Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Organizing Coupons and Short Cuts

OK well I had some great response to our coupon adventures thus far, So I'm going to break down some more tips to get the most of a shopping experience.
This time we we saved 46% from a 306.00 Bill ending with a 172.00 grocery bill.
That was pretty fun. Although we spent most of Saturday afternoon in a grocery store.

We could probably save more but we still get items that do not have coupons.
Such as Meats, Pet items, Dairy and Produce. ( Look for recipes this week)

 This is mostly about good organization,  Ill explain how we did it with groceries and add some organizing tips for the week at the end. ( another project of mine )

The First thing we do is plan of attack, For one you don't really want meat and dairy hanging out in your cart for 3 hours. secondly produce is fragile and doesn't really like being stacked up on with tons of other foods.

What we did this time and it seemed to work the best is to start in the snack and soda aisle and then work through the middle of the store. Followed by the meats, then dairy and finally produce. Since most produce doesn't last very long I only get about 4 days worth. We eat alot of salads.

Also keep track of you spending with a calculator, Remember to add tax if you have it in your state for non-food items and prepared food. ours is at 7% ish so I add .10 to each dollar to round up.

Since you will be starting in the middle, Higher priced items like dog food toilet paper and cleaning/ Household supplies add up pretty quickly.

Another tip I do is not take off any discounts like the coupons your using. I use cash so we don't go over budget if you keep track of your spending and use coupons its a fun surprise when you get to the check-out.

Another thing you may want to do is have some sort of tracking on your electronic coupons if your using them. We print off our list and Highlight the deals that match with our coupons or store discounts.
It kind of a pain in the butt, but worthwhile if you spend some time loading them and keeping track.

The aisles that take the longest are household cleaning and laundry, condiments, and toothpaste/ personal hygiene. But I can say our family can skip those aisles completely for a few months due to the savings we have accumulated this last month.

I will check the deals though since you cant really lose on getting something like that for super cheap.

Now that you have a game plan on targeting the best route on the grocery store.
Let me explain a little better our coupon book.
I had explained that we have baseball card sleeves and sections broken down by aisles.
Well my wife took that a bit farther to make it a little easier to navigate this book.

Here goes.
A. Deli meats and bread.
     1. This section only needs one sleeve as not many coupons come out for this area.
     2. Mostly deli packaged meats, Hot dogs, and that are all in one area. You might even find stuff like Bob  
         Evans or items like that.
B. Baby Items.
      1. If you don't have a baby, Lol well that's pretty easy, just omit this section.
      2. Almost every time I get diapers ( hopefully ending soon ) at Target I get a coupon for 1.50 off
      3. You can put juices and baby bath items in this section.
      4. You only need about one sleeve for this.
      5. If you have a newborn, sign up at every baby site you can think of, Huggies, Pampers, etc. As well as
          baby programs for your store. You will get valuable coupons for items like formula, wipes and more.
       6. Most stores have some way to track your child's growing phases and you will get coupons for this
       7. If you qualify for Wic. go for it.  It doesn't work for Stay at home dads though.
C. Vitamins and Medicines.
       1. This includes band aids, hand sanitizers
       2. This is a great section if you plan on doing CVS, and Walgreens deals.
       3. We have one sleeve in this section.
       4. Coupons for Aleve and those type of Name Brand things are usually pretty good but in most cases I
           I have found the store brand has the same ingredients and works the same for a fraction of the cost.
D. Cosmetics.
       1. This is a 2 page section
       2. We broke it down to make-up on one page
       3. Hair dyes on the second page.
       4. For me I have found that can get alot of matching electronic coupons for this area, Making it a good
           way to get Name brand make-up for little cost.
       5. We used to skip this section, but if you look carefully and at close-outs and such you actually can do
            very well. And its keeps the wife happy as well.
E. Tooth Paste and Personal Hygiene. ( Big Section )
        1. This section has 7 sleeves and we use the back side of the sleeve on each page by putting the
             coupon backwards so you can see it on the back-side.
         2. Break it down like this for ease of navigation.
             a. Mouth wash and floss
             b. toothpaste and toothbrushes.
                 1. if you subcategories into brand like Colgate and crest its much easier.
             c. Body washes and deodorants.
                 1. Subcategories this into men and women. Since the stores do that as well.
                 2. Keep like brand together like Suave, Olay and such together, stores do that too.
              d. shave creams/gels and razors.
                 1. These are usually in the same area.
              e. Lotions.
                  1. these are all broke down by brand as well
               f. Facial Cleansers.
                  1. It took me 35 years to realize this is its own section.
               g. Shampoo and Conditioners.

You may have to adjust for your store. But this makes those 2 or more aisle much easier to get through.
Might I suggest staying away from the Superstores when doing this as this aisle is the most shopped section of a Superstore and can get quite crowded.

F. Breakfast and Cereal.
     1. If you signed up for Kellogg's and other brand stores like this you will have additional coupons on          2. Snack bars and fruit cups can be added to this section as they are either close to cereal or very close.
      3. .We have 2 sleeves for this.
G. Canned good and Soups.
      1. Rice, Pasta and canned vegetables/ canned tomatoes are usually in the same aisle so these are all here.
      2. Soups are usually with condiments, But that section is usually full of coupons so I found it easier to
          have here.
      3. 2 Sleeves should suffice, Unless its around the Fall holidays.
H. Condiments, Spices and Baking.
      1. This includes salad dressing.
          a. I have quite a few easy home made dressings, But lately have found that getting a good dressing for
              a good price is cheaper than making it at home.
      2. Sugar and yeast are in this section.
      3. Three pages should work.
          a. Do salad dressing and items like hot sauces, soy sauces on one page.
          b. Pickles, olives, Oils can be together too.
          c. Mayo, Mustard, Ketchup and BBQ sauces should be together also.
I.  Candies Snacks and cookies.
      1. Crackers and cookies
      2. Popcorn
      3. Pepperoni is in this aisle also :)
      4. 2 pages are allotted for this but since Superbowl was recently I think alot of coupons were put out.
J. Paper and Storage
      1. Plastic bags, trash bags and paper products like Kleenex
      2. Toilet Paper and Paper Towels also.
      3. One page works, ****Remember Electronic coupons on this section*****
K. Pet. ( omit if you have no pets )
      1. Usually Dog items are on one side or section and cats are on another.
      2. Always look closely at wet food items. You sometime have to buy 15 cans to get 1.00 off(Not a deal)
      3. Sites for animals have coupons sometime too, Like tidy cat and such.
L.  Cleaning and Laundry.
      1. These are usually on either side of the same aisle.
      2. Febreze candles and air fresheners are scattered in here as well.
      3. We break it down like this
          a. Cleaning items categorized by brand
          b. Dish soap, Both dishwasher and regular stuff
          c. Laundry soap by brand.
          d. Fabric softener
       4. We have 4 pages here
You can further break it down by bathroom kitchen and other rooms if you want.

M. Frozen Foods.
       1. 2 sleeves are in this.
       2. One page is vegetables, frozen breakfast, and ice creams
       3. the other page is like frozen appetizers, dinners and meats like chicken and meatballs
 N. Dairy
       1. Yogurt gets its own page. And if you store doubles you get yogurt for really cheap, and Its good for
            you.
       2. Cheese can be its own area, followed with butter and eggs, and sometimes cream cheese, sour
           cream.
       3. 3 Pages work good here.
       4. Pillsbury has been putting out coupons since we started this. So much so that we don't even clip those
           since we would use that much of them, But its good to put in this section.

    O. Specialty.
        1. Juices sometimes have coupons. These go here.
        2. Coupons that come with your products,
        3. Febreze coupons go in here. I only get them if they are basically free.
        4. Store exclusive coupons like Target and Publix which send out coupons in the snail mail occasionally.
            a. These are great store coupons that usually last for 4 months.
            b. Publix takes Target coupons so when Bogo or something is there Bonus !!!

     P. I have a weekly deals section.
         1. This is where i keep my printed electronic list
         2. I keep a short list of accumulated Great deals here so I make sure I get those Items.
            

Holy cow I don't think I have typed so much at one time in a few years.
I hope this section will help people like is helped us.
Ill have more on coupons at the beginning of the week to help everybody and myself to deals of the week.


As far a organizing, This week is Bathrooms Plus on extra bedroom ( Not office or hobby room though)
Take today and Tomorrow for DE-cluttering. Spend 15 minutes once or twice a day and get rid of old magazines, medicines, shampoos almost empty and such. 

As far as Tuesdays go, Its pretty much a free day
For me minus my normal schedule. ( check archives )
I tend to plants, spend 15 minutes in my weekly area
and Work on my etsy shop. 5 items only

Have a great day and see you tomorrow.