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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

How to Coupon Without Going Crazy!

Hello friends.  So many of you have asked me how I use coupons (without going crazy)...and no I am not a dumpster diver...so I thought I would do a step by step tutorial.  Hope you like it and that it will save you lots of money...like us (we save on average about $200 a month on groceries/toiletries). 

So sit back...RELAX...and here we go!


Above is a picture of my binder in action.  If you want to get into the coupon-ing world...then you need to first create a binder.  A binder helps you organize your coupons so that when in a store you can easily grab what you need. 

What You Will Need to Create a Binder:

  • Zipped Binder so the coupons won't fall out.  
  • A package of baseball cards holders for smaller coupons.
  • A package of larger sheet protectors...divided in 3 sections for larger coupons.
  • Several packets of dividers of your choice (I used about 25)
  • Label maker (optional)-or you can just simply use a sharpie to write on the divider tabs
  • Scissors
  • Red, Yellow, and Green Sticker dots for coupons expiring soon-I'll talk more about that below.
  • The Sunday paper or any weekly adds from your favorite stores.  You can also sign up on line and receive them via email.  
  • A small notebook to write out your weekly shopping list/deals 
  • Sticky notes to separate your manufacture grocery section
  • Zipper pouches to keep small items like sticker dots and scissor in one place or the "grab and go" system, which I will explain below (optional)
  • Cart coupon holder clip (optional)


This is my binder that I purchased at Target for $14.  Most important thing is to purchase one that has a zipper. Otherwise your coupons could easily slide out.  

This particular binder also came with an according type filing system which I use to keep my weekly shopping list pad, and also any coupons I may have pulled and need to put back or for any coupons I may have collected at the store while shopping...that will need to be filed.  


Below is my zipper pouch (optional). I find it easier to keep small things such as my "expiring soon" stickers", scissors etc in one place.  I also purchased a coupon holder for the grocery cart from Publix.  It simply snaps on your cart handle and I use it to hold coupons that I have pulled and will be taking to the check out.  It makes it easier to have all of the coupons ready for the cashier.  

Yes, some cashiers do seem to have a phobia when they see people approaching with huge binders...but are pleasantly surprised when they see me coming, and have told me how organized I am. The clip is key to this!


My first divider section I created was my award cards. I got tired of lugging them around in my wallet so thought...hmm...this will work well. And I can easily seem them versus being stuck in the back of my wallet. 


My next section was food...as in restaurants.  Me and the hubs like to eat out but I just can't swallow (no pun intended) if we don't use a coupon for it! There is no particular order to how I put the restaurants in the pouches.  If you wanted, you could do it alphabetically. 


The next section is the great deals section.  These are any deals that I want to tag...for example Walgreens may be having a buy one bandaid item...and get a complimentary first aid kit. I know I have a ton of coupons for bandaid...so it will cost me very little.  I pull the bandaid coupons as well as the clipped add from the Walgreens flyer.  I also simultaneously write this store and deal down on my shopping list, which I will talk more about later. 


Then there is my free section.  Of course any deal where a store is using a promo and gives out free stuff. For example Aldi had a grand opening and gave away 2 free cloth shopping totes just for coming in the store.  


Here is a picture of the baseball card holders sheet protector that I use. I got them at Walmart for about $2 for a pack of 20. I use these to hold my coupons throughout the binder.


Here are the sleeves for larger coupons...that are divided into 3 sections.  My hubs ordered these off line for me...for about $7 for a pack of 50. 


My next sections are Store Specific coupons...which are stores that I frequent often. Here's a bit of awesomeness for you...did you know that most competitor stores will accept each other's coupons on top of their own and any other manufacturer coupons?  For example, here where I live in Atlanta, Publix, Kroger, and Target all take each other's coupons!  The cashier will do this for you at the register.  


Here is a picture of my expiry sticker dot system...a great visual for me to know which coupons are about to expire.  Yellow means the coupon will expire in 3 weeks, green...2, and red...that week. 


They stick well just on the outside of the coupon on the plastic and I have reused them quite well.



My next section is for items that I use randomly.  For example "apparel" is for things like running shoes, which I may get only once per year...and the "hair" section is for when I may get a cut/color...which I normally only do a few times a year. 


  
Trick with this is to make sure they don't have a short expiry date.  FYI...most hair salons don't have expiry dates. 




My next section I called my Grocery section or what I like to refer to as my gold section! These are all my manufacturer coupons that usually can be used at any store in combination with other coupons.  Of course you have to check with the store first.  For example, Aldi does not take any coupons. 


I've sectioned this off by simply writing on a stick note the various sections in the grocery store and arranging them alphabetical.  No genius here...just keeping it simple!


I literally just visualized in my mind the various sections of the store and wrote it on a sticky note. 



And that's my binder!



So How Do I Find the Deals?

  • Each Sunday afternoon I spread out my Sunday Newspaper adds as well as any I have printed from the internet throughout the week.  I start by clipping only items I will use...especially items that won't go off such as paper items etc. At the same time I am also looking for store deals...not only the coupons.  For example...Publix may be having a buy one get one free on toilet paper this week...and I already have several manufacturer coupons for the particular product.  
  • I will cut out the deal from the Publix add and then pull my matching product manufacturer coupons and paper clip them together and place them in my "grab and go" folder (smaller zip folder that I can pull and run into the store instead of taking the huge binder).  
  • I then write on my shopping list "Publix-Toilet paper" so I know I need to go that particular week to get the good deal.  This normally takes me the longest...maybe an hour to do these above steps. 
  • Then I start my "piles".  I have store specific coupon piles...for example...coupons that are only valid at a certain store.  Then I start my manufacture coupons piles, which are accepted by most stores...and I categorize them by which section in the store I would find them. For example...I have a "dairy" pile for any coupon that is a dairy item. 
  • I then take a quick run through of all my coupons I already have in the binder to see if they are expired or expiring.  I use the yellow, green, red sticker dot system...which are placed on the plastic sleeve that is holding the coupon and helps my eye focus on things that are about to expire.  The yellow dots are for coupons expiring in 3 weeks...the green...2 weeks...and the red...coupons expiring in 1 week's time. 
  • Once I have gone through all the coupons in my binder to check the expiry dates/and or place the sticker dots...I then put in my new coupons.  
  • The final step before going to the stores is of course reviewing my list of good deals that week...that I mentioned above...and my own personal grocery list...and double checking my manufacturer coupons and competitor's coupons to see if I can get additional savings.  I pull all the coupons and paper clip them together and put in my grab and go folder along with my list...and then I am ready to shop!

Tips:  
  • Stores generally will have certain items go on sale every 6 weeks.  For example, a certain cereal on sale at Publix will most likely not go on sale for another 6 weeks from that sale date.
  • Try to buy when on sale-not just when you need something...especially if it is an item that is non perishable and you have some great coupons for that particular item. Now don't go crazy and stock pile, but you can always use toilet paper, kleenex, etc. 
  • Do pull all of your coupons BEFORE you get in the grocery line.  Remember to be kind to the people behind you and the cashier by being organized!
  • Remember to ask your favorite store if they take competitor's coupons
  • Keep up with the binder once a week-not everyday...oh my word I think I would go crazy and we don't want that!


Hope this helps you and your family save a ton of money and please leave a comment of any nifty coupon tricks you may have.  Happy shopping!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

To Catch Up...

Oh my word...its been way to long since my last update.  Where do I begin?  As I write this I am curious how all of you are doing...what you've been up to.  Make sure to write me a note...I would love to hear from you.  

Now...let's get this party started...and speaking of...



I had a birthday since my last post. The honey took me out for a treat at the Fried Pickle...and I'll give you 3 guesses (the first 2 don't count)...as to what their specialty is.  That's right yummy...not so good for you...but again I'll say yummy...fried pickles!



And the weather for my special day couldn't have been better...71 F!!! That's 22 C for all my European friends.  WOW!


And the honey gave me a pair of shoes that I had been wanting for well over a year.  See I gave away almost my entire shoe collection between moving international here and there...so I am slowly but surely beginning a new collection.  These are so cute!



Then we went for a stroll in the small downtown area of Roswell.  This is such a picture of American life to me...what do you think?


Then we visited Whole Foods for the first time.  I LOVED it.  Oh my...I could spend some serious money in there...so we have to be careful. I also love the fact that they offer coupons.  Some great deals...check em out!


For the rest of December we took some time to hang out with friends.  We have been gone a while so we are very keen on building up existing and new friendships.  Wanna be our friend?! :) 

We are very thankful that our friends for the most part are very well traveled and love ethnic food.  So far we've been taking to the likes of Israel...


...and India...well food places that is.  And we couldn't be happier. YUM!

Then it was time to spend quality time with one of my besties.  She was a bridesmaid of mine in our wedding and continues to serve in Ireland as a missionary.  When she came home for Christmas break we decided to treat her to a little Starbucks...


...and what girl wouldn't want a pedicure?  J and I just love this girl and it was our joy to bless her.  We hope to do this more in the future for other missionaries home on furlough.  We know first hand how special it is for someone to bless you like this.  :)


Then it was Christmas.  I mean...it felt like it just snuck up on me.  We spent Christmas eve doing our annual tradition of shopping for each other for stocking stuffers.  Then Christmas day we went over to my brother's house for a meal.  

J really loved the tree with the McDonald's ornament.  Welcome to America! :) 


Although we were stuffed from our Christmas meal...there was no rest for the weary...as we headed out to Xtreme 2011 the day after Christmas.  It is an annual Christian conference/concert for teens...simultaneously happening in several locations throughout the country.  We were part of the organizing crew that went to Branson Missouri.  And the best part...J got to ride on his very first "proper" tour bus!

Here is a picture of our bus...from the back lounge...yes I said lounge.  


Then it was time to hit the road...and hang with some very cool peeps.  We just fell in love with these people...


Here we are lounging on the couches watching the next great baker...and our friend Faith certainly was watching with excitement as she could very well be the next great baker soon!  Check her out: 

www.freshbakedbyfaith.com


And here is J getting all cozy in the bunk...we drove overnight to get to MS.


When we woke...we were here...this BEAUTIFUL Hilton hotel...where the conference was being held.  Oh my...needless to say...we were NOT suffering!


Here is the conference center...we throughly enjoyed the speakers and getting a chance to hang around with Switchfoot, Toby Mac, and the David Crowder Band. 


And this was my view for most of the conference...and I LOVED it!  See that iPhone...its hooked up to a wireless credit card machine...so one of my main jobs was to be in charge of the credit card sales...that and registration.  Oh I loved it and want one of my own...although not sure what I would use it for...but its just so stinking cool!


We so loved being part of this...and "doing ministry" together...something that we as a couple had longed for since I had first been diagnosed in England...and had to stop working. So needless to say it was very special.  

Then it was time for the bus ride home...which turned out to be even more of a blessing when we had the awesome privilege to sit with our Pastor...just to talk with him and share our hearts of where we have been...and to be encouraged.  It was just what we needed. 


Then it was New Years Day...and what other meal would you fix but ham, collard greens, and black eyed peas (an American tradition)...but oh so good! Collard greens aren't pictured because they were already eaten!

After the beginning of the New year...we decided to be more intentional with spending time with our family. 

We enjoy our "Monday Date Nights" with my niece and nephew.  They are little stinkers and hard to beat at the Wii...here J is intently watching to see how they get those high scores...


...and later on in the week I will find him doing this...trying to beat their scores!  


Sorry honey you are good...but they are just little experts.  :)

We also have enjoyed spending time with them on Wednesday nights at our home church.  Below is a picture of FBCW middle school Pastor Rick Young...bringing a great message to the Kids from God's Word.  Us adults were getting a lot out of it too!


We are settling in more and more to life here in America. We've been blessed and the Father is looking after us.  These beautiful winter skies don't seem to hurt either!


Bella the cat is settling well also.  Just these past few weeks she has started her old routine again of sitting on my lap while I have my morning quite time.  


She is such a pretty girl!


And she has definitely gotten her frisky self back...she loves to play...especially with any form of string!


January was also a month for my honey's 31st birthday!  Below is the snickers cheesecake I made for him...per his request...and yes all of that stuff on top are loads of snickers!


Speaking of honey...he has been volunteering to run camera for church services...


Here is one of his shots...sorry its blurry from me taking the picture...but this is a great shot of him panning the crowd from a wide shot and then closing in on the stage. 

Now I am going to brag on him a little...this past week the director made sure to tell me that "he is Sooooooo good at what he does!".  Yes he is...and I am so proud of him!


We've both been volunteering to help with another ministry near and dear to our heart...iVOW...and just this past week wrote, directed, edited, and produced a short trailer for the ministry.  We hope that it will air at church soon!  More to come on this...but if you are a young couple who are engaged or thinking about becoming engaged and live in the Atlanta area...you need to check them out!


People ask how I am doing.  I am doing well.  I have been praying that I would get back into a pastime I used to love...reading.  I've been reading a lot of books lately...but this is one of my favorites along with most challenging. 

 Its called Safe People and it is an eye opener.  I also have been loving Max Lucado's Fearless and the devotional book Jesus Calling.  I just sense the Lord has said in my heart that this is the year of FREEDOM for me...in many ways...more to come on that later too...


Physically I have good days...


...and not so good days. 


I've been getting more and more settled with transferring all my medications Stateside as well as getting to know my doctors. I've been blessed that J has been right by my side!


I've also been asked to be part of an upcoming portrait book for patients on chemo.  Its to share their story...so needless to say I am honored. Here I am getting my make up done for the photo shoot...


Here I am again...and you can really see how my hair is thinning. I've not had total hair loss...as the chemo pill I am on does not tend to make people lose all of their hair...but it definitely thins it out drastically.  I have bald patches showing up...thinking of going short...what do you think?


And the coolest part is that we did the shoot at the Third Day Studio.  Wow...it was amazing!


Here I am sharing my story...


Smile pretty for the camera! Notice my cute new shoes?


And J and I both decided we would love to have this urban look in our future home...I mean I LOVED the decor!


Well that is about all...and I know you are thinking "all...I just read a novel!"  Sorry...I will try to not spread the time out too far next time before I do another update.  Hope you are having a blessed day...love you dear ones!