here to view/print. }

I lightened up the colors after printing my own to be easier on the ink and I actually like it better. For best results choose “Scale to Fit” and “Center” before printing. Let me know if you have any trouble with the link or printing. Enjoy!

20 comments:

Melissa Lancaster said...

This is great! Thanks for posting this. I know what my next little project is going to be - creating a coupon binder. We live right by a Central Market too, and they have the best tiramisu! If you haven't tried anything from the bakery there - do it! :-)

Tamara @ T {times} Three said...

What a great idea! I need to get more serious about saving money with groceries. How you think Target's grocery prices compare to a grocery store? I've never really compared... but the more time I can spend in Target, the better, ha!

Miranda said...

I LOVE your binder!! Super organized!!! I made a coupon binder a LOOOONG time ago but it wasn't as organized as I'd like so I was always frustrated..LoL - you make me want to try again!!! :)

Andrea said...

Wow, You are so organized! I haven't really tried to coupon because it's just overwhelming and we mostly buy meats and veggies only. But since Gracie came along {she's 1 now} I find myself buying other things that I could definitely use coupons for. I need to get serious about saving money at the grocery store. I usually go to Wal-mart and they price match {without proof, but of course I'm honest about it} so I just make a note in my phone of prices of things I need at other stores and let the cashier know and they match it. I usually save around $10 - $15 dollars a week, so that's a start! I think they take coupons on top of the price match too

Lacy said...

I like your set up.. I've been putting one together myself.. Thanks for sharing your PDF.. :)

Elizabeth said...

I love the print outs! This is a great idea! I got into couponing a couple of months ago but I just have them organized in ziplock bags. Your set up is MUCH more organized and I think I may need to copy your idea! :) Thanks for the print out, too! :)

Saving Texas Style said...

Great deals at Target this week for games and fun stuff. Check out moneysavingmom.com or couponing101.com. Good luck.

Saving Texas Style said...

Great deals at Target this week for games and fun stuff. Check out moneysavingmom.com or couponing101.com. Good luck.

Love from Texas said...

@Tamara - I shop at Target mainly for convenience. I think their regular prices are a bit more than Kroger and Wal-Mart, but less than Tom Thumb. (I don't have a Kroger close-by and I don't prefer shopping at Wal-Mart, but I sometimes do.) I also choose Target because I can pick up other non-grocery items we may need, and I LOVE their store brands which helps save money too. I also usually get a ton of great catalina coupons when I checkout.

Megals said...

Since you shop at Target so much, you should check out http://www.totallytarget.com/ I find all kinds of great deals because of that site!!! :) I love it because it gives you a breakdown of all of the coupons you can use {Target and manufacturer} and the links to them if they're available online.

Devon said...

Terrific idea - and so organized! I cut out a few coupons here and there, but (like you said) I always forget to use them. A few friends are really in to "extreme couponing" too. I think I might have to make a binder myself!!

Meg said...

Are you doing any kind of stockpiling/looking at sites for weekly deals or are you just using coupons for what you'd normally buy when you'd normally buy it?

Living The Adventures said...

oh this post makes me so happy! i just love couponing and have tired many times to stick with it but for some reason I always lose control ha!
love how organized you are!
I totally agree that if I dont make a meal plan then i spend hundreds of dollars I shouldnt have ha!

Caitlin said...

This is such a cute idea! I too am guilty of finding coupons for brands the hubs and I use then leaving them at home when I go to the store. Overall I think I've used a coupon maybe twice in my life. I'll be creating a book like this for sure. Keep us posted on the savings! Best of luck!

Jenny said...

Love those printables!!! They would make me want to coupon!

Love from Texas said...

@Meg - No stockpiling or matching coupons with deals as of now. Although if I happen upon a good coupon/deal I may buy several. I'm just wanting to use coupons as much as I can in my regular shopping :)

thequietcenter said...

I would imagine couponing would be even sweeter with cashback on all your shopping at Walmart, Lowe's and BP Gasoline amongst other places.

I get cashback on all my shopping there and would love to help you do the same.

All About the Armes' said...

Thank you so much for the printable! I have a binder very similar to yours that I LOVE! :o)

Tiffany said...

I was wondering how you changed some the printables you used. I like the categories you organized and would like to print out the ones I couldn't find on the link you posted.

Jody said...

We buy half a cow each year and have it butchered into what we will use - we have also done half a pig. I would definitely encourage that - it is costly up front, but saves so much in the long run!