Healthy Coupon-ing

February 23rd, 2012 | Ann

I really like routines. In fact, I like Monday mornings because I love my week-day routines.

Weird, I know.

I try to keep some weekend routines, too, and Sunday morning is one of them:
- Get up, start coffee
- Let dog out
- Get newspaper
- Let dog in
- Drink coffee, clip coupons
- Make healthy breakfast for me & Jay

Most Sunday mornings follow the same routine. We usually do our grocery shopping and errands on Sundays.

After all, that’s when the new circular ads and manufacturer’s coupons come out.

Isn’t that what everybody waits for?

…… No?

I grew up in a house where my mom clipped coupons. Not in a crazy “extreme-coupon-er” way, but in a “hey, we can save some money if we are already buying these things” way.

And honestly, we’ve gotten the paper since July and I just recently started clipping coupons. I say, about 2/3 of the coupons are things I already buy: household items, toiletries, paper goods, boxed granola bars/healthy living products, dairy, frozen foods, and dog treats.

Sometimes it’s hard not to clip coupons if it’s something I would want – like, bags of candy or boxes of cereal or unhealthy meals. I like clipping on Sunday mornings because my head is usually pretty clear. Saturday is usually a long-run, and I almost always feel great (accomplished, proud, sore but energized) on Sundays. Having a weeks worth of workouts done helps me stay on track with clipping healthy food items or products.

I’m also a diligent list-maker. I plan out meals, I plan out grocery lists, to-do-lists, and even the order I’ll run errands in. Having a plan for my food and meals for the week helps me with clipping the items I’ll actually want and need. For example, if I know we are running out of coffee, or will in the next few weeks, I’ll clip a few coffee coupons. I’ll check the ads each Sunday, and once coffee goes on sale + I have a coupon, I’ll save some money on that purchase.

Now…. I know there are tons of coupon sites. Just Google “Coupon Website” and there’s over 379,000,000 pages. (No joke! I just did it!)

I’d love to think that one day, I’d get into those online coupon sites and REALLY save a TON of money. However…. for now? I spend about 20 minutes every Sunday, clipping things I’m already planning to buy. I organize the coupons by type and lay them out by category…..

I can’t believe I’m telling you how crazy obsessive I am sometimes. I just LOVE organization.

I pull out all my prior weeks’ coupons to see if I have any double-coupons, and then I check what’s on sale at the store. Of course, it all goes off my “master grocery list” -

Believe it or not, I do my weekly grocery shopping at Target.

Yes…. at Target.

I suppose part of it is because I grew up in Minnesota, home of The Targets. And maybe I just really like the convenience of everything in 1 place. Seriously, I can look at clothes, and shoes, and accessories and workout wear. Jay can look at electronics and sporting goods. We can look at pets supplies, luggage, home decorations. OMG. I could probably write an entire blog post about why I love Target.

But, I digress.

So I organize my coupons, make my weekly plan, search for deals in the Target ad, and come up with my final list.

Another amazing, helpful, handy tool?

This coupon organizer is the single greatest thing in my coupon-ing routine. The best part? It was $1. From Target.

BUY YOURSELF A COUPON ORGANIZER RIGHT NOW. You can even write your own tab labels.

Also – decide where you’ll be shopping and get hooked up with their “Rewards” program. Most stores have a “frequent shopper” scanner or some sort of deal where they give you discounts, coupons, etc. for free. For my trusty Target, we got a Target Debit Card – the money is debited directly out of your checking account, but because it’s the “Target debit card”, we automatically get 5% off every purchase! If we spend $100, we save $5! For 52 weeks, that’s an annual savings of $260. Just for swiping a different debit card when we check out. Cool, right? Right.

I hate spending extra time in the grocery section. But sometimes reading the coupons and looking for the matching items takes time. And sometimes, when the coupon says “50 cents off value-sized Planters trail mix” all you can find is the regular-sized Planters trail mix. And it totally sucks. And you have to be flexible, find something else you have a coupon for and planned to buy, and move on.

Here are Ann’s Tips for Successful (Healthy) Coupon-ing:
- Be flexible – sometimes they won’t have that item, and you’ll have to move on
- Have a plan, make a list!
- Only clip coupons for things you buy or are planning to buy
- Eliminate the opportunity to buy crap you don’t need. If you wouldn’t regularly buy a chocolate bar, why would you buy one with a coupon? Crap is still crap.
- Organize your coupons in a way that will help you save time & money
- It’s okay if you don’t love coupon-ing…. I promise you’ll love saving money
- Get hooked up with a ‘rewards’ or ‘cash back’ program – most are totally free!

And the biggest tip? Do what works for you.

Because if you try to follow my plan, or someone else’s plan, or a coupon website’s plan, you may end up completely overwhelmed and give up. Start small and figure out what’s going to work for you.

Lastly? Plan something fun with your money. I usually save between $20-$30 per week. Annually, that’s atleast $1,040. I can think of LOTS of things I’d LOVE to do with an extra thousand dollars!!

Coupon-ing, especially healthy coupon-ing doesn’t have to be a big deal or take a huge amount of time. Just start small, come up with a plan, and do what works for you.

Ready…. set….. COUPON!

Do you currently clip coupons? If so, how much $ do you save??

16 Responses to “Healthy Coupon-ing”

  1. Julia H says:

    Oh! I love coupons. I think it is so relaxing to just sit and cut coupons but our complex doesn’t get them any more like we used to…boo. I do really struggle though because my coupons often become things that sound good rather than things I normally buy…then I end up spending more money…blah!

  2. Sabrina says:

    Every week I look at the coupons. Sometimes I even clip them and organize them, but that’s as far as it goes. Somehow I get it stuck in my head that I’m not really saving, especially if I have to buy two of the items. I have never made a decent effort at it, I suppose.

  3. Ann Marie says:

    I do the same thing anytime I’m purchasing ANYTHING online. Just google “Xwebsite nameX coupons”. I have never saved less than 10% on something that I’ve purchased on a website! I suggest starting at http://www.retailmenot.com as a place to start!

  4. Jessica says:

    Hi! I coupon as well (and I’ve read your blog for a while, this is my first comment though.) Did you know there’s a website called totallytarget.com ? She goes through the weekly flyer and matches up coupons/deals etc. I do a lot of my shopping there, too so it’s nice to have things laid out for me when I don’t want to go through and find all the deals myself.

    Anyway, keep up the healthy living, I love hearing from you about how your workouts are going, etc. Sometimes just reading your blog makes me get up off my butt to do a workout I had decided to flake on. Thanks!

  5. Lisa J says:

    i really want to get into couponing- is that weird?!?! Right now I just buy groceries for me, so i don’t often get a lot of things all at once, just here or there- i think that deters me from getting coupons. Also major bummer is I don’t have a printer and our work printer doesn’t allow us to print coupons (some setting they put in there, how dare they!!)

  6. Mary says:

    I grew up clipping coupons too, I don’t see why people wouldn’t – if I’m buying it anyway, why not save a little money?!

    I also love Target, and do a good deal of my shopping there. The city I live in is a bit of a food desert, and Target not only has a great selection, but the prices are lower than at the grocery store (like, $2something for a Lean Cuisine vs. $4something at the grcoery store – and it’s the only place I can find greek yogurt!)

  7. Mary says:

    I grew up clipping coupons too, I don’t see why people wouldn’t – if I’m buying it anyway, why not save a little money?!

    I also love Target, and do a good deal of my shopping there. The city I live in is a bit of a food desert, and Target not only has a great selection, but the prices are lower than at the grocery store (like, $2something for a Lean Cuisine vs. $4something at the grocery store – and it’s the only place I can find greek yogurt!)

  8. Josie says:

    Before you go to Target, make sure to go on their site and look for their coupons. Then you can use a manufacturer’s coupon + the Target coupon for extra savings! The Krazy Coupon Lady is a great place to get coupons you don’t get in the paper. Facebook is pretty popular for getting coupons too. Love saving money! :D

  9. Angie says:

    I use the wesbite Pocket Your Dollars religiously! She tells you how to use coupons at the right times, at the right places. She even organizes the deals by store (Cub, Rainbow, Target, Co-op’s, etc.).

    Seriously- nerd alert times infinity- I’m with you on the organization :)

  10. Hannah says:

    Oh, I should coupon but I don’t get the paper. As for online, there are so many sites it’s confusing. An excuse, I know.
    Target is so expensive for groceries, and I can never find any foods I need. For everything else though it’s fantastic.

  11. Traci S. says:

    I don’t coupon.
    I tried to coupon.
    It was overwhelming.
    I ended up buying way too much crap that we didn’t need or even use!
    There’s a Super Target coming to our area soon – maybe I’ll try again :)

  12. Kat says:

    I don’t coupon, but that’s also because we shop at ALDI (no coupons) and Trader Joe’s (no coupons) and by the time we get to Cub, it’s for such a limited set of things, that usually the craziest it’s going to get is a markdown in the aisle. But it’s cool.

    All that aside, I am tres impressed by your organizational skills with this. I would be so beyond overwhelmed if I had to continuously track this situation. LOVE it.

  13. Erica says:

    Hey Ann! I’ve been following your blog for the last few months and I must say you perseverance is so motivating. You make me want to run. Recently followed you on twitter, so Congrats on the am workouts! I can’t wait to hear more about your training.

    On the coupon front, I clip and have the best intentions, but I ALWAYS forget to use them.

  14. Carrie says:

    I loved this post, Ann! You made me laugh because I just started my own blog and was thinking about pictures to post on a related topic and considered showing off my accordion file. :-)

    Your Sunday morning sounds very similar to mine! Coffee, couponing and a healthy breakfast.

    I cut coupons only for items that I’ll actually buy and I file them by the month they are to expire! If I need a particular item, I’ll see if I have any coupons for it. Before the end of each month, I look through the coupons about to expire and decide if it’s something I should stock up on even if I don’t need it “now” (i.e. pantry item) or if I should just toss it.

    Also, when I’m at the store, I look at the pricing of other brands. If a coupon expects me to buy 3 or 4 of something to save 50 cents, but if another brand is cheaper alone, I’ll pass on using the coupon.

    I guess I like couponing, but I’m not strict about it. You are right, doing what works best for you is the way to go!

    Cheers!
    Carrie

  15. I LOVE Target too! Definitely gonna take this advice and start trying to set aside coupons. I’ve never really tried, but this is great spot to start! Thanks!

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