There is also the way you organize your coupons. I know some use baseball card pages to alphabetize their coupons; others group them by dairy/meat/paper/etc; others don't cut them out until needed. I tried several different ways to organize my coupons and I use a 3-ring binder and sort them in alphabetical order, ie: all 'A' items, all 'B' items, etc. I tried not cutting them out until I needed them, but that aggravated me and used up more of my time, having to go back through them several times just to find that one coupon I know I have. I cut out all coupons that I need and some that I might not usually buy, but if it's the right price, I'll try it. Like I might be partial to brand A, but if brand B is on sale and with a coupon I can get it for free, I'll get it.
Sometimes, I spend an hour a day looking for internet coupons and clicking links that will take me here, there, everywhere, just for that one coupon, only to find it's been maxed out. Some manufacturers release coupons with a limited run, so only the first 50,000 can get one. Other websites release a coupon you need to fill out a form for, and their site has crashed because of the huge amount of online traffic rushing to get a free bottle of shampoo. You can even get coupons for liking a brand on FaceBook.
I'm not trying to discourage anyone, but it does take time and it takes up a large space in your brain. I try to limit my online coupon "hunts" to morning and evenings, so as not to interfere with family activities. I'm a little bit addicted to couponing and I am always working scenarios in my head related to the latest sales paper and getting the best deal possible. My husband met a man who called himself the 'Coupon King' because he recently bought over $180 worth of groceries and only paid $1.83. Wow! I'm not that good yet!! I find that challenging and would like to try to beat my personal best of $84 worth for only $6.
There are some who take couponing beyond what they really need, just because they can get it for free. They don't use it, don't need it, don't plan to donate it, but they get it because they can. It sort of irritates me when I see people do this. I know of one woman that happened to acquire 30 coupons for a free razor and then cleared out the store of all it's stock, which meant that someone who had only one coupon can't get it and either gets a rain check or passes on it. I try not to be greedy and leave some for others. Who needs 30 razors?? Maybe she has really hairy legs and armpits.
One of the coupon websites I read, she suggests using coupons for things you might not use, but can get it for free and donate them to animal shelters, homeless shelters or food drives. I really like that idea. It didn't cost you anything, except maybe a little bit of your time, and if you didn't use that coupon, it would get tossed, so use it to help someone else out. Every once in a while, there is a coupon for a free blood tester for diabetics. Those things cost upwards of $20, so get one and donate it to a senior citizens home, a homeless shelter or a shelter for battered women. They need help and can't always acquire medical things they need. What a great way to help someone and it only cost you a bit of your time or just pennies!
With my family of 6 and my mom living with us, we can go through food pretty fast, so coupons really help keep my pantry stocked. I don't buy more than we can use before the expiration date, and practice FIFO-- First In, First Out. In other words, new purchases go in the back and older purchases get pushed to the front, so we always use the older stuff first. The same applies to shampoo, soap, toothpaste and medicines-- I don't buy more than we can use. My recent purchases have us quite stocked with soap and shampoo, so I can focus my coupon hunts onto other areas that need re-stocking. I see a sale on hearing aid batteries and there are coupons in the Sunday paper, so I'm off to snag me a deal!
What I am really trying to say is that you don't get anything without doing anything. If you want to save money with coupons, you need to put a little effort into getting coupons and doing your homework to find the best deals. I also tell people that you can save even more money by not buying it at all. Don't use coupons as an excuse to go out and shop-- Get things you need and maybe a few wants, but don't drown yourself in items you can't possibly use before they expire-- then you've really wasted your money, no matter how little of it you spent to get it.
For me, this week is a slow week at the grocery stores. The excitement of the recent holiday is gone and stores have gone back to their regular offerings. My pantry and fridge is nicely stocked, so I don't need to go anywhere until something else pops up. Instead, I'll be spending my time in the pool with the kids this week!