So, now that you know where to get coupons and how to organize them, you need to plan your trips! The first thing to do is to look at the ads that come in the Sunday papers. Remember, these ads do not necessarily take place immediately. Always look at the fine print on the bottom of the ad to see when the promotion runs.
I usually do my coupon clipping and ad searching while I watch my Sunday night shows after the boys have gone to bed. I find this very relaxing and the quietest time of my week! I start by looking at the drug store ads. Always have your coupons out in front of you as you look through the ads. When I see a good price, I write it down in a notebook. (You will learn what a good price is over time. It may take some writing down the normal prices of items you buy a lot, so you have something to compare it to.) Once I get through the whole ad, I look at my list and compare the items for coupons in my notebook. Once I find all the coupons that match and pull them out of the notebook, I then search for coupons online. Simply Googling "item+coupon" will usually bring up some good options.
If an item does not have a coupon match, I usually do not get it. If the sale+the coupon is a REALLY good deal, buy as many as you have a coupon for. I have been known to stock up on six boxes of fruit snacks at a time.
Here is an example of when it is a good time to stock up:
At Vons a few weeks back, they ran a coupon in their ad to get boxes of Betty Crocker fruit snacks for 88 cents a piece. I had paper coupons for 55 cents off two boxes, as well as an electronic coupon for the same loaded on my card. Vons will let you use an electronic coupon, a paper coupon, AND and ad coupon all at the same time. I ended up getting these fruit snacks for free. I only had three paper coupons, so I only bought six boxes. Either way, it was a steal! (Another reason why it is important to buy more than one paper and stock pile your coupons.)
Once you have matched up coupons with the sales, cross out all of the items on the list that are not a good enough deal without the coupons. (Usually I still leave items like milk, chicken, etc because those do not usually have coupons. I still buy them when on sale.) Paper clip the pile of coupons to your list.
Here is the number one rule to couponing...and DO NOT break it:
ONLY BUY WHAT IS ON YOUR LIST. Period. Do not impulse buy. Do not buy something that looks yummy for a snack. Only buy what is on your list. The one and only exception to this rule is if you see an unadvertised deal that you have a coupon for in your notebook. Rarely is a deal that good and it not be advertised.
Learn to make what you to eat, do not buy what you want to make. My husband is on a strict weight lifting diet that includes mostly chicken and fish for dinner. I stock pile on the chicken and fish as much as I can when it is on a really good sale. NEVER do I let myself get so low on something that I have to go to the store to buy it. I used to plan out my meals, then go to the store and buy what I needed for the week in my planned meals. WRONG. If you do this, you will be paying full price for just about everything for your entire week. Stock pile, eat what you have, plan your meals around it.
Learn to let brand preferences go. I used to eat Special K cereal and only Special K cereal. I have learned that I will eat what is cheap with a sale and a coupon! Rarely do I spend over 75 cents for a box of cereal anymore. I do not buy junk. I do not buy sugar cereal, unless it is for Ryan's snacks. I have just learned to stock pile on my healthy cereals when there is a sale and a coupon.
So, if you get anything out of this post I hope you get this: Sale+coupon or you do not buy it. (Exceptions of meat, dairy, and produce) This theory will take a month or so for you to get to the point where you do not need to buy something full price. Once you have that stock pile though, it will cut your grocery budget in half. No longer will you have to pay full price for anything.
Hope this helped clear up some of the questions I have been getting! Let me know if you have any more, or even if you have store specific questions. I may not know the answer, but I will get it for you!