Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Organizing My Coupons, Saving Money!

2 years ago, if you would have told me that I would have a binder full of coupons and that I would be buying coupons off the Internet, AND saving my family $130 more a week doing it. I probably would have laughed and told you, I have already tried couponing. And it doesn't work THAT well...


I am going to share with you today about my organizational system for couponing. In the past, I would buy one Sunday paper, and I would save all of my coupons in one envelope. At one time, I also had a small accordion type thing that had tabs so I could organize my coupons better. Then one year ago, when my sister-in-law introduced me to deal shopping with coupons. I had to step up my A-game...

I have a family of 6. Including my hubby and myself, and 4 boys ages 8 and under, one being in diapers still. We have a $70. a week food budget. In our food budget, I also get diapers, wipes, shampoo, soap, razors, laundry soap, etc. I have found out, with deal shopping, that I need more then one of the same coupon. So I started to get more papers, order more coupons on-line, etc.

Now, I needed another way to organize all of those coupons! And if you really want to be successful at saving your family money, you HAVE to stay at least MOSTLY organized. I say mostly, because I am never TOTALLY organized. I am a mom, after all, with a lot more priorities then to make a pretty coupon organizational system...

So, I use a binder for my coupons. I have baseball card pages that I can slip the coupons into. A lot of people who do the "coupon thing" also do the "binder thing". I have made tabs for the edges of my pages also, directing me to different sections in my binder. I also have pages in the front, that are for a full page, that I keep my catalinas in from different stores (Meijer, Kroger...). This is a picture of part of my binder:

This binder is a HUGE asset to my deal shopping. Although, I rarely take it with me to the store. I will explain in a second...
First of all, I am going to make a menu for my week (I do this on Sunday, for Monday though Sunday). On this menu, I include only items that I already have in my cupboards and freezer. This makes sure that IF I forget to pick something up at the store, that I am not going to have to make another trip because I have to have it for a meal!
Second, I am going to go through my sale fliers, whether on the Internet or in the Sunday paper. When I go through my fliers, I write down all of the good deals I see that week, and I also write down what items I see that I know I have a coupon for. Then I go through those items I wrote down, and I figure up how much each item would cost me with my coupons. If something is a good deal, I will put it on my grocery list. Here is a pic of this weeks list:

I put the store at the top. I put in (kind of) the order of the store that I shop. I put how many of those items I want to buy and if I have a coupon for that item (MQ is manufacturer's coupon, MB is meal box, C is catalina). Then I make sure I have all of the coupons pulled for all of those items, and I stick them in envelopes like this:

So when I get to Kroger, I just grab my list and my Kroger envelope, and I am ready to shop Kroger! For Kroger, I also keep my Kroger card right inside the envelope, so I don't forget it. I used to keep it in my wallet but it seemed a lot easier to keep it in the envelope.

For CVS, I have 2 cards. I have a card for my husband and a card for myself. When you go to CVS, you get print offs with your receipts and you get Extra Care Bucks (ECBs). SO how do you keep that whole mess organized? I have a CVS envelope but I also have 2 baggies, one for each card, that looks like this:

For my hubby's card, for example, when I get any ECBs or print off coupons, I stick them directly into the baggie. I also make 2 separate lists of what I want to buy with each card. Because my card may only have $12 ECBs and my hubby's may have $20.

So, How do I use this whole crazy system to save money?

Well, Like I said I usually get more then one paper, so I can have more then one coupon, and I order inserts. Like this last week, there was a coupon for Electrasol that was $2.50. This week at Meijer, they had Electrasol for $3 a box. If I just bought one with a coupon, I would pay $.50 BUT in a month from now, I would have to pay regular price ($4.) to get another box. Therefore, not really saving much money! SO~ I get 4 coupons, I go and buy four boxes and spend $2. and then I don't have to buy Electrasol for 4 months (or more) and hopefully before I run out, there will be another great sale & coupon!

This is called stocking up or stock piling. I do this for everything. Laundry detergent, diapers, wipes, soap, toothpaste, lotions, all food items, cereals, meats, etc.

In addition to all of this, I have to keep a shopping list on my refrigerator. If I know that I am running low on something, I add it to the list. If I need it soon, I add a star beside it. Then when I go through the fliers, I am reminded to look for these items and stock up. Like sugar has been on my list for 2 weeks now, and I will keep looking for good deals until I absolutely need it, then I will go somewhere like Aldi's, and buy one to tide me over until hopefully a great sale comes along.

So, hopefully this has helped some of you who have had questions or others maybe this will motivate you! This really isn't hard at all. I take maybe 2 hours a week on this and that's it. I use resources to help me spot deals, and I used them a lot more, before I learned how to do it myself. Some of these resources are on the left side of my blog, under "Moneysaving List!". Through these resources you will also be able to find out how to shop CVS effectively and pay pennies for toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo, headache medicines, etc. They also have all of the really great deals layed out for each week. So, check those out.

If there are any more questions, feel free to ask and I will try to explain them for you. Or at least I can direct you to another resource that can.

So, go ahead try this system out. Try it for at least 5 months. I know you will find results almost immediately. Happy shopping!


Danielle said...

Great post Sarah I think you did a great job of breaking down the process in bite size pieces for your readers! Happy Thursday!!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for such a great post! I too started off with an envelope, the upgraded to the accordion mini file and now I am using one of those "photo organizing" boxes. I really like your binder idea though.
Question - CVS - how does it work? I get so confused just looking at the ad sometimes! I did sign up for their card and got it in the mail but I don't know where to start. I have been doing the Walgreen's thing but I am getting a little tired of their very unfriendly staff ( I have tried two different stores). Plus, they are usually out of stock on the sweet deals. Thanks again for this very helpful post!

Sarah said...

Steph~ CVS can be a little confusing IF you don't know how things are done! (I am with you on the Walgreen's thing~ I have had one nice cashier and many, many grumpy ones) Getting the CVS card in the mail is a great start! =) Your first time you go, you are going to want to start small, like buying one thing or doing one "deal".

Looking to next weeks flier, which you can find here ( You could do something like the Garnier Fructis deal. It is: buy 1 Garnier Fructis Shampoo, Conditionaer or styler for $2.99 get 2 ECBs (extra Care bucks) back. If you have been collecting coupons, you will probably find that you have some $1. Garnier coupons, some off of a styling product and some off of shampoo or conditioner.

First- Go to CVS. If they have a scanner for your CVS card, scan your card. SOmetimes they print off some pretty good coupons. Some like, spend $25 get $5 off of your order.

Second, pick up your Garnier product. Pay attension to the limits. This one says limit one.

Third, head to the register. Give them your CVS card. They will scan it. Then they will ring up your Garnier. She will tell you your total, which will probably be $3.20 -ish. Hand them your $1. coupon. Your new total should be about $2.20. Pay your total, then they should, with your reciept, give you $2 in ECBs.

ECBs (Extra Care Bucks) can be used on anything (except like gift cards and alcohol). It's basically like CVS money. Save your ECBs somewhere where you will know where they are for your next trip.

Spending time on Hot Coupon World, you will be able to see deal where you can even make more ECBs back then you spent (called a MM, moneymaker). So, with a MM you could spend, for example, your $2 ECBs use a few coupons and then earn back more then $2.

On MM deals, you want to try to do these deals even if you don't use the product. Because you will be able to find someone to use what you bought or you can donate it. Then you have made MORE ECBs for the next time you go shopping. This is how many people, like myself can go to CVS and get bags or stuff for paying pennies out of pocket.

Like your Walgreens experience, you will want to make sure you get to CVS early in the week, because the really good deals go first and they don't get things restocked very well. SO go early in the week.

If you have any other questions, let me know. There are some great sites like and and These break down some of the really good deals for you, so you don't have to do all of the work!

Hope this helps!

Anonymous said...

Thank you VERY MUCH! You have been very helpful and patient with me and I appreciate all your advice. I have really enjoyed looking over your past posts too. Inspiring me to start looking for more ways to make things myself. Thanks again!

Megan said...

Great job explaining Sarah!!

BrnEyedGal said...

This is have inspired me to seek out better deals and MORE coupons! (I also like the idea of shopping at more than one store!)

Anonymous said...

I love this post! It makes me want to start using coupons but it is still way to over whelming to me! I just started menu planning and although I would love to use coupons I just dont know where to start! Thanks for this though, maybe it will help some how! :)