Friday, June 17, 2011

Couponing Organization

Okay, So I promised you that we would talk about some important couponing topics.  So the first topic I want to talk about is Coupon Organization.  Now there are many ways to organize your coupons and I will go through a few different ways to do this and talk about which method I prefer.  The method you use is completely up to you and your personal preference.

Method #1:  The Envelope Method

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This method involves using a series of envelopes to file your coupons.  You can either organize your coupons by expiration date, by grocery category (i.e. paper goods, pet supplies, breakfast items, etc…), or alphabetically.  I believe if this is the method you choose that I would organize by category that way it is easier and faster to find the items you’re looking for when you’re making your shopping list, or while you’re in the grocery store.  If you decide to organize them by expiration date you may want to think about doing them on a weekly or bi-monthly basis, that way you’re not digging through a month’s worth of coupons to find that lotion coupon you want to use.

Method #2:  The Accordion File Method

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This method involves using an accordion file, whether large or small.  I tried this method before but I got too frustrated with it, especially since the separators didn't connect at the bottom.  In this method you can also choose to file based on expiration date or by category.  If you decide to file based on category you may want to find an accordion file that has enough pockets (the one I had only had 5 slots).  This method is similar to the envelope method except for the envelopes!   You can also use one of the slots to stash your scissors, pens, and coupons you will be using at checkout. When I used this method I did not clip every coupon, instead I kept the inserts to go back and look at while making my shopping list.  For me this became a headache because it became a game of find that coupon in that stack of inserts.

Method #3:  The Binder Method (this is the current method I use)

This method involves using a binder (mine is 3”), dividers, and baseball card inserts.  This you can organize by your own categories or another great way is to divide them into the aisles that your grocery store is set up in.  The baseball card inserts have 9 slots per page and they’re clear so you can see what your coupon is for.  (You can also use 8 pocket, 6 pocket, or 3 pockets to store your coupons.  This just means less coupons per page.)  With this method you’re able to flip back and forth between your different categories and see all the coupons you have available.  This makes it easier when you spot a GREAT deal at the grocery store that you hadn’t planned for.  You can also purchase a little zip bag to put in  your binder to store scissors, pens, grocery list, and the coupons you will be using.

I bring my binder with me while grocery shopping.  Coupons work exactly the same on clearance but you have a better chance of scoring items for FREE or for very little OOP.  You never know what great deals you might find, plus there are some coupons that I clip that I’m not sure of the actual retail value of the product so I may or may not want to buy that product depending on what kind of final price I will be paying.  Another great thing to be on the lookout for is clearance items.

If you're looking for somewhere to start for couponing organization here are some links and tips to help you get started!

Method #1 Materials:
Envelopes - pack of 100 is usually under $2 at Walmart

Method #2 Materials:
File folder - The more pockets it has, the more categories you can have.  I've also been told that you can sometimes find smaller sizes (that fit in your purse) at dollar stores. 
   Smead Expanding File, 12 pockets, Poly, Letter (Walmart) - $8.88 FREE site to store shipping
   You can find a small one on Amazon for around $3.99! Click here to check out all of Amazon's expandable file folders.
Method #3 Materials:
Avery Binder - I recommend at least a 2" binder.
   Avery 3" Durable View Binder with EZ Turn Ring (Walmart) - $7.47 FREE site to store shipping
Avery Tabs - Durable is a must have.  I know that going cheap sounds best...but it won't be cheap if you keep having to replace them due to them tearing.  You will probably need 2-3 packs of these.
   Avery Style Edge Insertable Reference Dividers with 8 Tabs (Walmart) - $5.47 FREE site to store shipping ($3.88 in my local store)
Baseball Card Inserts -
   25 Ultra Pro 9 Pocket Page Protectors (Amazon) - $5.94 FREE shipping with Amazon PRIME
   Ultra Pro 9 Pocket Page "Silver Series" 100 pages (Amazon) - $13.76 FREE shipping with Amazon PRIME
Binder Cover Sheet
(If you're wanting to print this list, right click and select open link in new tab)

Approximate Cost - $32.17 (2 packets of tabs and 100 baseball card inserts)
**Remember, you do not have to buy everything all at once.  Also, check with office stores for sales and deals when buying your binder and tabs, you may find a better deal!

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