As we drove home from the event, he said, “I was really shocked at how many people said that they just don’t have time to coupon. Our lives are really hectic; if we can do it, anybody can.”
I think most people who want to coupon but do not take the plunge feel that it must take many hours of planning. If that were true, I would not be able to coupon. I spend one to two hours a week getting my binder ready, and then I shop at one grocery store for about an hour to an hour and a half each week. I might go to one drugstore if I really see a deal that I want and spend less than 30 minutes shopping.
Now, if I wanted to invest more time, I could hop around to more than one grocery store and/or drugstore and get my totals even lower, but my schedule doesn’t allow for that. My savings averages are a little lower than someone who does hop around from store to store, but I still save at least 50 percent to 65 percent off full retail prices each week.
How do I coupon without spending a lot of time? My first secret is in the way I organize my coupon binder. My system was created to help me spend the minimum amount of time getting coupons ready to go shopping. I know that most people will think carrying a three-ring binder in a store is a little strange, but using a two- or three-inch binder filled with plastic sheets made for collecting baseball cards allows me to quickly find the coupon I need.
My next time-saving secret is that I organize my coupons into sections by using subject dividers. I divide coupons into 16 categories, such as beverages, meat and dairy, canned goods, etc. I have couponing friends who organize theirs by alphabetical order or by aisle of their favorite store. Creating a binder allows you to customize it.
I spent about $40 to build my binder three years ago. Only the binder has changed in those three years; I still have the same baseball cards sheets and dividers.
My next-time saving tip is how I cut the coupons. Don’t cut one page at a time – that would take forever. Cut them all at once: I get four newspapers each week, so I pull out each weekly insert. Then I match each page so I have four of the same page and cut all four at once. I try to cut a little bigger than the coupon, because sometimes the pages don’t line up perfectly.
After I cut the coupons, I immediately put them on a coupon mat to sort. My mat is a Microsoft Publishing document that I created, but one can be handmade in minutes: Divide a piece of paper into fourths with a marker and write each section of your binder (in order) on the paper. Since I divide my binder into 16 sections, I have four pages of coupon mats. When I have finished cutting all of my coupons, I sort them into 16 piles on my table.
Now that the coupons are cut and sorted, I can begin adding them to my binder. As I add new coupons into each section, I look for coupons that might have expired and remove them. Once I am done, I am almost ready to shop. After I complete my binder, I check two or three coupon blogs for weekly matchups and print a copy of those. I will also grab the store ad (and any competitors’ ads if they price-match).
I also bring a list of any groceries or supplies I need for the week. Now I am ready to go shopping. Meet me at the grocery store and let’s get saving!