Couponing 101

I must admit, I am kind of obsessive and crazy when it comes to organizing. My closets, including my husband’s (but not by choice), is color coordinated and separated by style. I save almost everything paper (receipts, bills, and anything else) and each have some sort of filing system. Couponing is no different. To be efficient and use coupons to the fullest, organizing your coupons is very important. There are two main ways to keep all your coupons organized. Remember, do what works for you, even if it is something totally different.

The first way is using a coupon binder. You can get a big three-ring binder (and zippered to help keep them safe in there) and a bunch of baseball card sleeves. You then organize all your coupons in the sleeves by category (laundry, frozen food, personal care, household, etc). Your categories can be as broad or narrow as you’d like. You would get tabs, such as Post-It tabs, to label the sheet that starts each category. I would also put a few pocketed inserts to keep store fliers, lists, coupon policies, and other full-sized documents you might want to keep and reference.

There are also binders/organizers you can buy completely setup for coupons, such as the Coupon Clutch and the Coupon Magic Organizer. I recommend searching around Amazon to get ideas or find something that might work for you if you are not sure.

PROS: You have all your coupons on every shopping trip and they are all visible.

CONS: It can be very time-consuming to cut all your coupons and putting them in the sleeves. You will also have to go through it every so often to clean out the expired coupons. A con for me is the size. With a toddler and infant with me most of the time, I don’t have anywhere to put the binder. I barely have room for the groceries!

The other method is the filing system. You can use a filing cabinet, a banker’s box, or an accordion expanding file. I use an accordion expanding file because it latches closed and has a handle. This makes it easy to get out, move room-to-room, or store out of the way (plus I got it on clearance at Target). With this method, you take all your Sunday Paper inserts, unclipped, and file them by date. I write in the top of each insert the date so if you leave the insert out or get it mixed up with another one, you know where it needs to be filed. This method is extremely helpful when you are doing coupon match ups, as the coupons are easy to find. In the back slot of the filing system, I keep mail-in rebate forms  and receipts/UPCs for the rebates.

PROS: It is easy to find a coupon when it is referenced in an Ad Matchup or posted deal. It is also quick and easy if you don’t have time to clip every coupon every week.

CONS: You don’t have all available coupons when you are at the store. So if there an unadvertised deal or clearance item that you weren’t planning to buy, you might miss a good deal not having all your coupons with you.

I also have a smaller organizer I keep in my purse. I use this to store my coupons I know I will be using, printable coupons that I clipped, and coupons I received in the mail. I also keep a few coupons in here for products I know typically go on sale. My favorite feature is the notepad that it comes with. I use this to create my shopping lists, keep notes on upcoming deals, or record prices/deals when I am at the store. When I start planning a shopping trip, I paperclip the coupons I will be using to the list.

Let me know if you have any questions. Remember, do what works best for you, experiment, even if it is something totally different. Which method do you use or prefer?

Next week’s installment of Couponing 101: Where to Get Coupons.