1. My coupon system looks like this: I have one of those little coupon "wallets" which you can buy about everywhere that has pockets inside. I only have several sections: food, toiletries, paper products, this week's section. Too many pockets is too confusing for me. I DO NOT clip all the coupons I get. On Sundays, I flip through the coupon inserts and take out any "free" coupons, any coupons I KNOW I will use, and any rebates and put them in one pocket of my wallett. The rest of the inserts are put in a manilla envelope with the date on the outside. If it's a good week, I collect inserts from the neighbors.
2. On Sundays I also look at the 3 big drugstore ads that come in the paper: Rite Aid, CVS and Walgreens. I check out http://www.southernsavers.com/ and see what Jenny has listed that I missed...she also tells me what items have coupons available and what week the coupons were issued, so I can I make a list of my "shop" for that week and pull all the coupons together. I may or may not go to the store on Monday. If there are mucho "FAR" deals at any given store, I usually go on Monday AM as these items disappear quickly. If I can't get there Monday, I wait until Thursday night or Friday. Most stores restock Thursday. It's rare that I go to all 3 stores in any given week. I just get the ones with unbeatable deals. i make sure to look at store brand sales, esp for food items. Walgreens has some crazy sale prices on food each week.
3. On Wednesday, I look through the grocery store sale ads to see what good deals there are. Having been a tightwad for so long now, I pretty much know when something is cheaper than "my best price." I take into consideration the stores that double coupons. If I have time, I check out http://www.southernsavers.com/ to see what Jenny has posted for each store.
4. At some point Wed-Fri AM, I make a list. Well, I should say, I finish the list. I keep one going on my frig of things I run out of and I then attach it to the drugstore list. I typically shop on Fridays--it was Monday for years, but this seems to work better for me right now as I generally have to buy something for at least one kid for the upcoming week. I think about all the events coming up that week and TRY not to have to make last minute shops.
5. I mentally have a best price list from years of comparing, but I still do a comparison outing about once a year, just to make sure. Almost all my best prices are at Aldi. I would guesstimate that about 1/3 of the items are now the same price or within just pennies at Wal-Mart. And there are items that Aldi doesn't carry. So here's where the list gets tricky. Let's say Walgreens has Kelloggs cereal 2 for $4.00 and I have a coupon for $1.00 off 2 boxes. This price now beats the Aldi price of cereal. I'll buy whatever amount I have coupons for at Walgreens. There are some items that I count on buying at Aldi every week: Milk ($2.89), Eggs (99cents), bread (79 cents) fruit (usually 89 cents/pound) OJ (1.19)..etc. This is not a real thought out process, it just comes naturally for me. If you have never done a comparison outing at your favorite retailers (or maybe not your favorite) you need to do so. It will be a real eye opener.
6. I stockpile "free deals." These pictures are in my basement and in a hall cabinet. I know it's hard to see the items, but basically, I NEVER pay for feminine products, toothpaste, toothbrushes, deoderant, shampoo, lotions, make-up, etc. We have out own store in the basement. When there is a great deal (free!), I buy all that is allowed. My kids know that they can use any of this stuff, but if they want a certain brand, it comes out of their own pocket, and that has NOT been an issue at my house:).
OK...there you have it! How's that for lesson #1? I'll fine-tune it later. Let me know if you have any specific questions!!