Friendly Coupon Usage System

Updated on March 14, 2009
G.N. asks from Madison, WI
16 answers

I have a grandmother who clips coupons and sends them to me in the mail. My new year res. is to use them more frequently and to cut my grocery bills. Do any of you out there have any ideas to using the coupons in a way that is easy if I have to go shopping with five active boys. It needs to be fast, easy and can work into my routine with out much hassle.

I am writing this very fast and do not have my thoughts in order. So, I am sorry for it not making any sense. I have children trying to get me to take them to the children's museum. I just really want to get this done and have been putting it off. Thank you in advance for all that you come up with and I am very hopeful that at least one of you will give me a great idea.

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So What Happened?

I am so excited about all the good advice you have given me. I so can't wait to go shopping. I am not sure which organizing system will work yet, but I will pick one and use it for awhile and see if it will fit into the shopping experience. I really like clipping the coupons to the list and having and envelope and pulling the coupons to the front so your aren't holding up the line at the check out.

Happy New Year and Happy to saving money!!!

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answers from Minneapolis on

G., I like to clip coupons, but I Find that I rarely remember to use them. So this year, I am going to do something different. I will still use the coupons that are at least .75 off 1. But, I'm going to instead stock up on the items that we use when they are on sale. I have a "extra" panty in shelves downstairs and I have a deep freeze. The store sales are often WAY better than any coupon. So when the shredded cheese is buy one get one free, I'm going to buy 8. Cheese freezes really well. Or when the meats are priced really well I'm going to stock up. It makes for a bigger bill from time to time, but it is a much bigger savings long term. And faster in the store, too because you don't have to look for coupons. You just really take advantage of the sale when you see it! Happy New Year.

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answers from Waterloo on

i've used a recipe box with the alphabetic dividers. or divide them to the easiest for you. i filed the coupons every time i got them so they didn't pile up. freezer food under "f", meats in the "m" etc. every couple months check for outdated ones. i also learned not to file coupons i probly wouldn't use. they take up space and i was buying stuff only because i had a coupon and not because i normally buy it. here's to saving money!

S. m



answers from Sioux Falls on

After your children are in bed and asleep, make up your weekly grocery list. Go thru all your coupons and pull out the ones that you can use on that trip. Paperclip them to that list. Put the list and coupons into an envelope and put them into your purse. Now those are the ones that will be at the ready when you need them. Check the ad for the store that you usually shop at to see if they may have a better savings coupon and if they do, replace or add that coupon. You may also want to try shopping at stores that give double cents off on your coupons on certain days during the week.
All I can say is that you do have your hands full. I remember my own mother using that coupon minder from Current. I've also seen women shop with a index card box full of coupons. I also know of women who use coupons that when they get to the check out, they end up with $30-$50 off the bottom line of their bill.



answers from Milwaukee on

Make sure you check the sales ads before you go and have the coupons ready before hand. This way you can get the things on the list and just be able to hand them to the cashier when you leave the store.



answers from Minneapolis on

Defintely get a coupon organizer--you can find them anywhere, including Target and the grocery stores, from about $2+. I actually prefer the ones where you write your own labels, so you can organize the way you want. Here are some other tips:
-Clip coupons as you get them (like Sundays) so they don't pile up. I remember my mom thinking it was such a HUGE chore, because she'd have 4 weeks' worth of circulars to go through. If you flip through them quickly each week, it's a 5 minute job (I usually do it while the kids are eating lunch or something).
-Use a list. The "experts" say to plan a menu around the sales and coupons. I am not great about this, but the coupons help give you meal ideas, or let you stock up.
-Stock up. When you have good coupons on dry goods, use them and store them. I have NO storage space in my kitchen, but I put a shelf on one side of my crawl space closet and use that as a "pantry."
-I have a "master list" that I typed on the computer. It has all the basics we buy, and I run off several at a time, and hang them from a clip on my fridge. When I need something, I just circle it (rather than writing it in). This also helps remind me of things in the store, even if they're not circled but I know I could use them, I will buy it. The best part is that it's written in order of the grocery store, so the list follows how I shop. Cub has maps of their store so you can take one home and create a list for yourself if you shop there. It takes some set-up time to do this, but it has REALLY helped me save time in the end.



answers from Minneapolis on

I use a check organzer to store my coupons in (you can find them at office max)..... i have them labeled according to sections of the grocery store & go through them on sundays to weed out expired coupons & insert new coupons. i have 2 kids one year apart & with them in the cart, this has seemed to work for me!



answers from Minneapolis on

Hi G.-
I tend to make my grocery list up as I need stuff- I also make it in the order of the grocery store aisles so there's no going back for forgotten items.
To do this- you have to obviously know the layout of the store and shop it often.
I pull out my coupons ahead of time for the items I am shopping for. I have a coupon booklet so they are arranged by category as I clip them. I got it from Current Inc but others sell similar items.
If I do find something as I'm going down aisle- say that is a clearance - I just check my coupon booklet then for only that item.
It's fast, efficient and I do my business and get out.
Don't know where you're located, but Cub foods takes expired coupons 3 mo. after the date.

Good luck organizing .....About me: 48 yo med. prof, wellness coach and mom to 7 yo twins.

Happy New Year

B. J



answers from Minneapolis on

Hi G.: I am a coupon girl and what I do is I do what the others do and clip coupons and use the organizer and then I go through the coupons on sundays and I look at the weekly ad of the store(s) I am going to. I then also check the items manufacture website to see if there are additional coupons that they have to offer that I can use so sometimes I can get the item for free with actually saving even more money:) Doesn't happen all the time, but when it does you look and feel like a super coupon clipper! Good luck - one thing I do used expired coupons at self checkouts as well. Another trick is the coupons that cub sends in the mail, is if you use a self checkout they don't ask you to put them in the coupon box and you can reuse them. I use this when they have a good deal on pop - i.e. with the pepsi 6 pack bottles 5/$10 I will go to u cub 2 or 3 times a week and stock up.

good luck!



answers from Minneapolis on

Order a coupon organizer. You can get these online. After you make your grocery list, pull out the coupons that you need so that they are ready to go before you even leave for the market. I shop with 3 active little boys and this saves me a ton of time plus i already know ahead of time which brand I'm looking for so that saves me some time as well.



answers from Minneapolis on

I use a small organizer that I got at WalMart. I have labeled each section for a section of groceries (dairy, frozen, dry grocery, paper goods, etc.) If I make my list ahead of time, I pull the coupons I will be using and attach them to my list. As I pick up an item, I put the coupon for it in the front of my organizer. (Sometimes I change my mind about an item that I have a coupon for, and this helps me know exactly which items I am purchasing.) When I get to the checkout, the coupons I need are all in the front of my organizer. If I pick up other items, I find the coupon in my organizer and put it in the front with the other coupons.

What I like about grocery shopping at WalMart is that I have found their prices to be considerably cheaper than either Cub, Rainbow, or Target -- even those stores' sale prices!! Many people don't realize this. My local WM has groceries, but not the fresh meat, vegies, fruit etc. I do all of my dairy, frozen, and dry goods shopping at WM, then hop over to Rainbow for the fresh stuff. The money I have saved!!!

Good Luck and Happy New Year!



answers from Sioux Falls on

Hi G.,
It may seem difficult at first, but set aside one half hour on Sunday afternoon or any day that works best for you, just keep it on a schedule. Decide schedules and your menu for the week. Go through ads, and your coupons and separate the ones you will use when you make your grocery list for the week. I shop once a week only going back for milk and breads when I'm regular about this. Meal planning solves many problems although it does get more difficult to do as the kids schedules get hectic. I find the best way to plan is to make a list of your favorite meals and your family favorites. Also have a simple category like homemade soups, chilli, and sandwiches. That way you can keep it in front of you for ideas. I'm also a nut for new recipes. It can be fun if you stick to it, just keep adding new menu ideas to your list as you go. You'll find that you may have leftovers and it may kink your schedule, but if you move the leftovers to a simple meal night, you still have that meal for a rainy day. Also freezing the leftovers right away, can help you to plan for casseroles the following week. :o) It does get easy to do, once you find out how easy it makes your life in the meantime. I also found that it took the every day ache of "what to make for dinner" out of my life. That in itself was a bonus!
Good Luck, D.



answers from Wausau on

I saw an old post of yours- that you were planning to use your coupons more this year when you grocery shop. (How is that going, by the way?)

I am very frugal with my money. I hope some of the following helps. As always, simply disregard any or all of it, if it does not help or apply to you.

I read through all your responses and I wanted to add this: If you find that clipping coupons doesn't work for you, that is, that actually USING the coupons doesn't work for you; just let it go. Some people are not coupon people.

i have a great book called The House That Cleans Itself, by Mindy Starns Clark. She says: "Ditch this Ought:"I ought to clip and use coupons"Says who? Don't do it if it doesn't work for you." So if you're finding that it just doesn't happen for you, just let it go and don't worry about it.

I am one of those people who it just doesn't work for. When I do happen across a really great coupon for something I buy anyway, I write the item on my list, write COUPON right next to it, and then I put the coupon in the same compartment as my debit card. That way I can't forget to use it when i pay!

But I save way more money by looking at the store specials circular and making my list based off of what is on a good sale, and then making my meals with those items that week. I shop 3 local stores, so I go in and buy the sale items and the meat and fresh produce that I want at the first store, then I go to Wal-mart to buy my other staples. (I often do the first 2 stores in one day, then wal-mart the next day). Sometimes I get a family member to babysit and shop all 3 right in a row.

Now especially, since toilet paper and paper towel seem to be sky high in price, if I see a really good bargain on that, I grab a few at once. Laundry detergent is cheapest when it is on sale AND it's the 3x concentrate. I only buy one brand due to skin sensitivities, so when I see that on a good sale, I grab a half dozen bottles. It doesn't go bad and we use it. (With 5 kids though, you probably use powdered or super concentrate already.)

Another tip to cutting your grocery bills is to make you own cleaning supplies. Buy baking soda, liquid castille soap, and vinegar, then google for recipes. It's way cheaper and environmentally friendly too :)

Some basic money-savers that you probably already know,. but I'll throw in just in case:

Shop once a month, or twice a month- the fewer times you are in the store, the fewer things you will "impulse buy".

Never buy anything from the rack at the checkout or from a vending machine. These things are far more expensive than in the regular parts of the store.

Bring your own water bottles when you shop rather than splurging on a soda. Fill em up at the drinking fountain.

Make the next meal BEFORE you go out to shop. When you get home you won;t have to think about making anything, and you won't be tempted to go to the drive-thru.

Dollar stores, thrift stores, and garage sales: make a list and stick to it.

Your 7 and 5 year olds can be put in charge of a portion of the shopping list and given other tasks as well.



answers from Sioux Falls on

I use a coupon organizer too and we have a white board to write when things when we run out of essentials like toilet paper, laundry soap, ect.

When I get busy I have my 8 year old write on the list and when we go shopping I have my kids help we compare prices and see if the coupon i have saves money or if another version is cheaper like store brand bread is cheaper we use that.
I went to a seminar about saving money and we learned some of the products we buy (store brand) are made by name brand companies and that has saved us money some things we use brand name for is like coffee and things like that. We also use a shopping list and have an idea of what I want to make for the week but I don't make a weekly menu I envy anyone who is that organized.

We went from our shopping bill was over 100 dollars a week (and eating out a few times a week) to we spending around 80 dollars and we may eat out once a week.

it really helps when you have a list when you go shopping and have what coupons you are going to use. if you don't get the paper a lot of stores offer have their ads online you can sign up on thier sites and they will send you the ads that they have in their stores it helps me save time.
I make the lists when the kids are doing a quiet activity like playing with homemade play dough or watching a movie.

They also have great sites like and other great sites where you can print coupons for certain items you use.



answers from Minneapolis on

I don't know if I have a GREAT idea, but I use a lot of coupons. But I know how hard it is to find time to use coupons with little kids around. I keep them in the little zip-up pocket on the side of my purse. Before I go shopping, I try to take the time to look through them before I go. I put aside the ones I know I'll use. It really does add up to save money! Good luck!
P.S. When you have a spare 10 minutes, try to categorize them for easy access. Put the "food" items together, "health care" items together, "baby" item, etc.



answers from Minneapolis on

My SIL just told me about She said that you pay like $5 a month (or two?) and you can access even more coupons and they give you a break down of any store you choose to let you know when is the best time to buy and stock up on certain products. She said it has saved her at least 40% on each trip.

I also agree with someone else about shopping for regular items at Wal-mart. They are much cheaper, but the fresh fruit and veggies leaves lots to be desired. They also seem to have less of a selection on certain things.

I have also found that when using coupons that even if the coupon is applied to a name brand item, it is still more expensive than the generic brand. Most generic brand items are equal to the quality of name brands. But it is something you will have to try for yourself.

I also noticed that two of your boys are older, maybe you can include them in the coupon sorting/using while you shop or help you make your meal plans and/or sort and organize the coupons.

Good luck with your new plan whatever it turns out to be!



answers from San Francisco on

Here's what I do, and it's not too hard. On Sundays, I clip coupons, or I set them aside and clip a bunch when I've got time. I have two envelopes -- one for the grocery store, and one for Target.

When I go to the grocery store, I go through my envelope and pull out the ones I can use. I write my list and put a "c" next to the items I have coupons for, so I won't forget to use them., that's it. DH and I have saved anywhere from $5 to $25 a visit. Definitely worth it!

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