Monday, April 4, 2011

Organizing Your Coupons

There are many different ways to organize your coupons. The trouble is, no one method of organization works for each person. I will tell you about several different methods here today, but you must find one that WORKS FOR YOU! If your aren't comfortable with it you won't use it. And the only way to save money is to find a way that works for you and one you are able to keep maintained.

1. Using Envelopes:
Using plain envelopes, you label each with a category, ie cereals, condiments, laundry, dairy, etc. After clipping your coupons, you separate them and put them into the correct category envelope.
You can then store those envelopes in a larger manilla envelope, a gallon/quart sized plastic bag, or even just in your purse. To be more frugal, recycle all those envelopes that come in the junk mail!

2. Coupon Wallet/Accordion Envelope:
These are often what you see advertised in the Sunday coupon inserts. It is one fabric envelope with dividers fitted inside. You can use the categories listed on the dividers or create what works for you.
Use each pocket to store that category of coupons. This is what most people start out with as it is quick to set up and easy to maintain. I leave the front section free so that when I am shopping, I can pull coupons I am going to use and keep in the front.
I actually still use this type of holder, but Have the dividers labeled by Store names. That way when I am making my shopping lists, I can pull the coupons I plan to use for that store and file them accordingly. I can     also keep rain checks here per store as well!

3. Index File Box:
Boxes are great for organizing coupons, you can use anything from a cardboard shoe box, a plastic tub (with lid), a recipe box, empty baby wipe box, or try an index card box.
Use tabbed dividers to separate your categories and then cut, clip and sort your coupons within each category. I used this method once I out grew the Coupon Wallet- and since I was a new mom, a baby wipe coupon box was perfect! I loved that the lid snapped on and if dropped, the coupons wouldn't fly all over- never fun!

4. Binder:
This is what I currently use, as I have outgrown all other methods! lol To make a coupon binder, it is best to get a zippered binder, that way everything is contained, and if dropped things will stay in place. I prefer the case-it binders, as they also have a handle on the outside edge, and a strap so you can carry over your shoulder- especially good if you are also toting around a toddler! You can pick one up clearanced after back to school time.
Once you get your binder, you need to add some baseball card pages. This will be what your coupons are stored in. It makes it very easy to see the coupon, the value, and the expiration date. Some coupons need to be closely trimmed or folded slightly to make them fit. I prefer this method because it is so easy to view what you have.
I also have a pencil holder add in and keep an extra pair of small scissors, a calculator and paper clips, and a pen/post it notes in it. All the little extra things that may come in handy.
I separate each category using stick on divider tabs, and label accordingly. You may divide your categories any way you like. I prefer these:
Baby, Baking, Beverage, Bread, Canned Goods, Cereal, Cleaning, Condiments, Dairy, Deodorant, Ethnic, Feminine, Frozen, Laundry, Marinades/Dressings, Meats, Medicines, Oral Care, Paper Goods, Pasta/Rice, Pets, Snacks, Soaps/Body Wash/HBA, Misc. I also have a page for store coupons such as a page for Target, Rite Aid, and store that regularly puts out store coupons.
You can create what ever works best for you. I prefer categories by product type. Others set it up alphabetically by brand, Kellogg's, Kraft, etc. Others set it up by the store aisles they shop most.

Now clipping every coupon gets tedious and time consuming, especially for a product you may not normally use. You just never know though, when a good deal will come along and you may need one of those coupons you weren't interested the first time around. My suggestion to this is, if you don't cut and file all your coupons, is to clip what you want, and then file each weeks inserts by date in a magazine holder. This way you can easily find them if you need too.

I also encourage you, no matter what method you choose, make to sure to put your NAME and NUMBER in it in case you lose it or leave it in a shopping cart! Believe me, I have done this, and it is no fun to lose something you have put so much time into creating and losing all those great money saving coupons!

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Thanks so much for your comments! It reassures me I am not talking to myself :)