Habit # 2 Develop Good Habits
Part of The 5 Highly Effective Habits of Practical Couponers Series
Habit # 2 Develop Good Habits. If you repeat a behavior enough times, it becomes a habit. Developing good and healthy habits will save you both time and money when couponing. Follow these four easy steps and you will have your time saving method down in no time!
Step 1 – Organization
You cannot save money if you don’t have your coupons organized. How can you spot a good deal on the fly at the store if your coupons are in a big heaping pile on your coffee table at home? I am absolutely against filing your coupons by inserts instead of clipping them immediately. (Where you take the whole insert and file it by date but don’t cut out the coupons. Worst-Method-Ever.) The best money saving deals are always at the stores, with clearance items or unadvertised deals, and they almost always require coupons.
Do you like the picture of my coupon binder? I use a zippered binder with shoulder straps. Zippered so that if or when I drop my binder, I don’t lose any precious coupons!
The only way to successfully take advantage of those deals is to clip and file your coupons in a coupon binder with the baseball card inserts. And yes, you really will need to cart around your big bulky binder with you every time you shop.
I like to think of it as carting around my big fat wallet full of money. Have you ever seen those pictures on social media of the guys or gals with big fat bank rolls of cash? Ever think to yourself “Wow…what would I do with all of that cash? and “Wonder if they did illegal things to get it?”
Good news for you – Coupons ARE money! They are just like checks. Everyone understands how checks work, you get one, you cash it and you get cold hard cash.
Printing coupons from home is also legal and it’s just like printing money! So print away and cash in on those savings! Click here to see the latest printable coupons on my printable coupon database.
Coupons are slightly different because the manufacturer or store is promising to pay the amount listed on the coupon. If your store allows cashback overage then you really can “cash it in” and walk out with cold hard cash in hand. Try adding up all of your coupons and the amounts listed on them and you’ll see that you are literally carrying around hundreds or thousands of dollars!
Would you dream of going to the store without your wallet and money to purchase items? Not likely unless you are a kleptomaniac! I get my thrills from using coupons to lower my out of pocket costs and/or getting items for free! So get to filing your coupons in your binder and you can take advantage of it all too!
You also need to be sure and file your binder according to categories. I have developed my very own coupon binder organzier and you are welcome to download it for free. I have everything categorized for you and I put category tabs at the bottom right of the pages so you can easily and quickly find the category you need. (Ignore my ugly hand) See how easily I can flip through my binder and find the category I need?
(Yes – I do realize the categories are not fully printed in my photo. I am frugal and I printed these BEFORE I edited them so I decided NOT to waste more paper, ink and trees and I simply wrote them in. When you print yours from my free download these are edited and will print correctly.)
Step 2 – Develop a Good System
Find a system that you can repeat and perfect over time. If you do something over and over enough times you get faster and more efficient at it. Just like driving, riding a bike, swimming or walking and chewing gum. The more you do it, the more you can do it without thought. The same holds true for couponing. The reason so many seasoned pros make it look easy is because we already went through the pain of learning it all and creating our own systems so we are a few steps ahead of the newbies.
My system is pretty simple and easy to follow. I get my coupons, clip them, file them in my binder. In the meantime – I’ve been following the sales cycles at my local stores and watching for when the items I need are at rock bottom prices. When they hit their rock bottom prices, I stock up and buy enough for 6 – 12 months and I forget about weekly deal chasing.
I have a couple of YouTube videos I created for couponing that you will find helpful.
Here are a few products that I recommend, use and love for my coupon organization and a few really good books to use as resources to help you get started.
Step 3 – Pick and Choose Your Savings
Let me tell you a little secret that you might not be aware of. Bloggers create a sense of urgency and excitement when writing up their daily or weekly posts because they get paid when you print from their coupon databases (think coupons.com), when you click on the ads, sign up for services, use coupon codes to buy discounted products, sign up for coupon apps, etc. The list literally goes on and on but I am sure you get the idea of how they get paid.
The majority of their posts include affiliate links or some form of monetary payment to their business. But please don’t begrudge us for it because without some form of monetary compensation we couldn’t run our blogs and the funds we receive keep them up and running.
I want to teach you how to stop running around like a chicken with your head cut off by chasing weekly deals and wearing yourself out. The deals will cycle around again, I promise you. You can read more about what I have to say about that in my post Sales Cycles for Couponing here.
You really don’t need that product you will never ever use but bought because it was free after coupons, especially if you don’t plan to make regular donations of the items you don’t need. You will no doubt end up running out precious stockpiling space with items that you don’t use. There’s nothing more frustrating than staring at your stockpile and wishing you hadn’t purchased so much of a brand you hate but bought just because it was cheap or nearly free.
I had my own personal experience of this with Pantene Shampoo and Conditioner. When I first started out I noticed that there were coupons out the wazoo for these every month. My brand of choice is actually Suave. But it is literally drilled into our heads that we must give up brand loyalty in order to save the most money when we learn to coupon. I actually argue that I believe it’s a matter of personal opinion.
I spent the first year of my couponing life stocking up on cheap or free Pantene haircare and when it was time to use it, I hated it. I tried so very hard to justify that it was such a good buy so I really should just give up my Suave and try and “get used to it.” It later became a lost cause and I ended up using as much as possible for bubble baths because it makes great bubbles and leaves my skin silky soft but I still hate what it does to my hair. I donated the rest of it to a local charitable organization when I needed to clear room on my stockpile shelves for my “free-after-coupon-deals” Suave.
The point is to buy what you will use and don’t chase deals like a mindless ninny and let everyone involved herd you into their trap. In the end, we are all in it for the money. You, me, the companies and brands of the products we buy and use, the bloggers, the advertisers, all of us are a part of this big scheme.
(Rest assured and don’t worry….I still have three more habits to talk about in this series and I go way more in depth about time saving techniques and hacks about buying what you use.)
Step 4 – Work Smarter, Not Harder
Train yourself to create good habits and you will save more time and money. It will take some time and trial and error to find what works for you but the key is to create your own personal method. Try to keep things repetitive and easy while finding little changes to implement that will save you time. I made two small changes that I turned into habits and these habits save me time throughout the week.
First – I used to clip coupons by hand. I would use scissors to cut out my coupons and it would take me at least two hours to get them all clipped, sorted and filed in my binder. I recently invested in a guillotine slicer-type paper trimmer and I cut down my clipping time to only one hour by using it. I absolutely love it and I refuse to go back to the hand cutting method unless absolutely necessary! Not to mention that it saves my wrists some wear and tear!
Second – I spend every Saturday evening cleaning out the expired coupons from my binder. If you’ve been couponing for a while then you probably noticed that coupons expire more on Saturdays and Sundays. It makes good couponing sense to clean out the binder the night before to make room for the new coupons that I am clipping on Sundays.
I also want to avoid disappointment when putting together my deals and realizing the crazy good deal I spent ALL this time working on is now dead because I just realized the coupon expired – yesterday! It really is embarrassing to have the cashier smile and hand me back my coupons and have to remind me that I didn’t check the expiration dates prior to checkout!
Truth be told – I get so very excited about the deals that I tend to forget to double check the expiration date and I’ve been embarrassed enough times now that I clean out the binder first to avoid this altogether!
Can you see how this small oversight can lead to so much wasted time and money? Now I have to go back and re-work the deals or leave the store and come back at a later date.
I literally spend no more than 30-45 minutes cleaning out my binder while watching a missed episode of Friends on Netflix. Yes – I am probably the ONLY person on the planet who hasn’t seen all 100 million episodes and I am okay with that fact.
When you follow a good working system, do it over and over again and turn it into a habit then you will end up with more money and time to do other things you’ve always wanted to do. It also alleviates some of the anxiety and overwhelming feeling you get when things are out of control. You now know that you are in fact in control, doing things with purpose and you know the end result will pay off with saving you both time and money.
Creating a good system led to me starting this blog and writing awesome content to share with you fine folks! It also leaves me more time to share my Money Saving Coupon Recipes and Practical Couponing for Busy People Method Series with you!
This is Habit # 2 – Develop Good Habits of The 5 Highly Effective Habits of Practical Couponers Series. Next week is Habit # 3 – Learn Your Local Sales Cycles. See how learning it yourself will save you more time and money.
Don’t want to miss the upcoming habits and hacks of my Practical Couponing for Busy People Methods Series? Want to see the latest Money Saving Coupon Recipes? Subscribe and have them delivered to your inbox! Don’t worry…it’s safe and I won’t spam you…I honestly don’t have the time or energy to flood your inbox with more useless stuff!
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