Friday, September 18, 2009

Coupon Organization...

Image courtesy of, Utah Deal Diva.

Once you get into coupons hot and heavy you'll quickly notice that you are going to have a TON of coupons. What do you do with them all? Well, that's a loaded question really.

There are a lot of different methods out there. The box method (Money Saving Mom advocates that method) is popular with some, which is basically taking a plastic shoe box and putting envelopes in as dividers for your coupons. Personally? I tried this for a while. If you get your coupons from the ADN odds are this is a waste of time. We don't get enough coupons to really worry about, and I also found this HORRIBLY akward with two young children. I'd always end up putting my coupons into my wallet and leaving the actual box in the car (since I'd have one kid in the front of the cart and one child IN the would get destroyed if I took them in the box). I gave up on this method pretty quick.

Second is the "acordian" method. This is where you take one, to multiple, coupon accordian organizers, stick them into a box if necessary to put in your cart and use those as a method of organization. I like the IDEA of this method. Actually, in a way I use it. I have one coupon organizer that I keep in my diaper bag/tote bag that I keep any coupons that I KNOW I want to use before they expire (food coupons especially). I divide those categories up like this...

Household (paper goods and chemicals)
Health and Beauty
Restaurants/probably not going to use

I have three left over slots that I use to stick coupons as I find them for my shopping trip for the week(s) by grocery store...

Fred Meyer
Wal-Mart/Carrs (since I do the least amount of shopping at those two stores)

I also have one slot up front which is where my "FREE" coupons go because I know I want to use them and it's completely visible that way.

If I have a coupon for a free product that I'm not sure where to find it, or if I have a coupon I KNOW I want to use, but only if the price is right, I just stick it in the Fred Meyer slot and move it back to the next store if the price is too high there. I've never been disappointed using that method for my coupons.

The only problem with the accordian method (and any clip method) that I've found is that clipping coupons takes FOREVER, keeping track of which insert the coupons came from is impossible and in the off chance my mom sends me coupons from the lower 48, those will get mixed up with the rest of my coupons, so if I'm trying to do match-ups for my blog...well this doesn't work great.

So, I've started a system like this. I went out and bought a binder at Fred Meyer that was on sale for 6.99 in back to school. It has an accordian file system built into it with four slots (which was PERFECT!). It zippers shut so I don't have to worry about anything falling out, has multiple pockets including one to stick a small pair of scissors and a sharpie into, AND has a lot of other little pockets that fit any odd man out clipped coupons I have.

I bought ONE 2 pocket folder (mainly because I haven't gotten any baseball card pages yet) as well.

I love the "clipless" method for filing my inserts. I just write the date on the front of the insert, stick it into the accordian file (which I have organized into "Smart Source inserts", "Red Plum inserts", "All You Magazine"...I just rip out the pages with the coupons, paper clip together and write the month the coupons came from on the front of the pile to store more compactly...and "Misc"...the "Naturally Preferred coupons go in this section among others).

In the 2 pocket folder I have put any coupon booklets I've recieved as well as my internet printables (not clipped) and any other coupons that I've gotten in the mail pre-file into my accordian file.

The binder fits PEFECTLY into an over the shoulder bag I have, which is great if I need a shoulder strap for it (and it doesn't look like I'm carrying around a huge honking binder...I get school flash backs what can I say ;-).

After I have my shopping trip planned out, I just go in, clip the coupons I need out of my inserts and my internet printables, put them into my store categories and voila. Done. I've just been taking the binder with me and keeping it in the car, in case I run into a screaming deal and the off chance I don't have the coupon I need with me. I can just do two trips into the store OR if my husband is with me, leave him with the kids and run out to the car to recover the binder. I take the accordian file with me, which usually has all the coupons I require in it anyway :-).

I take my stack of coupons out of the accordian file when I get to the store and put them into my wallet (sometimes I'll stick them in an envelope in my accordian file to make my life easier) so I have them handy. If I have a lot of akward shaped coupons for that store (say peelies), I'll stick those coupons back into the accordian file after I've picked up the item and just "restack" all the coupons back into that store category. Then when I get up to the register I can just pull all the coupons out of the accordian file and not worry about some important coupon falling out of my wallet.

This is just my personal system though. Everyone has their own that works well for them. I'm still getting my system to work right for me (as you can see).

If you'd like to see the super organized way to do a binder, you can go HERE and read up on it.

The best thing about doing coupons is that there is no WRONG way to do it. So long as it works for you, go with it and as your needs change just go with it!

Enjoy all!

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