Monday, August 30, 2010

Coupon Organization

Many people wonder how to keep organized with so many coupons. When I first started couponing, I had a small accordian file. My coupon supply quickly outgrew that file and I switched to a binder system.

Here's how I organize my coupons:

Coupon Binder
The coupons that I clip, print or get from direct mail I put in my coupon binder. I bought this binder at Target for around $15. If you're thinking about switching to a binder system, now is probably the time with all the back to school deals. They have some great binders right now with straps which would be great for a coupon binder. I bought a package of ball card inserts (around $5 at Target) to use and I had colored plastic dividers already from college. What I like about this binder is that I have space for everything.

In the front of the binder, there is a full sheet size accordian file which I use to put printable coupons before they get filed, copies of store policies and current newspaper ads. I keep a small pair of scissors in the pocket of the binder and also some paperclips, a pen and envelopes. I also have a tab for rebate forms, and submitted rebates. I always keep copies of all that information in case of missing info, and once I receive the rebate I know I can get rid of it.

I have several pages of sheets in the front of my binder with coupons I plan to use for a particular store, and then divider sections with different categories. You can categorize anyway you want, but I ended up separating into these categories:

Packaged Items/Soup/Drinks
Baby/Personal Care

Within each of those categories, I have several pages of sheets so I keep each sheet somewhat of the same type of product (diapers/wipes, razors/shaving creams, paper products, etc.). So far, this has worked really well for me.

When I get ready to go to the store, I look up my matchups for that store and find the coupons I plan to use. I put them at the front of my binder on a page or couple pages and then when I'm at the store I can easily find those I had planned on using. I always bring my binder into the store, so if there are other items I see that I have coupons for, I can just flip back to that section and grab coupons for those other unplanned items. I like using the ballcard inserts because I can see the coupons- when I was using an accordian file I would constantly lose coupons or forget about them because I couldn't see them all without getting them out.

Every couple weeks, I'll just quickly flip through the pages and pull any expired coupons. It doesn't take more than a couple minutes usually. I'm not as good about going through the expired coupons in the inserts since there are so many, but will occasionally try to purge some of those as well. I usually keep my coupon binder and my insert binders with me, but only bring the coupon binder into the store.

Newspaper Inserts

To clip or not to clip: Time permitting, I like to go through the newspaper inserts when I get them and cut out any high value or other good coupons I plan to use. I then file the rest of the inserts in a 3-ring binder.

I get multiple copies of most newspaper inserts through my own newspaper subscription, copies from family and sometimes buying extras of my own. On the top front of each insert, I write the date of the insert. I have several 3-ring binders I use to store my inserts. I put the inserts in a sheet protector, file the newest in the front of the binder and have it ready for a sale. If I have a bunch of inserts from that particular week, I separate the insert by type (Red Plum, Smart Source or P&G).

When I first started couponing, I was not as organized with my inserts and would go through and toss any coupons I didn't plan to use, but I've learned to save the inserts because there are often deals that come up with products that I normally don't buy that either make me money or I could get for free.

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