Posts Tagged ‘coupons’

Many of us in today’s society, no matter where we are in the world, are looking for that little extra cash, for a wide variety of reasons. Each and every one of us has deep personal reasons and needs to earn just a little more money. No matter our current income situation…blue collar job, unemployed, well paying career, stay-at-home parent, on welfare, disability payments, and many other ways…we want, need, desire just a touch more cash.

I am no different. Just like you, I am an average person needing more income, no matter how small, to supplement my current two income household. Despite actually having some what decent paying jobs, we still struggle from paycheck to paycheck.

I have thought on this often. Get a second job. Find a better paying job. Have a job that is guaranteed to be on-going and steady. All viable options, but not feasible at this point in my life. After joining a group on Facebook called The Busy Budgeters, I learned of another option, one that has many ways of going about (a few of which I’ve considered before), with a term or “name” of it’s own.

Introducing: Side Hustling. What is it, you ask? This is where you do small side money making, income producing options. There are many, many ways of doing side hustles. Below I list a few that people on the The Busy Budgeters have discussed, considered doing, or actually done.

  1. Donating plasma
  2. Online surveys
  3. Selling online (eBay, Amazon, Facebook)
  4. Selling on Etsy
  5. Blogging to make money
  6. Selling at local farmers markets (plants, vegetables, fruits, handmade items)
  7. Vendor shows
  8. Local fairs
  9. Garage sales
  10. Coupons and sales shopping

These are seem to be the basic 10 that people do or consider doing at some point when researching how to create a bit of extra cash.

I recently decided to do some of these myself and am currently in the process of working on them and getting things organized and set up. I’ve decided on the following for sure:

  1. Blogging to make money: The Happy Spin Gazette
  2. Create an Etsy store: Happy Spin Craftology
  3. Sell on Ebay: still learning about this one. I do have a store, but need to work on it a bit before posting a link.
  4. Online Surveys: the only one I have ever done that I liked was BzzAgent, which I will be getting back in to next week.
  5. Vendor/craft shows and local fair events
  6. Coupon and sales shopping: I have done this before with some success
  7. Farmer’s Market: this is tentative as I need to plan and create a garden, which takes time and money that I do not have right now.

(If you have any issues with the posted links, please let me know.)

Two things I have discovered in the last month researching and planning side hustle ideas are these: ORGANIZATION and TIME are important and need to utilize efficiently. If you don’t already, I suggest creating a basis for a plan to organize your projects and time. Set up an “office” area and find a planner that works for you, even something to just get you started until you find a work space and planner that will work better for you. One tip I learned in my research and that I already do when cleaning house…use a timer. Set it for a predetermined amount of time for each task on your list for the day. When it goes off, stop that task and move on to the next.

Side hustling can seem like a lot of work and it does require work. Even so, it does not have to take up all your time and energy. Start off small or test several to see what you like. I feel that this is a good way to earn an extra income without completely wearing yourself out. You can control how much time and work that is put into it.

I say good luck to us all in our adventures to achieve the financial goals we have set for ourselves. We can do this!

I am certain there are people out there who are public aid or state for help getting food, a.k.a. food stamps (Illinois calls it LINK)…who do NOT use coupons! They probably think since they are sort of (not really) getting “free” food with their food stamps there is no need to bother saving even further with coupons, rebates, and sales. This could NOT be further from being saving savvy smart!

You should STILL search for the best deals even if your using food stamps…ESPECIALLY if you have a small amount or large family to feed or both, even with a large food stamp amount or a small family, saving while on food stamps is still must!

No…it’s NOT wrong to do this…get that thought out of your mind right now! No store will tell you can not use food stamps on transaction you use coupons on. (There are some stores that do not take coupons like Aldi.) All you are doing is maximizing your food stamps…therefore better able to feed your family and save the cash for non-food items like toilet paper, dish soap, clothes, diapers, etc! You will also be creating a stockpile, slowly building it from month to month. If you have not couponed before ending up with food stamps, NOW is the best time to start! You can learn to budget and save without using cash needed for other stuff and the good habits will be in place when the time comes that you get off of food stamps, you can weave them into the cash budgets!

Think about taking say $300 of food stamps and being able to double with sales and coupons (and rebates…those are good too, even if you only get them for store credit)!

APRIL 10, 2013: Update edit:

This past Sunday my hubby and I did a spur of the moment shopping trip. I had no lists prepared and scrambling to clip and file away food coupons from that mornings papers as we drove 45 minutes to Rockford, IL.  Why? Our LINK was reloaded with April’s funds Sunday!

Even so, I was still able to save a tad over $112 at Schnuck’s Highlander in Cherry Valley with their sales and about 20 or so coupons I used. That’s $112 in food MORE then I had on my food assistance.  I won’t say how much I get specifically for food stamps but here is an example…

$300 on LINK (food stamps), I spend, say, $200 (budgeting about $100 for rest of month for fresh produce or forgotten items). I saved $112 with sales and coupons…I basically got $312 worth of food for $200…or 12 bucks over the food stamp limit, and I didn’t even use it all. (REMEMBER this is an example…my actual LINK benefit is a private thing).

We did spend about $20 out of pocket for non-food items like toilet paper, deodorant, and a couple other items. I did have coupons for a couple of those items.

It does pay to use coupons and sales when on public assistance from your state. It helps you expand the amount you actually get, helping you save that assistance for other stuff or save your cash for non-food items. I do NOT get state aid for cash assistance, but if you are one of those people…AGAIN…use coupons, rebates, and sales as much as possible to stretch those dollars!

I want to expand a bit on my newest coupon organization method…the box with alphabetized envelopes.

My box method

My box method

I do LOVE this method. It works well with my obsessive need to have my coupons organized and quickly gotten to. As you can see from the photo above I have quite a bit I put into the plastic shoe box (lid under the box). Those are all the things I use to do my coupon shopping and organizing my lists to shop with.

2nd and newest box organizer for alphabetization method.

2nd and newest box organizer for alphabetization method.

Main categories:

“FOOD” with a green star:  These are all coupons that will double at Schnucks/Highlander/Logli’s in Rockford, IL…every day! Includes stuff like protein bars & shakes.

“PRODUCTS” with a green star:  These are all coupons that will double at Schnucks/Highlander/Logli’s in Rockford, IL…every day! Includes everything from vitamins to cleaning supplies to personal hygene.

“FOOD” no star:  These are all other coupons I have that don’t go in first 2 categories.

“PRODUCTS”  no star:  These are all other coupons I have that don’t go in first 2 categories.

“STORES”:  coupons for specific stores and restuarant couons.

“CAT”: envelope by itself right up front for all my cat coupons.





Shopping tools. Grey pouch hold store cards & paper clips. Red thing is my note card organizer. Pens, etc in the front all go in the small white plastic container in my box.

Shopping tools. Grey pouch hold store cards & paper clips. Red thing is my note card organizer. Pens, etc in the front all go in the small white plastic container in my box.

List of things I have in my box:

4 sets of alphabetized envelopes (see above)

Grey pouch to hold my store cards and small items like paper clips. My iSlicer is also in there (a tool for cutting paper I got from Pampered Chef).

Red note card holder with 5 pockets inside. I use this to organize coupons and shopping lists either by store or for coupon specials like triple coupon or super double days.

Small scissors



China markers. I use these to mark up ads. Less messy then Sharpies and show up well.

Highlighters. I use these to highlight stuff on my lists…must get, check on, etc.

Note cards to make other lists

Blank envelopes (not pictured) for putting coupons in for spur of moment shopping trips.

Stapler (not pictured). I used to have a small one for just in case needs, but I need to get a new one.

The small scissors, calculator, pens, china markers, highlighters, note cards, and stapler all go in the small, white plastic container (Cottenelle wet wipes box) inside my box.  The note card holder goes under the small container. The grey pouch behind the container with extra envelopes. On the side I have a coupon book from Walgreen’s…you may or may not be able to see it.

I also carry with me a clipboard with loose leaf paper.  I use it to keep track of spending, making reminder notes to check something, have store coupon polices (lately I use a small school report folder or binder for these), and have master lists.

This alpabetizing method works great for me because even with planned shopping trips, I will come across other sales that were not in the ads I had looked over.  When I see one, I can just quickly grab the letter envelope I need and search for a coupon I think I might have.  I alphabetize by brand name or what makes sense to me.  Example: General Mills cereals…if I have one that lists multiple flavors of their cereal it goes under “G”, but if it lists for only Chex it will go under “C”.

Please still my method if you think it will work for you. It never hurts to try something…you never know if it’ll work for you otherwise…especially in couponing.

The organization of my coupons started over a year ago. The history and evolution to my current coupon organization and storage involved many steps.  I thought I would share with you my process so you can see what methods I used and what finally works for me.  One of these may be something that works for you!

When I first started couponing I just clipped some that I figured I would use and put into my wallet or an envelope in my purse. This was WAY before I got smart about coupon stacking with sales and how to use the internet to find store website ads, printable coupons, and the like.

After I started collecting up a few more coupons, I upgraded…sort of…to one of those coupon organizers that are already labeled. In fact I went through a few because I either wasn’t really serious about the coupons…so I lost my collection…or I just didn’t like the labels. I even tried a small accordion file pocket thing to label my own.  I did not like this method because I had to sort through say 20-30 different coupons in one category for one coupon.

Eventually as I learned to coupon stack with sales and other coupons, I began to use a binder like so many other seasoned couponers. Luckily it didn’t cost me anything. I already had several binders at home and I had dozens, upon dozens of trading card pocket sheets from my Magic: The Gathering days. I ended up with 2 binders…one for “food” and one for “products”…with sub-labels to categorize the coupons (baking or dental, for example). This method worked for me for several months. I just didn’t like it because the obsessive organizer in me pitched a fit that I couldn’t alphabetize very well with it. I also had this conflicting need to organize by expiration dates. Ugh. Drove me completely batty for the longest time. Plus, I had to fold several of the coupons to fit in the card pockets. This was mildly annoying, because I wanted the expiration date and coupon text of what it can be used for to be showing. My biggest issue was, again, searching through many coupons to find one coupon type I wanted.

Organizing coupons in a binder.

Organizing coupons in a binder.

I think I had issues with searching for coupons using categories because my husband, Scott, and I tend to do spontaneous shopping. Well, I’m more planned out NOW…but still do a bit of spur of the moment shopping. When you do that it’s annoying to look for “Doritos” amongst 40 snack coupons it takes too much time right there on the spot. So I hit upon the idea of organizing my coupons NOT by categories, but ALPHABETIZING! I was SO excited by my new idea I couldn’t wait to implement it.

In order to utilize my new idea of alphabetizing all my coupons, I had to think of a method that would work best to do so. I didn’t want to use the binder for many reason…folding of coupons, large and clunky to lug around, didn’t fit well on shopping cart seat, and so on. I decided to try a Rolodex organizer! A security job I had at the time had me stationed in a building that had gone out of business and they had thrown out in trash a couple flat Rolodex’s and a big spinning Rolodex. I grabbed them all to try out my idea. The flat ones worked out okay…I used one for “food” and one for “products”.  The main issue with them was that they were small and would not close completely with all the coupons I had in them. So, I tried out the spinning Rolodex, which worked much better. I could not separate out into my 2 main categories, which was fine. I just put the food coupons in the front of each letter section and the products behind the food coupons. (Example: Letter C would have Campbell’s soup first then Crest toothpaste). I used this method for several months. I lugged it around using a canvas tote that I also had a clipboard with shopping lists and pencil pouch with shopping tools I use (tools include small scissors, calculator, pens, china markers, highlighters, envelopes, paper clips, and my store cards).

Organizing coupons in a Rolodex by alphabetization method.

Organizing coupons in a Rolodex by alphabetization method.

I really love my alphabetizing method. It helped, not only with the spur of the moment purchases, but with matching coupons to store ads both from newspapers and online.  When I started shopping at a new store, Schnucks/Highlander/Logli’s in Rockford, IL…I ran into a new obsessive organization need…this store chain DOUBLES coupons that are .55 cents and under EVERYDAY! Plus, with the Rolodex, I didn’t have my 2 main categories of “food” and “products” clearly separated any more. I began to think and think again on a new coupon storage method. I came up with using a box with envelopes.

When I came up with the box idea, I spent a week or so deciding on the type of box to use. I needed something that would hold FOUR sets of alphabetized envelopes (“food” that doubles, “products” that double, “food” no double, and “products” no double), plus a holder for coupon shopping tools I like to use. My first box was a packing box for a digital food scale I had purchased from Pampered Chef. I liked it because it had flaps on the sides and the front to tuck into the box to secure the coupons in side. I decided to wrap the box in pretty Christmas paper.  I marked up my envelopes with letters; the ones with doubler coupons (as I call them) I put a green star on. I also made up divider cards for each section. I even have a section for store and restaurant coupons. I have one envelope right up front with cat coupons. (I’m a cat lady! 3 fur baby cats).

First box to organize coupons by alphabetization method.

First box to organize coupons by alphabetization method.

This method work VERY well for me. I loved it and still do! I have been using this method for nearly 6 months now. I did switch from the shipping box to a plastic shoe size storage container with a secure lid. It’s longer so my coupons are in there so tightly as the box, plus more room for the shopping tools I use. It is a little TOO roomy, but it will do for now. I think I will always use this method, just change boxes until I find one I like. I know carry a small note card organizer for when I need have specific lists and coupons for coupon specials at Schnucks/Highlander/Logli’s (they have triple coupon and super double coupons periodically). This note card organizer is also great for sorting lists and coupons for different stores.

2nd and newest box organizer for alphabetization method.

2nd and newest box organizer for alphabetization method.

Shopping tools. Grey pouch hold store cards & paper clips. Red thing is my note card organizer. Pens, etc in the front all go in the small white plastic container in my box.

Shopping tools. Grey pouch hold store cards & paper clips. Red thing is my note card organizer. Pens, etc in the front all go in the small white plastic container in my box.

During the evolution of my coupon storage history I did think of other methods. I don’t remember them all…but one was to use a CD case holder. I scratched that because I could envision my coupons falling out all the time. Another was a recipe book, the binder kind. I skipped this idea because I didn’t really have the money to purchase one. (Considering this idea as an organizer for household stuff…cleaning recipes, tips, schedules, etc).

As you can see, finding a storage and organization option that works for you can be a long process and take several steps. This is okay, it’s an important step. Having a method that works best for you is key in using your time wisely when sorting coupons and matching up with ads.  Then again, you may find a method that works for you right off the bat! Take your time, test out some methods, the right one WILL come along. Greatest thing about testing out different methods or even changing it up once in while, is it keeps you on your toes about what coupons you have, keeps your mind fresh and energized on couponing, and helps you rethink your processes.