Welcome to Southern Savers, where finding deals and steals is simple and rewarding!

See I told you, this would help!

Coupon Abbreviations
  • SC = Store Coupon
  • MC = Manufacturer Coupon
  • SS = Smart Source
  • RP = Red Plum
  • PG = Proctor and Gamble
Coupon Terms
  • WYB = When You Buy
  • B1G1 = Buy One Get One Free
  • .75/1 = 75 cents off one item
  • .75/3 = 75 cents off three items
  • EXP = Expiration Date

Going Nuts? I can help you understand coupon terms and abbreviations

This post may contain affiliate links. Read our disclosure here.

how to coupon

I have heard every excuse in the book on why people don’t use coupons. Believe me, you couldn’t throw out a new one… The most common excuse though is that they just don’t have time. Maybe they used to coupon and then a new baby came and they gave up, or they work two jobs and they just never even tried.

Want to know a secret? I do all my “couponing” in 45 or less every week. That’s it. Never more. I know that because I set a timer, every week. As I sit down to make my weekly shopping list on Southern Savers I set the timer on my phone. From start to finish 45 minutes is all I give it.

Why 45 minutes? Because any longer than that and I grow frustrated and my patience is gone. My kids know we were headed to the store and just want to get it over with, and I am also ready to be done.

There are days that I am not quite done gathering coupons in 45 minutes, that doesn’t matter though. When the timer rings we are done. It’s more important to me that we make this a lifestyle choice that isn’t stressful or overwhelming. The more stressful it gets the more likely you are to walk away and never save a dime.

So how do you do this…

Set your timer, then head to Southern Savers and pick the store you want to shop at. Select what you want to buy and make your shopping list.

Time Saver: Make sure you are logged in to your account. This allows the system to remember what newspaper you get. Now your shopping list will only show the coupons that were in your paper! No wild goose chases for coupons you don’t have!!

Once your list is made, pull out your coupons and cut any that are in newspaper inserts (or look in your organizer and find them if you cut already). Cutting newspapers will take time if you get a ton of inserts, so for the sake of time don’t go crazy. Most families will save plenty with just two sets of inserts each week.  Keep in mind how you organize your coupons affects time too.  Go with an accordion system for 0 minutes spent on organization.

Print any coupons you want to use that are mentioned on the list.  When you are first starting with couponing printing can be a huge consumer of your time. You’ll need logins and accounts on many manufacturer sites. For the sake of time you can skip those offers for a few weeks and just focus on the printables from direct sites (like the ones on Southern Savers) that don’t require accounts.

Time Saver: Enlist the kids to help! I usually print all my coupons first and have them cutting those out while I work on insert coupons.

Another Time Saver: Use the same login and password for all manufacturer sites. For security please don’t make this one that you use for the bank…but having the same one will cut down on the much dreaded login issues.

After you cut everything out, lets organize it. Go through and put coupons for the same product together. Then count how many coupons you have (or how many products you need to buy to use them). Write that number off to the side on your shopping list.

Ex: You have 3 coupons for $1/2 Kellogg’s Cereals. If you want to use all 3 coupons you need to buy 6 boxes. Write a 6 on the side of your shopping list.

Now put all your coupons in a Ziploc bag. Yep, I know it’s high tech. You are done. You don’t need the coupons in the store at all, just follow your shopping list and buy the number of each item you wrote to the side. At the end of your trip pull over before checking out and go through the coupons one time to pull out any you ended up not using.

Because you aren’t going through the coupons in the store, you’ll find that you can shop at normal speeds. You’re a normal person with a shopping list in the store!

Keep in mind that setting a timer in the beginning may mean that you miss out on a number of coupons, but week by week you’ll find that you are getting faster and faster. Eventually you’ll have yourself so trained that you can beat the clock without even rushing!

Are you thinking 45 minutes is still too much time? You can set your timer for less but that is going to be tricky. I’ve been at this for 8 years and 45 minutes is still my norm… However, before you get too grumpy think about how much money that 45 minutes will save you! An average grocery trip for us sees over a $100 savings. To put that into an hourly salary, that’s like making $133 an hour.

Maybe I should rename this “How to make $133 an hour”…

Do you have any other time saving tips for getting ready to go to the store?

    • http://gardenvarietysinner.blogspot.com/ Shannon Mooney

      Great advice!!

    • http://gardenvarietysinner.blogspot.com/ Shannon Mooney

      Great advice!!

    • Christian_chic

      This is great and practical. I tend to stress out over getting all the right coupons and when my patience runs out (with the process or my children), I want to quit. Thank you!

    • Christian_chic

      This is great and practical. I tend to stress out over getting all the right coupons and when my patience runs out (with the process or my children), I want to quit. Thank you!

    • quiet_heart

      Great guidance! Something else I did was create a separate gmail address for coupon sites. Then I only check that email when I’m looking for coupons that are supposed to get emailed to me. Otherwise I’d be getting a lot of junk mail in my regular email box.

    • Skirnir Hamilton

      This does not include the time to obtain the coupons and file them or the extra time in the grocery store itself. IE I do spend about one hour getting my coupons together for Safeway (the online digital and just for you coupons being some of that time) and I probably spend about 45 minutes looking at drugstores and Target online coupon and cartwheel. That does not include those who may use the cashback sites where you enter in your receipts, etc. So I think 45 minutes is the minimum and it doesn’t get the extra amount in the stores, or if you spend any time acquiring extra newspaper insert coupons and filing them. Oh, I could spend way more time removing expired coupons too.

      • http://www.southernsavers.com/ Jenny

        I’m not sure how you are organizing coupons, but if possible check out an accordion system (I just added a link in the post about it) You will spend maybe 5 second organizing each weeks insert coupons. I don’t tend to print many coupons until I’m getting ready for a store. For the apps like Ibotta, etc. I tend to do those in the car before I even leave the parking lot. Mostly because I’ll never remember once the groceries are put away.

      • http://www.southernsavers.com/ Jenny

        I’m not sure how you are organizing coupons, but if possible check out an accordion system (I just added a link in the post about it) You will spend maybe 5 second organizing each weeks insert coupons. I don’t tend to print many coupons until I’m getting ready for a store. For the apps like Ibotta, etc. I tend to do those in the car before I even leave the parking lot. Mostly because I’ll never remember once the groceries are put away.

    • Rebecca

      Great advice…I put my coupons in an envelope (I save ones from junk mail and/or bills–we use web bill pay, so I don’t need the envelope). If my list is short for Walgreens or CVS, I’ll write my list right on the envelope rather than print out a list, then I only have one thing to hold on to (I often put both stores on the same envelope too). If my list is longer for the drug stores or when I’m going to Publix I’ll print out my list.

      I also get my list ready one day and then we go shopping the next; it’s too much (with 4 kids and homeschooling the older 2) to do it all in the same day; dividing it up keeps it more manageable for me.

    • Shana

      Thank you so much! I have had to explain something similar to people. I refer to myself as the “lazy couponer”. I actually even limit my shopping to only 3 stores because I’m not chasing deals just because they exist.

      I only do mine in 45 minutes as well. I actually prep the lists early. So I know the new ad for Publix comes out a couple days before. I can do the list the day it comes out and then cut my coupons another day. With the save feature on Southern Savers and the ability to delete coupons that I know I don’t have I can very quickly see what I’m actually going after and it saves me a bunch of time clipping. This is even faster from my smart phone since I can just touch the items I want to delete. I also use the accordion system in a little bit different fashion. I actually have a 3 ring binder with sheet protectors. I like this because I can flip back and forth really quick. Making the lists takes really no time. Hunting the coupons and cutting takes a little bit longer, but not much.

      I am a single mom and my time is precious. I’m so glad you shed some light on this. I see some people and hear them tell me they take hours and hours and I just shake my head at them. I can certainly appreciate all the hard work people put into it, but some times you just have to know that more is not always better. Sometimes less is more. Happy couponing!

    • crystalgoodwin3

      Great advice.
      I probably do spend alittle more time then 45 minutes.
      But I usually break it up into different time slots.
      It takes me over an hour just to get to a store so when I do go, I want to make the most of it. Plus I need to make sure I get everything I need or I have to do without until the next shopping trip.

    • Becky S

      I buy more than 2 papers on the good insert weeks. I don’t cut my P&G’s lately as it has few coupons I will use, they get filed into my binder. My tools of the trade are a stapler, rotary cutter, self-healing cutting mat, baskets for coupons, and binder. I match the insert sheets together, staple & cut ONLY the coupons I know I will use. Set aside, toss, or give away the rest. They’re organized into my binder according to the aisles in the grocery store, so I can grab my binder anytime and go shopping. I use a binder clip to hold the coupons on planned shopping trips, so I can flip through coupons without a mess. The organizing and cutting might not be under 45 mins, but it saves time later that would be spent finding and pulling out each insert, separating sheets, and cutting them before each shopping trip. I have done many time studies at work. When you are filing away inserts you will pull out several times again for cutting in the future, you would save so much time by pulling out everything and cutting the most necessary coupons in 1 sitting. Much time is wasted through motion… by putting things away, searching & pulling them back out, cutting a few, putting them away, pulling them back out, cutting a few.. I use a temporary filing system inside my binder for the “low coupon” weeks, when the coupons are iffy, I’ll just cut them the next time I have a good bundle to cut and organize. To each their own, but this is the system that works for us.

      • Shannon Ball

        Becky S,

        I have a question…what is a rotary cutter and self-healing cutting mat? You can email me back at kiddkamry1@aol.com. Thanks!

    • Jen Beaver

      Love the accordian system.. works for us. Print my coupons & list and bunde it all in a bag to organize in the car line @school! I am the first in line :) Kids love it! I use that time to listen to podcasts on marriage & family and organize my shopping. For me, its relaxing.. just don’t ask me about my summers :)

    • Courtney

      I feel like I am always hunting coupons that are listed on the weekly ad but I did not get in my circular. I love the fact that I can choose my region but is it only accurate if someone gives you the list for that region? I am in Birmingham and I see many weeks that no one posts it. Thanks for all you do!

    • tilewis

      How do you create a shopping list on your site? I have a login created but not sure where I can start my shopping list.

      • Sallie

        I would also like to know how to make a shopping list.

        • Becky S

          Very easy. Look at the coupon matchup list for the store and week you need, and check the box next to the items you want to buy. Once you are done there is a grayish box at the bottom “create or update your shopping list” Check only the ‘include coupon matchups’ then click “Add to list” . Edit the list as needed, print, and voila.

    • kwalk

      Those are great tips. I have tried to coupon using Southern Savers several different times, but each time I realized I would get discouraged because a good amount of the coupons were not in my inserts. And now I know why! Wow, I sure do hope this works.

      Thank you!

    • Guest

      What if you can’t find your newspaper?

    • dhm1967

      I always log in before I make my lists and check the “only locally available” option but still manage to be on a “wild goose chase”. My list always seems to include coupons that are not in my local paper. What am I doing wrong?

    • Trisha

      I cannot justify spending money on the newspaper subscription. Also very few of the coupons are for items that are the best bargain…not to mention prepackaged and healthy. Not many coupons for staples, produce, meats. Lots of time to sort through store flyers online…..do not get them because again do not have the newspaper . I have asked about getting just the Sunday paper where the coupons are…really expensive. T o print very many coupons gets expensive in ink cost. Gets exhausting and frustrating.

    • tori729

      After trying many different systems I find the accordion system for the inserts is truly the quickest and easiest. I write with a permanent marker the date of the insert and stick it in. When I run out of space I start taking inserts from the back and replace those with new ones.
      A huge time saver for me is making my list while I nurse the baby on the app. Then I just have to get coupons together.

    • dhm1967

      I always log in before I make my lists and check the “only locally available” option but still manage to be on a “wild goose chase”. My list always seems to include coupons that are not in my local paper, Chattanooga Times Free Press. What am I doing wrong? I’ve been looking for the answer to this forever!