Friday, January 01, 2010

Coupon Organization....Where to Put Them??

I can't believe one month has gone by since I started this blog and I am just now getting to this post.  It has been on my To Do List for weeks before the blog was actually up and running.  I guess I can blame it on the holidays.

Anyway....Here it is...

We've covered many of the places to get coupons.  The Newspaper, Online Printables, Store Displays were first.  Next came Ebay.  Then Store Coupons.  So now it's time to talk about what to do once you have all of these pieces of paper laying around in piles.

There are many different ways to sort and organize coupons.  What works for some may not work for others.  What used to work for me doesn't work as well anymore and what I do now is always being tweaked to work better.

So let's start where I started ... end with what I do now ... and add a few other ideas in the middle.

My first idea was a recipe box with index cards as dividers.  I had each index card labeled with a category and then put them in the box in alphabetical order.  The Pro for this system was the filing time.  I would cut my coupons, stack them by category and easily stick the stack in the proper place and I was done.  For me the Cons were greater than the Pros.  I would have to pull stacks from each category to thumb through the coupons to see what I had when planning my trips and when shopping.  Pulling the expired coupons wasn't fun either since once again I had to go through each stack one by one.  Lastly, keeping the stacks organized so that identical or at least similar coupons were together wasn't easy either.

A method that works for some but that I haven't tried is filing the whole inserts by date.  I'm quite sure the Pro of this way is not having to cut, sort and file coupons.  I've not tried this though because the Con seems to me that it would be hard to know where to find the coupons for the things you need.  I know that there are sources to search for available coupons by product name.  I am not very brand loyal though so often I'm searching for coupons for a product type not just a name brand.

I've seen some people at the grocery store with an envelope full of coupons.  Once again the Pro has to be the filing time. Cutting them and sticking them in an envelope wouldn't take much time.  I think the Con would be finding what you want when you need it.

Here's what I do now....I am a little biased!  This works great for me but like I said at the beginning of this post what works for some may not work for others.  I have a 3 ring binder with baseball trading card pages inside.  I have 4 sections ... Food Items, Household Items, Health and Beauty Items and also a section for restaurant coupons.  I cut coupons, stack them by category and put them one by one into the baseball card pages.

The Pro for this way is I can easily see what coupons I have.  I use the binder when planning my grocery trips and while shopping.  I put it up front my grocery cart and can easily find the coupons I want to use.  At first I tried pulling all the coupons I planned to use in a shopping trip before heading to the store.  Inevitably there would be coupons pulled that I didn't end up using though if there was an item out of stock or if I found a different brand of the same item that cost less.  Now wait to pull the coupons as I put the corresponding item in my cart.  Cleaning out expired coupons is easy too.  I make sure the expiration date is visible and once a month I flip through the pages pulling all that are expired.  The Con for this way is the time it takes to put the coupons in the binder. Just like with my recipe box system, I cut coupons and sort them by category.  It is time consuming then to put the coupons into the binder pages.  Some need to be folded to fit.  I do all my coupon cutting, sorting, filing and clean out expireds while sitting in front of the TV.  It really doesn't take much time once I get started.

I've had a few different binders.  I really like the one I am using now.  It closes all the way around with a zipper ... and I wouldn't suggest anything else if you decide to try this system.  My binder has several pockets inside.  I keep my grocery store ads in one and scissors and a pen in another. I use spiral notebook when making my grocery lists and keep it in my binder.  

How do you sort, file, store and use coupons??  Do you use one of the ways I've mentioned here?  Let me know how your way works for you.  I'll add other ideas to this post ... just leave me a comment.  The most important thing is to find what works for you!  You'll be amazed at the savings you will see if using coupons isn't something you are already doing.

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Trish said...

You are inspiring. I am going to Staples today to get my binder and my plastic pages. I usuallly pull my coupons out of the drawer and go through them one by one to see what I am purchasing. Time consuming, so really, I don't do it too many times....I will now that I have your system!
Love, Aunt Tricia

Becky said...

Thanks Tricia!! I'm glad you're reading and getting excited!!

I'm not sure if you'll find the baseball card pages at Staples. If not, I get them at Target or Walmart in the trading card section .... not the office supplies.