Monday, June 14, 2010

ON A MISSION: Using Couponing to Make the Budget Work

Last Saturday I attended a couponing seminar presented by Jill Hale over at couponthrifty.  I really enjoyed it, Jill did a great job of explaining all that coupon mumbo-jumbo and the fine art of CVS'ing and bagging great WAGS deals. She is also a good friend of my friend The Dime Savin' Diva and I was really looking forward to meeting her. She's great!

Coupons are not a new thing for me, I've used them off and on for years. But there is a difference between the casual couponer and the Coupon Queen...a big difference...we're talking hundreds of dollars a year, if not more!  And the whole CVS thing completely escaped me...I've heard tales of ridiculous deals (ridiculous as in it's ridiculous that people can even DO this!) and have longed to score some myself, yet every time I tried to figure out a 'CVS scenario' my brain would literally lock up. I just couldn't get it, which is incredibly irritating as I consider myself to be of reasonable why is it so hard? It takes experience for one, and an ability to think ahead and around...not always my strongest area, to be honest.

Jill did a great job of explaining that though, and I am very excited to try it out this week. I plan on spending some time Tuesday during Li'l Man's nap to plan my strategy.

She had for sale some neat coupon binders, but I just didn't have any extra money so I didn't purchase one. I had never thought of putting together a binder and decorating it with scrapbooking materials! She has some very cute ones, plus inside are all you need to organize your coupons, a grocery list, and a reference sheet of websites and other information that is very helpful.

I decided I would make my own...I have binders all over the place, sheet protectors, and coupons. I don't really like to use grocery lists made by someone else simply because they shop and eat differently than I do. I haven't made up a grocery list yet, but I did print out some Pantry Inventory sheets from OrganizedHome. My project this evening is to go through the cupboards and shelves and make a list of what we already have (I think I said I'd do this, I haven't gotten to it yet LOL).

Jill uses baseball card sheet protectors to slip her cut-out coupons in, which is brilliant! You can see the coupon and expiration date (I had to get creative and fold some in certain ways to make them fit and keep the relevant info visible) at a glance, and you can organize them however you want. However, I have to be totally honest and say that while I do have access to 'slave labor' (she has her children cut them out and organize them into three general categories), I just don't want to cut all the coupons out...for one, when I go to those websites that tell you what's on sale where and what coupons to use with it, they say things like $1/2 (product name) RP 6-13. That's $1 off of two whatevers and the coupon was in the Red Plum Sunday circular on 6-13. My problem, then, is that if I cut them all out, how am I going to find them again later? I suppose I could just look through all the little pockets, but I don't want to do it that way.

The Coupon Mom has you keep the coupon circulars, write the date on the front in big Sharpie marker, and put it in a binder. Then you go to her website and look up the deals, which are cross-referenced to the corresponding coupons. Sounds great...yet then I have the problem of what to do with the coupons I already have cut out,  and the ones I get in the mail, on products or print out?

The solution for me is to use both systems...then I'm not cutting out every single coupon and waste time on coupons I won't use, yet I have a place for all the loose coupons I already have and the others I will no doubt accumulate.

I spent some time today putting together the binder in a 'logical' fashion. I may have over-complicated it...I often do that, but the way I put it together makes sense in my head.  I'll give it a test run for the next few weeks and if I like the way it works, I'll post pictures of it here later.

So for now, it's off to inventory all our stuff...

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