So this is my second post in a little series on getting started with coupons. If you missed my first post on Coupon Sources, you should start reading there.
PART 2: Organizing Coupons
There are MANY methods for organizing coupons. How you choose to organize depends a lot upon how much time you want to put into it and how much you need to save with coupons.
- If you have the time and need to save more, then using a Coupon Binder system would probably work best. The Krazy Coupon Lady has a step-by-step tutorial with video on how to start a binder. She also has some free printable pages you can download from her site. This method requires clipping all your coupons and putting them in a large binder that you take with you into the store.
- Like the binder method, the Coupon Box is also a way to clip and keep all of your coupons with you, as long as you don’t mind lugging the box around with you in the store. The Money Saving Mom has a picture of her box and categories she uses to organize it.
- The Expanding File/Envelope system is also the same concept, but is more compact. The only drawback is that you can’t fit as many coupons in it, so you’d have to limit to only coupons you know you’ll use.
- If you don’t have much time to spend clipping coupons, then the Coupon File system works really well. For The Mommas’ site explains how the filing system works.
I started out using the Coupon File system, but it was taking up too much space in our small apartment. Now I do a modified version of the file system, but combine that with a compact expanding file and envelopes (see picture below).
Here’s what I do when I get the Sunday paper:
- I immediately label the inserts with the date on the front in black marker (or crayon) so it’s easy to spot.
- I collate multiple inserts. For example, if you get 3 Sunday papers and the paper has one SmartSource and one RedPlum insert in each, then I put the three SmartSource together and the three RedPlum together and staple the pages together so that the coupons can be clipped all at once. Click here to see a video demonstration of this.
- As I’m going through the inserts to collate them, I go ahead and clip the coupons I know that we’ll use. For example, I drink soy milk, so anytime there is a coupon for soy milk I clip that because I buy it all the time regardless of whether or not it’s on sale.
- I then divide up the clipped coupons by category and order them by expiration date (with those expiring soonest on top). I try to make the categories match as closely as possible to the grocery store aisles/departments.
- Then I go through each category in my expanding file and add the new coupons to it, keeping the expiration dates in order.
- I put the leftover inserts (which contain the unclipped coupons) in the magazine file in order by date of the newspaper they came in. It could be helpful to attach a post-it note to the front of the first insert for a particular week, leaving a bit of it peaking out of the top with that Sunday’s date written on it. Then you could easily locate that week’s inserts without having to flip through them all.
You may be wondering why you would keep the unclipped coupons in the inserts if you aren’t sure you’re going to use them. And also how you would remember what coupons were in which insert? And what about the individual envelopes in the picture above with the store name written on it? We’ll talk more about that in my next post on coupons… Deciding Where to Shop.