Don't stop with cutting those coupons! If you've tried to use coupons before and not had any success there may be a reason. There is more to couponing than just cutting coupons from your Sunday paper. In order to be successful with coupons, you need to be well-organized, plan your shopping trips and be knowledgeable about prices. This does not take a long time to learn either.

Look at your store ad

Planning Your Shopping with CouponsMost store sales fliers are mailed to your house ( or at least they are in my area) on Wed or Thurs in the free paper that you probably just toss out. Before I started using coupons, I never looked at this paper. I thought it was just junk mail and tossed it. Now, I eagerly await my local free paper, it contains the planning tools I need for my weekly shopping excursions!

It will take you a while to become familiar with reading an ad if you have never done it. Every store's ad layout is a little different. After a few weeks of reading them, you will become familiar with each one and your time looking at the ad will decrease. Don't lose hope, and don't give are here to save money--you can do it!

With the store ad in front of you look through it and make a list of items you need. (After you have been stockpiling for a few months, this "need" list will almost disappear). Compare items that are on sale, to items on your need list. Then match up those items to your coupons. For example, you might see that Robitussin is on sale for $6.99 and you have a coupon for $1.00 off, making the final price $5.99. Lets assume the regular price of that item is $ just saved $4.00...or 40% in this case. Once you have been making your need list with your store ad for a few weeks, you will become much more familiar with item prices. This will help tremendously in your stockpile purchases.

How do I know if its a good price, or a great price?

Planning Your Shopping with CouponsBeing able to tell the difference between what is just a good price and what is a great price for an item takes time. But once mastered, can be the difference between a stockpile that grows large really fast, and one that slowly grows larger.

Lets use the same sale item from the above example:
If you plan your shopping trips for your need items from your store ads, matching up your coupons every week, you would know that there was a better deal on Robitussin last week. While it is a 40% savings to purchase that Robitussin on sale with your coupon today, you would also know to only buy one if you NEED it. Now would not be a good time to stockpile this item. (and again, you would only buy it if you need it-not just because you have a coupon for it)

Every week you plan using the method above, you will get better and better at it. Soon you will be able to whip right through the ad, glance at a price and say "no way...not this week that is too expensive" without even looking at your coupons!

In most cases, menu planning is key to saving money.

Menu planning saves lots of time, energy, and money, but it’s easy to over-complicate the process. And when that happens, it becomes a chore, and who wants to do more chores?

Planning Your Shopping with CouponsMenu planning doesn’t mean that you have to have a schedule from which you stick to like the school lunch program, but a “general idea” is a guideline. Menu planning is simply planning ahead of time what meals you will cook. By taking the time to plan ahead of time you are more likely to stay within your budget and find ways to use up what you already have in your stockpile.

How do you do it? There are lots of ways. I just make out a menu of what I feel like having for the week while I am cutting my coupons and planning for the weeks shopping trips. This way, I know what I will have to put on my "need" shopping list and will be able to match it to the store ad with a coupon. By planning a menu out as a guideline, it will help you stick to your shopping list and avoid those oh so costly last minute impulse buys.

You will save time and money by planning ahead. Knowledge and organization are keys to saving money on groceries. Cutting coupons without planning and organization is just like cutting scraps of paper...why bother?

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