Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Coupon Wallet

I found a coupon wallet at Dollarama which has made using coupons easier. I store it near my keys, and pull it out when I make my shopping list while looking through flyers.

I have found that I don't need a huge binder, because I only cut coupons for products I use or might use. I toss coupons for product I don't need or use straight into the recycling bin. I get the impression that our American neighbours get more coupons than we do in Canada, which might explain all of the huge coupon binders you can find on the web. I am always interested in getting better organized and more efficient. If I decide to use a new system, I will keep you updated.

When cutting coupons, I keep the peril of coupon shopping in mind. Remember, coupons are just tiny little advertisements you cut out!

My coupon wallet has six sections. Here is a sample of the current contents of my coupon wallet:
  • Paper goods: coupons for toilet paper, facial tissue, paper towels and baby wipes.
  • Personal Care: coupons for shampoo, soap, razors, toothpaste, toothbrushes.
  • Cleaners: coupons for dish soap, laundry detergent, dishwasher detergent.
  • Fresh Products: coupons for yogurt, cheese, sandwich meat, fresh orange juice.
  • Frozen Goods and Dry Goods: coupons for frozen fruit and frozen veggies, frozen fish, dry pasta, oil, crackers, rolled oats.
  • Odds and Ends: coupons for things that don't belong in the other sections such as batteries, cat food and Canadian Tire money.

If you are interested in coupons, you may also be interested in my tips for using coupons in Canada, and my information about sources of Canadian coupons online. If saving money at the grocery store is your main goal, you may be interested in reading about my shopping philosophy and my price book.

For more discussion about coupon organization, check out $5 dinners. Keep in mind if you are in Canada, that some of their strategies may not work for us, but many tips work on both sides of the boarder.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Tips for Using Coupons in Canada

The biggest coupon peril is that my goal and the coupon provider's goal are not the same. I want to spend less on my shopping while still feeding my family healthy food. The coupon providers want me to buy, buy, buy! Just being aware of our different goals makes me a better coupon shopper.

My coupon tips:

1. Using coupons for things you don't need isn't saving you any money! Remember your goal is to lower your grocery bill. Will using the coupon move you towards your goal?

2. Freebies aren't always worth it. I have tossed coupons for things I can get for free if it isn't something I want in my home. Toxic chemicals, excess packaging, stuff that will make me buy lots of refills.... Also, you will often have to pay taxes, so it isn't really free!

3. Bring your coupons with you every time you go shopping. I usually stick to my shopping list, but if I see clearance shampoo I pull out my coupon wallet to see if I can get a good deal. Some sales are unadvertised and you might miss out if you don't have your coupons.

4. Don't put coupons for things you don't want to buy in your coupon wallet. If you have that coupon for potato chips in your coupon wallet and find them on sale when you get to the store it will be very tempting to buy the chips because they are such a great deal. Three guess how I know that!

5. Wait for sales to use coupons. My husband's favourite toilet paper went on sale a few weeks ago, and I bough five or six packages, using a coupon for each. He teases me we now have enough toilet paper to last a lifetime, but I wouldn't be able to afford his favourite toilet paper at full price! (Yes, I think it is weird that my husband has a favourite toilet paper.)

6. Don't use a coupon just because it is expiring. Don't worry about "wasting" it. There will be more coupons in the future. There are always more coupons.

7. Know your prices. Is it really cheaper with a coupon? Sometimes, even with a coupon, the store brand is cheaper. Sometimes you would save more money buying at the bulk store.

8. Don't be too brand loyal. I have coupons for all sorts of brands of shampoo and toothpaste. I'm not picky about it and will buy what is cheapest.

9. Don't buy stuff you hate. We love yogurt around here, but to be totally honest, some yogurt tastes horrible! It isn't worth cheaping out and buying yogurt that nobody likes. It just doesn't get eaten. We get the good stuff, even though I have coupons for half a dozen different sorts of yogurt.

10. One coupon per item purchased is the general rule, but there is usually no problem in buying more than one and using a coupon for each. I remember the first time I went in to stock up on toothpaste. I wanted to buy 4 or 5 tubes and I had a coupon for each, but I was afraid I would get in trouble. There was no problem at all.

11. Don't be embarrassed. Being thrifty is a virtue and nothing to be ashamed of. Hold your head up high and smile and be confident. I have never had any problems using coupons. As long as you are following any rules printed on the coupons and they have not expired, you aren't doing anything wrong.

12. Don't forget to collect coupons! Grab coupons at the grocery store to use later when you find a sale. Don't forget to scan your fliers. We get coupon fliers delivered right to our door along with all of the grocery fliers. I often find coupons in magazines too. And you know about save.ca, right? Sign up and get coupons mailed right to your home - all at no charge! If I find a coupon for something I might use, I always take one (or two or three) to add to my coupon wallet.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Menu Plan - March 30th


Pork chops, mashed potatoes and veggies

To Do: Soak dry beans


Lentil Casserole

To Do: Defrost chicken


Tarragon Chicken with rice and veggies



To Do: Defrost fish


Baked Pollock with mashed potatoes and veggies

To Do: Defrost steak


Steak on the BBQ (from the freezer), with potatoes, veggies

To Do: Defrost lamb


Roast Lamb (from the freezer) with Greek potatoes, veggies

For more menu plans, see the Organizing Junkie!

Ontario Weekly Grocery Flyer Deals for March 27-April 2, 2009

My grocery list doesn't reflect the food I am going to eat in the week to come, it reflects the foods that my family eats that are available at a good price now. When it is food that will store in my freezer or in my cold cellar, I stock up.

We also buy some fresh fruit and veggies, eggs and milk and often some other dairy such as yogurt or cheese.

This week I stocked up on:

Real Canadian Superstore:
  • Highliner frozen pollock for $1.99 - $0.50 coupon for 400g (X4)
  • Royale toilet paper $7.99 - $1.00 coupon for 24 double rolls (X1)
  • Frozen peas and corn for $2 a bag (X4)
Food Basics:
  • Astro plain yogurt (large tub) $2 (X1)
Zehrs (Loblaws):
  • Minute Maid juice boxes (10X200mL) $1.88 - $0.50 (Don't like the extra trash, but I use them!)
  • Black Diamond cheese bars (520g) $4.44 (I didn't actually need any this week - but a good deal! You can freeze the cheese, either grated or ungrated. It will be more crumbly when it defrosts.)
Shoppers Drug Mart:
  • Butter $2.22/lb (SATURDAY ONLY... sorry, it is already too late!) (X12)
Coupons I collected this week:

Food Basics:
  • Europe's Best frozen fruit: -$2.00 off
  • Europe's Best frozen veggies: -$1.00 off
(The two coupons were attached together, but are pulled apart to use separately.)

Zehrs (Loblaws):
  • Western Creamery (any product): -$0.50 off, found inside a Foodland Ontario booklet