How We Organize Our Coupons and Execute Our Coupon Strategy

In the past, I’ve mentioned a lot of disparate facts about how we collect and use coupons, so I thought it might be worthwhile to show off our entire coupon organization system so it’s clear how we do it. Because of this system, the only time we really invest in coupons is a bit of spare time during Sunday breakfasts, some late evening idle internet surfing, and a few extra minutes when assembling our grocery list, and we often save $30 at the store because of coupons. Our system is not one of those complex and obsessive ones that tries to squeeze out every nickel – it’s merely the methodology we’ve found that gives us the maximum bang for the buck.

Here’s how we maximize our coupon value, from top to bottom.

Meet Our Coupon Binder

The best place to start is the centerpiece of the system: our coupon binder.

Our coupon binder

It’s actually just a very cheap photo album with clear pockets and a binder that allows you to move pages around as you wish. Whenever we have a new coupon to add, we just toss it in the binder in the appropriate place.

Appropriate place? We sort our coupons by one criteria and one criteria alone: by expiration date. This makes it easy for us to quickly find and eliminate the expired coupons and also keep tabs on the coupons that are getting close to expiration.

Here’s a peek inside the binder.

Inside the coupon binder

As you can see, the coupons each have a pocket to themselves, so we can quickly flip through the book and find what we want. We keep multiples of the same coupon in the same pocket. Thumbing through reams of coupons is a giant waste of time and drastically reduces the cost-effectiveness of the coupon clipping time investment.

The Coupons We Clip

We have a pretty simple set of criteria for clipping a coupon.

First, is it something we’re sure we’ll use? If so, we’ll clip any coupon for that item.

Second, does the coupon have a face value of $1 or more? These are coupons that are usually used as part of a large marketing campaign for a specific product and are ones that are often paired with a sale in the store within the next month or two (the one month coupon strategy at work). If we might use the product (in other words, we use that type of product, but not necessarily that brand), we’ll clip it. It’s because of this that I’m currently using Herbal Essences shampoo and Old Spice body wash in the shower, for example – I wouldn’t normally buy those brands, but clipping big discount coupons and waiting for a sale made the items very cheap.

Third, is the coupon for an item that’s often cheap or on sale anyway? A good example here is breakfast cereals (which is why you see the Honey Nut Cheerios coupon in the binder above) – they’re usually low in price and regularly go on sale, too.

If a coupon hits one of these categories, we clip it. This means our binder is often close to full and we often toss about half of the coupons we clip, but the other half really save us a lot.

Where Do We Get Coupons?

On Sunday mornings, I usually clip coupons from the Sunday paper at the breakfast table while everyone’s eating breakfast. I’ll just quickly go through the coupon sections, cut the coupons we want, and save any store flyers I see (they’re important later). This is a minimal time investment, because we’d all be sitting there eating breakfast anyway, and it’s a good opportunity to teach the value of living frugally to the kids.

If the Sunday coupons are exceptionally good, I’ll go to the local convenience store really early on Monday morning and ask the cashier to let me pillage coupon sections out of the old Sunday papers. I’ll score ten papers’ worth of flyers and cut the goodies out of them the following Sunday.

On lazy evenings, my wife or I will do some web surfing, finding coupons at places like Coupons.com and Target.com. The latter is especially nice because you can use the Target.com coupons and manufacturer coupons at the same time on purchases at Target, so you can get stuff for free sometimes if you plan carefully.

If I identify some truly exceptional coupons (for example, not long ago I had coupons for $2 off a jug of V-8 Fusion – that’s the 100% juice V-8), I might hit up a coupon broker to send me a bunch of copies of that coupon. I just Google “coupon broker” and then pay someone else a few cents to dig through their flyers and clip the coupons for me.

That’s all we do. It takes very little time in a given week to collect all the coupons and toss them in the binder.

The Pre-Shopping Ritual

Each Friday evening (or sometimes Saturday evening), we’ll assemble a grocery list. We usually make up a meal plan for the next week, make sure we have everything we need for all of those meals, and then check on the status of our household staples (toiletries, milk, flour, etc.). This gives us the backbone of our list.

A note on the meal plan We usually base our meal plan on the flyer from the local Fareway – our preferred grocery store. We get the Fareway and Hy-Vee flyers (the two main local grocery chains) in the mail each week and then use them to prepare a meal plan, usually preferring the Fareway flyer (because it’s basically lower on almost everything, as we discovered after some careful pricebooking). We just identify the fresh items on sale in the flyer and then try to base meals around those fresh items.

We also go through the flyers and look for obvious loss leaders in the flyers. What items are on sale that are low enough to seem genuinely surprising? We try to match these up with coupons we have, so that if we add an extra item to the list, we’re adding something that’s only going to cost pennies and is sometimes free.

We then pull out all of the coupons that match up with items on our list and then put them in a few pages at the back of the binder for easy access when shopping.

The extra time added to our shopping planning by coupons is maybe ten minutes, tops. We put probably half an hour total into our shopping preparation, but our whole preparation plan saves us about $50 per grocery shopping trip, so it’s time well spent.

While In The Store

We take our coupon binder with us when grocery shopping, but we primarily just stick to our list. We do keep our eyes open for any unadvertised in-store specials – every once in a while, we’ll find one that matches up well with a coupon in our binder and thus we grab it immediately. Aside from this, we just follow the shopping list, then pull out all of our coupons from the back pages of the binder at the checkout aisle.

Our time actually in the store is vastly reduced compared to the time we’d spend without any preparation. The time savings here mitigates the time investment made with the extra planning.

Is It Worth It?

Two weeks ago (the last “normal” week around here that didn’t involve a weekend camping trip or other chaos), I kept track of the time spent with couponing. If you count the time spent at the breakfast table clipping coupons as time spent just couponing, we spent 23 minutes on coupons alone that week, and an extra 14 minutes on preparing a grocery list and meal plan, giving us a total of 37 minutes spent planning our weekly shopping trip. When in the store, we saved approximately fifteen minutes because we had a tight, clear shopping list to follow, so our total time lost to the coupons was roughly 22 minutes for the week.

The savings from the coupons alone was $21 on our final receipt, a slightly below average week. That means our “wage” for clipping coupons with this system was $57.27 an hour after taxes for the given sample week.

In reality, our savings from investing the time to properly plan our shopping was significantly higher than that, even. By sticking to a shopping list, we avoided many impulse buys. By planning our meals in advance in accordance with the fresh items on sale, we pocketed even more savings on our food purchases. These are additional savings that I’m not even attempting to quantify, but both are real and quite tangible.

Couponing is clearly worth it in our case. The relatively small time investment it adds to our shopping is well worth the real cash savings we realize from our system.

Let me address a few of the usual coupon complaints.

Couponing is stupid because you’re not buying fresh, healthy food. We rarely use food coupons at all, and when we do, they’re usually for breakfast cereals like Cheerios, frozen vegetables, yogurt, and occasionally ice cream. The vast majority of our coupon clipping is for hygiene items (like shampoo, soap, razors, etc.) and other household items (like dishwashing detergent, etc.).

For example, if you look at the picture of our coupon book above, you’ll see six coupons: one frozen yogurt coupon, one Cheerios coupon, one Ziploc baggie coupon, a toothpaste coupon, a body wash coupon, and a facial cleanser coupon. Not exactly a big pile of junk food – and we still save a lot at the store. Our actual meal planning is based around the fresh produce that’s on sale that week.

Couponing is stupid because it’s not cost effective and is a waste of my time. We get $57.27 an hour after taxes for something we can largely do in our pajamas at the Sunday morning breakfast table. If you think that’s a waste of your time, be my guest. I consider it a pretty effective use of my time.

Couponing is stupid because it’s all about consumerism. I don’t really care that much about consumerism if I can get soap for a quarter. I’m not seeking the latest products – I’m seeking cheap. If I can get cheaper quality items without the coupons, the coupons go in the trash. If you want to label that consumerism, feel free, but I consider it a pretty frugal methodology.

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63 thoughts on “How We Organize Our Coupons and Execute Our Coupon Strategy

  1. nICK says:

    Very nice post. The pictures are a nice change of pace. Would like to see some more pictures from some of your projects and homemade items.

  2. Ari Herzog says:

    Here’s a question for you. Suppose you prefer a certain deodorant or toothpaste or body cream but you see a coupon for $1 off some other brand that you’ve never used.

    Do you use the coupon?

  3. Ruth S says:

    If you have a CVS, I suggest looking at their ad every week. They’ve been having some great deals. I just got 8 boxes of GM cereal for less than $1 a box, using their sale and coupons.

  4. Rebecca says:

    I live in NYC and I find that a HUGE portion of the specials in my local grocery store are for store brand or non-coupon items. I also find more often than not that the store brand even if not on special is cheaper than a national brand with the coupon (cereals especially). I am still trying to use coupons on the non-food items, but coupons seem to be less effective here than they were when I lived in Texas and New Mexico.

  5. KJ says:

    Thanks for continuing to post good stuff, Trent.

    Here’s my squeaky wheel comment regarding this post and the mentality in general:

    _This process doesn’t take into account that the stuff you’re buying is good to the planet or good for you._

    I clipped coupons for my family the entire time I was growing up. Sure was nice when a gross generic brand (oh man, generic Oatloops are so nasty) was more expensive than the super-shopper bargain of the real ones (so tasty and crunchy!).

    Over time, though, I came to realize that spending a few pennies more on earth-friendly laundry detergent, toiletries, and cleaning supplies was worth it to me…and the staples of our diet (whole-wheat flour, pasta, rice, beans, soy protein, dairy, fruits and veggies) are usually best-priced by the generic brand at a conventional grocery store.

    There are definitely some brands Dear Partner and I buy on a regular basis, and we watch for those coupons, but I have much more success waiting for store-specific coupons…and I know that the toiletries and foodstuffs I buy are having a minimal impact on the planet…and my waistline.

    Squeak, squeak!

  6. Mac says:

    As a veteran of thumbing through and trying to keep organized stacks of coupons, I love the binder idea!

    By the way, regarding the pictures mentioned in comment #1, until recently I was so frugal that I had dial-up, and I think that one reason I got hooked on your site was because the pages didn’t have a lot of graphics and hence didn’t take eons of time to get to on dial-up. Some extreme frugalites are trying to get by on the free wifi at places like the library and Panera Bread, along with the 10 hours of month of free dial-up that is available from NetZero. It is much more difficult than it used to be to use dial-up because most sites are very graphics intensive now. As for the challenges of free wifi places, some have few or no electric outlets for those of us with weak batteries in our lap tops. Others require a T Mobile account. I enjoy the photo of the binder, but knowing the frustrations and limitations that dial-up users face I think it is more in keeping with the mission of your site to keep pictures to a
    minimum.

  7. Shanel Yang says:

    Coupons? Erf! Yet another layer of frugality I need to explore. My parents just didn’t do this stuff. And now that I know that it actually saves time, I have no more excuses. Thanks, for breaking it all down like that. It really helps!

  8. Eric says:

    @KJ:

    You might be earth conscious, but I suspect that your mentality won’t become mainstream until people have to vote with their dollars. Just like gas prices, people didn’t care about mass transit until gas went over $4/gallon. I would argue that most people don’t care about earth friendly stuff and won’t unless the non-earth friendly stuff is more expensive.

  9. Anna says:

    Re: coupon brokers. Companies market differently in different areas of the country. I buy coupons on ebay from someone in a different region- things I have *never* seen in coupons here! It adds up well, I’m buying organic food cheaper than the regular versions!

  10. Always Private says:

    Nice try.. but the best way to organize coupons.. IMHO.. is to use a plastic monthly check organizer folio.. and have the coupons organized by the various aisles of merchandise at your major supermarket.. that way as you roll up and down the aisles you can have the coupons you might use right there where you can find them for the items on that aisle… and the check organizer folio fits right in your shopping cart..

  11. Hahaha, oh man you are HARDCORE! I love it. And I agree w/ the first commenter Nick – the pictures totally make the post.

  12. Paul says:

    I really loved this post. The picture of the binder did it for me… no more old coupon file, trying to dig through 100 coupons to find the one you want. Thanks again Trent. Gotta go, there’s a binder at the dollar store that’s going to be my new coupon file.

  13. A.M.B. A. says:

    Thanks for the binder idea. I’ve been thinking of how to use coupons more effectively and this post certainly helped. From my haphazard coupon ways, I usually save $5 to $10 – looking forward to hitting that $30 range!

    A bit OT, but places like Bed,Bath & Beyond and Linens&Things have coupons that never expire, even though there is a printed expiration date. I’ve never bought anything in these two stores with out using the “$5 off $15 item or 20% off one item” coupons. You can use a maximum of 5 coupons at checkout. I have dozens of these coupons and usually offer some to those standing in line with me.

  14. TRENT!

    Can you please explain what in the heck a coupon broker is? That sounds Fricking hilarious (but kind of cool)!

    Thanks for the post. I bet old baseball card binders would make great coupon binders, eh? Especially since you sold all of yours on Ebay??

  15. irina says:

    I buy coupons on eBay too and on hotcouponworld.com

    I have some staple food that I buy all the time, so I buy like 40 to 60 coupons at the time. You can usually buy 10 coupons for about $1-2 dollars, on average. Last year there was a really exceptional deal (coupon+sale) on V-8 juice at my store. I bought 100 coupons for V-8 for about $10. I saved about $90 on that. I should be good for V-8 for at least a year or more.

    The loss leader sale+coupon is the scenario that all veteran couponeers are looking for. LOL, but just a coupon, a single coupon is not good enough! LOL

  16. Jenny says:

    Thanks for the post. I just started using coupons about two months ago. I am still debating whether the extra effort is worth my time. But each grocery trip I’ve saved a little more. My last grocery trip I saved $28, so I am sticking with it for now. One question I have is how close does the item have to match the item on the coupon? For example, can I use a “clinical strength” secret deodorent coupon for regular secret? I will be looking into coupon brokers now. Thanks for your tips! So many times I’ve had a coupon that was exactly what I needed, and I wished I could get a bunch of them. Now I know where to look.

  17. Hedy says:

    Great post on coupons!

  18. Aaron says:

    Great post Trent. I use an expandable check file to house mine. I file them by brand, so if I see something while browsing the store (I know; a list) I can see if I have a coupon or not.

    I’ve noticed that by not being brand loyal on everything, you can save *lots* of cash. I got 5 boxes of General Mills cereal (Golden Grahams, etc) for less than $2.75. I know all the health food junkies are staring down their noses, but whatever; I like cereal. And I put in enough mileage on the bike (150/wk or more) to make up for it.

    Free stuff is my favorite. A week or so ago, my local Kroger had whole grain pasta on sale 10 boxes for $10. There had been a $0.50 off coupon a few weeks prior; since they double coupons up to $0.60, it made the pasta free. Needless to say, I bought a lot of 20 coupons off ebay (cost me $2.00) and LOADED UP on the pasta.

    I got a closet full of soap, laundry detergent, toothpaste, paper towels, etc to last a LONG time that was all dirt cheap. It’s kind of addictive really.

    One of the things that helped me the most time wise was a membership to thegrocerygame.com. I used the $1 trial, and was hooked. It gives me a list every week that puts the coupons and local sales together so I know when to really stock up. It even tracks historic low prices so I know when things are at the absolute ‘rock bottom’. You guys should check it out; even if it’s just for the trial period.

    Sorry for the long comment; I just think coupons are great!

  19. Mike says:

    My mother was big into coupon clipping. Me, not so much – I rely on store loyalty sales to save money. Most coupons are largely useless to me because there never seems to be coupons for foods that I like. If Lay’s is running a coupon promotion for their potato chips, and I prefer Utz, I’ll still buy Utz regardless. And such has been the case for the last, oh, ten years. Meh, maybe I’m looking in all the wrong places.

    I do use coupons whenever I order pizza, though. Pizza Hut coupons are so easy to find and usually boast savings of $3-4.

  20. Heather says:

    I’ve been “couponing” for 8 months now and have never had the guts or the organization to buy coupons online. It sounds pretty simple – I guess that’s what I should try next.

  21. Amy says:

    Instead of throwing away coupons I don’t use, I place them on the product shelves at the local grocery store for others to use. I often find coupons this way, too. I know, it takes a few more minutes to do this, but I hate throwing an unexpired coupon away since I’ve taken the time to cut it, thinking I would use it.

  22. MC says:

    You have only scratched the surface my friend! There are people like us everywhere with binders full of coupons saving sweet cash every week on groceries and necessities. But I organize by category in the store so I’m not flipping around like crazy while I’m shopping.

    Check out the forums on these and you’ll enter a whole new world: hotcouponworld.com, afullcup.com(here you can print Target coupons more than one per page). I regularly save anywhere from $20-80 at Target and Walgreens by stacking their store coupons with manufacturer’s coupons. Not to mention Walgreen’s Easysaver Rebate program. Check it out! You could be saving so much more!

  23. Chiara says:

    Ooh, yes, the free stuff…and we haven’t even mentioned drugstore freebies! You’ve got a good system – I’m really going to think about that binder. Going farther into coupons is more of a hobby with benefits. I am currently approaching the hobby side, but I also think of it as one of the trade-offs in the stay-home-with-baby decision. With no job, I have time to take advantage of shopping strategies (with practice it’s taking less and less time), and my kid is right along with me. Since my husband is very set in his ways with his certain personal products, I just find a way to get each one as cheaply as possible (and when it gets *very* cheap it’s really satisfying – SCORE!). That’s easier than trying to foist generics on him (impossible)!

  24. Jessica G. says:

    Just a little tip for you (my girlfriend and I used to coupon- the Giant by us would double manufacturer’s coupons to a dollar). Consider getting baseball card holders for binders. You can cram more coupons in them, and then we also used to separate them with binder dividers.

  25. Anna says:

    Excellent post and great comments, both from experienced coupon users and from those who are just getting turned on to the joys of couponing.

    Agree that the photos are great.

    Trent, two nit-picky comments:

    1. Criteria is the plural of criterion. One criterion, two or more criteria. (I get paid to do this kind of thing. You’re getting a freebie–and without a coupon, too!)

    1. V-8 Fusion has fruit added to the veggies, but all V-8 is 100% juice.

    Keep up the good work!

  26. Mary says:

    I see your coupon book and love it, do you carry your price book to the store too. Wouldn’t it be an idea to combine the two?
    I also hit the freebie sites and requst samples, most of them have great coupons to get you to buy after your try.
    http://WWW.BigBigSavings.com go to forums.
    http://www.Spoofee.com
    http://www.internetdrugcoupons.com/ I save quite a bit on prescription medicine as well as over the counter.

  27. Margaret says:

    Alas, I live in a rural area and we don’t have a sunday paper. Well, the city paper comes out here, but we don’t have any of the city stores. Maybe I will pick one up tomorrow and see if they actually have coupons we would use.

    Re: pictures on websites — I was told once that there is somehow a way to set your computer or browser so that it just skips pictures. It was in reference to people who are blind using the internet, and the person mentioned that they have faster download times because they turn off the pictures. Trent could probably tell you how to do it, and it certainly would be frugal if you have limited time on the internet and you don’t want to waste ten minutes each time you have to download a picture.

  28. Andie G. says:

    I have been clipping coupons for one month and I am soooo disorganized, most of the time I can’t even find them in my purse — AND they are in a envelope in my purse. That is a good idea to start off with. Most of the can be organized while I watch an hour TV show. You inspired me!

  29. Anna says:

    Other Anna, not all V-8 is 100% juice. The V-8 splash has HFCS, not to mention other non-juice stuff.

  30. Vicky says:

    I can never make back the price of the Sunday paper, and not for lack of trying. Trent is -saving- more per grocery trip than we -spend- in two.

  31. Cristina says:

    Dear Trent et al, A great way to get coupons in my area is on recycling day. I walk every morning, so my neighbors know me and my habit of walking. If there is an especially good coupon, I’ll check the paper recycling bin. I don’t dig & I don’t try very hard, but if it is obviously available I try get it and no one has ever objected. I’ve been asked what I was doing a couple of times and explained very respectfully and been told go ahead every time.

  32. Lynn says:

    Great article! I’m a coupon clipper and save about $100.00 or more per month by doing so. I read quite a few “Savings” blogs that have great strategies and information for using coupons. Over at “A Full cup” they have a Target coupon Generator. I check Target coupons all the time but there are some great coupons that even I missed.
    http://afullcup.com/upload/cmps_index.php?page=coupon_generator

  33. Flea says:

    Great post trent. We are avid coupon clippers ourselves. Please keep up the great work!

    Flea

    http://beasurvivor.blogspot.com/

  34. I recently switched to a binder and I LOVE IT! I have mine organized by type of coupons (baby, toiletries, cereals, etc.) and it is so much better than having to flip through a bunch of pockets when you see a good deal. It’s so worth the time… I saved $297 last month using coupons and got so many things for free or really cheap!

    You mentioned that you like to combine Target coupons with manufacturer coupons to get awesome deals. I do that too! I highly recommend visiting http://www.afullcup.com. They put up ALL the Target coupons on their site and keep them up there until they expire (even if the Target website has pulled them down)… the best part is that their Target coupon generator lets you print as many of them as you need and it puts multiple coupons on a page, so you save a ton of paper!

    Happy Saving!

  35. Kim says:

    We used to do coupons but realized that, for us at least, we save just as much money and much more time if we just build our menu around store specials, buy the store brands if we like ‘em, and take advantage of the store-wide coupons (e.g. $25 off $100 worth of groceries).

    We went shopping this AM and the only national brand we purchased was O.J. For toiletries and household cleaners etc …., we go next door to the Dollar Store. Huge savings! Maybe 20%.

    We also save on a newspaper subscription which also translates to less landfill. One trip to one store per week also means savings on gasoline and carbon emissions.

    But I love that you and Mrs. Trent are so focused! Thanks for sharing!

  36. Anna says:

    Alternate Anna, thanks. I was thinking of traditional V-8 (the kind that’s been around for years and is most certainly 100% juice) and was not even aware of Splash.

  37. Mike says:

    This was a very enlightening post. I’ve been looking for a way to save a few cents here and there. My father taught me a valuable lesson that sticks with me to this day:

    You take care of the pennies, and the dollars will take care of themselves.

    Good advice from Dad, and great tips from you as well!

  38. Julie says:

    I love coupons, but find most of the coupons in our paper are just for foods I would never eat. We buy a lot of local, organic, and specialty diet items (for food allergies) that I watch for store specials for, but unless I email the company for coupons (and I’ve started doing this with some success), there are never any elsewhere. I’ve also found, but making a “price book” spreadsheet, plus just having a knack for remembering prices that much of Whole Foods store brand items (even the organic store brand) is still quite a bit cheaper than what is on offer at Kroger, which I despise but am forced to shop at for some items.

    If anyone has any tips for shopping organic, more green-friendly items cheaply, I would love to hear it. Always looking for ideas in that area to reduce our grocery/toiletries/household items bill. I’ve found some good deals online, but it’s time consuming to look sometimes.

  39. Tracy says:

    Re can you use a coupon for a product that is “close” it depends on your store. My local grocery ( part of a big chain) will take any coupon for anything. Even if it’s expired. I discovered that by accident when I handed the cashier some extra coupons from the back of my envelope. Now, intentionally doing that is dishonest and probably fraud.

    Love the idea of leaving unused coupons on the store shelf for someone else to enjoy.

    Also have friends/ family help. When the kiddo was in diapers several people saved diaper coupons for me. Now I do the same for other friends.

  40. Shevy says:

    @A.M.B. A.
    You said:A bit OT, but places like Bed,Bath & Beyond and Linens&Things have coupons that never expire, even though there is a printed expiration date. I’ve never bought anything in these two stores with out using the “$5 off $15 item or 20% off one item” coupons. You can use a maximum of 5 coupons at checkout.

    Within the past year or so I’ve become a huge fan of Linens ‘n Things (I had to buy several new bedding items to replace old ones and to outfit the beds in our other house) but they are quite expensive, so I love the 20% off coupons.

    How can you use expired coupons though? They come out every couple of weeks with clearly printed expiry dates and only allow you to purchase one item at discount. On the rare occasions when I’ve had 2 coupons (either the previous one hadn’t expired yet or the paper came with 2 sets of inserts) I’ve bought one item and sent my hubby through to buy another item with the other coupon. My understanding was that you can only use one coupon per visit and it only applies to one item.

    My best purchase was a bed in a bag for my daughter’s new single bed. It was on sale, plus I got it for 20% off and it included a bedside rug and two bath towels!

    Other coupons only rarely work for me. In Canada stores don’t double coupons and most of them are for products I don’t buy (often because they aren’t kosher). I have a Safeway card and buy most regular grocery items there using it and my Air Miles card. So I get various items on sale and collect Air Miles.

  41. Kristi says:

    I have tried looking for coupons online, and all I can find are those annoying sites that make you pay and on top of that, make it difficult to find what you want.

    Does anyone have some coupon sites to recommend???

  42. A.M.B. A. says:

    @Shevy – I’m in Michigan and I’ve never had trouble with BBB and L&T coupons. So it may vary by region or US vs Canadian policies? Honestly, I’ve used coupons YEARS old! And one can interchange BBB/L&T coupons. The salesclerk usually reminds me that there is a 5 coupon limit. Yes, there is an expiration date clearly stated and it’s probably there to dissuade people (like myself) from hoarding their coupons! Sorry it hasn’t worked for you. I guess sending hubby through the line is good alternative ;) Has anyone else had success/failure with Bed, Bath & Beyond coupons??

  43. Catherine says:

    Where I have done best with coupons is in using department-store coupons to buy work clothes.

    Grocery-store and discount-store coupons have never worked well for us. I guess we’re in that boat of those who mostly buy fresh produced and very basic ingredients instead of nationally-advertised packaged items. Even with toiletries, I’ve found the best strategy to be reducing usage and looking for minimally-packaged items. But I don’t deny that the coupon strategy could work well for some, or could even work for me if I put in some effort.

    One question–aside from websites, where do these coupons come from? I haven’t been getting coupons of this type unless I was willing to buy the Sunday paper.

  44. nuveena says:

    I used to clip coupons, but I stopped because I found that the store brands and in store specials were cheaper than the name brands with the manufacturer’s coupon. Plus, sometimes, in order to redeem the coupon, I’d have to buy way more than what I needed to get that 20 cents off. Most the coupons in the Sunday paper were for stuff I didn’t use. I couldn’t recoup the cost of the Sunday paper, so I stopped doing it. Glad it’s working for you, though.

    One thing about Internet coupons: Some stores will not take them. This, I found out, is because Internet coupons can be altered, where the coupons in the Sunday paper really can’t be.

  45. I work for a newspaper … that being said, I’d recommend coupon fans get a home delivery Sunday newspaper to at least have a core group of coupons to work with. In my community, most neighborhoods have access to two and sometimes three competing Sunday papers.
    Home delivery is often cheaper than single copy sales at the news stands, especially if you ask for and get “new subscriber specials.”
    The other problem is people have been known to steal coupons out of single copy sales racks. So you never really know if your single copy purchase includes the coupons. I read an entire thread about that scenario on another forum recently.

  46. Jess says:

    Another suggestion for what to do with expired coupons is to send them to military troops overseas. Troops are able to use expired coupons for 6 months after the expiration date, and they really appreciate receiving them. We’ve been doing this, rather than throwing away the ones we don’t end up using (and we clip the ones we won’t use specifically for this purpose). For a list of where you can send your expired coupons, see http://www.ocpnet.org/

  47. lill says:

    Has anyone noticed the trend of manufacturers now offering $1.00 off of the purchase of 2 products??? What happened to just a $1.00 off of one product?

    I see more and more of it. Sometimes, I don’t need TWO of the product.

    Advice, please. These coupon fliers in the Sunday papers are great, but I feel the P&G folks et al are trying to pull one on us. They raise prices AND now require purchase of TWO to save a dollar. Sheesh.

  48. Mandy says:

    I just wanted to share with you all an alternative to throwing away expired coupons. I can’t take the credit for the referral but I don’t know which blog I originally read this on…anyways, you can mail your expired coupons to people in the military. The link below has all the info you would need. It’s a great way to continue to be frugal and help out others!! :D

  49. Patrick says:

    I was at the local Salvation Army store today (another great way to save money BTW!) and found a small photo album that was marked $1.99. Recalling Trent’s advice about using such an album/binder for coupons, I picked it up. I had a nice surprise at the register as it was on sale for 99 cents! It almost makes me want to go shopping.

  50. Cheryl says:

    I’ve tried to use the fullcup.com site and not really sure how to make it work to my advantage. Any pointers to get coupons to use. Printable don’t always work at stores or print without problems.

  51. Vanessa says:

    The two major coupon inserts in the paper are Smartsource and RedPlum. Both of these have websites with the exact same coupons available for free. Sometimes the number of prints per computer are limited, but usually they allow at least two, and they print up to three coupons per page…I use the backs of junkmail for printing those to save on paper.

  52. Nate says:

    I love coupons…and they can be a great help to your overall financial security!! We use a great website called: http://www.weusecoupons.com. It matches the sales to the coupons so that you can get things for cheap or free!!

  53. Laura @ Laura Williams' Musings says:

    I’ve been a binder user for over 10 years.

    http://laurawilliamsmusings.blogspot.com/2007/07/lauras-couponing-and-refunding-hints.html

  54. Sarah Jane says:

    Today was my first time matching manuf. coupons with store coupons with sales and it was kinda exhilerating! Thank you for so much helpful advice in this post!

  55. Janet Mitchell says:

    What type of binder are you using? And where can I find it?

  56. Karin says:

    Wonderful, enjoyed reading your article. Especially enjoyed the information on the binder used to organize your coupons. Everything I am learning leads back to planning out meals ahead of time. Got to get to that point.

  57. chattylu says:

    CouponsToTroops is another site that is all about sending expired and unwanted coupons to our military families that are stationed overseas.

    http://www.couponstotroops.com

    There’s even a project directory where you can see if there’s a group in your local area that collects coupons to send over.

  58. hair straighteners chi says:

    I would argue that most people don’t care about earth friendly stuff and won’t unless the non-earth friendly stuff is more expensive.

  59. elizabeth says:

    I’m not in the habit of clipping coupons from newspapers, but I will look through the Whole Foods circulars to see if there are coupons for stuff I will be buying anyway (a favorite brand of tea, maple syrup, etc.). And I will always do a google search for a coupon before ordering on line. I don’t always find one, but I often do.

  60. Natalie says:

    Love your site! Several people have suggested couponing websites that match coupons to sales for you and I’ll add my faves to the list:

    http://www.time2saveworkshops.com
    http://www.southernsavers.com

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