I have had several people ask me about my couponing. So I am going to give a step by step on how I use coupons. I am sure that a lot of people do it differently, but this system works form me.
STEP 1 - I get as many of the Sunday coupon inserts as I can. I prefer to get them for free if possible. This part is super simple for me because I pick up all the papers that didn't sell from companies I deliver to, so I just take the coupons from the returns. If you get the Sunday paper or have friends that get the Sunday paper and don't use the coupons ask them to save them for you. Every Sunday there is usually two separate inserts one is called Smart Source and the other is called Red Plum.
STEP 2 - NO CLIPPING! Don't clip coupons until you need them, it takes to much time and you may or may not use them. I put all the inserts in a manila folder and write the date they were printed on the folder. For example, all the coupons I got out of this Sundays papers will go in a folder and I will write the date 3-28-10 in the corner and then put them in my file box.
STEP 3 - On Wednesdays I go to couponmom.com. I like this site because it is free. I know there are other sites like the grocerygame.com, but they want you to pay for their weekly updates and I believe in doing as much as possible for free. at couponmom.com there is a link on the left side that says coupon deals by state. I click on CO. Coupon mom does the work for you, they get the local sale ads and then let you know what is on sale, if there is a coupon for it, and if there is a coupon, it will tell you the date and insert it was printed in. The websites actually lists all sale items that are in the local add and how much of a savings they are. I personally don't usually buy anything unless it is more than a 50% savings or unless it is something I really need. For example produce rarely goes on sale for 50% off, but it still is cheaper to buy at a 30% savings than full price.
This is a screen shot from Couponmom.com. The first column is where you find the date the coupon was printed if there is one, and what insert it was in S(smart source) or RP(Red Plum) or PG (Proctor and Gamble)
STEP 4 - I go through coupon moms list and click only the items I need to buy, or will buy because of the great savings. Then I go to my file box and clip only the coupons that I need for this weeks shopping list.
Even though couponmom.com does do Walmart and Target ads, I find the best savings are usually at the stores that double your coupon like Safeway or King Soopers (Kroger or City Market). So find out which stores near you double coupons.
Remember if a store doubles a coupons it means that they will only double the value up to a dollar. For example, a coupon for .40 will be doubled to .80 but a coupon for .75 will only be doubled to the dollar or for another .25
Find out if your store limits the number of coupons you can use per item. For example, the King Soopers that I shop at has a limit of only 3 of the same coupons per shopping trip.
If you come across an amazing deal, but don't have the amount of coupons you want you can sometimes buy them on ebay they are usually sold in lots of 10 or 20. That is why I always check couponmom on Wednesdays so if I decide I need to try and find more coupons I will have time to order and receive them on ebay. I can order the coupons on ebay by Thursday and I get them before the sale ends the following Tuesday. Otherwise I have to get an oversold which can kind of be a pain if the product is actually still in stock and I am just waiting for coupons. You want to just make sure what you pay for your coupons on ebay still makes the savings worth it. For example, I used this technique to get 40 coupons for Ice cream. I paid probably about $8.00, but got 40 pints of ice cream for free. Totally worth it. There is no way I could buy 40 pints of ice cream for $8.00 without coupons.
That sums it up that is all I do. buy whats on sale and buy it with coupons. Stock up on items while they are cheap. After a while you get used to knowing when things are a good price for example, I won't buy cereal unless it is less than $1.50 a box and never buy spaghetti sauce unless it is $0.50 or less for a jar. Meat rarely has coupons, but I don't buy chicken breasts unless they are $1.77 or cheaper and when they are on sale I stock up so that I won't need to buy any more for about a month because it usually goes on sale about once a month.