Friday, August 7, 2009

Couponing Basics: Organizing your Coupons

Ok, so you have collected your coupons from all different sources - now what do you do with them? There are many different ways to organize your coupons, but I think they can be summed up in these three main systems. Everyone then adapts the system or combines aspects of all three to fit their own needs and preferences. Each method has pros and cons and I will try to share those as well.

Coupon Organizational Systems
  • Expandable file
  • 3-ring Binder/Baseball card sheet holders method
  • Filing whole insert or "no cut" method

Expandable file method

This would be done in a basic coupon holder like the one I am giving away this week or a larger version of the same thing. Or some people file their coupons in a shoebox type box by categories. Here's how you do it: cut all the coupons from the Sunday paper each week and file them by categories (such as dairy, canned goods, cleaning supplies, etc.) in the expandable file. This method would not take extremely long to file but if you are looking for say a certain yogurt coupon it could take a while to find it in the "Dairy section" mixed in with all the other coupons. But a benefit to this method is that you can bring your whole file or box to the store with you and if you find an unexpected deal you would have your coupon with you. Another downfall is if you get multiple copies of the Sunday paper, it could take quite a while to file all your coupons each week.

3-ring Binder/baseball card holder sheets method

This system is like the above system except you would use a large notebook or trapper keeper and trading card or baseball card holders. You would then cut and file the coupons again by category or alphabetically by brand in each little section of the baseball card holder pages. This system makes a little more sense to me as you can have more extensive categories and can also visually see your coupons through the clear pages. But the more extensive your categories, the longer it will take you to file your coupons. Once again, you could take your whole binder into the store and have all your coupons with you.

Filing the whole insert or "no cut" method

This is the system that I personally use. It is my favorite and in my opinion the quickest method. Each week I take the inserts and write the date on the front and file them UNCUT in a file sorter box. I label each slot by writing the name and date of the insert on a sticky note stuck to the bottom of each slot. This is a picture of my coupon filing system.

Most blogs and forums will call for a coupon from a particular insert like "$1.00 off Juicy Juice from 8/2 SS", meaning I will find the coupon in the August 2 SmartSource coupon insert. So I pull the insert(s) and cut as many coupons as I have or want for that particular item. If I wanted 10 of the same coupon I would pull the whole page that has the coupon on it from each coupon section, stack together, and cut out all 10 coupons at once! The week the insert comes out, I do browse through the sections making mental notes of any coupons I know that I will want to use. If there are any coupons for "free products" I cut those out right then so I don't forget to use them. I keep about 2 months worth of inserts in my file boxes and as it gets full, I start taking out the oldest sections. I check to make sure the coupons are expired and discard them. You could also write the expiration date of the oldest coupon on the front of the insert the week the insert comes out so then you would know exactly when to throw the section out. This method could also be done in a file box/crate with hanging folders labeled with the dates of the inserts. The downfall of this system is that I only have the specific coupons that I cut with me when I am at the store so I do miss out on a few deals. But I spend almost no time filing the sections and cutting the coupons out for all of my grocery trips usually takes no longer than 10-15 minutes each week.

After I have printed my shopping lists, and cut my coupons, I file them by store name (Kroger, Publix, etc) in a small expandable file that I take to the store with me.

How about you?

What coupon organizational system do you use and why?

I am sure my readers would love some more tips on how to better organize their coupons to make it easier to save lots of money!

1 comment:

  1. I have used a small file like you are giving away. I have used a coupon binder, and at the present time I am using a photo album. I found with the coupon binder it was nice but took longer because I had to cut each coupon small enough to fit in the slots and sometimes fold them where I could easily see the item, amount off, and date. With the photo album I am able to easily break products up into smaller sub-catagories. Instead of a dairy section, I have a section, for milk, cheese, yogurt, sour cream, etc,.


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