I regularly hear “I don’t have the time to do coupons”. I believe people say that because they have seen the show Extreme Couponing where the people featured say they spend 30 hours a week on prepping their coupons. What you don’t see are the statements where the shopper clarifies that they only spend that much time for the show. The average person is not going to try to save $1,000+ on a single shopping trip!
Personally, I only spend a couple of hours a week (if that). This includes making my shopping list! For example, this week I had 5 inserts from Smart Source, and 8 inserts from a specific company. (I got lucky and 1 paper had extras) Something to keep in mind, not all inserts are obvious. Often companies have inserts dedicated solely to their products and when you sort through your newspaper you could toss them out thinking they are advertisements. I cut them all out while watching the season finale of Downton Abby on PBS.
To begin, I remove pages from each insert and stack like ones together.
Once they have been sorted, I find those which include more than 1 page. In other words, they open up like a newspaper. As you can see from the example below, often the coupons are on separate pages. In which case, I open each one up and tear the pages apart, again stacking the same sides together. You must always check before doing this as often there is a coupon that straddles both sides and you don’t want to rip it in half.
Before I start cutting, I have a pile of paperclips handy. I find I can cut through about 6 pages with my scissors at one time. As I finish with a particular coupon, I use the paperclips to hold them together. In another 20 minutes I have a stack ready to file, I remove the paperclips as I slide them into the pockets. Honestly, if I did not get up and do other things like a load of laundry, it would take me less time, but it does get tedious so I take a break here and there. Some people like to staple the coupons together before they cut. While that does keep them together, it makes it harder to use just 1 or 2 at a time and the cashiers don’t like to get handed a stapled stack.
I make quick piles according to how my binder is set up and file the coupons. As I put new ones in, I try to find expired ones to toss. This usually takes me about 20 minutes. All told I have spent maybe 80 minutes putting it all together. Since I have a pretty good idea of the coupons I have in my binder, I can create my shopping lists in less than 30 minutes. Less than two hours worth of work, doing what I was going to do anyway, and I save an average of 60% a month on my shopping bill.