Monday, October 27, 2008

A Strategic Approach to Bargain Hunting

Have you ever lain awake at night trying to clear the thoughts of deal strategies that are clogging your mind? Have you walked into a store ready to score great deals, only to end up wandering aimlessly up and down the aisles because you can’t quite remember the specifics of certain deals or don’t have the right coupons with you?

As bargain-hunters, we are constantly running across deals every day – in the Sunday paper coupon sections and store ads, in our e-mail inbox, in our mailbox, and on our favorite money-saving blogs and websites. With all the deals and money-saving strategies swirling through our head on a daily basis, what can one do to keep them all straight?

Here’s some advice on how to get organized and maximize your money-saving opportunities:

  1. Coupon Organization – Successful deal organization starts with an effective coupon organization strategy. There are several schools of thought on how best to organize the Sunday insert coupons. Should you clip them all? Should you just clip the ones you know you’ll use? Should you keep the inserts intact?

    My approach is to keep all inserts intact. Unless there is something I will definitely use in the next few days, I do not cut out any of the coupons. I simply paper clip the inserts for each week together, label the week’s set with a sticky note with the date in bold numbers, and stack them in a manila folder. I keep the folder in my car, and have them easily accessible when shopping. I only get one set of inserts each week from our paper, and I rotate out the older inserts as coupons expire, which keeps the size of the folder manageable.

    Whichever method you choose, the bottom line on coupon organization is this…do whatever works best for you so that you can easily locate them and have them available when you need them.
  2. Store Strategy Organization – The next step toward staying on top of current offers is by creating a weekly running list of deals sorted by store – a store “strategy sheet.” Take a sheet of paper (or make a Microsoft Word template) and write down the names of stores as your headers. Leave plenty of space below each store name. As you go through the week, whenever you hear or read about a deal strategy on an item, make note of it on your strategy sheet. Include details to jog your memory while at the store, including size, variety, coupon amount, coupon location, and Catalina details. Also, note any additional items to use at checkout, like Catalinas from previous purchases or “$x off an $xx purchase” coupons.

Here's an example:

The key here is to keep your “strategy sheet” handy at all times.

When I am ready to shop, I simply grab my manila folder and locate the coupons listed on my strategy sheet. I paper clip the coupons to my sheet, and head to the store. This approach not only saves me time and de-clutters my mind, but it also prevents me from missing out on a great deal.

How do you organize your deals? Leave a comment and share your ideas!

1 comment:

Rachel said...

I keep envelopes in my purse labeled with each store's name. These are my "hot" coupons that I know I can use any time I go to that store. For example, I put my $1/1 Kotex coupons in my Walmart envelope since Kotex small packs are $1.00. I put my $1/1 Renu Multiplus coupons in my Target envelope because I know I can use those every time I go to Target. The rest of my coupons go in my coupon binder.