Thursday, September 27, 2012

My Favorite Deal and Coupon Sites--And How I Store My Coupons

This is my last entry in my series on couponing do's and don'ts and how I've learned to avoid making mistakes.  Today I am going to share my favorite deal and coupon sites and how I use them.

First, my favorite coupon sites.  This is where I get probably half of all the coupons I use.  I check them every few days and print off any coupons that I may want to use.  The trick is to enter the best zip codes for getting the best assortment of coupons.  In general I keep my zip code set at 77477.  But occasionally I scan under 33033 or 12345 or 90210.  Often, there are a few great coupons that only show up under specific zip codes, but are perfectly acceptable in any store.

With these sites, and most sites, you can print each coupon twice from each computer.  I have three computers hooked up to my printer, which means I can print six copies of any one coupon.  I only do that with really good coupons that I know I'm going to want a lot of--crackers, yogurt, cheese.

Next, my favorite deal site for grocery store match-ups.  This is the site that I check every week while making my grocery list.  The blogger lists a lot of the sales from specific stores and then matches the deals up with any coupons always telling you where the coupons came from so you can find them.  She also does something that other sites I've found don't.  She color codes her deals in green if they are rock bottom prices, which tells me it's time to stock up.  She covers Meijer, Kroger, Target and other Michigan area stores.

Third, my favorite deal sites. These are the sites that show up in my facebook news feed with good deals and coupons I might want to print.  I don't stalk these sites, but I do glance at them to see if there's anything worth looking into.

Lastly, my favorite sites for free Kindle books and homeschool printables.  While most of these sites also list free Kindle books, a few sites are specifically devoted to books and printables that I might want to use in my homeschool.

There are thousands of websites and blogs that you can choose to follow on facebook or through other avenues.  I have liked many pages on facebook and get several email updates in my inbox weekly, but these are the top pages that supply the deals and coupons that I like best.

Now I am sure there are some of you who are wondering what I do with all those awesome coupons I score off the internet and from the paper.  How do I keep them organized so I don't miss any good sales.  I'm going to share my well-honed system (LOL!) with you.  There are many options for coupons out there.  Some people use a shoe box, some do the whole insert method where they store the inserts whole and then only cut out what they are going to use each week.  I prefer the "cut it all out, sort it so I can see it" method.  Out of sight, out of mind is what would happen if I tried the whole insert method.

Here is the binder that I use.  I prefer the zipped binder for couponing.  I tried a regular binder but my coupons were always falling out.  Now I can stash lots of things in there without it falling out.  I also keep a pen, a pair of kid scissors for cutting out coupons I might not have had time to cut ahead of time, and a calculator in my binder at all times.

My preference for sorting coupons is using baseball card sheets.  I like to see my coupons without having to shuffle through them so when I am in the soup aisle, I know instantly what soup coupons I have and if I can find any good deals.  For the internet coupons, I fold them in half and write the expiration date on the side that's showing as folding them turns the expiration date to the back.

I divide my binder into 5 sections: Meats/Dairy/Frozen, Soup/Baking, Snacks/Breakfast, Toiletries, and Cleaning Supplies/Bags/Everything Else.  I group my coupons on the baseball card sheets based on category within the bigger category.  So all the meats are on one page, all the dairy on another, all the freezer section things on a third page.

I have three envelopes in my binder.  One envelop I label "Sort" and this is where I stash all the unsorted coupons until I have time to sort them.  One envelop is for all of the coupons that I might use that week at the store depending on any unadvertised sales.  The third envelop is for all of the coupons that I will hand to the cashier when I make my purchase.  I pull out all the coupons I am actually using as I go through the store and have them ready for the cashier.

I also store the sales fliers in my binder.  There is nothing I hate more than being pretty sure there is a sale but it not being marked on the shelf.  I always double check with the sale ad to make sure I didn't dream up the sale.

All in all, I probably spend an hour a week between coupon hunting, printing, cutting, sorting, and list making.  An hour that saves me $40-80 a week.  Not a bad investment of my time at all.

If I missed anything that you would love for me to address, please leave me a comment and I will do my best.  While I feel like I hit all the key points, I might have missed something that you are wondering about. And after writing this, I see that I forgot about the big topic of entertainment and date nights.  I will be sure to cover that next week.

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