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4 tips to organize grocery coupons

By Paula Pant ·
Tuesday, July 29, 2014
Posted: 3 pm ET

Grocery coupons are a great way to trim your costs. But unless you are organized, potential savings could be slipping through your frugal fingers.

It is easy to spend a ton of time clipping grocery coupons from the week's circulars, only to forget the coupons at home when you go shopping.

Or perhaps you bring the coupons to the store, only to find out that most of them are expired.

If your "couponing life" is a disorganized mess, don't worry. Here are four tips that might help keep your coupons organized.

1. Schedule time to prepare. Set aside 30 to 60 minutes each week to comb through store circulars, and to print out any offers you receive via email. "Block off" this time on your schedule. This is a priority, so don't hesitate to document the time in your weekly planner or calendar.

Treat this practice like gardening: "Cull," or throw away, expired coupons, while also adding fresh ones to the collection.

The biggest benefit to scheduling a set time each week is that you'll be able to easily make a cost-benefit analysis. If you take 30 minutes per week to focus on couponing, and you save $30 per week as a result, then you're "earning" $1 per minute.

If, however, you see that you're spending an hour per week on couponing and only saving $6, you may want to rethink your efforts.

2. Keep coupons in one spot. Organize your coupons into a single binder or wallet. If you're using a binder, divide it into subcategories, such as "cereal," "vegetables" and "desserts."

Alternately, if you know that you regularly buy some items from particular stores, subdivide the list based on store information. This will make it easy to find what you're looking for when creating a shopping list.

3. Always have your binder handy. As soon as you're done updating your coupons, put this binder in your purse or car immediately. That way, you will have them on hand the next time you go shopping.

If you don't have a car, keep the pack of coupons near your keys, jacket or bus pass. That way, you will see the binder the moment you leave home.

Remember, your coupons won't help you save money if you don't bring them with you!

4. Use technology. Want to keep things really simple? "Clip" digital coupons. You can save these right to your smartphone.

This way, you can leave the binder at home. Apps such as Favado and Coupon Sherpa will collect coupons from a variety of stores.

Paula Pant helps people ditch the cubicle and live on their own terms. She's traveled to 30 countries, owns six rental property units and hasn't had an employer since 2008. Her blog, "Afford Anything," is the gathering point for a tribe that refuses to say "I can't afford it." Follow Paula on Twitter: @AffordAnything.

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August 06, 2014 at 9:16 am

I cannot understand why you'd want to sort coupons by type of makes no sense to me.

For years now I've sorted mine by EXPIRATION DATE, within the month they expire.

What good is it to have tons of coupons sorted by food type, only to find that when you go to use it, IT'S EXPIRED!?!?!

So start sorting by expiration date......and you'll be glad you did!!!!

August 06, 2014 at 9:14 am

I cannot BELIEVE that people organize coupons by item; soups, snacks, etc...WHY?????

It's way more efficient to sort them BY EXPIRATION DATE....I've done this for years & wouldn't consider any other way.

What good does it do you to have them all sorted by type of food, only to find that when you go to use one, IT'S EXPIRED!!

sorry, folks, but to me the ONLY way to sort coupons is BY THE DATE.

Just try it, and you'll see for yourselves!!!!!!!!!

August 02, 2014 at 4:41 pm

I dont have time to cut out every coupon and review the sales ads each week.

I use SavingsAngel SAVINGSANGEL.COM. they tell me whats on sale and where to find the coupon.

My Affiliate # is: 56521

Please use my number if you want to check it out- I think the 1st month might be free- been a long time since I signed up.
Been using for over a year now.

August 01, 2014 at 2:39 pm

I watched a couple buy $150.00 worth of groceries at Publix LAST WEEK and only paid $8.56.
The man showed me a receipt 9 feet long (valued at over $1000.000 that they got for free.

August 01, 2014 at 1:15 pm

Many stores will not allow extreme coupon savings like on a certain show, this show they get 3 carts full of groceries adding well over 780 dollars then their coupons kick in saving 98%, few stores allow that, many will have their 14% off sale on groceries that's all they will allow maybe 10 cents off yogurt

August 01, 2014 at 11:32 am

I am just getting started with coupons and I need help.

Lynn Decker
July 31, 2014 at 8:27 pm

Helen, thanks for the info......

Helen Simms
July 31, 2014 at 5:56 pm

I use several, the newest being When you "clip" the first one it will prompt the enrollment, and part of that process is checking that you want the toolbar (that's the default). Just UNcheck the box.

Lynn Decker
July 31, 2014 at 4:46 pm

I have tried multiple times to get to on line coupon sites and all they want to do is add a toolbar and give you ads. Anybody have any ideas to sites that are user friendly. Don't need a lot of coupons as we live in an RV and I only have limited storage space. One idea for those who live near a Publix. They often have buy one get one free. You can take those to the nearest WalMart and they will honor those twofers.....

July 31, 2014 at 4:08 pm

I love my coupons and use them all the time and i have others that use them also!