March 20, 2010

Coupon Organization

There are generally two ways of organizing your coupons. I actually use a system that is a cross between these two methods. First, let's take a look at both methods:
  • File by insert With this method you just file your inserts by date. Paper clip an index card with the date of the insert and which one it is. For example, the Smart Source insert that came out on July 25th would look like this:
If you get multiple inserts (like I do) you don't need a separate date card for each one. Just stack multiples underneath the one with the date on it. When using this method, you will rely heavily on a coupon database such as Coupon Tom to locate which insert a particular coupon is in or where it can be printed. Coupon Tom is an invaluable resource and I would be lost without it! The downside to this method is that you might miss out on an unadvertised deal by not having every coupon with you at all times. 

To store your stacks of inserts, you can use inexpensive plastic bins. The ones pictured here were bought at the dollar store. At a minimum, you should have a bin for Red Plum, Smart Source, Procter & Gamble. I also recommend one for All You magazines and one for "blinkies" & misc. coupons you pick up along the way. I drop all my blinkies in that bin when I return from shopping and file them in my organizer about once a week.

The above picture is from my early couponing days. I've since upgraded to bigger bins and my storage now are more of a milk crate size and look like this:

  • Coupon Binder With this method you would clip all of your coupons and file them in baseball card holders in 3 ring binder. Using this method, you carry the binder with you to store and will have all of your coupons readily available. 
I personally find the coupon binder to be extremely time-consuming.  As you know, I generally get 6-8 papers each week. Clipping ALL of my coupons and carrying them around with me is simply not an option. So, I mainly work from the file by insert method. The difference is that I will cut any high value ($2 and up) coupons for items I buy regularly or often spot on clearance. I am not one to run from store to store every day chasing deals. I plan my trips carefully, cut the coupons I will need and I'm on my way. The combining of these two methods helps me have the coupons I may want for a spontaneous purchase when I see a great deal.

I do carry a coupon wallet with me when I shop. It is divided into categories for the items I purchase most often, or have high value coupons for.  This one was bought in the Dollar Spot at Target.

I also recommend printing a copy of the coupon policies for the stores you shop at most often and carrying those in your coupon wallet as well. You never know when you will run into a situation where the cashier is not familiar with their store's policy. Having their policy on hand will usually resolve any questions pretty quickly.

Till next time...
The Coupon Connoisseur

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