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Couponing 101: Step #5, Making a Shopping List

Here’s the process I’ve found works best for me and my family in creating my shopping list(s) each week…

Make a List and Check it Twice:
First, print off the grocery coupon match-ups to make an initial shopping list for each store you plan to shop at that week. Second, scan the grocery ads for additional items your family will need and add these to your lists. Third, add any items from you meal plan that you may need that week. Fourth, add up your list to give you a “rough” amount of how much you will spend at each store. Put your lists aside for a few hours or overnight. Finally, re-evaluate the items you have on your lists to make sure you really need them or if you buy them you will stay within your budget (both money and time) for the week.

Clip Your Coupons:
Once you’re satisfied with your lists, find and clip your coupons. There are a lot of great ideas for how to match your coupons to your list in preparation for your shopping trip. One is to simply paperclip the coupons to the back of the list (just be careful not to lose them). Another is to store your coupons in a zipper pencil pouch or envelope with the list on the outside. And yet another is to carry a notebook with not only the coupons you plan to use but all others just in case you find a great deal you weren’t expecting.

Shop Alone: 
If possible, shop alone. It allows you to completely focus on your shopping trip and helps eliminate the “possibility of error” while you are trying to determine the best price for laundry detergent. However, for some of us we need to shop with our kiddos or spouse. If you are shopping as a party, then try to keep the trips small and try to be as organized as possible before you head into the store. And grant yourself your some grace – it can be hard to be a referee and a coupon ninja at the same time.  

Last check before you leave the store:
Check your receipt before leaving the store and take the store ad with you. There have (unfortunately) been many times that my receipt did not match the deal I thought I was getting. Sometimes it’s been my fault, but more often than not the price in the computer did not reflect the store ad. Take 1-2 minutes to check over your receipt before leaving the store and go to customer service if you have questions or need a resolution.