STEP ONE:Subscribe to your local newspaper (call your local paper directly and ask for a new subscriber special– subscribe for JUST Sunday or all week, whichever you prefer) but SUBSCRIBE so the coupons arrive on your doorstep each and every week. Don’t try to save $.10 by going to the corner store to get the paper (which will cost you more in gas than it will save you!)– just SUBSCRIBE! Most papers get two inserts each weekend– Red Plum and SmartSource (you’ve probably never noticed but it says the name across the front page of the coupon insert)– and once a month you’ll also get an insert from P&G.
fabuLESS tip:Why three different colored folders? Simple: that way you can instantly identify which folder holds which insert. Why envelopes instead of a notepad? So you can write your list on the outside of the envelope and tuck your coupons inside– and yes, of course, you can reuse/repurpose envelopes, no need to use a new one each time!
fabuLESS tip: Put the most recent week’s inserts on top to keep your folders organized.
fabuLESS tip: “Invest” in durable folders– poly or faux leather will last longer than manila folders.
STEP THREE: Each Sunday, grab the coupon inserts– and though it might be tempting to do so: DO NOT CLIP AND SORT THE COUPONS, just grab the ENTIRE insert & write the date (that you received the coupons, NOT the expiration date) on the front page of the insert with a Sharpie marker– use one of the folders for ALL of your Smart Source inserts, another for Red Plum and the third for P&G and any other inserts or coupon booklets that you receive. Simply put inserts into folders each Sunday, it will take about 30 seconds in total.
fabuLESS tip: If you forget to write the date on the front of the insert– and don’t know when you received it, just look on the spine of the insert, in teeny, tiny type it will say the date that the coupons were issued– you STILL want to write the date on the front to make it faster/easier to find the specific insert that you’re searching for.
fabuLESS tip: Generally after four months, 99% of the coupons in the Smart Source and Red Plum inserts are expired (plus if you haven’t used a coupon within four months chances are excellent that you’ll NEVER use it, so feel free to recycle them at that point)– most coupons in the P&G insert expire after one to two months, so feel free to recycle those after 2 months.
fabuLESS tip: Why don’t I want you to clip coupons? Simple– coupons are ALREADY organized (by date!)– clipping and sorting is time consuming and you’re just REorganizing something that is already organized– it’s just not a good investment of your time or energy– that time can be better spent doing other, more fabuLESS things to save your family even more money– or, better yet, spending more time with your family and friends– keep reading to find out how you’ll be using your coupons in a MUCH more efficient manner!
STEP FOUR: When you’re ready to write out your shopping list, go to www.livefabuLESS.com/matchups and find the matchup for your store (a matchup is simply a list of all of the items on sale and the coupons that “match up” to each item– you can find the matchups for over eighty stores HERE) Write your shopping list FROM the matchup (write the list on the outside of an envelope.)
While writing out the list simultaneously print the coupons that you’ll be using and mark down the date/inserts that have coupons (do NOT clip WHILE writing the list– just write down the date and insert type, i.e. 1/2/11 SS would mean the insert from January 2nd and SS means Smart Source.) It’s also perfectly okay to buy items that are on sale that do NOT have a coupon or even items that you need that aren’t even on sale (gasp!)– don’t forget to add those to your list– also, remember to add whichever proteins (meat/poultry/seafood) and produce that are on sale to your list, too!
Once your list is complete, grab ONLY the inserts that you need and clip ONLY the coupons you need– then take ALL of the coupons (clipped and printed) and tuck them inside the envelope. If need be, you can hand your list and all of the coupons inside to someone else to do the shopping for you.
fabuLESS tip: Try to do all of this list writing and coupon printing/clipping when it’s convenient NOT immediately before you go shopping, it makes it WAY easier/less stressful that way– and realize that this will become less and less time consuming as the weeks go on– it now takes me under 15 minutes to plan a completely fabuLESS shopping trip!
fabuLESS tip: Check the matchups for ALL of your local stores, you might be surprised to learn that the store you perceived was the most “expensive” is actually the one that’s the most fabuLESS!
fabuLESS tip: Write out the quantity of each item that you plan to purchase to eliminate any guesswork in store– either buy the quantity that you think is reasonable (enough to get you until the next time the item is on sale and/or not so much that it will expire before you can use it all) and/or the number you have coupons for– don’t overthink this step, just get what seems reasonable to YOU.
fabuLESS tip: If you’re preparing a list that someone else will be using in store (i.e usually I write out the list and clip/print the coupons but my husband does the actual shopping), it works well to not only write out the quantity for each item but also either the size of the package that’s on sale (i.e. 20oz or 4 lbs) or the price of the item to help the person doing the shopping quickly locate the item– ALSO, you might want to write an asterick (*) next to any item that has a coupon that corresponds to it to remind your shopper that there’s a coupon inside the envelope for that item.
fabuLESS tip: But what about coupons for items that you want to buy that aren’t currently (or aren’t ever!) on sale– don’t you have to clip and sort those? Nope– stay UNclipped! Simply go to the coupon database HERE or www.livefabuLESS.com/database to locate EXACTLY where that one coupon that you’re looking for is located (it will provide either the date/type of insert OR it will provide a link to the printable coupon, just like a matchup would have– fabuLESS!)
fabuLESS tip: What to do with those random/loose coupons that invariably show up–do you have to have a filing system for those? NO, stay UNclipped! If you must, keep ONLY the ones that you’re VERY likely to use in an envelope in your fabuLESS tote bag (you can even write the coupon and the expiration date on the front of the envelope so you know what’s in there.)
fabuLESS tip: If YOUR local store is not currently included on the list of matchups (found HERE)– post on my Facebook page (found HERE) and let me know BOTH the name of your local store and thenstate the store is located in– and I’ll try to find the matchups for YOUR store!
STEP FIVE: Realize that this system is NOT perfect– you might miss a coupon (gasp!)– you might not have a coupon for an unadvertised special (double gasp!)– but also bear in mind you will barely invest ANY time in maintaining this system, too– so even if you miss out on $.25 here and $.50 there, you will still GAIN your freedom from the ‘burden’ of coupons. I know it’s difficult to give up on the idea of “perfection” but I’m willing to sacrifice a few dollars for HOURS and HOURS more time with my family each month– aren’t you?
STEP SIX (OPTIONAL): If Step Five offends your sensibilities do this: Take the tote bag of coupons with you (either in your car or into the store)– if you find an unadvertised special, using your smart phone go to the searchable database here: www.livefabuLESS.com/database and find where you can find the coupon that you need and clip it in store– feel better now? 🙂
fabuLESS tip: I do NOT carry the tote bag that contains my UNclipped coupons with me, it stays at my house ALL of the time– I’m TOTALLY okay with missing out on a deal here and there– this is all about being efficient, NOT perfect– really, please, I beg you to let go of the idea of having to be PERFECT– you’ll be so much happier!
STEP SEVEN: Start (rationally!) stocking up on items that you use regularly that aren’t perishable- and limit yourself to ONLY buying those items WHEN they are on sale– and ONLY buying items that are on sale, period– start looking at expiration dates, more things are stockuppable than you think– including ALL toiletries and household goods, meat/poultry/seafood can all be frozen and even most dairy items don’t expire for months!
fabuLESS tip: Rational stockpiling means that you are NOT going to have a room dedicated to your “stockpile”– there is a sales cycle for everything– and items will go on sale over and over and over again– no need to buy a years’ supply of ANYTHING. Simply buy enough that will get you until the next time an item is on sale– use 8-12 weeks as a rule of thumb, but realize that the sales cycle will vary from item to item and store to store and region to region.
fabuLESS tip: You will not be buying WAY more food with the fabuLESS method than you’re currently buying, you’re simply changing the pattern in which you buy to ‘match up’ to the sales cycle. For instance, if you used to buy 2 boxes of pasta each and every week (104 boxes of pasta each year)– some weeks it was full price and other weeks it was on sale– but regardless of the price you bought it each and every week. Now, you’re ONLY going to buy pasta the 10 times per year that it’s either on sale and/or on sale and has a coupon matched up to it– each time that happens you’ll pick up approximately 10 boxes of pasta– or, if you prefer, pick up 20 boxes, five times a year- either way, at the end of the year, you’ll STILL be buying the SAME amount of pasta, the only difference is the pattern in which you’re buying it PLUS the amount that you’ve spent will be WAY lower, too– fabuLESS! Now do that for EVERYTHING that’s stockuppable and you’ll be totally fabuLESS!
fabuLESS tip: Do NOT stress about how much is the PERFECT amount and just make an educated guess, okay? Also, it’s better to buy two boxes of pasta too many when it’s BOGO (buy one get one FREE) than to have to buy one box at full price.
fabuLESS tip: NEVER buy anything just because it’s at a fabuLESS price– but the items that you’d buy anyway when they’re at a fabuLESS price– it’s not a bargain if you don’t need it, won’t use it or aren’t planning to donate it.
fabuLESS tip: STRICT weekly budgets are UNfabuLESS– reasonably stock up on staples when there’s a fabuLESS deal even if it “blows your budget”. My grocery bill can range from as high as $200 one week to as low as $35 the next; it all depends on what’s fabuLESS each week. I average out at $85/week for my family of 5 and that includes TONS of fresh and even some organic foods and high quality, lean proteins. YOU can do this, too!
STEP EIGHT: Be TOTALLY okay with buying some things for MORE money when it will SAVE you time– i.e. prepped veggies like sliced mushrooms, bagged salad, etc– or even for items that you need/want immediately–i.e. paying FULL price for bananas is FINE (even though they’re $.30/lb cheaper across town!), your TIME is worth money, too! DO NOT RUN TO 18 STORES TO SAVE $.18!
STEP NINE: Be prepared that as you first start stocking up you will likely spend MORE (in total) the first few months (as you build up your rational stockpile of stockuppables) but you will be spending LESS per item– AND, once you’ve stocked up (after about 6-8 weeks) your weekly totals will PLUMMET as you’ll only have to buy fresh produce plus anything else that’s at a fabuLESS price– also the goal is to not run out of items that you use constantly, stock up when the price is fabuLESS NOT when you’ve run out and need to buy it. But still, your stockpile should FIT into your pantry and/or your fridge and freezer, you shouldn’t be buying enough cereal to feed a small army nor should your house look like a storage locker.
STEP TEN: This is NOT all about coupons– NOR is it about perfection– it’s all about minimizing your time commitment AND minimizing your spending whenever possible– do NOT be a penny chaser– do NOT skimp on quality (especially nutrition!) for the sake of savings and do NOT stock up to epic proportions! Also realize that it will take a little while to get used to this new way of shopping– be prepared that you WILL make mistakes, you will stock up on something only to find it cheaper elsewhere a week later– do NOT give up, congratulate yourself for all the things that you’re doing RIGHT and be okay with some small slip ups– you don’t need to be perfect, just do better!
fabuLESS tip: Remember that the only true savings are the ones that you deposit in your bank account, not the ones that you see at the bottom of a receipt– don’t keep shopping just to see your “savings” increase, simply spend LESS on the items that you normally buy, that’s all.
fabuLESS tip: Convert those “savings” on the bottom of your receipt into REAL savings– when you get home from the store immediately transfer the amount of “savings” (from the bottom of your receipt) into your savings account– fabuLESS!
The whole point of the fabuLESSness is that it will just be PART of your life, it’s not supposed to take over your life!
That’s it– now go forth and be fabuLESS!
Any questions? Post them in the comments below– or better yet, post your question on my Facebook fanpage– you can find my Facebook page HERE or here: www.facebook.com/livefabuLESS or on Twitter HERE or here: www.twitter.com/livefabuLESS
A few more fabuLESS tips on the UNclipped method of fabuLESSness at the grocery store!
I’ve received quite a few questions on the fabuLESS UNclipped method of couponing that I wanted to address them here so everyone can benefit (I figure if one person asks a question, there are at least a few dozen people who are wondering the SAME exact thing!)
One thing bear in mind is that this is just how I deal with coupons (or try to avoid dealing with them, as much as possible while still saving a TON!)– this is NOT how I do ALL of my shopping— only the part of my shopping that is “couponable” for lack of a better word– we’ll be covering ALL the rest of your groceries and even some fabuLESS tips/tricks at the drug store over the next few weeks.
Here are some additional tips to keep you fabuLESS:
Without going to a dozen stores, it’s NOT possible to find EVERY item that you’re looking for at a fabuLESS price in the SAME week and that’s TOTALLY okay. Just stick to ONE (maximum: two) stores and over the next 6 to 8 weeks you’ll likely find just about EVERYTHING that you use at a fabuLESS price– don’t worry, I’ll be covering what to do if an item you want/need NEVER goes on sale soon!
The ONLY time that you should be printing coupons is when you’re intending to use them the very NEXT time you go to a store and/or you see them “matched up” to a sale item– keeping up with tiny little scraps of paper that expire (and consume both ink and paper) is NOT fabuLESS, again ONLY print them when you’re ABOUT to use them, stop printing randomly hoping for a fabuLESS deal that will be right around the corner– when that fabuLESS deal DOES arrive, the coupon will either be available OR another one will, or it won’t– again, this is NOT about perfection, it’s about living fabuLESS without investing an inordinate amount of time to save an additional $.50– okay?
If you’re out of something that you NEED, feel free to grab it wherever is convenient (gasp!)– it’s NOT fabuLESS to travel to 10 stores to hunt down the lowest price on a relatively inexpensive item– after all, how much time are you “investing” and, really, how much can you possibly save on it?– YOUR TIME IS VALUABLE, don’t waste it! Again, fabuLESSness fits into your life, it doesn’t take OVER your life!