So I decided I'd tell you my secret. Not that there's much of one, but it works for me.
First off I'll tell you my best shopping trip was:
$320 grocery bill
$160 after coupons and instore savings
.90 cents off/gallon on gas
Getting started is what takes a little time and patience, but at the end of the day I try to only spend 6-8 hrs on couponing bi-weekly. That's right, I shop every other week. So here's what I did/do.
- 3 Ring Binder
- Baseball Plastic Sleeves
- Scrapbook Cutter (I have the Cri-cut)
- Page Dividers
Step 1: Comparison Shop
When we moved to WV and I started couponing I took 10 of the items we bought most and compared the prices at the local grocery stores. I did this twice and one beat out the others both times. For me that grocer is Martins.
Martins offers Double Coupons Everday and Gas Points, so extra bonuses!
Step 2: Purchase Supplies & Organize
After purchasing the supplies you need, it's time to figure out what catergories you'd like in your binder. This is what mine are.
7. Baking/Cooking Items
9. Canned Goods/Boxed/Packaged
10. Dairy and Bread
12. Frozen Foods
13. Paper Products
14. Cleaning Items
15. Air Fresheners
16. Cosmetics and Skin Care
17. Oral and Eye Care
18. Feminine Care
19. Hair and Body Care
22. Office Supplies
24. Coupon Policies
Step 3: Buy Newspapers
Buy the Sunday newspaper. I need to just subscribe to one so it's cheaper, but I haven't got there yet. When I first started couponing I bought each newspaper. Now, I get 2, but I really think I'm just going to get the Washington Post from now on. You'll have to judge for yourself which newspaper has the best coupons.
Step 4: Clip and Organize Coupons
Exactly as it sounds. Clip your coupons. You can use scissors if you'd like, but to be honest..I think it's a waste of time. Buy yourself a scrapbook cutter like the one I have pictured below. It saves so much time and it's super easy. I usually clip coupons while watching football on Sunday, but sadly the season is coming to an end.
Organize them before you get them in the binder. It saves time. At first it's going to be difficult, but once you know the different categories you'll fly through it.
File them into the plastice sleeves. Make sure you can see the expiration date.
Step 5: Pre-Shop
My "trick" is to shop directly out of the weekly ad. I try to never buy anything unless it's on sale and if it has a coupon that's even better. With Martins doubling coupons I end up getting things for cents or free sometimes (I'll say those are pretty rare though)
One other "trick" is..just because it says 2/$5, does NOT mean you need to buy 2. When you see deals like this it's automatic to think you need to buy 2, but unless it says differently you can get less.
I make my list and pull out my coupons. As you do this more and more you'll know what coupons you have so it won't be as difficult.
Step 6: Shop
As time has gone on I've become very comfortable with knowing the store. When I first started going it took me on average of 2 hours to shop. Now, it's more like 45 minuntes. I want to get it down to where I know what's in each aisle, but as with everything esle it'll come with time.
Step 7: Save, Save, Save
=) Checkout and watch your bill go DOWN, DOWN, DOWN. =)
Step 8: Get Rid of the Old
Every few weeks check the expiration dates and get rid of the old ones.
That's all! It's really not hard at all and while I don't get my bill down to cents per transaction; I'm also not spending 20+ hours couponing weekly. I don't even use the internet for coupons.
Hope this helps all of you..let me know how much you save!