Clippin' Coupons

Alright, this may not be the most swoon-worthy or glamorous of posts, but it's the new year and since many people (including yours truly) resolve to spend less and save more in 2011, it's pretty apropos.  What am I talking about? Clipping coupons.  I'm sure half the people reading just groaned.  I don't blame you.  But over a year ago when I saw someone on Oprah who saved tons of money each week simply by using coupons, I was intrigued.  A year+ later, clipping coupons is just part of my weekly shopping routine, and I average a savings of about $20 per week just in coupons alone.  Here's the deal:

First thing's first:  you'll need to get a weekly newspaper that has the coupon circulars - there are (at least in my area) two circulars: Smart Source and Red Plum.  These are enclosed in the weekend paper each week (though, sometimes Red Plum is thrown in the weekly grocery store circulars that come in your mailbox - make sure to check!).  Second, stop clipping.  Don't waste your time.  Instead, when the coupon circulars come, date the tops and put them in a folder, like so:

As you can see above, I date each of my circulars at the top and then file in my folder in chron order.  Every few months I'll take a look at the earliest circular and see if any of the coupons are still good. If they're expired, the pack gets recycled.  Sometimes there are more than one circular each week, so I note that at the top too (as above, I've put Jan. 2: 1/2 and Jan 2: 2/2, so I know that there are two circulars that week).

Next step is to grab your grocery store's weekly circular. Some people will look through all the local groceries' circulars and figure out where to shop based on who has the best deals.  I am not one of those people: I am loyal to my local Acme Market so I grab that circular and look through it.  I carefully review the circular and circle the things that are a good deal and that I need or want.  Once I have done that, I can search my coupons. [Note: you should sign up for your grocery store's reward or coupon program and find out your store's double coupon policy.  My store will double any manufacturer's coupon up to $1.00, so if I find a coupon for, say, $.75 on butter, it amounts to a $1.50 coupon.  My parents' store in NJ doubles up to $1.50! nice.]

I love Coupon Mom's grocery store database.  She is the woman I saw on Oprah who explained the coupon system.  The goal is to buy something that's on sale and use a coupon.  So I hit up the Coupon Mom website and search for the things I've circled in the Acme circular.  Sometimes there are spelling errors, so it's best to try a few variations if you can. In other words, rather than search for "land-o-lakes butter" search for "butter" or "land" or "lake."  I also throw in a search for "free" to see if there are any freebies available, which there often are.  Each week, Coupon Mom updates her database with the new coupons and will remove any that are expired.  If there is an active coupon for the item that you've searched for, the website will tell you where to find it,by noting the date of the coupon circular and whether it is Smart Source (S) or Red Plum (RP).  There are also General Mills and Proctor & Gamble circulars from time-to-time, and she has these on her site, too.   Once I find the coupons I need and then cut them out, organize according to the aisles in the store and I'm done!   It takes a little time and planning, don't get me wrong.  But to me, saving upwards of $20 per week makes up for that.

It may take a few tries to get into a good rhythm and once you do, it can be kind of fun to see how much money you can save.  Sometimes when the stars align and I save a ton and have a super thick stack of coupons, I want to ask the clerk to announce how much I saved over the loud speaker.  Dork.  Good luck and happy savings to you!  Are you a coupon clipper? Or does the cheese stand alone on this one?

See you swoon,

{grocery cart picture found here}


  1. Thanks for the tips! I go through couponing phases, but I really should do it consistently!

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