About Me

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Nebraska, United States
A would-be stay at home mom working full-time as a teacher. I teach at my old Highschool, working side-by-side with my own teachers. I blog to keep the Texan grandparents updated and chronicle our life for future reference. (In other words, I don't have a real baby-book or diary.) Comments make my day. Thanks for stopping by! kimlepper at gmail.com

Saturday, April 23, 2011

One Man's Trash...

After four months of doing this couponing thing, both my philosophy and process have evolved quite a bit. Originally I was only going to clip for things I already purchased on a regular basis. But I soon realized that there are many items that I could get for free with the coupons when they went on sale. Then Walmart started their "cash back" policy, where they give you the overage in cash when the coupon is more than the item. Then there were the deals where if I had a coupon for item A then I would receive a coupon/store credit at the store, which would then lead to getting desired item B for free as well.

Very quickly I understood why all the coupon ladies were saying they clip every coupon they find. But I don't have time for that. Or the desire for the blisters that would result. After several weeks of collecting massive amounts of coupon inserts and making a huge mess in our living room every week, I've finally come down with a system that has saved me loads of time finding that-one-coupon-that-will-get-me-the-item-i-really-want within seconds.

So, if I haven't bored you already with my newest obsession, and you are interested in maybe doing this yourself, the process in 10 simple steps:

Step 1 (roughly 1 hr): Go to your local recycling center and look through the newspaper bins.

Some may call this dumpster diving. I can see why, as technically the newspapers are in dumpsters and it may look like I'm diving when I'm on my tippy toes, teetering on the edge to grasp the insert peaking out...but let me ask you this- would you reach into a clean dumpster full of paper to pull out a $1?
The way I see it, I'm pulling money out of the bins. Those little pieces of paper may only be worth .55 or $3, but they add up quick!

So when do I stop?

Generally when the handles on the paper bag break, or I can no longer feel my fingers.
Just depends on the week, really.

Step 2 (20-30 min): Go home and sort the inserts into piles according to week:

Step 3 (1 min): Pile them up in zig-zag fashion
(there's another word for it, but I can't remember)

Step 4 (5 minutes): go through one insert of the first type and pull out the coupons that you would will most likely use:

Step 5 (5 minutes per weekly insert): once you know which coupons you want out of an insert, pulling all the same coupons goes very quickly:

Step 6 (3 minutes per weekly insert): put all the inserts together of the same coupon and clip all the coupons at once- this is the real time/hand saver:

Step 7 (30 seconds): Gaze at husband as he ooos and aaaah at your progress. Then put him to work by putting the coupons in piles relatively close to your coupon file categories:

Step 8 (???): repeat steps 4-7 until you've reached the end of your pile

Step 9 (2 minutes): Pile inserts again in a zig/zag pattern according to type (Red Plum, Smart Source). Remember, we are keeping these until they expire, so that we don't have to clip every single one for those occasions of an awesome (free) deal.

I hope to find some cheap/free horizontal file thingys soon, as digging to find an insert is a little cumbersome...

Step 10 (10-20 minutes): File coupons

Viola! Your weekly couponing trip is done in 3-4 hrs.
This may sound like a lot, but if you are saving yourself $40/week, that's like earning $10/hr (tax free by the way)

A few other tips:

  • I learned a few days ago that the insert's date is actually written on the crease in veeeeery tiny print (the 3/13 was me in paintbrush for personal reference):

  • Each week you get faster and faster. And once you get to a point where you have enough of a type 'clipped' you won't need to do anything more than just add the whole insert to your stash. If you need more, you know you have it and can go get it later. I'm hoping to get this down to just 2 hrs eventually.
  • I find dumpster diving is most lucrative on Tuesdays- most people have brought Sunday's paper and the bins haven't been collected yet and are quite full
  • If you have a really great radio program to listen to, it goes by very quickly, and you can strengthen the brain cells that may have atrophied during the week while caring for your offspring
  • You can easily involve the offspring by having them "match" the piles when you are sorting and when you are pulling inserts (Please note that this will add time onto the activity!)

Happy Couponing!

Oh, and if I see you while dumpster diving, I will be giddy to see a convert, but please consider this:

It was my idea first, therefore I get first dibs.


Renee said...

The part I don't understand is why you save the whole insert after clipping the coupons you intend to use (especially if you are getting multiples in the dumpsters). I did it for a little while when I first started couponing because I read that it is important to do so, but it seemed like it 1. made a huge unmanageable mess, and 2. I never went back through them because I didn't know why I was saving them to begin with...

I love reading your posts on this topic!

Kim said...

Rachel- good question!
Today is a good example why:
I read of a deal this weekend at Walgreens where you buy 3 things of Splenda (free after coupon) and get $4 Register Rewards. I could then use this "store credit" to buy something I really want/need.
We don't use splenda, and I would probably donate it if family didn't want it. However, I was sad to discover that the Splenda coupon was regional, so I didn't have it in my inserts. BUT there are deals like this all the time where you need a coupon of something you don't use so that you can get something you do use. Does that make sense?
Plus, every week you can get free items with coupons- great donations if it's something you won't use!
Anyway, after I clip them, I've learned to keep them in a semblance of a pile so that I can keep them in an organized fashion.

Julie said...

I think it's nice you sharing with your friends but some of this might be crossing over into telling the other fisherman where the best fishing hole is (in other words, you might not want to tell everyone about how awesome dumpster diving is because it will spoil it for those who already do it). :)

Granddad said...

Good stuff. Keep on clippin'

Love ya,

Texas Dad

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