Thursday, October 21, 2010

Things I Love Thursday: COUPONS!

Do you want to guest blog on Things I Love Thursday? Just submit me your ideas at!

So some of you both on and off the blog were amused, and possibly horrified, when I wrote this in my post about losing my mind:

There’s no other way to say this, I am obsessed with coupons. I love them so much I date them. I’m not kidding, I will not cut coupons in a rush or in any atmosphere not conducive to my love for coupons. I light some candles, I settle in with a good TV show, and I tenderly cut at the designated pre-creased spot. I gently place them in my coupon organizer, which coddles them lovingly by expiration date. And said coupon organizer is velcroed everrrr so gently onto the cart so that they are accessible as I check out.

I could not be more serious. The same way I make time to play with Wee ‘Burb and snuggle with my husband and catch up on our day, I make time for coupons.

I think this goes back to when I was a little girl and my mother would sit on Sundays and read the paper. To keep me from bugging the crap out of her, she’d hand over the coupon section and some safety scissors. I don’t think it accomplished what she desired, as I constantly said “Mom, do we need 3 boxes of Cheerios?” until she shouted “NO! Nobody needs 3 boxes of Cheerios!” But it was something I could do with my mom and it always made me feel grown up.

Since then, I’ve always ALWAYS had to have the Sunday paper. And here’s how the ritual has gone since I was old enough to live on my own, and now that I have a family hey, we may legitimately go through 3 boxes of Cheerios!

Step 1: I pull out all the coupons. In our paper, they occasionally sneak some coupons in the front sections of the paper in addition to those wrapped in the Sunday Comics. My philosophy is and always has been “no coupon left behind!”

Step 2: I divide the coupons into piles. I have 3 piles now. There’s the pile I need (these are the store coupons like Target, Kohls, etc. and the generic grocery coupons), the pile my husband rifles through (usually the tool catalogs, Home Depot, stuff like that), and then the toss pile (all the other garbage like the Parade magazine and office supply coupons, etc).

Step 3: Cut first, ask questions later! A lot of people will tell you not to bother cutting coupons that you don’t need because you’ll end up spending money on items that aren’t useful. This is true in some cases. If you don’t use Crest toothpaste, then don’t cut it. But if you use Crest toothpaste, and you just happen to already have a few tubes in your closet (you DO have a closet of extras, don’t you?) it doesn’t hurt to cut them out. I’ll tell you why later. Anyway, I cut out everything we use, or might think about using if the price is right.

Step 4: I keep those coupons handy, and my entire coupon organizer (more on that later, too) around so that I can compare these to the store ads. I’ll compare prices at the different grocery stores and see if anything is on sale.

Know how I know if it’s a good price? I keep a list! I’m not kidding, I have a typed list that I have in my wallet at all times that shows the best prices for products we use all the time.

This allows me to check to see if a deal is really a DEAL or if the store has just marked something up for the sake of marking it down and advertising it. And it also allows me to comparison shop at bulk stores like Costco or to see if I can get a better price (I know it sounds insane, but it took me about 30 minutes and about 3 weeks of receipts to compile a good master list).

THIS is where my hint about cutting first helps. So if a store is advertising a sale on Crest, just because you have a few tubes doesn’t mean it isn’t a deal. If it’s a good sale and you can pick it up for a good price, you’re saving money on a product that has a long shelf life and ultimately you won’t be paying full price when you run out and HAVE to buy it or risk your teeth falling out (am I the only one that has that nightmare?). I typically just go ahead and use a highlighter to highlight the deals on the store ad and use that to make my grocery list later.

Step 5: Organize the coupons. This is an intensely personal choice. Some of you may wish to organize by expiration date, some by product type, some by amount of discount (our grocery stores typically cap a double coupon at $1 and only let you use 5 of them, so if you plan on doing a double coupon day, you may wish to organize them that way). I’m not going to get so political as to tell you how to do it. I choose the expiration date method myself. And I just organize it by month. And this is why I LOVE my new organizer that I bought at Office Max. It actually has 12 different sections and little stickers to organize it by month! And it’s purple, you guys, which is so unintentional, but kind of makes me laugh b/c now my purple purse has my purple Blackberry and purple coupon holder. Look at me all coordinated!

Ok, back to the serious stuff. So that’s how I organize my coupons. I mostly use them from the paper; however there are some great sites out there if you want to download coupons instead. Many require you to download a printer application. In the past I have used and You can also just Google “download grocery coupons” and come up with a bazillion sites.

I also recommend that you go to the home pages of products you use often that rarely go on sale. For example, we use a lot of Eucerin and Aveeno for Wee ‘Burb and I have had good luck on those sites occasionally finding coupons. If there’s something you don’t find in your paper, I encourage you to Google the product name and “coupons” and see what you can find (and please share with me!).

So, that is my process. For the first year that I did double coupon days with my coupons, the LEAST I saved in one visit was $13.54 (that’s a combination of in-store deals with coupons, for those of you who were doing the math and recalling I said they cap the double coupons at $10). While honestly I think a lot of what I love is the organization, the savings doesn’t suck, either, especially when that’s about what it costs me for a year of a newspaper!

So, share and share alike! What sites do you like for coupons? What tricks do you have for saving money on groceries?


Kristen said...

I have no coupon experience but really wish I could get motivated and try some sort of routine! I'm all about saving money right now! I don't get a local newspaper but I'm gonna check out those websites for sure!

Rachel said...

you are obsessed my friend, but I love it!

Kristy said...

I love coupons! I cut them every week. Just today, I had $10 in paper coupons. Very worth it.