This is a guest post by Meagan of Frugal Fun & Fortune.
Have you ever lost your CVS Extra Care Bucks? Printed some coupons off the Internet, only to discover that you can not find them a couple days later when you actually need them? Do you ever come up one ingredient short on a meal that you’re making and have to make that extra trip to the grocery store that wastes time and gas?
I used to be an extremely organized person…and I don’t use the term EXTREME lightly. For some reason, though, I have slowly become a disorganized person over the past couple years. Maybe it’s that I got married and have an extra person to keep track of (or maybe it’s just that my husband’s chaotic right brained habits have rubbed off on me slightly). Or maybe I’m just trying to juggle too much. Whatever the reason, I have found myself in the above situations countless amounts of times. So take it from somebody who knows…
Being frugal requires a little bit A LOT of organization!
Let’s face it. Being organized makes life easier, reduces our stress levels, and enables us to be more productive. So why not apply this to our daily frugal adventures???
I’m definitely no organizational expert, but I have discovered some helpful ways to stay organized while tackling this whole frugality thing…
Tips for organizing your day-to-day frugal ways:
1. Have a place for everything. This includes your budgets, shopping trip receipts, coupons, Extra Care Bucks, Register Rewards, items in your pantry, items in your freezer and fridge, etc. When everything has its own place, you will know where to find it.
2. Create a budget and actually use it. Having a budget is the first step to being organized in your endeavor to save money. It is the foundation of living a frugal lifestyle. Without it, you don’t even really know where to start.
3. Find a method that works for you and stick with it.
- Budgeting – Do you prefer the paper and pen method? Or do you like to keep track of your finances with a free money management software? Decide which works best for you, and use it.
- Couponing – Are you a coupon binder gal? Or do you like to simply date and file your coupon inserts to save a little time? Everybody’s couponing method differs slightly, but the important thing is to find a method that fits your current lifestyle and utilize it wisely.
4. Maintain upkeep on your coupons!
- File your coupon inserts or clip your coupons every single week. If you get behind, the piles will start building, and soon you’ll be so overwhelmed that you almost feel like giving up on this whole couponing thing altogether. Couponing should not be stressful. Carve out one hour a week to do coupon maintenance. If you file your coupon inserts, simply date them and put them away as soon as you receive them each Sunday. If you clip your coupons, keep up with it on a weekly basis or you’re sure to get behind.
- Don’t forget to purge! There is nothing more frustrating than thinking you’ve found a great coupon you can use on your shopping trip…only to realize that it is expired. Purge your coupons once a month. If you clip your coupons and use a binder, simply go through them and get rid of the old ones. If you file your inserts by date, follow this easy and quick tutorial on how to purge your old inserts.
- If you print it, clip it. I’ve been known to print hot time-sensitive coupons, and leave stacks of printed papers with coupons sitting on the printer tray. This stinks because then I have to go through and cut them all out, plus many times I find that they have already expired. NOT cool – waste of printer ink!
5. Always have a plan.
- Menu planning saves time and money. Try it out – I promise you’ll never go back to “winging it” again. It prevents overspending, promotes wholesome and healthy eating, reduces the amount of food you waste, and cuts out those extra shopping trips that I talked about in the beginning of this post.
- Plan out your grocery trips ahead of time. Make a list and gather/organize your coupons before you go. This makes the grocery trip much smoother and quicker!
- Know when you like to shop what stores. Know your sale cycles, which day of the week you like to shop, and what time of day is easiest for you to shop.
6. Keep track of your freebies. If you sign up for freebies on a regular basis, it’s easy to lose track of when you signed up for them, when they are supposed to arrive in your mailbox, and which ones you have already received. I like to keep a simple list with 4 columns: product, date requested, number of weeks it should arrive in, date received. This helps tremendously!
7. Have a donation box. The most beautiful thing about couponing is that it enables giving in such huge ways. Most of us who are couponers also like to donate food, household items, and toiletries to those in need. Keep you donation boxes handy, and simply fill them up as you get items for free or almost-free. When the box is full, make a trip to drop the items off. It’s that simple!
Hopefully some of these suggestions will send you on your way to being an organized deal-seeker!
Meagan is the author of the blog Frugal Fun & Fortune, where she writes about saving money, giving to others, delicious Vegetarian recipes, simple living, and her life adventures. Her greatest passions include chasing after God wholeheartedly, social justice, being a good wife to her sweet hub, books, and music. Visit her blog to have FUN while saving money!
*Photo Credit: Liz West