The most common thing I see asked by new couponers is "How Do I Do This?". You know what the second most common thing I see? "I tried following it, but I'm confused! HELP!!! How do you do it?" So today I thought I'd answer that question. This is what my average week of couponing looks like.
Sunday: Newspaper Day! I have a subscription that shows up at my door every Sunday. I pull out all the coupon booklets and the ads for Target, CVS, Rite Aid, Walgreens and the Vons Supplement. Sometimes I pull out ads for other stores if I see a good one and the Parade because they sometimes stick a coupon in there. At this point I flip through the coupons and see if it's worth buying an extra paper or two. If it is, I will go in the afternoon to my local Panera Bread and pick up a couple more (they have the best price on papers in my area). Total Time: Half an hour or less (Depends on whether I have to get another newspaper or not)
Sunday/Monday: Cut, Sort and Organize Coupons. I try to do this on Sunday afternoon, but if I'm busy then I do it Monday instead. I do all my Newspaper coupons and any printed coupons I haven't already cut and used. Since I use the binder method, which is fairly labor intensive, it takes me about 1-2 hours while watching TV.
Every Day: Check for online coupons. The best method I've found for this is to follow 3-5 different bloggers on Facebook. I go with at least 2 major coupon blogs, like Krazy Coupon Lady and Money Saving Mom, followed by at least 1 local blogger since they will have more regional deals the big ones won't have. When I see a good coupon I know I can use, I print them right away. Time: Less than a hour, spread across the day.
Monday: Save my Ads from the Mail. The junk mail has the grocery store ads. The stores I use all come on Monday (Albertsons, Stater Bros, Ralph's, Vons and Henry's) but some come on Tuesday, so check both. Time: 2 minutes.
Tuesday: Coupon Match Ups. Since I do the match ups for the blog, this takes me 5-6 hours (nope, not kidding!). If you are a non-blogger, this takes much less time. What I do for the ones I don't blog about (Vons, Ralph's, CVS, Rite Aid, Walgreens, Target and Henry's) then I go to the coupon match up online and see what are great deals I can't pass up. I follow up by looking at the ad and seeing if anything not listed is a good deal with the coupons I have or something I need right now, even if it's not the best deal. At this point I will sort out the coupons I need and print/cut any coupons I don't already have. I also decide if there are any stores I can skip that week (there is usually at least two or three grocery stores and one or two drug stores I skip each week) Time for match ups (non blogging): About 1-2 hours for all my stores.
Wednesday: Shopping. I get it all done at once, first thing in the morning. Depending on how many stores I have to get to that week, it can take me between 1-3 hours.
Thursday-Saturday: Nothing except my normal daily check of the hot coupons.
If you look at this list, I put at the most 8 hours a week into my coupons.
So How Can You Do It?
Do the same thing I did! One thing about my system is that it can be done in the evenings when you have time (if you are sitting there watching TV, multitask and coupon at the same time!). The only thing I have that isn't conductive to the average person's schedule is that I shop on Wednesday and get it all done. You may want to split the stores up over the course of the week (hit one Wed. after work, another Thurs., etc) or do it all on Saturday.
If you are worried you will miss the best deals or you aren't saving enough, It's OK. I don't get every great deal and I feel like I'm doing really well when I save 60% or more. You probably won't get every great deal. You may never get to the level of the "Extreme Couponers" we see on TV. The real question is, are you and your family happy? Do you have enough food and pay less for it? Then don't worry about it! You are doing great!