Saturday, May 14, 2011

Adventures in Couponing: Getting Organized

Keeping your coupons in a giant crazy heap on your desk will not help you use them. Keeping them organized will. Simple as that. Here's how I organize mine, which I mentioned briefly in the last post:

I have a hanging file folder with several envelopes in it. First, I have a file for each of my coupon pamphlets: RedPlum, SmartSource, P&G. I always mark the pamphlet with the date first so that I can easily find it. Couponing-assistant websites, which I will discuss later, refer to these pamphlets by their title and date. I also have a file for restaurant coupons, store coupons, and miscellaneous coupons, like the Val-Pack savings I get in the mail, or ones printed on the back of my grocery receipts, etc.

This hanging file folder stays up high on a shelf. In it I save all the coupons I get. I clean it out occasionally, as coupons do expire. The rule of thumb is to keep the coupon packets for about five months. Other things to keep with the coupon packets: scissors, a pen, a highlighter for marking sales, and the current week's sales circulars. Make sure you recycle extra paper if you can!

Part two of my organization system: My notebook. I invested some money and bought a nice 3-ring binder, some insert tabs, and several packages of 4x6 plastic photo sheets (or you can use baseball card holders or business card holders. I like photo holders because the slots are bigger.) I had to go to Staple's to find the photo pages, but they are there by the other page protectors. After purchasing these things, I labeled my inserts by type: Household Supplies, Frozen, Snacks, etc. You could also do alphabetical, by expiration date, by store you plan to use things at, whatever you want. Put a few coupon holders per section, and then sort your clipped coupons and put in the page protectors. This way you can easily flip through and see the coupons. The goal of this binder is to be easy to understand and use, and for you to keep with you all the time. I put coupons in my binder both when I plan on using them, but also if I think I might use them. Then, if I'm shopping and I see something I need, I can easily flip through my coupons and see if I have one. Other things to keep in the binder: Your organized shopping lists (see future posts), a calculator (my phone has one), a pen, and if you start getting super extreme--your store's coupon policies.

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