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Collier Couponing 101: Preparing for the Weekend!

21 September 2012

I'm a couponer. Did you know that? Mr. Collier and I have been actively couponing over the last year and have found that is frees up significant savings in our budget. Yes, we've hit some great deals where we get 13 packages of razors for just the tax and typically cut our grocery bill by half.

The most common question is,"Does it take time?" Sure. But a little work on the front end is worth the savings to us. I am going to bare it all and give you the run down to my couponing.

1. Have a running "needs" list in the kitchen. When things run out, write them down! That way you don't forget something important that you need and you don't purchase doubles. My parents are the worst at that. Each time I go to my parents' house I can't help but notice all the open jars of different kinds of salsa in the fridge or duplicates in their pantry not because they are stocking up on particular items but because they don't know what food they have! Not only does this waste food but it wastes your money!

Our actual "needs list" in our kitchen
2. Get a Sunday paper with coupons inside. That is right. Each Sunday we make a point to pick up a Sunday paper at the Walgreens down the street from our home. Although it is a $2.00 investment, we gain that much, at least, in savings. The most important thing is that you actually see the coupon inserts inside the paper. Not just the store circulars. You want the paper for the coupons. If there are no coupons do not buy the paper. 

3. Examine the circulars. Between Wednesday and Friday, I begin to shop the store circulars. These advertisements indicate specials for the week at each particular store. I usually sit down with five or six store tabs open on my desktop (see below). My standard five are: Kroger, Publix, Target, CVS, and Walgreens with Harris Teeter being the most useful on double/triple coupon events.

My Weekly Screen
4. Systematically write down anything that you might purchase directly from those circulars for each circular on one sheet of paper. Make sure you are also keeping in mind the items on your "needs" list. The advantage to having the prices all on one page is two-fold. First, you get to directly compare price for price at each store. Second, when you are one of these stores and you find a price for the same item that is below the sale price at another store you have the "green light" to purchase for cheaper! **Don't forget the Walmart now has a circular matching policy so if you decide to shop there, bring your circulars and your cheat sheet!**

The List
5. Organize your coupons. Having coupons and planning to use them result in no savings whatsoever. There are many strategies to coupon organization. My preferred method is a binder of baseball card collecting inserts. I have the coupons organized by section (snacks/cereal, dairy, oral health, baking, etc.) so that when I'm in the store with my binder, yep it goes with me too, I can flip a few pages and find the coupons that I'm looking for. Staying current and organized is the hardest part of the entire couponing process.

My Coupon Binder
6. Cross reference your list with the excellent database on Faithful Provisions and print off any online coupons on coupons.com, Target and Publix. Online coupons can typically be printed twice per IP address so duplicate your page and have your recycled paper and printer(s) ready! 

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