Whether online or in real life whenever the topic of using coupons is discussed, people often reply that they just don’t have the time to coupon. While it is true that the upkeep of a coupon binder can become a job of its own, and matching up coupons with sale circulars can take a huge chunk out of your personal time, there are plenty of tips that couponers can use to save time.
The Frugal Path Coupon System
Over the course of about two years my wife and I have been using coupons to save money. While we don’t use many coupons for the food we eat, we do use them for personal hygiene products and other household products. The savings have been quite noticeable and have given more than a little wiggle room in our household budget.
When we first began using coupons it took us roughly four hours a week. I’ll admit that four hours is a lot of time. However, as time progressed we learned several time saving tips that shaved off 75% of the time that we spent couponing. Here is how we coupon in The Frugal Path household:
Use Coupon Matching Sites
Every Saturday night my wife and I go to The Krazy Coupon Lady . Using this site for finding coupon matchups has been the biggest time saver for us. They usually have the matchups posted by Saturday night for the following week. While Michigan does not have many of the grocery stores featured on the site, we do use it mainly for Walgreens/CVS matchups. (Shopping these two drugstores for the personal hygiene and household goods loss leaders have saved us thousands every year).
You’ll end up spending a great deal of time on the site if you’re going to read every deal for the store (This was one time waster that I used to be guilty of) . What we do now is just scan through for the yellow stock symbols. The site has two symbols. One is three cans inside of a yellow triangle. This is supposed to represent good deals. However, the six can symbol inside of the yellow triangle is what we look for. These represent deals worth checking out.
We write down the deals that we want and any coupons related to the product as well as what flyer the coupon came from.
Once we’re done looking for our drugstore deals we head to a different site, Bargains To Bounty. This site is another time saving trick that my wife and I have discovered. It’s more location specific because it focuses on stores in the Metro Detroit region. There is a good chance that a similar website exists for your part of the country. Just look up coupon matchups for ***insert the name of the nearest big city***.
When we go to this site we focus almost solely on one store, Meijer. The whole process is very similar to the system we use for The Krazy Coupon Lady. (Instead of cute little bullets they use different colors to show how good a deal is, but it’s still pretty much the same).
Searching the Circulars
Once we have our main list from the coupon sites we take a quick glance at the circulars to see if we missed any local deals. The drug stores sale prices for items like bread, pop and milk are usually regional. For this reason it’s a good idea to read through the circulars once.
The Coupon Folders
Once we have our list written out telling us where to find the coupons we begin our search. At this point we divide the task up, this is one benefit of couponing as a couple. One of us, usually my wife, prints out any internet coupons that we need.
While my wife is printing coupons I search for the newspaper coupons that we need. For me this is where the time savings have really added up. The coupon folder system is so much faster than a coupon binder. I just search for the coupon I need, cut it and I’m done. (As I search for the coupons that we need I also purge the filing cabinet of any expired inserts).
Depending on how good the sales are for the week this entire process can take anywhere from a half hour to an hour, which is a huge time savings from what we used to spend.
How We Shop
I know what many people are thinking. If we go to three or four stores, we’re wasting a whole lot of time and gas trying to save money. The truth is, we don’t waste anymore time or gas than we normally would. There are two or three Walgreens on the way to our works. When we shop at Walgreens we simply go after work. It’s a five minute stop. As for CVS, well I can throw a rock from my work and hit it without too much effort so I usually stop at CVS one day after work.
On the other hand, Meijer isn’t on the way to work for either of us. However, it is on the way to my wife’s parent’s house. Since we visit her parent’s house once a week we just go after we’ve finished visiting (Meijer is open 24 hours which is a huge plus for us).
Couponing doesn’t need to become a part-time job. By using these time saving tips we regularly spend an hour or less per week on couponing. For us, the money saved from matching coupons with sales is well worth it. While I do agree that couponing may not be worth the money saved for the amount of time spent for those who earn a high income, I do believe that for many American families who earn an average income, the amount of money saved for the time spent on couponing can be worth the effort.
Do you have any time saving tips for couponers? What do you do to save time while saving money?
Photo Provided By: mpclemens