My 'almost' extreme couponing strategy

I alwys get a chuckle out of the extreme coupon shows. People stockpile coupons and cash them in for insane savings on their grocery bill. Im all for saving money, but owning 20 jars of spaghetti sauce doesn't excite me. My answer has been to develop an "almost" extreme couponing method that works for my family.

Organization is the key to my success. I think of it as extreme couponing in moderation and it saved my family over $1,000 last year. The savings may not be huge to some but it is to us.

I spend about an hour a week coming through the Sunday paper for coupons and checking ads. Combining coupons with grocery store sales saves the most money. Putting the combination together is extra effort that pays off.

There are two tricks to saving money with coupons. One is to find them and the other is to organize them. Extreme couponing leaves no source unturned. Online searches yielded more coupons than I imagined. My next challenge was to find local sources.

Living between two large cities means coupons from two different markets. It is an extreme couponing dream come true. Both of the larger markets distribute coupons in the Sunday paper. Our hometown newspaper distributes them on Wednesday. Coupons also show up periodically in my mailbox and in small books in the convenience store.

Getting organized for the almost extreme couponing was easier than I expected. A pen, three ring binder with pockets, three hole punch, zip style baggies and pack of dividers were perfect for getting started. Everything cost about five dollars.

Assembling the extreme couponing binder took about twenty minutes. The categories became clear after looking at the coupons my family would use. They fit into the headings of grocery, health and beauty, pets, fun (restaurants and attractions) and paper goods. It only took a minute to label dividers and put them in the binder.

There is one hole punched zip style bag for each category of my extreme couponing binder. These hold loose coupons that accumulate. Everything is neat and tidy. There's no worry of anything falling out. The pockets of my binder holds copies of the grocery ads for this week.

Inserting coupons took a little longer. I put the pages into the categories. Sometimes more than one type of coupon is on the same sheet. When that happens I choose the category that fits most of the page and put it in that category. Now that the almost extreme couponing binder is set up, my job of adding and subtracting coupons is much less time consuming.

The only 'rule' about putting a binder together is do what works for you. Some people who do the extreme couponing use pocket sleeves that hold sports cards. I've also read about others who arrange their binder according to the layout of their favorite store. One day, I may choose one of those methods. For right now, this almost extreme couponing binder fits my needs perfectly.