After couponing for more than 10 years, I’ve honed my skills and found the best ways to make it work for me. Friends think I make it look easy and decide to try it for themselves. Of course, I get very excited and encourage them in any way I can, but I’ve found time and time again that they often give it up quickly for “lack of time.” This amazes me because couponing is the surest way to stretch your budget in all areas of shopping. You’ll be more likely to stick with coupons if it doesn’t seem like another regular chore. Here are some ways to incorporate couponing into your lifestyle so it won’t feel time consuming.

1.  Divide your coupon binder by store

I’ve seen the shows where people have huge stockpiles and devote an entire day to getting deals. I don’t have this kind of time. I place coupons for known deals or things I buy regularly in a small, purse-size, expandable envelope. If I need to run to Target, I have everything with me for that store. Being organized from the outset saves so much time when I’m actually in-store. The same is true for Walgreens, CVS and other stores. I also have a tab for dining and other retailers. These are places to put the random restaurant or pet-store coupons I know will come in handy eventually. My kids laugh at me, but I won’t leave the house without that little organizer!

2.  Preplan grocery trips

I spend maybe one hour a week making my grocery list for Publix by using a blog devoted to Publix deals and KCL. All coupon matchups and deals are there for you on these sites. I make my list, cut, then paper clip that week’s coupons to the list and place everything in my purse. Now I’m ready for whenever I stop in next. I understand that I’m actually getting money back for that one hour of preparation because preparing allows me to regularly save over 50% on groceries.

3.  File your coupon inserts

This method has saved me so much time! I can’t believe I used to go through each coupon insert every Sunday, clipping what I thought I would use! Now I just throw them all into a hanging folder in my desk by date so that when I make my shopping list each week, all coupon-insert deals will be ready at my fingertips. It’s amazingly easy, and I never throw away a coupon I might need.

4.  Don’t run out for every deal you see

This can be exhausting. I used to do this when I first started couponing, but now I really think about whether or not I need an item or if the sale will be long enough that I can incorporate it into my regular shopping trips. Gasoline is expensive, too!
     All told, I probably spend about two to three hours a week preparing for my shopping trips including checking my favorite blogs.  If someone told you this could save you hundreds of dollars a month, would it seem worthwhile? If you incorporate a few time-saving tricks, it won’t seem like such a chore and will become part of your lifestyle.  At the end of the month, your budget will thank you!
This is a guest post by Dawn from Winter Springs, FL.