I’m the world’s worst couponer

by Karen on August 26, 2008

When I started this blog about a month ago, I also decided to adopt a new habit in addition to writing about my financial progress: clipping and using coupons.

Even though I’d been living fairly frugally for about a year, I never clipped coupons. To be honest, I doubted that they would help me much because 95% of the foods we buy are produce, meats, and other fresh foods.

When I started this blog, though, I wanted to try new approaches to saving money and try to become even more frugal. Most of the other frugal bloggers I read clip coupons, and many people suggested that I try it to reduce our grocery spending. So I’m giving it a shot.

For the past three weeks, I’ve bought a Sunday paper every week and clipped the coupons that caught my interest. I’ve also been checking out some of the printable coupon sites, but I’ve been having trouble printing at some of them because I use a Mac and Firefox. Ultimately, after fighting with it for 20 minutes, I get frustrated, decide all the frustration isn’t worth the 50 cents I’ll save, and give up.

As I suspected, most of the coupons don’t really interest me, anyway. But I have found some good ones for toiletries, cleaning supplies, and other non-food items that I buy.

For the most part, I really haven’t been impressed with the savings-to-work ratio. However, most of the deals I’ve been reading about in the frugal blog world include coupons that were clipped weeks ago, so I’m thinking it might be a few weeks before the coupons I’m clipping now really pay off.

I’ve only used a handful of the coupons I’ve clipped. However, I’m having a hard time getting into the habit of redeeming them. I keep forgetting to bring the coupons I have, or only remembering that I have a coupon at all when I see an item on sale for which I also have a coupon. The problem is, the coupon is at home and I’m in the store. Oops.

The one time I did remember my coupons, I brought a list that included the items I planned to use the coupons on. Then after browsing a while and picking up other things, I actually forgot to hand over my coupons at the register. I had to take them up to customer service to get a $1.30 refund for my coupons. How embarrassing. Looking at the $1.30 in cash that I’d saved after all that hassle also didn’t do much for my lack of enthusiasm about coupon clipping.

Despite my skepticism, I’m determined to give this a real shot before I dismiss it. I feel like I need to get organized before I can really know if coupon clipping is going to work for me.

There’s been a lot of buzz in the frugal blogs about coupon organization systems, but I honestly don’t want to spend any money on this. I am, however, looking for tips on frugal or free ways to get my coupons organized.

So I’m asking you: What methods do you use to organize your coupons?

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{ 7 comments }

1 Christina August 26, 2008 at 9:07 pm

When I started, I just had a cheapo coupon organizer I got at Target (paid $4). Then when that started to overflow, I switched to a binder with baseball card holders inside. This time of year is great time to get good deals on binders. I like the binders because I can see all of my coupons when I’m out and about (I don’t have to flip through an envelope or dig through a box) when I see a good sale.

As for coupons, I think the time is worth it. I typically save anywhere from $150 to $200 a month!

2 Kacie August 26, 2008 at 9:20 pm

Don’t worry! You just have to find a way to make coupons work for you.

For the longest time, I only clipped coupons for toiletries, paper goods, and cleaning products. Took me 15 minutes tops.

I used those coupons at CVS, Walgreens, or Rite Aid and worked those drugstore deals to get a huge stash of toiletries.

Don’t just clip coupons for items you’ve bought before. If it’s a new brand of shampoo that you think you’d be willing to try, clip it.

It just might go on supersale at a drugstore soon, and you might be able to get it for free.

These days, I might go to one drug store once per week. Most of the time, it’s less often, unless there’s several incredible sales going on.

You don’t have to devote hours to this. Start small, use Couponmom.com and work simple deals at the drugstore to build up your stash.

I wish I could take you drugstoring! It would be fun.

3 tiffanie August 27, 2008 at 1:29 am

i started couponing and doing drugstores when I started reading Kacie’s blog, actually :)

and you’re right, it may take a few weeks before you are able to match up your coupons to sales (especially those that online bloggers are talking about…even I don’t have some of the coupons they’re matching to sales because I started fairly recently).

i saved over $80 a few days ago at Wal-Mart by using coupons. Today I saved $47 at Walgreens (and only spent $8). It really is amazing.

Make it fun. I buy the Sunday paper and it takes me all of 15 minutes to clip and sort them into my index box (which I always bring with me in the car when I go shopping, so even if I don’t have it in the store and i see an unexpected great deal…if it’s a good enough deal, I have the coupons in the car).

it takes time. and you may just find that it isn’t for you. that’s ok too. :)

4 Michelle August 27, 2008 at 2:26 am

Like you, I started out clipping coupons from Sunday papers but kept on forgetting to bring them whenever I would go to the grocery.

Now, I just use coupons whenever I’m shopping online.

5 Kelly from Almost Frugal September 1, 2008 at 4:30 pm

This post has been included in the 141st Festival of Frugality, going live at Almost Frugal September 2nd 2008. Don’t forget to link back to it when you get a chance.

6 Bargain Briana September 2, 2008 at 11:38 pm

I use the insert method! i have a blog entry about how I organize my coupons….much easier to me than clipping each coupon every week!

http://bargainbriana.com/coupon-organization/

7 Aryn September 5, 2008 at 1:47 pm

I don’t have a box, or really even a system. I tear the coupons out after reading the Sunday paper (really, I don’t even use scissors, just fold and tear), then put them in a napkin holder in order by expiration date. I flip through them after I make my grocery list. I might also check online, but I rarely find any I can use. When I get to the store, I sort through them as I shop and put the ones I can use ON TOP OF MY WALLET in my purse. Since I can’t pay without going into the wallet, I never forget the coupons.

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