A blog about keeping yourself and your expenses lean in Oakland County, Michigan.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Basic Couponing Lesson Number Three: Organizing Coupons

There are many ways to organize coupons some high maintenance and others very low maintenance. Each has its distinct advantages and disadvantages. When you first start out it usually is pretty basic. You have a few envelopes for key categories and sort accordingly. Categories such as baby, produce, meat and deli, etc. Once you get a lot of coupons though most move to something else. Another way is an accordion type file divided basically the same way. This is my preliminary sorting method right now. I clip on Sundays and Mondays and then place according to category in this file. This too though can become very full and that makes coupons hard to find. Another method is to use a recipe type box with dividers and categories as well. Here is a picture of one of these similar methods:
All of the above methods require you to clip your coupons. Each month and some times each week you will have to throw away many coupons that expire because the product did not go on sale. Some people are not interested in using that extra energy for something you are going to throw away. So one of the more popular methods is to not clip the coupons at all. You leave them completely in tact write the date and the type Label them with the type (Smart Source, Procter & Gamble, General Mills, or Red Plum) of insert on the front in big black permanent marker. (It is on the side but difficult to see.) Then you just file them by date. The process goes like this:

Step One: Get your paper on Sunday morning.
Step Two: Remove the coupon inserts.
Step Three: Put them in a file folder or box with separators
Step Four: Label the folder (i.e. “Smart Source 1/6” or “SS 1/6”).
*If you’d like you can also include an index card to note any coupons you removed, so you can easily see what you have already used.
That easy plain and simple! When you visit coupon match-up and other frugal websites that post deals, you will see all the coupons are identified in the same manner. When you see “2/16 P&G” noted beside a coupon offer, you will know to take out the insert labeled 2/16 from the Procter & Gamble insert to find your coupon.
In order to find a coupon that you use on a regular basis, you are doing your own coupon match ups, or you see a deal advertised you can check a coupon database. Both classes that I took recommended Coupon Mom coupon database for coupons that appear in the paper. These coupons are sorted out by state and regions so you can be confident that if it was mentioned in an insert you will have it. Two other resources to help you find internet printable coupons are A Full Cup and Hot Coupon World user-maintained databases. All of the above sites require you to register to obtain information but registration is free. Afterwards you can use the databases simply by entering the coupon you are looking for and it will tell you if there are any coupons available and from what insert and what date or provide you the link to the printable coupon.
The last and most involved method is referred to as “the binder method.” For this method you purchase a binder then use baseball cards or some other type of insert and insert your coupons into the slots. This is the most involved and time-consuming method but you will always know where your coupons are. I try to use this method but sometimes. I don’t have time to migrate my coupons from the preliminary method over to my binder. You want to purchase if possible a zipper binder because if it is dropped everything will remain inside. I actually just got a picture album that was on clearance for mine. Here are some pictures:
See previous post I’ve made on the subject here:

So what are the advantages and disadvantages of the most popular two methods?
Well with the no clip method it is low maintenance. If you are following a coupon match-up website you won’t have any problem finding the coupons you need. The disadvantages are that if there are unadvertised sales, clearance or manager mark-downs when you are in the store you won’t have the coupon with you when you go.
The binder method is very time-consuming to maintain but you can take advantage of every deal you find when you are in the store.
To start out if you don’t feel you are comfortable finding deals by looking at the store fliers on your own you can find sites that will match the sales to available coupons in your area for your or coupon-match-up websites. I do match-ups on my site for VGs, Whole Foods, and sales at Colosanti's, and I do highlights and links to other match-ups for Kroger, Meijer, Target and the Pharmacies. I occassionally link to others If you need another store or are not from metro Detroit I found my favorite one by going to: Becentsable. Go there click on National Store deals then search for one in your area if you are interested in a National store or go to Grocery Store Deals for more local grocery stores. There you can search by state.

This week’s tasks:
Start a Coupon filing system
Go to the coupon databases and become familiar with them
Check out match-ups listed above

If you are a blogger please link below any posts you have done on Coupon Organization.

1 comment:

  1. You should see my kitchen table on Sunday morning. I make piles with my newspapers: coupon packets, ad fliers I want to read, ad fliers I'm not interested in, and news sections. (I have both the Monroe and Detroit papers delivered).

    Some of the hand-me-down coupons get to me as early as Monday afternoon so yes, my clipping and sorting is usually a Sunday and Monday effort.