The Coupon Butler

Archive for the ‘Getting Started’ Category

It is a proven fact that everytime you go to the store you spend more money than planned.  We see things we think we need and have to buy even if it is not on the list.  A great way to save money is to limit the number of times you go into a store by stockpilling.

Stockpiling is buying more than one item so you can stretch the amount of time before you need to buy the item again. The bigger your stockpile is the longer you can go without having to buy things at the store and the cheaper you can get the things you need.

When I first began seriously couponing, I was going through the Financial Peace class and watching our budget. Our financial goals for our family are to be completely DEBT free. We will one day accomplish this goal. Considering when we started we had lots of debt and now we are down to just our van and a student loan.

I was really inspired to stockpile when I read a great blog about a lady who was able to live off her stockpile for 2 years when her husband lost his job. WOW! Wouldn’t that be great.  When you have a one income family it is a peace of mind to know that this is one area I can do to make sure our family makes it through if a crisis arises.

When you are ready to begin stockpiling, I think the most important thing is prices.  Please don’t go to Sam’s and buy in bulk in order to stockpile, that defeats the purpose completely. When I was just begining I had a small notebook that I wrote prices in, that allowed me to see when things were a GREAT deal.  I have bought pasta for $.05 a box, toilet paper for $.17 a roll, and spaghetti sauce for $.37 a jar.  I have been able to get many things for FREE, the best thing I stockpiled so far was 22 bottles of Purex that I only paid tax for.

When things are FREE or really cheap buy more than one of the item.  If item X is usually $2.39 but is on sale for B1G1 $2.39 and you have $1.00 off coupons then you are getting the item for $.20. That is a savings of $2.19!  If you only buy 2 then when you run out and they are not on sale you need to pay the $2.39 price again.  If you stockpile then you can hold out until it is on sale again before you buy more.

Some of the things I have stockpiled are rice, sauces, soups, crackers, cereals, pasta, vegetables (both frozen and canned), juice, water, toilet paper, fabric softner, razors, tooth paste, tooth brushes, meats and the list goes on.

I have seen major benefits to coupons and stockpiling. Back in September when I began with full steam, we were using WIC for 2 of our kids.  We were barely making to the end of the paycheck with food in our house. It was stressful, if I felt the kids were eating something too quickly I worried. Within a couple of months I dropped the WIC program, and began to build up a great stockpile.  We now have 3 shelves in our garage with food items, had to build an extra shelf in the bathroom and have a deep freezer full of food.

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OK I got my newspaper Sunday now what?  Did you buy a paper and are not sure what to do now? There are a couple of options first you could file them in a box by date and insert type, second you could cut the coupons and organize in baseball card holders.

Today I want to take you through the second option and show you that it is not really too time consuming.

 

Here are my coupon inserts, I buy 4 papers every Sunday I have organized them by type and now am ready to being tearing the pages apart. (I was shorted 1 PG, I hate it when this happens.)

I tear all the pages apart and criss cross stack them. I do this to all inserts first, once that is done then I cut the coupons. 

For Christmas I begged for a paper cutter, I HATE cutting with scissors, plus it hurts my wrist. I stack my 4 pages that are the same and cut them one time. 

Did you get that???  One cut for 4 coupons. BIG time saver.

Then after I cut them all I trim any necessary edges that are not cut good enough yet. 

 I then place them into categories. I sort them by Health/Beauty, Packages, Frozen, Meat, Dairy, Beverages, and Cleaning. I kind of criss cross the coupons in the different categories. 

I then am ready to place them all in the binder. I flip through the binder and pull out any expired coupons. If there are empty spots I just fill them in with the new coupons.

If the coupons are bigger than the slot I fold the coupon and file it away. No biggie.

I usually do Health and Beauty last, because once the rest is done I will break that section down farther.  I then break it down to Hair, Body, Medicine, Dental and Makeup. I file those too.

Well, on Wednesdays bloggers  post things that work for them, here. Today I want to show you what is NOT working for me.  My coupon organizing, I have been saying tomorrow for like 2 weeks and the pile is getting bigger instead of smaller.  I find new coupons I must have so I print them, or at the store I get more blinkies.  Even though this is a HUGE mess that needs my attention I am still able to save crazy amounts of money.

So what is not working for me is setting aside NO time to organize these money saving slips of paper.  I think I need to write on my calendar COUPONS at least once a week and manage this mess during nap time. 🙂

Ok so by now you have experienced buying a great deal, I hope.  I am sure you told everyone you knew how awesome it was that you got item x for only $.25.   Next time you have to buy item x you will not be happy if you have to pay full price.  Stores try to trick us into believing we are getting a good deal.  If you can make a list of your rock bottom prices then you will know when it truly is a good deal.

For example I was able to buy the White Cloud toilet paper 4 pack for only $1.00, now I do not want to pay anymore than $.25 a roll for toilet paper. There are lots of good sales now, CVS giving ECBs and coupons and all but none come even close to $.25 a roll. So I am waiting, my supply is getting low and I will have to buy some but I will only buy a pack of whatever is really cheap until I find another GREAT sale.  Then I will stock up.

A cost journal will help you know what your bottom price is. It will be an outline for how you shop. When I started couponing I used this all the time. This doesn’t have to be an elaborate spread sheet, it can be a pocket notebook that you stick in your purse. You don’t really need to carry it with you, just have it at home when you are making your shopping lists. Just write the item, quantity per pack and price you paid.

If you have recently began couponing I’m sure you are trying to get them organized.  In fact when you are starting out, couponing is so overwhelming that you could just give up from being overwhelmed.  I have 4 kids at home with me all the time, I don’t have a lot of free time, just bits here and there. 

The easiest way I found to get started is to collect the Sunday paper inserts and write on them the date with a sharpie marker.  Then I filed them in a box grouped by coupon insert in date order. I used a pencil to write on the folder tabs so I could erase them when the coupons expired. Since I use Southern Savers for making my Publix list, I would pull coupons according to date when it was needed.  This allowed me to figure out the ins and outs of couponing without having a lot of extra work.

If I had started out cutting them I would have thrown in the towel, or only cut coupons I thought I would buy.  It is a lot of work to cut coupons. I learned by filing them I used coupons I never thought I would. I bought stuff because it gave me overage, therefore helping pay for items I needed. 

I just began cutting all coupons last week, trust me it was a BIG job to catch up. I have figured out a plan though and am sticking to it.  There is a trick, if you buy more than one paper sort the inserts and then rip them apart and stack them by sheets. This allows you to cut multiples of the same coupon at once.  After the coupon is cut try to lay them out on the table or counter in the area they belong dairy, frozen etc.

There are multiple ways you can store your coupons.  From coupon organizers that fit in your purse to zippered binders. Whatever feels best to you is the way to go. I have finally transferred from the file box method to a very large binder. I sorted my binder into many categories and store the coupon in baseball card holders so I can easily flip thru and see what I have.  While this is a lot more work, I am touching the coupons more and therefore know what I have in my stash.

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                                                          RedPlum – Sweeten the Deal

When you first begin couponing, you should look everywhere for coupons. There are several places online that allow you to print coupons.  It is very easy to print online coupons, in the beginning you may need to install a coupon printer.

Manufacturer coupons can be found at sites like, coupons.com, smartsource.com, redplum.com and allyou.com. These sites allow you to print each coupon twice.  Once you have printed one copy then push the back button twice and another coupon should print. You are allowed to print two copies per computer. Coupons are regional also so if there is a zip code spot, I always enter 90210 because they are a bigger region.

There are also store coupons you can print and use at Publix to score an even better deal.   You can go to target.com (they will only allow one print per coupon), foodlion.com, and winn-dixie.com to find store coupons. You can match store coupons with manufacturer coupons at Publix to make your out of pocket even smaller. Remember you can use one store coupon and one manufacturer coupon per item you are buying.

Printable coupons are usually higher in value than the ones in the newspaper or at the stores. There are places that give you rewards for returning your used ink cartridges. Also if you know any businesses that only use one side of the copy paper you could ask to recycle some for them.  I am blessed to have someone give me paper that only has one line typed across it and I use the other side to print on. You can also set your print quality to fast draft to help save on ink.  Some coupons print an ad with the coupon and I know some people who stand by the printer and press cancel so they don’t waste the extra ink.

It is the end of  2009, maybe some of you are setting goals to do better financially this coming year.  Maybe some of you have seen my crazy savings and want to see what it takes to do it. Well let me help you get started on this fun life of couponing.

This Sunday there will be a bunch of coupon inserts in the paper. Make sure no matter what, you get the paper this Sunday. If you Publix shop I recommend buying 2 sets of papers.  Publix has a bunch of B1G1 free deals every week, if you have 2 coupons you can use them both to save BIG.  Depending on your family size I would buy more than 2 papers. We currently buy 4 papers every Sunday, this Sunday I am thinking about buying 6-8.

In my experience, the bigger the paper the better the coupons.  I highly recommend the St Pete Times for coupons.

It will take you awhile to get a good stash of coupons, probably a month. If you Publix shop then make sure you check out the front ad rack in your store, there are Advantage flyers with coupons for Publix grab 2-4 of these.

There are blinkie coupons, they are in the aisle at the store in a machine with a flashing red light.  I would look for blinkies as you shop and pull from them.

Don’t get discouraged if this is confusing and overwhelming. You will get the hang of it, just be patient.


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