Coupon Clipping Tips and Techniques

By ERIN TURNER

I have to admit my “Coupon Queen” crown is slightly tarnished these days.  Why?  Because I hardly couponed this summer…<gasp!>.  I know that sounds scandalous but in all honesty, it’s exactly what I planned!  With three boys, a small farm, 4-H projects, family trips, visiting guests and everything a summer offers, I just knew coupon clipping would be next to impossible to do this summer.  (That’s the first of my coupon clipping tips — know your lifestyle and fit coupon clipping around it.You con’t have to let coupon clipping take over!)

So, if you remember back this spring, I talked about stocking up and preparing for a summer of very little couponing (which also means very little shopping which then means very little expense!).  Guess what?  We never ran out of toilet paper, toothpaste or any other household item.  Since I was devout in stocking up on the items I knew our family needed to get through the summer, we were able to live off the stockpile and never spend a dime this summer on those items.

That’s what I love about couponing…the flexibility and its adaptable nature!  But now that fall is arriving, it’s about time to get back onto the throne of Coupon Royalty and start replenishing ourshelves.

This week I pulled out my trusty Coupon Binder to get it back into working condition.  I’ve been trying to re-organize my binder so it is more efficient and user-friendly.  One topic that always surfaces when I talk to people about couponing is how they clip their coupons.  There are two schools of thought out there and I haven’t decided which one works best for me.  Maybe it’s a blend of the two.

The first method of coupon clipping is to clip every coupon every Sunday and file them in your binder according to their category.   Doing it this way requires some time upfront to go through your inserts, cut the coupons and then file them.

This is the method I used when I first began couponing.  It works well to have the coupons already categorized and ready to pull out. The theory behind clipping every coupon is the fact sometimes you may need to buy an item in order to get something else for free.  Okay, I understand the theory but I don’t employ it, so I only clip the coupons I know I will use.

The second method of coupon clipping is to file the entire Sunday coupon insert and then just clip a coupon when you need it.  At first, this seemed like the lazy man’s approach to couponing but I’m starting to appreciate the ease of this method.  The only problem I have is: knowing which coupon is in which insert.

This requires me to constantly be connected to the various online couponing blogs which tell you that information.  But it makes for quite the scene at the grocery store when I come across an unexpected sale and I’m searching through 4 weeks of inserts looking for that coupon.  Plus, it does make for an ultra thick binder!  This method saves some time upfront since you’re not clipping all the coupons on Sunday but you still need to file the inserts according to their date.

As I’m preparing for my upcoming “couponing season,” I’m going to try and find a happy medium between the two techniques of coupon clipping.  I like having some pre-clipped coupons for the items I know I will purchase (toilet paper, toothpaste, paper towels, etc) so I will still dedicate some time on Sundays to clip those coupons and put them in their slick, little plastic sheet pockets.  Then I will file the other inserts according to their date in my folder aswell.

I’m also going to try a sticky note on the front of the insert to write down the various coupons in that particular insert.  I think this will help save time and the hassle.  For example, if I need a coupon for Windex, then I won’t have to search every insert for it.   I am fairly confident that this blend of the two techniques will offer me the efficiency, organization and ease which I need to be successful in couponing.  I’m also confident I’ll have to do some tweaking of this system as time goes on to make it fit my needs just right.

Coupon clipping is personal.  Everyone does it just a little differently and not every method works perfectly for everyone.  It’s really about finding a technique that is easy and useful for you. If couponing becomes cumbersome, you just won’t do it and we all know that’s not a good thing!  Find your own groove for clipping and storing coupon and remain open to tweaking as you progress in your couponing adventures.

How do YOU clip your coupons?  Are you a clipper of all coupons? Do you file whole inserts? Do you have your own way of doing it? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Enjoy this blog?  You might also like Erin’s previous posts on Coupon 101 – The Basics, Organizing Your CouponsEthical Couponing and Coupon Courtesy, or Drugstore Couponing 101.  AND, be sure to check out the “Missoula Save it Club”  on the home page of MakeItMissoula.com (See the Daily Missoula Fix buttons in the left navigation bar) for savings updates throughout the week!

Back to the Save It blog home page.

Click here to see the Coupon Queen’s “Save It”archive.

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Erin Eisenman-Turner is proud to be a native Missoulian.  Along with her husband and three sons, they raise chickens, pigs, rabbits, and vegetables at Turner Family Farms in the Orchard Homes area. When the farm chores are done, the coupons clipped and the blog written, you can find Erin exploring Montana, collecting antiques and trying to maintain a well-run, happy and organized home for herfamily.