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When I started out couponing, I certainly felt some of the stress and anxiety that Tammy recently wrote about here at KCL (Minimize Coupon-Related Stress and Anxiety). However, I learned that by using spreadsheets (which, in addition to couponing, has been one of my obsessions) I could minimize this stress, be far more organized prior to going to the store, save more money, and enjoy keeping track of my savings.
While you can definitely use tools such as Microsoft Excel, the best way for me to use spreadsheets has been through Google Sheets. It’s easy to access them through email and smartphone, which is handy when you need to update or access one of them and you're not on your home computer. In addition, you can share them with whomever you'd like (spouse, kids, etc.) and they can view and edit them in real time.
These spreadsheets can include as much or as little information as you'd like. Here are some spreadsheet ideas:
Keep a grocery list along with columns for quantity needed and quantity at home. Or keep it simple with a spreadsheet that includes the current week's grocery list. Tip: Google Sheets is an ideal way to share the spreadsheet with anyone who might need to add to that week's grocery list.
Organize coupons you are gathering by creating columns for different categories, prices, expiration dates and more. This type of spreadsheet is helpful for many reasons. Personally, I prefer sorting through a spreadsheet rather than digging through all of my coupons! Tip: Sort by expiration date to ensure coupons are used before they expire.
Savings vs. spending
While it's definitely satisfying to keep a spreadsheet of how much you've saved through couponing (which I originally did), it's also important to track spending. This is a good way to see what percentage you are saving through couponing. It's also helpful for those weeks when you don't save as much, because you can see how it evens out over time. Tip: Total up the amount you've saved and use it as a fund for a trip or a special occasion!
If you often plan your shopping trips during lunch at work (as I do), and wonder to yourself "Do I already have this at home?" just imagine how convenient it would be to have access to a spreadsheet that contains an up-to-date inventory. While this would be a difficult spreadsheet to start (and even I have not tried this one yet), after it is created it could be a huge time and money saver. Tip: Inventory personal care items, toiletries, groceries and other items you want to keep in stock at home.
Although this tool might not be for everyone, it has been extremely useful for me! I really can't imagine couponing without it.
This is a guest post by Christine from Piscataway, NJ
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