Spent $20.35. Saved $92.84.

It’s no secret that I love coupons! I save at least 50% on my food & household needs every week buy buying what’s on sale, combining sales with coupons and stocking up when an item is cheap. And my husband will tell you, when I first started out it took me a lot of time. Clipping, sorting and storing all those guys and then trying to locate them when I needed to was a challenge for a while, especially for someone like me who wants everything to be structured. After a few months and trying a few different methods, I finally chose one that works for me.

Many of my friends and family have asked if I could teach them, so here are the basics!

Here’s what you need to get started:

  1. A small hanging file box or room in a filing cabinet somewhere
  2. 12 Hanging file folders with labels
  3. A shoe box with dividers or some cardstock to make your own
  4. Coupons! – Start buying Sunday papers (or ask neighbors/family for their inserts) and keep an eye out in stores when you are shopping
  5. SouthernSavers – Jenny is a friend of mine and has the best resource out there for matching coupons with sales

What do I do with all this stuff?

  • The three types of inserts you will get in the paper are Redplum (RP), SmartSource (SS) and at the beginning of the month you’ll have a Proctor and Gamble (PG). These abbreviations are used on many coupon sites to reference where to find the one you need.
  • Use the hanging files with labels to sort  coupon inserts by the date they came from the Sunday paper (look for the tiny letters on the spine if you don’t remember). I usually write the date with a Sharpie on the front so its easy to see at a glance.
  • Optional: If you have multiple newspapers with identical coupons, I compile them to have like pages together for easy cutting of several of the same coupons at a time.
  • Only keep 12 file folders because most coupons in the inserts will have expired by that time.  When they are all full, this forces you to flip through the old one, cut out any unexpired coupons and then recycle it to make room for the newest inserts.  Its like organizational auto-pilot!
  • Use a shoe box or photo box to store any loose coupons that you found in the store or that you already clipped.  I sort mine expiration month and use cardstock to divide the month. This does two things, it keeps the loose coupons orderly AND it allows you to pull out a whole month’s worth of coupons once they expire.
  • Finally, use your coupons when an item is on sale.  There are a lot more in-depth tutorials on Southernsavers which you can check out as you have time.  The easiest way to start is to find the stores you shop at (Publix is my favorite) and look at the weekly ad before you leave the house. You can create your list right in SouthernSavers and then print off and clip your coupons according to what you are going to buy that week. (Since you have them all filed, this is a cinch!)
  • The hardest thing  to learn is to change your shopping behavior. I used to run out of shampoo and then add it to my list for the week paying whatever it cost for the brand I wanted.  Now I have 6 extras in my closet that I paid pennies for and I can “shop” from there when I run out.