When I first started couponing, I was frustrated. I did not know the first thing about coupons, was completely overwhelmed, had no clue how the store policies worked, which stores I should shop at, and did not know if I would be investing lots of resources into something that would not pay off. I remember sitting with my crisp new circulars from the Sunday paper on January 2nd, just 1 mere day after starting my resolution, thinking "NOW what?"
Over the next few weeks, I had *figured* it out. Each week I got better and better. I'm a businesswoman, so I need numbers and data sometimes to prove that I am investing my resources correctly. I am also human so I like feedback so I can know if what I did was either good or bad so I can correct my future behavior. In order to accomplish this, I needed a tracking mechanism. A way that I could keep up with how I was doing day by day, week by week, and eventually year by year. I wanted to highlight my wins to keep me going, learn from my mistakes and benchmark for the future so I knew if I was on target.
Below is my method of tracking. I have formulas set up in there so I just fill in the missing pieces and voila! I know how I did each trip. This is inserted in from Excel, so parts did not copy as well. If you want my template with formulas, just reply to this blog with your email and I will email you my template.
These are the exact numbers of everything I have done from day 1 of couponing thus far: the date I made the purchase, the store I made the purchase at, what I paid, how much I saved, the value of the merchandise (what I paid+what I saved) and the percentage I saved.
As you can see, I did not start out doing too hot. 37% was good, but I wanted to hit high numbers quickly. Well, you just can't save huge at first. Firstly, because you are learning. Secondly, you do not have a huge coupon inventory yet. Thirdly, because you don't have a stockpile built up yet. All it takes is some perseverance and you will get there.
TIP: Start small. Learn 1-2 stores (I choose Publix and CVS: both simple stores, coupon friendly and 1 mile from me). Learn their policies, buy 2-4 newspapers a week and start building inventory. Go on coupons.com and other websites to print off coupons you need. Also, follow coupon blogs and coupon forums.
You can see as the weeks went on and I gathered more and more coupons, I started to do better and better. You will also see I had some $80 and $60 purchases in the beginning of January (although these were better than the $100+ we had previously!). You don't see those anymore. Most are $30ish, and lots are $15 and below. At first you will have a few bigger grocery totals, but after you build up your stockpile, that number will go down. You will start to live off your stockpile and shop only when you need fresh produce or to replenish your stockpile when there is an awesome deal. Essentials like frozen vegetables, meats, breads, etc. were making up a large portion of those $80 purchases. Now I buy them cheap and with coupons and stockpile them or freeze them, so I don't have them taking up my bills. That is how I get down to $30 or less.
Tracking is what has kept me motivated. If it helps you, great! If not, find another method to motivate you to keep going. Seeing that I have saved $867 AFTER TAX dollars AND that I have 5 shelves stocked up with essentials that will last me a year AND that my bills go down as my savings go up...that's my true motivator. What's yours?