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Why Smart Couponers Clip Judiciously

Monday, February 22, 2010

Knowing the best ways to use coupons and match them to low-

priced sales gives shoppers a huge advantage compared to paying

full price at the grocery store. Stocking up when items are at very

low prices is, of course, another factor in saving big on the items

we buy often. So what's the third component to Super-Couponing

success?

For me, it's organizing and using my coupons as efficiently as

possible. The newspaper may contain 40 or more coupons each

week. That's a lot of paper to potentially manage. And truthfully, I

do not want to cut all of those coupons out then keep track of lots

of little, loose pieces of paper, sorting them by product type and

category and watching expiration dates. That can quickly become a

job in itself!

Instead, I've become a big fan of a "clipless" system for

handling coupon inserts, called clipless because, well, it means you

will clip less! Instead of cutting each coupon out, I save the entire

insert each week. I store the inserts in an accordion file, which can

be found in any store that carries office supplies. I place the current

month's coupon inserts in the front pocket of the file and the

previous month's in the next divider, and so on. There are many

weeks when I don't even flip through the insert when it arrives, I

simply stick it in the file so I know where it is. The important thing

is to keep all of the inserts together in one place, so that you have

all of your coupons on hand when it's time to plan shopping trips.

Another nice thing about this method is that it ensures you

keep all of your coupons, not just the ones that you think you'll

use. It eliminates the "beginner mistake" of cutting just the coupons

you think you'll use and then throwing the rest of the coupon insert

away. Super-Couponers know that discarding the "unnecessary"

coupons means that you'll also throw away coupons for items that

will be free later. Now, if frozen peas go on sale for $1, you know

that the $1 coupon for the peas offered in last month's paper is still

on hand, waiting for you to cut it out and go get some free veggies!

Keeping all of the inserts intact and storing them together is the first

step in this process.

Then, when I am ready to plan this week's shopping trips, I

turn to the Internet to help me determine which coupons to clip.

There are many coupon Web sites that will actually give a list of

every item currently on sale in your area grocery store and match

the coupons to the sales for you. Each of these sites operates on the

understanding that you have saved all of your coupon inserts. The

site tells you exactly which insert the coupon you need for a

particular item appears in. An example? A site may say "Spreadable

butter is on sale for $1.69. Use the $1.25 coupon from 11/16 SS and

take it home for 44 cents."

The reference to "11/16 SS" tells an informed shopper exactly

which coupon insert the coupon appears in -- in this case, the

November 16th edition of the SmartSource coupon insert. If you look

at your coupon inserts, you'll notice that each one has a name at

the top. These Web sites will tell you exactly which insert your

coupon appears in by date and name. You then simply pull that

insert from your file, clip just the coupon you need and replace the

insert in the file for later use.

On my Web site, www.supercouponing.com, I've got a link

on the home page called "Getting Started." This section of my site

illustrates the method in more detail and contains links to many

popular coupon Web sites that will help you plan shopping trips

with ease.

CTW Features

Jill Cataldo, a coupon-workshop instructor, writer and mother of

three, never passes up a good deal. Learn more about couponing at

her Web site, www.super-couponing.com. E-mail your couponing

coups and questions to jill@ctwfeatures.com.