It's really not as hard as you think. Trust me; I've done it the hard way too. I used to cut out all the coupons and file them alphabetically in baseball card pages in a 3-ring binder. No more! There is an easier way!
The hard part is getting extra coupon flyers. I'll address that later. The nice part is that someone's already done all the rest of the work for you! Here's how:
1) Get a box, or filing cabinet drawer to organize your coupon flyers.
2) When you get a flyer, mark the date on the front cover with a Sharpie. If you're not sure of the date, look at the tiny print on the binding edge. It will tell you the date and what newspapers that flyer was in.
3) Determine who published the flyer and mark this on the front cover also. There are only 4 major coupon companies in most areas. RP = Red Plum, SS = Smart Source, PG = Proctor & Gamble, GM = General Mills
4) File them in your box or cabinet by date.
5) Now you are ready to compare your grocery store ad with your coupons. This is actually the easy part because there are several websites that publish this information. My favorites are www.couponmom.com and www.afullcup.com. It is not necessary to pay to join such a website! There are plenty of sites where you can get the info for free!
6) Once you familiarize yourself with the websites, you will see that they usually tell you the date and the flyer a coupon was in, along with the sale price, the coupon amount and your final price. Here's an example from Coupon Mom:
10-05 GM Green Giant Boxed or Simply Steam Vegetables 7-10 oz frozen $1.00 2 $1.00 $0.50 75%
This tells me that in the October 5th General Mills flyer there is a coupon for Green Giant vegetables. The coupon will allow me to save $1 off 2 boxes. Because the sale price is $1/box, my final price will be .50/box which is a 75% savings over the regular price.
7) It is now a simple process to go to your file and clip the coupons you want to use for your weekly shopping trip.
The contents of a flyer will vary from region to region and even paper to paper. Don't get discouraged if something you're looking for isn't there. You may have other coupons that someone else doesn't.
Some common abreviations: IP = a coupon printed off the internet, SP = a Sunday paper coupon. You will also see notes for hang-tag coupons (like on wine bottles) and tear-pad coupons (like on the cooler doors at Circle K.)
Most websites have some type of a coupon database. This comes in handy when you want to buy an item but you can't remember what flyer you saw the coupon in. Just type in the name of the item and it will tell you what flyers had coupons for that item.
Just for fun: Yes, I sent hubby to Save-A-Lot armed with 88 coupons for $1 off Peter Pan peanut butter. They were selling it for .99 so he picked up a .99 package of paper plates and 88 jars of peanut butter. He went through the checkout and his final bill was 11 cents!!! The man behind him just about fell over! lol
(Some stores will give you credit for the difference, some will not.)