I’ll let you in on a little secret- I don’t use a coupon binder. GASP! You would think that I, a couponer with OCD and practically zero spare time must use a coupon binder. Nope not me. So how do I cut time out of couponing without a binder?
The answer, for me, is simple- I do what works for me. I constantly see couponers mimicking the actions of other couponers. What works for someone else doesn’t necessarily mean it will work for the other person. When I was interviewed by the Cape Cod Times in 2011, and again by the Cape Codder this past winter, it was still taking me forever to get ready for a shopping trip. I realized soon after my interview with the Cape Codder, that I was not managing my time efficiently enough, so I made changes.
The first and most important thing to do, when you need to cut time out of couponing is to find a trustworthy coupon match up site. I realized that I was using far too many match up sites for just one store, so I dropped all but one site. The site I kept for my coupon match ups, LRWC, is consistent, match ups are posted on the same day every week, and they never forget to post a stores match ups. If using multiple match up sites works better for you, then keep with it. LRWC covers all the stores I frequent, and the staff behind LRWC don’t miss a beat- this is why I use only them.
The second most important thing to do, when you need to cut time out of couponing is to think about “binder versus insert” methods. Will you be more organized if you cut all the coupons out of your inserts and organize them in a binder? Will you be more organized if you just leave your coupon inserts whole, so you can find them later by source and date? Would you be more comfortable if you adopted the half-binder half-whole insert method, going in between both? Ideally, you need to do what works for you.
The third most important thing to do, is to get yourself a reliable pair of sharp scissors, or buy a self-healing mat and rotary cutters. I’ve cut coupons out endless amounts of times with a shoddy pair of scissors, and it got me nowhere. It took more time to cut coupons, and added more aggravation. I highly recommend purchasing a self healing mat and rotary cutters- they work a genuine miracle if you are cutting out multiples of the same coupon, or you use the coupon binder method.
The fourth thing to do, is to find the time to cut out your coupons. I think this is where it gets sticky for a lot of people, especially those already short on time. For me, cutting coupons after my children’s bedtime is a great time. There are no distractions, it’s just me and my trusty cutting tools. If you have children, and they are old enough to safely wield sharp items, you could have them help you cut out coupons. If you have a spouse, or significant other, ask them to help you. People coupon to save money, typically for their entire household-so couponing really doesn’t have to be a one person show.
Lastly, be sure you write everything down on your shopping list. Items +the coupons you have for items+sale prices all play an integral role on how your shopping trip goes. So why not write everything down just to be sure you have your bases covered? It might take a few extra minutes to write your shopping list out, but this type of organization will definitely be to your advantage if you run into a snag at the store. And please, do yourself the favor and grab a sale circular on your way into a store. If you find any discrepancies while you are shopping, you will have the sale circular in hand to help you out.
To show you just how useful a coupon mach up site is (if you don’t already use one) see the picture below.
This picture shows you my (example) “shopping list”. I found the coupon match ups for my grocery store on LRWC, checked off what I wanted, then printed out my list. The blue thumbtack indicates the name of the insert (SS= Smart Source) and the date of distribution. I use the whole insert method, and am easily able to find inserts by name and date, all thanks to my coupon match up site. The red thumbtack indicates a printable coupon link. All you have to do is click on the link to print out your coupon.
I think the one great time saver for people who use coupons, is a coupon match up site. Be advised, however, that sale circulars for stores vary from state to state. If you are looking at a match up site located in NJ, and you live in Massachusetts-the sale circulars will be different. Sadly, that is just the name of the game, so pay attention to your local stores weekly sale circular.
Do you use coupons? How do you find time to manage couponing? Are there any special tips and tricks you would like to share?