i am often asked where i find the time to organize myself and my coupons to maximize our savings. here’s my secret: coupon intimacy. i seriously know my coupons inside and out… of the binder. yes, i am a nerd: i have a coupon binder, fancied after one i saw put together by a fellow (albeit much more active) blogger. click here to check out her version.
putting the damn thing together was a big time investment and medium cost investment: searching for and buying materials, creating categories and labels, and finally, getting the coupons in. i spent about 3 hours and $50 completing these tasks before i was pseudo-functional.
now comes the maintenance: i try to take 45-60 minutes every week to maintain the binder: pulling out last week’s ads, reviewing the new week’s ads, removing expired coupons, sorting and filing any new coupons, and finally making my list. if i have time, i go back and look for price matching opportunities for items on my list. most weeks, i am lucky to get these tasks completed prior to my shopping trip. usually my daughter is belly-flopping on the coupon stacks or my son is asking which coupons he can have. i want to scream, “NONE!” i do restrain myself and typically give him a few expired coupons to play with, which he loves.
overall, i do the best i can with the time i have. what i have learned in almost 9 months of living with a coupon binder is that the most important thing is coupon intimacy. if i have only a few minutes, i have to know my coupons. if i don’t know what’s in that binder, i cannot save.
at a minimum, this means that i take the time to see what coupons i have (plus the ones that just came in the paper) and compare them to what is on sale in the store ads. when making my list, i aim to purchase items that fall into the sweet spot: where they are on sale and we have a coupon. over time, i have been able to build a mental list of “buy prices” for every item. often when i get to the store, i stumble on unadvertised sales. if i know what coupons i have, i can easily determine if the cost is at or below my buy price and make a quick decision on whether to buy.
the beauty of the coupon binder is that you can drop it entirely for a few weeks if you run out of time (or just need a break) and pick it right back up when you’re ready to invest the time again. i have not had to walk away yet, but it’s nice to know it’s possible.
also, my husband is verbally appreciative of the time i invest with the binder. i know he recognizes the financial benefits and reaps the rewards when i stumble on a good deal for him (usually peanut butter or gatorade). however, he would prefer that i keep the binder out of the bedroom… too much competition.