Don't get me wrong... I use coupons, every week and I do save... at least 50% on my groceries and more on my health and beauty items but I don't spend hours and hours cutting and sorting coupons, or hours and hours matching sales with the coupons for multiple stores. This IS what I do:
Buy Multiple Newspapers
That's right I said buy, not steal. I get my papers at a local convenience store on Saturday because then I have time to plan for the next week's shopping trip. I buy at least 3 of the same paper since most stores won't let you use more than 4 coupons for the same item. Taking papers from neighbors' or from houses that may or may not be unoccupied or even dumpster diving is wrong and more than likely illegal.
Use a coupon website
By this I mean a site like www.couponmom.com that will have a list of stores (CVS, Rite Aid, Target, Dollar General, Family Dollar etc.) that will have the coupons and deals matched for you. All you need to do (after registering) is select the store, read through the deals, and check off which ones you want. Then select and print. It makes it so simple and cuts down on the time you spend cross matching your coupons and sales, even though I look through my ads just in case to make sure I didn't miss anything. This particular site doesn't include my local grocery store so there is a little bit of work matching up their deals. Another site that I use is www.livingrichwithcoupons.com I follow her on twitter and liked her on facebook. She has lots of great information and "heads up" on deals from all over the internet. There are also websites that offer coupons and sometimes they offer really good ones and sometimes not so much. By the time you figure in your ink and paper I'm not sure it's really worth it, plus different sites will offer the same coupons.
Use a Simple System
When I get my inserts the first thing I do is to put all the like ones together out of the different papers: smart source, red plum etc.
Then I clear off my table. I take the first insert and lay it out page by page. Then I take the next (like) insert and lay those on the first ones and so on and so on. Then when it's time to cut you can cut them all at the same time. I pile them up by category then put them in envelopes in an accordion folder, sorted by the aisles in the store. When it's time to make the list I can go through the coupons which are in order of the way the store is laid out. For example first is produce, then seafood, then meat and so on, then I write the list the same way. When it's time to go to the store I get out each category and match it to the store and put in a store envelope with the list. It's a simple system but so far it works and will continue to evolve as I come across other ways to do it. But I can't stress enough how keeping it simple will make it so much more pleasant and less stressful.
Don't Do More Than Two Transactions
Nothing gives couponers a bad name faster than someone in line with 3 or 4 carts wanting to check them out separately to use coupons or to get a special deal. My daughter works at our local grocery store and says that checkers get very irritated with people who clog up the line with multiple transactions. I know I've had someone behind me that has gotten irritated at Rite Aid and slammed down their 2 deodorants only to be told that the next line was open. And I've also had someone behind me at Walmart that was pleased when she saw the stack of coupons I handed the cashier. "The only way to shop", she said.
Just to make everything simpler and less stressful for me and other shoppers I'll do a max of two transactions, which will usually be for a special deal or coupon in the store flyer. More than likely whatever the deal is (usually soda or something similar) whatever I get in the two transactions will be enough to last until the next sale.
Stock Up When Possible
When I say "stock up" it doesn't mean clear the shelves or buy enough in case of a nuclear holocaust (I'll never forget one of the husband's on Extreme Couponing who said if there was ever a disaster they would be in the basement eating cake mix. Now that sounds YUMMY!) but what I mean is taking advantage of the sale within the coupon policy of the store. If you have more than the limit of coupons (usually 4) use the 4 and then go back later in the week. I just don't see the sense in 70 bottles of mustard but I can see the practicality of having multiple packs of T.P and paper towels, they don't expire and nothing is worse than running out of something essential like that.
I coupon to feed my family and to save money. I coupon to stock up on things that we will use or that I can donate to my local food bank. These are the strategies that work for me. When I can cut my food bill in half or more then I think I'm doing something right.
Want to share a money saving strategy using coupons or not?