Friday, December 30, 2011

Bargain Bits-

to know when its a great sale and how to stay organized in the process.One of my biggest pet peeves is finding out that what I thought was a great deal wasn't or if I pay full price for something only to find a coupon or sale the next day. So my first Bit of advice is going to be about my coupon binder.First let me disclose that I am not a crazed coupon clipper. Im not so extreme as what you see on television. Where I am in the Northeast, we do not have many stores where that kind of coupon clippings would work. When I get my Sunday paper coupons, they are almost always the same items over and over again, they are almost always good for one month and they almost always are for $1 off 2 or 3. All coupon clippers know that stores will not double anything over .99 so a $1 off two coupon is almost a waste of time. ALMOST- unless you have a BJ's membership ;)I have a big purple binder with a zipper closure around it. I have pages on the inside that were used for photos and so some are vertical and some horizontal. I do NOT cut out all of the coupons that I find. If it is not something I do not normally use, I am not one to just "try" it unless it is a huge savings. Paying more for an item because you have a coupon is not my kind of bargain. I will cut out new products if its a great coupon or if its something that I would be inclined to try. I used to have the pages sorted by stores but found that this drove me nuts because I would be in one store, know I had seen a coupon for something on sale and then could not find it because it had been filed differently. Eventually I ended up just sorting things by these subjects-
  • BJ's- Bj's has their own coupon book and now also offers online ones as well. Bj's also allows stacking so I can use their coupons in addition to the ones in the binder. Another note about BJ's is that depending on the store, most of the time they will take as many coupons as you have in your hand as long as it does not exceed the purchase price. This is because you are buying in bulk so you are in essence buying more than one at a time. Another thing to note is when you have a coupon that says "buy two" or "buy 3" you only buy one at Bj's. This makes those large value coupons worth even more. I first cut out their coupons that are things I want to get from Bj's and then I go through the rest of the binder stacking them. I put them in the slots of the binder stacked already. I'm not going to lie however and say that the stacking always works. There are times when they argue with you and it becomes stressful- you just have to stick to you guns in these cases.
  • Groceries-foods, frozen,meats,breads. Pretty much any food item that I clip out. I do not sort in too many ways other than by expiration date. I will put the new ones behind the old ones and if its a new product I will put in the later pages of that section. Like I had said before, most of the coupons we get here are the same week after week.
  • Cleaning products- I put things like laundry soap, cleaners, paper products etc. in this section. This is not a big section because you don't need to restock as often on these items. I will only buy many of one item if its more than 50% off. Otherwise its not worth it to me to tie up the shopping budget with these items.
  • Pharmacy- Almost every week will have things like hair color and makeup. I do clip the $2 off coupons on these but I do not always use them. I do this for when that brand is on clearance. Because they have them every week I know that I can just grab a coupon when I need the item. I also do the same for many medicines but I am also a store brand shopper so I don't use them all the time. I will also put things like feminine products and when I the kids were smaller I would keep pampers and such also in this section.
  • Pets- We have a dog, a cat and a bird. I will keep a section for pets and their products because you never know when you will find a great sale on these items. If it's canned, I will stock up. Dry food is a "see what's a better price" kind of search.
  • Other - Restaurant coupons, fast food, store coupons, random coupons and things you don't find in a grocery store are kept here. There are many times I will just look in the book to see if I have a coupon for a free cup of coffee or a discounted sub. I tend to forget and it's nice to see that they are there when I need them.
It is important to know what your local stores coupon policy is. Some of them will give you a printed list of rules and restrictions and if they do not then write them down and put them on a page of your binder. You have seen some of the stress on tv of what its like to get to the register and have things not ring right. Sometimes the clerk can be downright ugly about a coupon that does not scan. As long as you make sure that you have read the size required and you know the expiration date is fine then you should fight for it. That all depends on how much moxie you have that day. Oh and last but by all means not least, if you are not going to use the coupon because you purchase something else, leave the coupon for someone else. Never underestimate the power of Coupon Karma!*also in my binder is a pair of small scissors, a shopping list notepad and small calculator. I also keep a notebook of current product prices but that tip will be saved for another post ;) *

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