When I celebrated my couponiversary many of you wanted to know how I organize my coups and how much time it requires. So here's the sitch.
When I first started clipping coups (over a year ago), I put together a couple of binders to keep them organized.
|Nothing fancy - but definitely organized.|
After about 9 months a new coup system was born. (Couldn't resist.) I dressed the binders up with some pretty scrapbook paper.
I think making them pretty has helped me to keep them nice and organized. Or maybe I'm just plain crazy. ;)
I re-organized each binder with file folders labeled by department.
I used baseball card holders to make the coups easy to see and sort through when I'm preparing my shopping list.
I realize how crazy this makes me look. I promise I'm not some super-organized-make-you-puke kind of person. I just really believe that the key to success with couponing is starting off on the right foot. Get yourself set up with a simple coup filing system. If you don't, the coups will be in such a mess that it will seem like the biggest task and you won't want to bother. The baseball card holders and file dividers work so well. It really does make your weekly time spent gathering and sorting much easier. This in turn will help you to stick with it, especially when you start to realize how much money you can save. Making your coup binders look pretty also helps in the "this is fun right?!" department.
The amount of time spent couponing is also directly related to how well you keep your coups organized. The more organized you are the less time it will take. I sit down for about an hour on Sunday nights to prepare my shopping list and meal plan for the week.
Here's a rundown of my Sunday night routine.
1. Pull coup binders out of the kitchen cabinet. (1 minute)
|I keep them in the same cabinet as the medicine. I have no idea why. Medicine for my checking account? ;)|
3. Sort them and file away. Pull out anything that is already expired. (5 minutes)
4. Go to Southern Savers Website. Click on Kroger (that's my grocery store) to see what's on sale and what coupons to use. (5 minutes) * The greatest savings happens when you purchase items that are on sale for their best price, and you combine the sale price with a coupon.
5. Prepare a meal plan for the week trying to utilize what I already have in my pantry and filling in with items that are on sale with coupon match-ups. (10 minutes - the hubs likes to "help" with this part)
6. Prepare and print my shopping list from Southern Savers. (5 minutes)
7. Add to the list any other items that I'll need for the week. (5 minutes)
8. Pull out the coups I'll need from the binders. (5 minutes)
Every other week I print out a CVS shopping list in addition to my Kroger list. This only adds on about another 5 minutes.
Meal planning is relatively new for me. I started doing it a few months ago after reading Courtney's article in House of Fifty. I was already preparing my shopping list and "couponing" on Sunday nights, so adding in the meal planning seemed like a no brainer. I really don't know why I didn't think to do this sooner. It really does make dinner time so much easier when you have a plan. My goal is to plan 4 to 5 meals each week. The other nights we either wing it or go out (usually weekends). I feel less stressed in the evenings now that I know what I'm making for dinner ahead of time. I also do a better job preparing healthy meals when I plan ahead. With after-school activities and homework, having a plan for dinner makes our evenings run much more smoothly. I printed out the meal planning menu from the magazine and made a bunch of copies. It fits perfectly in the front of my food coup binder.
So, there you go. That's how I do this thing. I used to spend about $150-$200 a week, and now I spend about $80-$130 a week. I think 1 hour of time each week is worth the savings. I think couponing has made me more aware of "what a good price is" for an item. I never used to think about that before. I used to spend between $3-$5 for a box of cereal and now I wouldn't buy a box for more than $1.50. I also used to think that coupons were only for people that like to eat nothing but junky frozen pizzas. Now, I know that there are coups out there for organic food as well. You don't have to give up your brand loyalty either. In fact, name brand products with coups will almost always cost less than the store brand.
Have you been convinced? Are you a coup lover? Did the baseball card organizers scare you? HA! They scared me at first too. ;) I remember thinking - who am I? Sometimes, I still can't believe that "I'm a couponer". Until I go shopping and my receipt says - total savings = $65. Then I smile and think - oh yeeeeaaaaahhhhhh!
*Linking up to Family Friendly Food Week at Serenity Now!