If you watched my ridiculous Coupon Lingo video earlier this week and are new to couponing, you may find yourself thinking, “This couponing thing is really hard.”
Listen to me when I tell you this, friends:
Couponing does not have to be difficult. I promise.
In fact, in this season of my life with three young boys, I have developed a system for my couponing that is so easy, it literally takes me about 20 minutes per week.
If you are in a busy season of life or feel overwhelmed by couponing, I want to share my system with you so that you have the tools you need to get the most bang for you buck.
Recently, you saw how I got $56 worth of items for $3.61, $57 worth of items for $3.99 and this $0.33 shopping trip at CVS. Those really are typical CVS shopping trips for me – and can easily be for you too. And since I save about $30 – $50 per week, that equals about $2000 or more per year that I am saving with my 20 minute per week system.
So here is my Tried-and-True 3-step 20 Minute Couponing System:
1. I use the No-Clip Couponing Method.
I don’t clip coupons. Are you shocked?
When I first started couponing, I would spend an hour or so each week clipping and sorting coupons. It was fun for a while…until it wasn’t. When I discovered the No-Clip Coupon Method, I was sold and never looked back. I can’t even calculate the number of hours I’ve saved through the years because of this.
Have I missed some deals while in the store because I didn’t have all my coupons? Sure. But I’ve made the choice to use my time to save money in other ways, so I’m quite sure it all comes out in the wash.
2. I only coupon at one store.
My store of choice for couponing is CVS since I find it is the easiest store for me to regularly save 80% or more. On occasion, I will use a few coupons at the grocery store, but for the most part I shop at ALDI – where they don’t even accept coupons!
In the early days, it was easy for me to spend hours planning and carrying out my shopping trips. Time is a very precious commodity to me now and so I’ve cut back. In fact, after my third son was born, I went months and months without couponing. But now I’m enjoying the savings that CVS brings me – and a trip to CVS is often just what we need to break out of the house now and then!
3. I use my CVS Store Deals Custom Shopping List. (Now found on the Favado app.)
Since the sales are already matched the coupons available, this simplifies making a shopping list SO much. Here’s how I use it:
- I check out the best weekly CVS Deals.
- I select only the top 3-5 deals or so. My goal is always to get the most ECB’s for the smallest amount of money, so this means only taking advantage of the very best deals each week.
- I email that list to myself and print/clip the coupons that I will need.
Typically this whole process only takes me about 20 minutes. Occasionally it takes a bit more if I have to clip more coupons, but last week it only took me about 10 minutes!
I also make a point to clip any coupons for upcoming deals that I post throughout the week so I am prepared when the time comes – yes, I follow my own blog!
And there you have it, friends. My 20 Minute Couponing System. It works for me and it can work for you too!
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I’d love to hear your thoughts on this and feel free to ask any questions! That’s why I’m here! 🙂
You mentioned a few times ECB’s in the text and comments… What are ECB’s???
And can you actually use your rewards points from CVS? I spend a lot of money there & have never used my points, so I’m unsure how they work, if they’ve just been accumulating or what. I’ll have to ask an employee next time I’m in CVS! Great tips, I will definitely try to start this saving system lol. Thanks!
Hi, Signe! Good question. You can check out my Coupons 101 post for a guide to what the different coupon abbreviations mean: https://chachingonashoestring.com/coupons-101/
ECB’s refer to Extra Care Bucks which can be used like cash at CVS. You might receive them after making a certain purchase that qualifies for them or they may print for you at the Red Coupon Printer at the front of the store based on how much you have spent at CVS in the last quarter. Hope that helps!
What is the app?
Are you referring to the Favado app, Melissa? It’s a grocery shopping app that allows you to match coupons with your local store’s sales each week.
Walgreens is closer to my house. Do you view CVS and Walgreens similarly? Are there any suggestions for couponing for Walgreens?
From my personal experience, CVS is more coupon-friendly than Walgreens, however some people really enjoy shopping at Walgreens. If you’d like to compare how to shop at different drugstores, you can check out this post here, Stacy: https://chachingonashoestring.com/the-drug-store-game/
Hope that helps!
I too love CVS….I especially love that the staff never have given me any guff or hard time about using the coupons. The staff are always supportive n helpful .I m pretty skilled at couiponing and scoring deals . From time to time I might be uncertain that a deal will work the way I’m hoping and I upfront telll the staff what im thinking \ hoping . They always say let’s give it a try n see what happens . many other chains the staff won’t even trty to use the coupon. I love CVS
I really liked this tip. I started couponing and refunding when I was 10 years old (30 years ago). When my kids were younger and I stayed home full time, I was an avid couponer. Now I work 70-80 hours a week between 2 jobs and have so little time to coupon. I miss having a small stockpile and not running out of stuff. I think this is great advise to get back into saving money.
Glad it was an encouragement to you, Holly!
I HAVE TRIED COUPONING So many times I don’t understand what is a good deal an what isnt
I am so glad I found your site. I thought I was the only one who found this whole ‘couponing’ thing difficult everywhere but at CVS. This is the one place I can actually save by stacking and rolling ECBs, getting most of my products for next to nothing. BTW, I bought your book, “The Merry Little Christmas Project,” and I’m reading it now ~ will post a review soon. So far, I’m loving that too! 🙂 Thank you
Ok. Also, I have another question. Just read your Coupons 101 post. Very helpful, BTW.
My question is – which of those receipt/ instore scanning apps do you use the most? Like, do you look through all 6 every week to see if anything you bought qualifies? Or is there some master list somewhere? Thanks 🙂
Before I shop, I check the store deal list on my site (in my case, it’s for CVS, but if you click on the ‘Store Deals’ banner at the top of my site, you’ll find other stores available). Each item that is on sale will also list if there are coupons or app savings. I look for the best deals and take advantage of any additional savings listed under that deal. Hope that helps!
Hey. Thanks for this idea! I was couponing at CVS but I realized there’s just not that much they sell that we buy… I think I wasn’t doing it right. What are some of your favorite items/ categories of items to get on sale there?
(And I’m with you – I do ALL my grocery shopping at Aldi. I love that store!!) Especially for how small and fast it is with littles!
Hi, Renee! There is a long list of household and personal care items that I often find great deals on at CVS: shampoo, toothpaste, deodorant, vitamins, hair color, snacks, seasonal items, toilet paper. If you make a trip every week or two, you’d be surprised how many items you can get on a great sale.