Monday, December 14, 2009

Coupon Organization

I got a question from Michelle in the comments section of my last post asking me how I organized my coupons. I thought it was a great question and it really isn't a short answer so I thought I would share what I do and see if anybody else wants to share their method.

I kind of have my own system, that works for me (most of the time). I like the binder method. I have a 3" 3-ring binder that I use baseball card holders (they have 9 slots per page) and dividers that divide the sections. The dividers I use have pockets on both sides so I use them to hold coupons that I haven't had a chance to put in the individual slots. I divide my coupons into five categories.

• Non-perishables

• Perishables

• Household (cleaning supplies, candles, air fresheners toilet paper, paper towels, plastic wrap, etc.)

• Personal Care (shaving cream, razors, toothbrushes, toothpaste, feminine hygiene, deodorant)

• Medicine

I have subcategories in each category. They fluctuate with the sale and coupon cycles. For example I have lots of soup coupons right now, in the summer I have lots of coupons for barbecue sauce and picnic type items. I separate these by giving them an individual page or if there are more than 9 coupons for that subcategory I will carry it over to a new page. I like the baseball card holders because they are easy to flip through and check for expiration dates on the coupons.

Although I like the binder method the best - it does have its downfalls. You have to be able to really stay on top of clipping your coupons. I find that with this method I cut out more coupons than I actually use. It is nice to have a coupon with you if you happen to stumble across a really good deal.  But, I don't always have the time to clip, sort, and file my coupons every week.  (I guess I am too busy creating spreadsheets.)

Currently I have stopped clipping my coupons out of the Sunday paper every week.  I usually get 3-5 papers a week.  I sort my inserts and collate them into one big insert.  I then keep them in piles on a desk by the insert name (Smart Source, Red Plum, Proctor & Gamble).  I go through my stack about every 2-3 months and purge the inserts that have expired coupons and keep the few coupons that haven't expired.  I cut out the coupons from the inserts according to my shopping list.  I just carry them to the store with me in an envelope or a ziploc bag.  This method works great if I am sticking to my list.  It can create additional trips to the store when I refuse to buy something because "I know" I have a coupon for that item at home.

I have tried the coupon dividers that will fit in a purse or small bag.  I actually just picked up a new one from the dollar aisle at Michael's last week.  I find this to be helpful when I am trying to hit numerous stores in one trip.  I will sort my coupons and list in each individual pocket.  I also like this method to keep items like CVS Extra Care Bucks and my Register Rewards from Walgreens.  That way I have them with me if I happen to run into one of these stores.  I also like to use this method for holding onto coupons for items that I know I will buy - like diapers.

So- with all of that I hope I answered Michelle's question and gave some of you some insight to keeping and sorting your coupons.  Feel free to share your method or any tips you have on organizing your coupons.

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