Remember this post? I know you've all been eagerly anticipating the final result, so here it is:
I'm sticking with the binder.
I gave the accordion-file system the old "college try," but ultimately it had too many drawbacks for me.
-- The box was too big, so it was bulky to carry around.
-- If I carried it in a bag, I had to place it in sideways... (big "spillage" factor)
-- The dividers weren't working with the size of the box, so my coupons kept flopping around... (it messed with my chi).
-- I had to balance the box, plus a handful of grocery lists, everytime I went shopping. It didn't fit in the child seat in the front of the cart, unless I placed it sideways, which made looking for coupons a frustrating experience... plus the fact that I kept dropping the lists through the leg holes in the child seat whenever I put them down to look through the box! Comical, but not practical.
-- It took WAY too much time to get it organized each week.
So, back to the binder I went!
Now the binder has drawbacks, too -- the biggest one being that it's big, so I have to make an effort to remember to BRING IT WITH ME whenever I go out. However, even though the binder is big, it FITS IN THE CHILD SEAT. All I have to do is open it up and it lays nicely in the front. As I go through the store, I can easily turn the pages from lists to coupons (and back again!) without juggling loose papers or risking dropping the whole thing and dissolving into a puddle of gasping sobs as I see hours worth of work scattered on the grocery store floor!
I also mentioned in my previous post that the clear baseball card holder pages made "seeing" the coupons difficult, since I could see through ALL the pages, and therefore was visually assaulted every time I opened the binder. I fixed that by putting some colored paper behind each category and voila! visual harmony restored!
Next, I set up the categories based on aisle set up of my usual grocery store. The categories are color coded, which makes it a heck of a lot easier for me to find what I'm looking for.
Michelle asked what categories I used. (hey, Michelle! *waving*) I set them up according to my usual store -- how it's laid out, what sorts of coupons I usually get, and what we normally buy:
bread, deli meat, chips
crackers, dressings, condiments, pickles, snacks, PB&Jelly
soup/broth, side dishes, vegetables, Mexican
rice, cereal, outmeal/grits, granola, syrup/fruit
frozen: vegetables, meals, breakfast, desserts
deodorant, razors, toothpaste, first aid, make-up, soap, shampoo, fem. care
bags/foils, paper products, dish detergent, cleaners, laundry
cat food, dog food
milk/butter, rolls, dairy
It's a pretty detailed list, and each item listed has its own page (1 for bread, 1 for deli meat, etc...). Some, like pet food, cleaners, etc have more than one page.
Whew! That's a lot of binder info! Is anyone still reading this?
So, the big question is, is it worth all the work?
Well, I've been keeping track of my spending since the beginning of September. The shelf price of everything that I've bought is $1020.12. MY cost has been $567.34, which is a savings of 44.38%. Yippee!! (keep in mind that I was spending close to $1200 to feed and clothe... and diaper... my family of nine... and feed two pets... so this is HUGE savings!!!)
As a final note, here is a picture of my CVS purchases this evening:
I had a coupon for $10 off of $50 that was going to expire today, so I shopped with that total in mind.
I bought 2 packages of Huggies (on sale) and two packages of wipes (on sale), to take advantage of their "spend $25 and get $10 back in ECBs".
I bought two packages of toothbrushes... $3.98 each, get $3.98 back in ECBs for each. Yep. That means they are free.
I bought two tubes of Colgate Whitening, on sale for 2/$2.79. I had a $1 CVS coupon for it, plus a $1 manufacturer's coupon for it. Grand total for two tubes: $0.79.
I needed $10 to reach my $50 total, so I picked up Tide (on sale, had $1 coupon).
The original total at the checkout was $52.
After all my coupons and ECBs, it was $20.
After I paid, the nice printer spit out $18 in ECBs, PLUS another $10 off of $50 and another $2 off wipes coupon.