Tutorial Progress

The Couponing System – Putting It All Together In 6 Easy Steps

How to organize your coupons, find the best weekly deals and track your savings

You’ve learned about the basics of couponing, where to find coupons and predicting grocery store sales cycles. Now it’s time to learn how to set up your own couponing system and how to find the best deals each week so you can keep more of your free time, well, free!

Step 1 – Get Organized

You only need 3 items to get started:

  • Item #1 — A 3-Ring Binder

    Your binder will hold the plastic sleeves (item #2 below) which will contain your coupons. While you are free to use any 3-ring binder of your choice there are some features you should consider:

    Can’t live without feature:

    • A zipper that can zip all the way around your binder to fully enclose it to prevent any of your stuff from slipping out.

    Nice-to-have features:

    • A handle for easy carrying
    • Inside pockets for holding scissors, a pen, a calculator and other miscellaneous items
    • A built-in accordion file for taking along your sales fliers, store coupon policies, shopping lists, etc.

    Click on an image below for coupon binder examples:

  • Item #2 — Plastic Sleeves
    Just about any sleeves will work. You can purchase them from office supply stores, department stores or online.

    They come in different styles with the most common probably being the sleeves used to hold trading cards. You might also want to consider the currency sleeves money collectors use for holding currency. The advantage to this style being they are the perfect size for coupons printed from the Internet and you for most coupons you won’t have to turn your binder sideways to view them right-side up as you might have to do if you select the trading card style.

  • Click on an image below to view coupon sleeve examples:

  • Item #3 — A Box
    The box will be used to store your coupon inserts from each week.

    It doesn’t need to be fancy, but if you want to be extra organized you might want to consider a file box like the one pictured to the right along with some file folders so you can separate the inserts by date. This make finding older inserts easier.

    Tip:  You’ll want to keep your coupon inserts because sometimes a sale comes along for items you didn’t necessarily need, but with the coupon it becomes free or nearly so. It’s nice to stick these things back for later use, to give to charity or for creating on-the-spot care packages for someone who’s fallen on hard times.

Step 2 – Set up a Junk Email Address

Here’s why:

Sometimes in order to print coupons from a manufacturer’s website, or before you can qualify for a special promotion, you’ll need to register first. Since you don’t have control over what happens to your information afterward it’s important that you take steps to protect your “real” email address now.

So, in this step we’re going to create a new Gmail account that will be used strictly for your couponing purposes. From there we’ll set it up to forward any mail that comes to that address on to your “real” email address. This way you won’t have to worry about checking an extra inbox or having your real email address on undesirable mailing lists. You can cancel the forwarding at anytime or skip it altogether.

Video: How To Set Up A Gmail Account

Video: How To Set Up A Gmail Account

Video: How To Set Up A Gmail Account

  • Now, set up your new account so the email is forwarded to your “real” email inbox so you’ll only have to check 1 account. The video below will show you how to do this.

Video: How To Forward Your Email

Video: How To Forward Your Email

Video: How To Forward Your Email

Set up a Junk Facebook Account

Many companies are now offering high value coupons or giving away free samples and even gift cards on their Facebook pages, but you’ll need to “Like” them in order to gain access. To avoid cluttering your “real” Facebook page with lots of spam, if you have one, create a “disposable” Facebook account to be used strictly for couponing.

  • Go to Facebook and sign up for a new account.
  • Don’t enter any of your personal information and be sure to use your newly created junk email address we walked through in the steps above.

Step 3 – Create A Coupon Matchup Mashup

Now here’s where it gets interesting…

Coupon Matchup Example

Coupon Matchup Example

The term “matchup” is used to describe the process of finding items on sale at the same time there are valid store or manufacturer’s coupons available.

To put it simply, a coupon matchup is when you pair an item currently on sale with a valid coupon or rebate.

Click on the image to view an example.

But who has the time to compare their coupon stash with all the ongoing sales for the grocery let alone for your favorite drugstore and department store too?

Let someone else do all the work.

There are a bazillion websites out there that focus on coupon matchups, so why not use them to your advantage? Of course we don’t want to visit a bazillion websites for this information since that would defeat the purpose of preserving your free time, so we’re going to show you how to get these matchups delivered to you. It’s time to introduce you to RSS feeds.

RSS feeds are your best friend

RSS Icon

Standard RSS Icon

RSS stands for “Really Simple Syndication.” It’s simply a format for delivering frequently updated content from a website straight to you. It’s also known as a “feed.”

So how do you get it?

You need an “RSS reader” also referred to as a “feed reader” or “aggregator.” Just as you use a tool to check your email your reader will handle your RSS feeds. When we signed up for our junk Gmail account we got Google Reader too, so we’re one step ahead. Of course you can use any reader you’d like but for the purposes of this tutorial we’re going to use Google Reader.

Video: Setting Up Google Reader – Short & Sweet

Video: How To Set Up Google Reader

Video: How To Set Up Google Reader

Finding RSS Feeds

You can either surf around, find coupon matchup websites yourself and grab the RSS link from the website, or, you can start with one or more of the URLs below.

Highlight a URL and then either right-click and select “Copy” or use Ctrl C on your keyboard.

  • http://fabulesslyfrugal.com/feed
  • http://www.frugalcouponliving.com/feed/
  • http://feeds.feedburner.com/FrugalFunAndFortune
  • http://feeds.feedblitz.com/feedburner/moneysavingmom
  • http://dealseekingmom.com/feed/
  • http://feeds.feedblitz.com/SmartCouponing
  • http://feeds.feedblitz.com/TheKrazyCouponLady
  • http://feeds.feedburner.com/Totallytargetcom
Good to know:  Some of these websites repeat the same deals, but you can always add or remove the ones you want later.

Step 4 – Make A List

No matter how great you think your memory is there is no way you’re going to remember all the deals you see throughout the week. There’s an easy solution – make an ongoing list.

First, pick a list-making method that’s easiest for you:

  • Keep a file on your computer’s desktop
  • Use your smartphone
  • Good ol’ pen and paper

The important thing is that you stick to it!

Keeping a list is a crucial key to your success.

Shopping List Example

Shopping List Example

As you browse through your RSS feeds add the deals you want to grab to your list. Next to each item note the coupons you have so you won’t forget to use them.

Click on the image to the left to view a sample list.

Keeping a list on your computer’s desktop is a good place to start because it’s within easy clicking distance and simply uses Notepad which comes with Windows. Once your list is complete you can either print it out or send it to your smartphone via email or other preferred method.

Tip:  To begin with you should pick 1 of each type of store to focus on: a grocery, a drugstore and a department store. Once you get the hang of your new money-saving system you can add more, but you don’t want to overwhelm yourself and become discouraged right out of the gate.

Step 5 – Establish A Routine

Incorporating your new couponing skills into your normal routine will soon make it second nature. You’ll have all your coupons clipped, organized and ready to go when you are.

An example of a routine could be something like this:

  • Daily – Check your RSS feed in Google Reader. Sometimes you will find time-sensitive deals such as Facebook giveaways, high-value coupons or 1-day only deals.

    Be sure to print any Internet coupons you think you might use because there are usually a limited number of these available and it’s first-come first served. Don’t miss out!

  • Weekly
    • Each Sunday grab your paper(s) and pull out the weekly ad circulars and coupon inserts.
    • Check your RSS feed(s) in Google Reader for the latest matchups.
    • Peruse the store circulars for deals.
    • Check the online coupon websites for any new coupons and print the ones you want.
    • Clip your coupons from the inserts that came in your newspaper(s).
    • File away your coupons and/or pull out the ones you want to use.
    • Update your shopping list and you’re ready to go!
Good to know:  It’s helpful to know the stocking days of your favorite stores because when the deals are really great the products go fast. You can usually discover this information with a Google search. For example, Target has several days through the week where they restock, generally at night, so it’s best to go the morning after a restocking day. For the Cincinnati area the restocking nights for Target are Monday, Wednesday and Friday, so head there Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

Step 6 – Track Your Savings

The whole point to couponing is to save money, the more you save the better. If you don’t keep track of your success how will you know if you’re achieving your goal? How will you know if your time spent is worth it? You won’t, therefore it can be easy to let your couponing slide, or worse yet, you might stop altogether.

Keeping track of your savings only takes a few minutes, and aside from the rush you’ll get at checkout when you first see your savings, it’s the next best part of couponing!

You will be amazed, excited and energized as you watch your savings grow along with your stockpile!

The trick is using the right tool to do the tracking. Not a problem – simply use our free…

Grocery Savings Tracker Spreadsheet

Download Grocery Savings Tracker Download Grocery Savings Tracker
Excel/OpenOffice File – 13 KB

Video: How To Set Up Grocery Savings Tracker In Google Docs

Video: Import Grocery Savings Tracker into Google Docs

Video: Import Grocery Savings Tracker into Google Docs

Video: How To Use The Savings Tracker

Video: How To Use Grocery Savings Tracker

Video: How To Use Grocery Savings Tracker

Invaluable Shopping Tips That’ll Surprise You

Now that you’ve successfully completed the tutorial the next step to saving even more money is learning our invaluable shopping tips that stores would rather you didn’t know. For starters, there’s a science behind every product placement and store layout to get you to buy more…

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