I got this question from Carolyn:
Hi, Allison. I'm sure you get lots of questions like mine, so if you could just send me your link about how to get started, that would be great. I just registered to PYP and I'll be getting my first and second Sunday paper this weekend. I'm excited to start, but don't know WHERE to start. What kind of organizer do you use? What are your categories? What are the steps I take each week on PYP website before I go shopping. Lots of questions, please help.
There may be others out there wondering the same thing so I thought I would answer it here. Initially, PYP and couponing can be VERY overwhelming. My best advice is to take some time and just read as much as you can on PYP. Here are some good places to start:
Welcome to PYP!
AZ Store Policies re:coupons
After you get a feel for what you are doing, here are some good resources on PYP:
Arizona's Screaming Deals
Arizona Coupon List
Printable Coupon Links
Screaming Deals Online
Screaming Deals Around Town
Walgreens & CVS deals and info
Less than a Penny
The Trading Post
Here are answers to your specific questions:
I file whole inserts by date in a file drawer. I only cut coupons when I need them, that is why I reference the date that the coupon came out. Some people like to cut all the coupons and file them in baseball card sheets in binders. The advantage to this is you can always have all your coupons with you. If you find an unadvertized or clearance deal, you are prepared! I tend to just go in and get what is on my list rather than walk around the store so I don't see these deals anyway! Plus I LOVE the time I save by not clipping and organizing coupons. When I am getting ready to go shopping, I clip the coupons I need and then file them by store in a small coupon organizer I bought at Wal-Mart. There is no one right way to do this--just figure out what works for you. (Here are two good videos: How to Organize Your Coupons, How to Build Your Coupon Binder)
Steps I take before I go shopping:
When you are just starting, it helps to just focus on the best deals for the week found either on my blog or here: Please list any FREE/Cheap for week 10/29 - 11/4 (this is a link for this week, the current week's list can be found in the AZ Screaming Deals forum--link above). I copy/paste the list into a word document and then delete the deals I am not interested in. Read through all the comments and make any changes to your list necessary based on other's experiences trying to get the same deals. There may be more links to coupons or new deals that aren't listed in the original post. There are also links for each store in the AZ forum with more detailed lists. Check these out once the initial "I'm completely in over my head!" feeling wears off!
Then I add to my list other items I need that week (my grocery list). I check the Arizona Coupon List for coupons that match items I need (they may not be on sale, but if I NEED it, I might as well save another .50). I copy/paste the coupon information into my running list. I don't use multiple coupons for these items, just what I need. I'm not going to stock up unless it is a good deal.
Now it is time to cut coupons! My list has the dates of the coupons I need so I just pull out the inserts and cut the coupons I need. As mentioed before, I file the coupons in my little coupon organizer. I have one section for each store (Albertson's, Bashas, Fry's, Safeway, Wal-Mart, Walgreens, and CVS). That way, when I get to the store I can be organized and get in and out of there as quickly as possible.
Remember to have fun! You don’t have to get every deal that is out there and you don’t have to catch every sale! It isn’t worth spending any money on an item you will never use, even if it is a great deal. Start slow until you get the hang of everything. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or stand up to inexperienced cashiers. But if a store won’t budge, it is never worth a fight. I would rather walk away and come back a different day or to a different store than fight over a deal. Couponing takes a lot of time but to me, it is worth it! I love filling my pantry and it is so exciting to get so much for so little! Make sure you are enjoying it!
Any more questions? Comment here and I will post a "Getting Started (Part Two)" with the answers!