This is part 4 of a series that I started some time ago. I have always meant to come back to it but it has somehow slipped my mind. A reader, Peggy, reminded me of it and I thought now was as good a time as any to wrap up this series. Here are links to part 1 of how to save money with coupons, 2 is about coupon abbreviations, and 3 is about things to remember. Sorry part four has turned out to be quite a lengthy post. I guess I had a lot more to say than I realized. I hope it is helpful!
Nowadays, it is not always easy to get by, even if you are just buying the basics it is sometimes difficult to make money stretch from one paycheck to the next. Couponing is a great way to help stretch your budget. When you start couponing it is important that you get organized from the very beginning. There are several different ways to organize your couponing and I will discuss the ones that I am familiar with.
Coupon Organization Method #1: File Folder Organization
To me, this has to be one of the easiest ways to keep up with your coupons. There are variations on this method which I will get into as well. Basically with the file folder method of organization, you get your coupons when you purchase a Sunday paper. You will normally get from one to three inserts in Sunday papers although sometimes you will get more and sometimes you will not get any at all. Coupons don’t come in Sunday papers around the holidays so keep that in mind.
I don’t use this method personally so I don’t have a picture to show you. Pictured on the left are some file folders you can use. You can get the hanging file folders like this so you can write the date and coupon insert on the little tabs to keep yourself organized. These can be placed in milk crates and they fit perfectly to hang along the sides. I use these in my classroom to keep track of graded papers to send home.
So basically with this method all you do is grab your inserts out of the newspapers and file them in the folders. For example, say you bought a newspaper on Sunday, August 26, 2012. The newspaper came with three inserts: Smartsource, Redplum, and Proctor and Gamble. You would make one file folder with Smart Source 8/26, one with Redplum 8/26, and one with Proctor and Gamble 8/26. The purpose of filing the coupons this way is when you look at match-ups that tell you the specific insert to get the coupon from, you can go right to that insert and cut out the coupon you want.
Pros: This will save you the time of having to cut out all the coupons at once.
Cons: You will have to spend time cutting your coupons before you go shopping so you can’t make a quick trip without having to cut your coupons. Also, the inserts can get kind of unruly to deal with once you start cutting coupons out of them, especially when you have more than one insert in each folder (like if you purchased multiple Sunday papers).
A variation of this method is when you have several of the same inserts. You can take apart your inserts and stack like pages on top of each other so that when you cut, you get a stack of the same coupons together and you only have to cut them once instead of cutting all of the same coupons multiple times. To do this, separate all of the pages of your inserts and make a stack of all of the same pages. Then, staple your pages together. It’s important to make sure that you don’t staple the coupon so make sure when you staple you are doing it on a part of the paper that you don’t need. Once your inserts are all lined up and stapled, you can go ahead and cut out the coupons and put them in the file folders already cut. Then you can still put all of the coupons from each insert into the labeled file folders so that they can be easily found when you are doing match-ups.
Coupon Organization Method #2: Binder Organization
A common method of coupon organization that you see is using a coupon binder as pictured on the right. This method employs a large binder with prongs and clear sheets of page protectors that have pockets. This is a great way to organize cut coupons so that you can search for them when you need them. There are a few different ways to organize your cut coupons using this binder and I’ll go over the ones that I’m aware of.
One way to organize your coupons with this method is to put your coupons in alphabetical order. This is the way I always organize my coupons. I just use whatever I am more likely to remember with a product name. Like for example, I would file Dawn dish detergent under D.
Another way to organize the coupons is to organize them based on where they are in your favorite store. I’ll admit this is probably the quickest way to get in and out of a store because you will have your coupons readily available for each isle that you shop. To me the drawback with organizing your coupons this way is that if you go to another store you will have to try and remember where you filed the coupons you want to use.
Yet another way to organize using the binder method is to file coupons by the department they would be in. All frozen food coupons would go together, all health and beauty coupons would go together, pet coupons, etc. I prefer this method over organizing them by isle but I think it would take awhile to find the coupons that you are looking for because you would have all of the coupons for each department in one section and you’d have to sift through them for awhile before you find the one you need. That’s just my opinion. I’ve never actually used this method :).
Pros: To me, the pros of using the coupons binder are that you can have all of your coupons neatly compartmentalized so you can see exactly what you have. The pockets allow you to put all of the same coupons in one little pocket for easy access. You can also choose the method of organizing the coupons that is best for you.
Cons: You will have a big, bulky binder to carry around. In my town I would get the crazy coupon lady looks carrying around something like that. I guess I’m not hard core enough for this method but to each his (or her) own.
Coupon Organization Method #3: Photobook organizer
This is the method I use to organize my coupons because I don’t like carrying around a huge coupon binder. Plus, I’m not so extreme that I have hundreds of coupons to use at one time. I mean, I do stockpile, but I just don’t like a whole lot of clutter so I don’t ever see myself as being on extreme couponing. Oh, wait. You probably want a picture, huh? I haven’t heard of or seen this method anywhere else so it may be new to you too. Here’s a pic:
I have been doing my coupons like this for almost three years now. I received this little photo album at my son’s baby shower and now he is 2 1/2. When I got it I realized that I wouldn’t use it to put pictures in but then I had the idea to put coupons in it instead of carrying around a huge coupon binder.
To organize your coupons in this method it is fairly easy. All you have to do is label the pages of the album. I just got a sharpie and put a letter of the alphabet on each page. On the picture on the right you can see that the page is open to O. As mentioned above I alphabetize my coupons based on what I remember the product name to be. For me, even though this coupon is an Oral B Reach coupon, I know that I will remember Oral B and not reach, so I put the product under O for Oral B. Make sense? :). You can, of course, use whatever method to organize that you want.
I also have a section in the back of my binder for catalinas, which are coupons that print in different stores that are only used at that store. I have a section for Winn Dixie, CVS, and WalMart, since those are the stores where I shop regularly. I also have a section for all of my son’s baby coupons and a section for all of my pet care coupons. I have a place for coupons for freebies which is my favorite page in the whole album. Lastly, I have a page for receipts in case I need them for a refund or (most likely) for a rebate.
Pros: You don’t have to worry about lugging around a huge coupon binder and giving yourself a hernia. Okay so maybe that’s a bit drastic but they are pretty heavy. I already have a purse that weighs in at least 15 pounds if I had to guess and a toddler that is 35 pounds. And I’m sorry. Sometimes it’s just easier to carry the toddler while pushing the grocery cart than having him scream at the top of his lungs. That’s fifty pounds right there and that is even before the coupons! They are cheap too. You can probably find them at the dollar tree if you look.
Cons: You can’t get as many coupons in here as you could in a binder. Other than that, these are pure awesomeness.
What other methods of coupon organization have you seen? Hit me up with a comment to share with other readers. Please share this post with your friends if you think they could possibly benefit from this.
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