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To Print & Clip or Not Print & Clip

by Tara Kuczykowski on March 14, 2009 · 21 comments

The following is a guest post from Frances at Frugal Fairhope.

Scissors
Creative Commons License photo credit: visulogik

I don’t know about you, but I get access to hundreds of printable coupons every day. I use to print almost all of them. Then I found out I was tossing more coupons than I used.

The debate in my mind is if you don’t print now who is to say it will be available to print later when the deal comes up? When it comes to printing it is a personal time management choice. How much time do you really have to print twice, pull them off the printer, cut, and file? Not to mention if you have problems printing, like I do most of the time.

First, let step back and take a look at what you are trying to accomplish. We have three general strategies in my household about grocery shopping:

1) We only buy what we need or will use.
2) We only buy what we can give away for a good cause.
3) We only buy what we can get for absolutely free (no RRs or ECBs).

By using these strategies it helps me avoid the shopper's fever and buying too much. Just because dog food is on sale for $0.10, do I really need to stock up on dog food when we don’t have a dog? Yes, I could give it to the Humane Society, but wouldn’t my time and money be better spent by volunteering to walk a dog a couple times a month, donating used towels, sheets, or blankets, or even writing them a check for a donation? I know this example is a little extreme, but think about it. We have all done it.

I am committed to our family using everything we buy for the stockpile or on sale. Throwing away a grocery stockpile item is not only wasteful, but that item that cost time, money, and storage room was not a successful deal. It was not a bargain, and we avoid this at all costs.

Another debate that I have is the last strategy. Do I waste my precious time printing or clipping a coupon that I may never need as a freebie?

For printed coupons, I only print items that fit in the first strategy. I take the risk and hope that the coupon will be around when I need it. If not, it was not meant to be. Such is life.

Still following the first two guidelines, I do however save most if not all the Sunday coupons. How do I organize them? I don’t clip it, I save the page and store it in my Only in Case of Free (OCF) file, or if I have to clip the coupon (already have the page cut into pieces), I place it in a small index box that I keep with my other coupons. These OCF coupons are filed by company name (for example Glade goes under “G”, Suave lotion would be filed under “S”). We wouldn’t have a use for scented products or lotions in our house but if it was a true freebie, we can sell it on eBay or give it away in a gift bag at Christmas.

Deal Seeking Mom here: What's your print and clip strategy? Do you print coupons immediately or wait until a deal comes up? Personally, if it's a good coupon on an item we use, I'll print it right away to avoid missing out on a future opportunity.

For more information on coupons and deals, check out FrugalFairhope.com.

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Mrs Marcos March 14, 2009 at 11:05 am

I have the same internal debate with every email telling me "New coupons are available." I think this is a good plan for determining whether or not to print a coupon.

I have another dilemma with the weekly coupon inserts I get in my newspaper. I took a little "time off" before the holidays (ok, like 3 months). It is just my husband and me (no kids, yet) and we cut back on our groceries to concentrate on Christmas shopping. I ended up with more than 10 coupon packets and now I'm completely overwhelmed with how many coupons I need to go through, clip, and file in my organizer. I feel like if I just toss the inserts I'm literally throwing away cash money. I feel trapped by the sheer number of coupons versus my free time. Ugh :(

Mrs Marcos´s last blog post.."The beginning of a stunning collection!"

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2 LouAnn March 14, 2009 at 11:11 am

Great post, thank you. As a fairly new "couponer" I was printing everything several times and waiting for a good deal. I have found that I throw away about 60% of those - so it is a waste of money and time. It's so easy to get sucked into the "shopper's fever" as you say. Since I noticed that I threw so many printed ones away, now I am only printing ones I know without a doubt I would use, and if the others are not there later, so be it. I like your 3 categories and think I will adapt that also, to streamline even further. Thanks again!

LouAnn´s last blog post..Get your VERSE on!

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3 Amber March 14, 2009 at 12:28 pm

I do not print every coupon out there. If it is something I know will be gone in an instant like all the Kellogg's coupons that were available a while back or the high dollar Huggie's coupons I print immediately. Otherwise every week when I plan my shopping and I look at my favorite blogs (like Deal Seeking Mom :) and check out the deals for the stores I am going to shop. If Tara has linked to a printable that will match a deal at one of my stores I will print them before I head out.

I don't want to waste my ink and paper printing every coupon! :)

Amber

Amber´s last blog post..Is WalMart No Longer For Me?

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4 Kacey March 14, 2009 at 12:41 pm

I am given multiple copies of the Sunday paper and I file all the inserts in folders labeled either RP, SS, or P&G with the date of that insert. I tend to clip grocery coupons that we regularly use, but as for the general merchandise stuff, I leave all those in the insert and clip as needed.

I file away all coupon mailers I receive as well. As for printing internet coupons, I print the ones of the brands I use frequently or the brands I might use if they are on sale or free after the coupon.

I used to clip everything and file it all in my coupon box, but this way of doing it works way better for me and it's much quicker. Great post!

Kacey´s last blog post..Coupon Preview

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5 Lily March 14, 2009 at 1:00 pm

I have only been couponing for a short period of time and was amazed when I managed to go through my whole ink cartridge in less than a month. I have now figured out that I need to be much more selective when deciding which coupons to print. It's nice to know that shopper's fever is curable.

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6 Leah March 14, 2009 at 1:51 pm

i love the "OCF" file....how awesome..i think i'm going to start doing that because i get overwhelmed by all the 'fragrance' coupons in my book..we don't use those either but i could always use them if i could get them for free for gift bags!

Leah´s last blog post..Where's Cockroach??

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7 J March 14, 2009 at 2:42 pm

I disagree about your/her point about donating food to the humane society. It is not true that her time would be better spent donating it to the HS as opposed to giving food. The dogs need to eat and food costs more than hiring a dog walker. If the dogs don't have walkers, they aren't going to be killed. If the society can't afford to feed the dogs, they will be killed. You should think about what you say before influencing thousands of people not to spend 10 cents on food and instead going and volunteering at the shelter 2 times a month or giving them paper towels or donating a 20 cent check that won't buy them nearly as much food. That's just my 10 cents but the life of an animal is more important than me "wasting" 10 cents on food. Please! As if people don't turn their heads often enough to the needless killing of innocent animals, let's contribute to it in a blog that influences people who don't know any better. Sick!

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8 Scheryl March 14, 2009 at 4:52 pm

I agree on the dog food issues, although I am sure there was no harm intended when that post was made. I personally would rather spend 30 bucks on a bag of dog food AND donate my time. Animals have feelings too and they are not at fault for the over populated breeding that takes place.

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9 Angie March 14, 2009 at 5:11 pm

As far as printing internet coupons goes, I have found that most retailers in my area will not accept them, so I have stopped printing them.

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10 Melissa March 14, 2009 at 6:00 pm

When I first discovered printable coupons I printed out two of everything and quickly used up an entire ink cartridge, only to throw most of them in the garbage a month later when they expired. Now, I'm like you....I only print when needed....UNLESS its a really great one like the $5 off huggies that were out there recently.
I completely agree with you about the dog food issue too; my dog requires prescription dog food so cheap dog food is useless to me, and I disagree with you, "J," that we all should take it upon ourselves to feed those dogs. Its a great thing, if that's your 'calling,' but its not mine, and its not 'sick' to leave that job to people who can do it and WANT to.

Melissa´s last blog post..Peace and Quiet. Its Overrated.

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11 Sarah G March 14, 2009 at 6:00 pm

I print only the coupons I will use & wait on the rest. To save paper, I try to print them on the back of a piece of paper that has already been used (like my son's homework sheet or something). I feel like I am recycling & saving money at the same time.

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12 Regina March 14, 2009 at 6:45 pm

Here is how I keep from being overwhelmed with coupons that I can print out. I use this great FREE software program called PDF995.

When I find a coupon I may want to use, and I am afraid it may not be available later, I print out to a PDF file and file it in a folder I have a shortcut to on my desktop. I use sub folders like I have in my coupon organizer so it is easy to identify and find what I need and print out quickly.

I also put the expiration date in the file name at the beginning so I do not have to open each coupon/file to see when it expires. Plus, I can sort by file name and easily delete expired coupons (or use them before they expire!). Example: Folder is Frozen Foods. File name: 20090331_BirdsEyeVeggies_50cents. I have found this name format is easiest for deletion when you have several months of coupons to sort. Everything is so easy to organize, find, print and delete!

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13 Rachel March 14, 2009 at 7:29 pm

Regina, I like the idea of pdf995 and your computer filing system for them. Thank you. I also feel overwhelmed with coupons at times.

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14 Emily March 14, 2009 at 9:09 pm

I only print the ones that I know I'll use (not many!) or if they're linked in a deal I read about on a blog. Ink (especially colored ink!) costs WAY too much for me to waste it printing things I won't use.

I also print on recycled paper as much as possible, and send the same sheet of paper through twice (backwards the second time) so I can get a couple of coupons out of each one.

Regina, I'm wondering how your PDF program works with bricks coupons. Aren't they set up to disallow pdf printing? I'm assuming you could print more than the two allowed if you bypassed their print function and saved it to your computer? Maybe you just can't use bricks coupons? I'm curious. Thanks!

Emily´s last blog post..An open letter

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15 alina March 14, 2009 at 9:37 pm

regina,
i saw that program on my laptop last year after my husband filed our taxes. I WILL USE IT! I hate the idea of printing out so many, taking the time to cut them out, and I may or may not get to buy it by the time they expire. and wasting my precious ink. (that's for all the pics I've still not printed in the last two years!)

Hey - little FYI for ya. This may or may not work at your local Petco. (NOT pet SMART) Hang on to your expired coupons, take em with you if you must get something that can't wait for the next coupons/sales. Before you shop - show it to cashier and ask if it might be possible to use it. Jump for joy and give hug if appropriate (my cashier sees me a lot, my dogs eat natural balance, and now my cats do too - one of which is on limited ingredient diet I have 5 pets total) if she tells you something as wonderful as she told me. (I don't want to misrepresent the company. So just want to share with you that like some other companies out there - one of which sells a yearly calendar and lets you work with their coupons - your petco MAY or MAY NOT work with your expired coupons.) I wish I had known that before I threw away my expired $5 reward one that came in the mail that I didn't open till last week that expired on the 28th of feb.

Good luck shopping gals. Thanks for all these emails and tips. Although my email updates got me in trouble at work when I was a day behind on the pancake deal at IHOP. Another "knows everything" mom was all like, "that was yesterday". So I'll check online more often too.

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16 Mommy Kennedy March 14, 2009 at 11:01 pm

I print according to what my family uses.

I buy 4-6 newspapers a week and I keep ALL my inserts. I write the date on the top right corner and then cut and organize about once or twice a month. I have a special rolling cart that I use with the uncut coupons, scissors, ads etc that I pull out when needed and roll back when not using.

http://thefrugalkennedys.blogspot.com

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17 Regina March 15, 2009 at 4:55 pm

What are brick coupons?

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18 amy March 15, 2009 at 8:42 pm

"Just because dog food is on sale for $0.10, do I really need to stock up on dog food when we don’t have a dog? Yes, I could give it to the Humane Society, but wouldn’t my time and money be better spent by volunteering"

i feel like if i have the dog food coupons, and it only takes a few more seconds of my time to clip those, and i know about a great dog food sale that matches w/my coupons for free or pretty darn close, i definitely feel i should take advantage of the coupons/sale and spend a few extra minutes of my time to get food i can donate to a shelter (which always need food!) or to a friend who has dogs. in fact, i went to walmart over the weekend for kitten food to use my $5 Iams coupons. well, they didn't have kitten food in the size that would be free, but i noted that the puppy food was exactly $5, making it free after coupon, so i made a note to go back and use my coupons on the puppy food before they expire 3/31, if i haven't been able to find the right size kitten food.

amy´s last blog post..Cold Day + Warm Cookies = Great Sunday

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19 Frances March 18, 2009 at 5:58 pm

Thank you all for such nice comments. I am thrilled that you like my thoughts. Because I am an animal lover I feel that I had to respond to J’s comments.

J- Scheryl was correct in saying that there was no harm intended. I am a huge animal lover. Not only do I love animals but I donate to the Fairhope Cat Coalition (http://fairhopecats.home.mchsi.com/Mission.htm) that captures, neuters, and then releases feral cats. I even catch feral cats on our property. We take them to the local vet, pay to have them fixed then release them back on our property.

Fairhope is a pet friendly town, if there ever was one. For a small community we have two dog parks. Check out the Haven at http://www.havenforanimals.org, it is a no kill animal shelter. The Haven has done wonderful work to ensure that every pet has a home and is not put down.

I agree with you J, what gives us the rights as humans to kill animals for no reason but that there are not enough resources to take care of them?

Our animal shelters in Fairhope would prefer to have money or volunteer work in lien of food. I think they try to keep all the animals on the same diet? As you know mixing brands of food could be upsetting to a dog or cat’s stomach.

Also, you could donate your dog food coupons to military families overseas that have animals?

Regina – Great idea on the PDF995 software. Here is an example link of a bricks coupon for Mussleman’s Apple Sauce.

http://bricks.coupons.com/Start.asp?tqnm=qcrpfyf6842729&bt=wg&o=53819&c=MM&p=yz3OjpmM

I would love to know if your software will save instead of printing this coupon.

Thanks again for your comments.
Frances
http://www.FrugalFairhope.com

Frances´s last blog post..Walgreens 3/23 Sneak Peek

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20 Deal Seeking Mom March 19, 2009 at 8:50 am

Please be careful with software such as this. Bricks coupons typically will not allow you to save them as a PDF, but if you find a way to, please only use each coupon once and do not share the file with others. The coupons have an individual code on them that only allows them to be used one time. If a large number of people start trying to redeem them multiple times, companies will stop accepting IP coupons again.

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21 Frances March 20, 2009 at 10:15 am

That is so true. If we don't play by the rules we all loose.
Thanks!

Frances´s last blog post..Restaurant.com 60% + $10 gift

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