*Please note: Not all couponing methods are alike. You will know if your system or method is effective when you are able to quickly access your coupons in a short amount of time AND you are able to save at least 60% or more.
Step 1: Create a Coupon Binder (a zippered cloth binder with handles work best), add clear sports card pocket holders, along with binder tabs you can customize and label. There are several Coupon Binder Kits available that are ready to go if you would rather purchase them.
Step 2: Label each section of your binder tabs based on the grocery section aisles of the most common grocery store you purchase your groceries.
Step 3: Purchase 2-3 copies of the Sunday newspaper to begin collecting coupons. I suggest purchasing a newspaper subscription to receive better cost savings. Be patient and expect to collect about 4-5 weeks worth of coupons and keeping them organized before you'll start seeing true results. It may seem expensive at first, but trust me, over a short period of time you'll see dramatic savings.
Step 4: DO NOT cut out every coupon from the Sunday newspaper – instead, save each coupon booklet and file them by coupon insert type (SmartSource or RedPlum) and date in file folders in an organized filing system with labels for easy access. You'll find the dates on the binding corners of each coupon book. Staying organized is critical in Couponing success.
Step 5: Print out high-value coupons from my Printable Coupons section of Couponing each week (don't forget that you can print twice). These coupons can be cut and folded into the clear business card or sports card pocket holders and appropriately filed within the tabs you labeled with your grocery aisles. *Note: Printing takes up a lot of ink and paper, so only print the high-value and/or coupon matchups you'll be using for the current sales.
Step 6: Instead of going through every store's weekly advertisement and matching coupons to sales yourself – use Coupon Matchup Sites like Coupon Mom (which is a completely free site and one of the BEST places to start for couponing newbies). You can even sign up for Coupon Mom's weekly newsletter so you can be notified of new sales and coupon match-ups! There are other matchup sites that offer free trials, however, keep in mind that there are monthly fees associated with the subscription of those sites. You will be able to identify and match coupons with store sales over time. For now, get yourself acclimated with the process.
Step 7: Locate the deals you'd like to buy from the Coupon Matchup Sites with your available coupons. I like to do each store one by one. Be sure to sort based on the highest savings and the least cost.
Step 8: Create a “Store Visit Plan” with the order of which stores you'll visit first. Always go to the store with the longest list of purchases first and do the smallest list last. Go late at night or during off-peak hours so that you aren't stressed out with crowds or finding yourself waiting in long lines. You should have everything organized to where your store visits will be quick (I'm usually in-and-out of the stores within 30-minutes or less).
Step 9: Carry a list of which products to ‘Buy Now'. Because sales come in 12-week cycles, that will usually allow many of the items you purchase to be free or for pennies on the dollar. If the price is right, FREE, or a Money Maker, buy it now!
Step 10: When you check out, have your coupons in hand ready so that you can closely monitor the cash register while the cashier is scanning each item (in case there may be a price discrepancy). Remember that numbers are a huge factor in savings, so be sure they are as accurate as possible!).
**Make sure to bring your store's coupon policy with you in case there are situations where the cashier may be challenging your item's price, quantity, coupon, etc.
Step 11: Once all items have been scanned – here is the best way to present your coupons to the cashier:
At Grocery Stores:
· Store Coupons FIRST
· Manufacturers Coupons SECOND
· Printable coupons sometimes stick so if you plan to redeem printable coupons, try to stagger them (ex: one printable coupon and then one newspaper coupon)
At Drug Stores:
· Manufacturer Coupons FIRST
· Store Coupons SECOND
· Extra Care Bucks (ECB) with CVS or Register Rewards (RR) with Walgreens
Present them in a stack at the end (once the cashier has scanned all the items). You will also need to watch your Cashier closely as he/she redeems each coupon. There's nothing more exciting and more satisfying than seeing large amounts of money go down in price from your coupon scans.
Step 12: Save and review the receipt for any discrepancies. If you find a discrepancy make sure to immediately head to the Customer Service department to attempt to resolve the matter. Don't wait until you get home to check your receipt(s) – check it right away while you're still at the store.
Step 13: When you arrive home, arrange a “Stockpile” area where you can clearly see all items available on hand. If you have more than one of the same item, make sure to group them together in a row (as if you stocked your own grocery store aisle). Make sure the oldest items or the soonest expiration dates are at the front of each row.