Coupons have become a powerful weapon in the arsenal of the modern grocery shopper.
Used wisely, coupons can regularly help you save up to 40% off the total food bill.
Over time, these savings represent a significant amount of your household budget, and therefore, you should take coupon organization very seriously.
Here are several tips on for organizing your coupon collection that will help cement those 40% savings in the future.
In addition, coupon-based newsgroups, such as the forums found on couponmom.com (in the U.S.), help keep you alerted to local and national coupons, local store multipliers, and allow everyone to spread the word about the deal of the day.
It's fun to collaborate, and saving money makes everybody feel as if they are contributing something positive to their family budget.
The tough part? Paper, and lots of it.
Coupons are essentially bar codes made from paper, and they can seemingly proliferate everywhere. Because coupons can flow in the house in so many different ways, these things can end up on the kitchen table, in the mail, on the printer, and sometimes the fax machine.
Don't let this happen. Use a tabbed expansion files for coupons. As discussed below, it helps keep all your coupons organized in categories.
Use a small tabbed expansion file with a flap, and only take the coupons that match items on your list.
Create a small section in your file for coupons that are going to expire soon, this will urge you to use them by the expiry date or throw them away. This filing system helps you avoid having coupons lying around your house.
Cyber-coupons also need to be organized. Innocently lying around (unprinted) on email lists, newsgroups and RSS feeds, you might lose track of which coupons are going to expire.
To handle this problem, you just need about 15 minutes every week, and a good old fashioned cardboard box. Sit down and run through your collection of coupons; it takes some time, but it's worth it to print out the necessary missing coupons.
A 20% savings on an item that you would never consider buying before is still a loser. When you go online, you can see all sorts of shoppers claiming to have bought 80 bucks worth of groceries for $3.56. These folks are having fun, but have also fallen prey to the marketer's trap; they bought something discretionary.
Do not join them. Make a list before you go grocery shopping, and stick to it. Saving money is a delicate balance.
Conduct a close audit of your receipt, and you'll make sure to save money in every grocery trip.