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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

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I hear so many people tell me that they just don’t have the time to coupon. Really this is just an excuse for folks that are trying to justify why they are paying too much for groceries. Personally I can’t imagine choosing to spend more than you have to, but I know that learning a new habit and skill can seem daunting.

To help take away your time excuse here are some easy ways to decrease the time couponing has to take and the stress:


Stick with the accordion system. Only sit down and cut the coupons that you need for this current trip and don’t cut or organize coupons you don’t need.

Set a Timer

Grab a kitchen timer and set it for 45 minutes. Give yourself this much time and no more to gather your deals and coupons. When the timer goes off, head to the store. At first you may not be truly finished but as you get more comfortable you’ll get faster and many times be done long before it goes off.

Don’t Load Up on Papers

The more Sunday papers you get the more stressful you are making this. Stick to two sets of Sunday inserts. With all the printable coupons that are out, you’ll have plenty of coupons. The more papers you get, the more time this takes!

Print Only what You Need

I follow four rules with printable coupons. First , don’t print everything! Then only print early any coupon that falls into three categories: high value coupons, produce coupons (canned, fresh or frozen) and products that we always use. If it isn’t one of those three categories then leave the printable coupons there. You may miss some, but they will be back. Coupon bloggers love the word “Hot!” but in all honesty coupons come and go and return again and again and again…

Make One Trip Per Week

Don’t be enticed to head to every store for every deal. Pick one grocery store and one drugstore and shop the deals at those stores once a week. Everything will come on sale at the stores that you pick. It may not be same week as another store, but it will happen within the next 2-3 weeks. If a deal comes out after your shopping day… just let it lie. It’s about grabbing the deals you know about and saving what you can quickly and not about running to the store every single day!

Buy Enough for 6 weeks

And only 6 weeks. To save the most money we want to buy things when they are on sale and get enough of them to last until they are on sale again. We don’t need to get enough to last until the end of time though… just six weeks. The more you have the focus of buying everything the more you are making this insane. Trying to get too much also adds to the problems with #3, you’ll need more papers and thus more time.

Keep it simple: you’ll be able to prevent burn-out while feeling happy and frugal at the same time.

    • Stephanie

      One thing that helped me ‘check’ my quantities (because it can be SO easy to go overboard on a good deal), remembering that things expire! I realized after the fact that although 8 months or a year seemed like a long time, you’ll probably not get through 18 tubes of toothpaste in that amount of time…. Even with giving stuff away and donating, I threw things in the trash! And how many toothpaste deals are there in between now and next year…!?

      • heatherella30721

        Excellent point. We use eatbydate.com to keep a check on what is in the pantry and its shelf life.

    • I’m mostly a “perimeter shopper,” so there usually aren’t many coupons to gather. However, setting a timer has helped to speed things up as I prepare. There is that “law” out there that says the task will expand to the time allotted to it.

      • saver1111

        My husband and I play a guessing game sometimes when I come home from my day of couponing! He tries to guess how much I saved and he is always surprised on the amt we saved.

    • April

      Good advice. I’ve updated my style to reflect 2 papers (except on really good insert weeks), one couponing trip per week, and by skipping items I might otherwise donate. I’d rather leave the items on the shelf for someone who is excited about getting them, than to do the extra clipping (time) and the distribution (energy) to a donation receiving location. (Make no mistake, we give money instead of goods.)

    • ctrinkle

      I try to remember that yes my time is worth money but if I just saved $150 at the grocery store and spent two hours between gathering/organizing coupons and then preparing for my actual trip – that is like making $75 an hour. Pretty good pay! Paying retail for anything when you don’t have to just seems crazy to me.

      • saver1111

        Yep!! Same here. Heading to Disney this Thanksgiving and couponing has helped big time. Why do some think that paying full price is like, saying ” Hey I am better off than you because I can buy this without a Q?”

    • MaryLena

      Buy only what your family actually uses or what you are buying to give to a specific person.

    • dlonzo

      i remember being coupon crazy. walgreens helped me with that when they started denying coupons. cvs helped me with that when i kept forgetting about my extra bucks. getting a better job also helped. now i just strive for bilo or publix. i don’t mind paying full price if it lets me spend extra time with my loved ones. moderation is awesome, unless of course you need the coupons to feed your family a proper meal .

      • saver1111

        Just spend your extra time with your family and getting ready for your next morning meeting instead of commenting like you just did. BTW…I don’t strive to shop at BI-LO or Publix…I strive to do what is right for myself and my loved ones. Please read the definition of strive…..

    • joy

      I have several neighbors who give me their coupon inserts each Sunday because they know I donate a lot of items. However, I don’t spend time cutting out any coupons unless there is a specific deal. Instead I have one drawer in a file cabinet for coupons with hanging folders. Each week I file the inserts for that date and then when I need a certain one I go to the file with that date and just cut out the ones I need.

    • Sherri MacCheyne

      I attended one of your classes and was surprised at the animosity you showed toward those who use binders. Even the derogatory attitude of “there is always *someone* who brings a binder.” The accordion style simply doesn’t work for some folks. Yes, I use a binder, but NO, I don’t have it looking pretty as you seem to think all ladies do. I don’t use baseball card holders. I have a variety of plastic sheets and I simply fold the coupons if I have to so only the picture is showing. I don’t by Sunday papers at all – especially when I can simply purchase the coupons I want at a fraction of the cost. I limit myself to 12 of any one coupon. Since they are all pre-cut, I just put them in my organized binder. I have an app that I scan each coupon in before organizing. I spend *maybe* 15 minutes doing this a week or every two weeks.

      When I look at the grocery ads, I simply compare what I have using my iPhone to the ads. Works so much better than anything else I have tried. My binder is with me *always* in case I happen to stop at a store to pick up something and notice there is a great unadvertised deal or clearance. I *don’t* have to take time prior to each and every trip to locate the flyers the coupons are in and then cut them. It’s all done for me. Whatever money I spend on the coupons is taken care of usually with the first or second coupon I use. I would challenge that the time it takes prior to each grocery trip is double or triple the time I spend.

      My point is that everyone has their own way of organizing. This should be recognized – especially if you are going to teach the art of couponing.

      I do print coupons, but I really don’t like to do so because it takes too long to select the coupons x 2, print them and then cut them. I do it, but it does take time. I wish the printable sites would allow you to select how many you want to print, or remember your selection so you wouldn’t have to go through the entire selection process *again*. If I find a valuable one, though, I will repeat the process on several computers.

      When I first started couponing, I would simply select all coupons and print. That didn’t work so well either. Maybe someday the coupons sites will make it a wee bit easier.

      • Viviana


    • PamAlabam

      Okaaaay…I might just be feeling a tad bit slighted here. I don’t feel like couponing is worth my time *most* of the time for a couple of reasons. First of all, I am not a food snob but we truly don’t eat many convenience foods. I don’t like the long lists of ingredients plus I have three gigantic, athletic men to feed and most portions of convenience foods are pitifully small compared to what they need. I prefer and need to cook large batches of simple foods. I don’t often see coupons for simple, wholesome foods. My second reason is that I live in a smallish town (pop. 15,000) near a smallish city (55,000). My small town drug stores often will not even carry some items advertised in the ads. Or, they carry such a small stock they run out fast. The newspaper ad inserts that I get rarely have the great coupons that I see listed here. A few weeks ago I went to two drugstores ready to get some deals and didn’t find one.single.thing. I do print off the internet but I refuse to be dishonest about my zipcode, so once again, I miss some of the great coupons. I do save in other ways. I have a huge garden and I yard sale and find those offer a greater return for my time spent. I realize not everyone would want to do those things, though. To each his own.

      • saver1111

        There is ebay and websites you can buy inserts from so you don’t have to miss out on the sales. Most sites have the weekly ads up in advance. But it seems that couponing isn’t possible due to your location. Keep up with the gardening and yard sales.

    • Bri

      My coupon ‘organization’ method is pretty lazy. All of my inserts are grouped by release date, shoved into the plastic sleeve the papers come in and thrown into a reusable shopping bag. When it gets too heavy I toss the old expired ones. I pull & cut Qs as needed. My check sized accordion file is arranged by store & goes with me. Any blinkies or other random Qs are shoved into the back tab.
      Even if I only got pasta, veggies- canned or frozen, condiments, cereal, paper products and hair care with Qs, it’s totally worth the little time I spend doing it.
      Thank you Jenny! You’re a great resource!!

    • Lauren Wickersheim

      All of this is so true! I think so many people think couponing has to be like what they see on TV with the binders and 12 carts for free. The real-life couponing here has saved us so much money – and I would never go back to paying full price! These 6 tips have kept me from feeling overwhelmed or burning out on it. I’ve mostly hit my groove now with Publix and Target. Need to be brave and attempt drug stores now!

    • saver1111

      Thank you Thank you!!! I sooooooo needed to read/hear this information. I have been couponing for 4yrs and it seems I trash more paper/Q’s then I use. I only buy large amounts (like 4-5 bottles of toiletry items) when they are on sale which last more than the 6wk tip you mentioned in the above article. There’s myself, my 13yr old and her friends who are always here on the weekend so these things get depleted quickly!!!! Oh and I see your print outs all over town when I am out couponing. Congrats!!! :)

    • ruthiempatterson

      Peyton . true that Jessica `s blurb is shocking, last
      monday I got a gorgeous Peugeot 205 GTi after having earned $6860 this past 4
      weeks an would you believe ten-k this past-month . with-out a doubt this is the
      easiest-job I’ve ever had . I actually started six months/ago and pretty much
      immediately started to bring in minimum $84… p/h . Read More Here C­a­s­h­f­i­g­.­C­O­M­

    • kristen

      I’ve been couponing about 5 years, and at times I am really into it. At other times when other jobs/responsibilities are more prolific or demanding I do less. When really in gear I’ll compile a weekly list prior to going and spend 60 min in the beginning 30 min after more practice clipping and printing for just that week. I Only use the accordion organizer although I did briefly switch to a binder. (just to cumbersome) For me its it’s not an every week habit, so I don’t follow the rule of only 6 weeks worth. If I can get 70 rolls of toilet paper in one week for $20 I’m going to do it and then not worry about toilet paper for 6 months. Same with laundry detergent. I also recall the publix Italian days sales that would last 3 weeks in a row in the summer. I recall getting .19 cents back on every box of pasta I took form the store, and nearly free canned tomato products. I probably bought 200 boxes of pasta, I donated 80 to a church fundraiser and the rest didn’t expire for over three years. When I happen across a really good deal I go for it, but it’s probably every 2 – 2.5 months that I find these really good deals because life gets busy and some weeks I just shop the sale fruits veggies and pick up whatever reduced or sale beef/chicken/fish I can find and make do with whats in my pantry. lastly, I am having a baby in November, so I am stocking up now on more of these good deals and will be cooking extra freezer meals as november approaches. Also buying wipes and dipes whenever I see a good deal. those first three months with a new infant are rough, and I’m sure I’ll trade 30-45 minutes of couponing time at an cost for SLEEP!

      • marlene

        Kristen Hi,I am so new to this,how did you get your 60 rolls of toilet paper for $20.00? I would love this for my mom and daughter.Thanks

    • Amanda Alford

      Wow, some of these comments are kinda rude and nasty. Guys we are all here for one reason and that is to save. Honestly, if you don’t like something just move on. I use a binder and though Jenny feels the accordian works better I don’t but I am not gonna be ugly to her about it. Let’s treat eachother with respect. Only buy what you need and leave some for others as well we all want to get a great deal.

    • Beth Agrell

      Great tips, thanks! I found couponing so overwhelming that I gave up. Maybe I’ll give it another try.

    • Stephanie Wells

      I have lots of coupon inserts that are old.What do ya’ll do with your old inserts? I don’t want to throw them in the garbage.seems like a waste.Any tips?

      • Gladys Lopez

        Support our troops takes expired coupons. Do a search on line you can.moat likely find the address and directions on what you need to dom

        • Stephanie Wells

          Thank You Gladys!