EXCERPT: Elisabeth Leamy's 'Save Big'

2. Save your Circulars. Save all of your circulars –whole, without cutting-- for two months. Most coupons expire after 10 weeks, so you can toss the circulars at that point. A few individual coupons are good for 15 weeks. It's up to you if you have space to keep them that long.

3. Label Them. Scrawl the name and date of each circular on the cover in magic marker to make it easier to identify them quickly.

4. Organize Them. Organize your stash of circulars in whatever way works for you –a stack, a box, a binder or an accordion file. This way you have all the current coupons at your disposal when you need them.

5. Search CouponMom.com. Before shopping, go to the "Grocery Coupon Database" on CouponMom.com. You can search by brand name or product type. If you were looking for chocolate chips, you could type in "Nestle" or "chocolate chips" to find them.

6. View results. The CouponMom website will then list the date and source of every coupon for chocolate chips. Circulars are identified by their initials, as shown above.

7. Cut and go. Now you can go directly to the circulars that contain coupons for the products you need. It's brilliant! No more clipping coupons in advance and hoping the tiny scraps don't fall out of your wallet before you manage to use them. On the CouponMom site, as you see deals you want, you can check a box next to them to create a customized shopping list. Using that list, you cut out or print out only the coupons you need. Then you're off to the store. Easy peasy.

Big Secret: Sign up for Free, Customized Deal Alerts at Couponmom.Com

This is a handy offer, because you get to create your own list of products you want to receive alerts about. The alert feature let's you list a whole bunch of items, so one smart thing would be to enter everything on your Top 20 list.

Where to Find Your Coupons
Approximately 88-percent of the coupons people make use of come from the Sunday circulars. Many coupon queens get at least two newspapers a week to maximize their coupon opportunities. Local newspapers often offer great deals on a Sunday-only subscription. Another option: some grocery and convenience stores sell the Sunday paper later in the day for half price. Alternatively, especially if you plan to use coupons as a means to donate to charity, it's easy to ask friends and neighbors to give you their unused circulars.

Increasingly, there are valuable internet coupons, called "Bricks" online. CouponMom.com indexes some of them. Another website, HotCouponWorld.com, also has a searchable coupon database. It's maintained by members and indexes some sources that CouponMom does not. If you would like to search coupon sites on your own, here are some good ones: CoolSavings.com
Coupons.com
RedPlum.com
SmartSource.com

Big Secret: You Don't Have to Use the Coupon for the Product in the Picture
Often a coupon will say "any variety" or words to that effect. But the picture on the coupon will be of the newest, most expensive product in that product line. Don't fall for it! You can use the coupon for anything in the line, and the best deal is to use it on the cheapest product.

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