Who is ready to use coupons more efficiently and save more on groceries this year?
Maybe you’ve tried and thrown up your hands in surrender and said “This is just not for me” and you’re still playing full price for groceries.
I’m here to tell you, you don’t have too!
Maybe you think couponing is a lot of work.
That’s the excuse most people use when it comes to using coupons. It’s too much work. But to me, work = pay. So let’s look at how much coupons “pay” you. I cut our monthly budget $300-$400 a month when I started so I basically get paid $300-$400 a month to coupon. Sounds to me like the “work” is worth it!
So, if your new years resolution is to be a better couponer, the first thing you need to do is organize your coupons!
There are several different ways to organize your coupons and there is no right or wrong way – it’s what works best for you!
First, you can File by Insert
Keep the inserts intact and write the date in marker on the outside of them and file them in a pocket folder, file folder, accordion file box, mail sorter, wherever you can to keep them in order and easily accessible.
By doing it this way, when you see a good deal online and it says there is a coupon in the 12/6 Smartsource insert – you will know exactly where to go to get that coupon.
I use this method but before I file my inserts, I look through them. I clip the coupons that I know I’ll use because they are on products I use regularly and coupons that I like to use on double coupon days at local stores. Or high value coupon or coupons that are expiring quickly. I keep these in a little organizer in my purse so I always have them with me.
Also – if you file by insert it’s easy to clean out your expired coupons. CouponTom.com will tell you which inserts no longer have valid coupons in them. Then you can toss the whole insert!
Or you can clip and sort in a coupon organizer.
You can get a purse sized coupon organizer like this. This is good for just starting out.
Most of them come with either tabbed index cards or they have the plastic slots with pieces of paper to write on and insert. You’ll want to organize your coupons by category. Some examples are:
You can modify as needed.
Now, with an accordion file there isn’t much “organization” you can do past inserting the labels. Each coupon goes behind the label for which it is categorized. You can keep them sorted within each category by expiration date if you wish. Or you can group like brands together. (for example, under breakfast have all the Kellogg’s cereal coupons together and all the General Mills cereal coupons together). This may help you when you are looking for a particular coupon. But organizers like this to me, get full and messy too fast. It’s hard to find the coupons you need. For example, if I want a coupon on Hormel Chili I have to pull out ALL the canned good coupons and flip through them until I find them.
Plus, let’s not forget to mention that this method requires you to cut out all your coupons. Where as the file by insert method above does not.
Lastly, you can have a coupon binder.
If you don’t mind cutting all your coupons out but you want to be able to organized them better than a wallet organizer – you can use a binder. You’ll need a regular school binder (at least 1″ but probably not more than 2″ or it will be hard to carry) and baseball card inserts. I have a binder, I don’t use it regularly, but I have one. And I like having various sizes of baseball card inserts, because not all coupons fit in the tiny rectangles on the 9 slot pages. The 25 (Twenty Five Pages) – Ultra Pro 4-Pocket Coupon Pages (3.5 X 5 inches, top load pockets) are my favorite size. It takes more sleeves but it sure beats having to cram your coupons in the tiny slots.
Now you have your coupons organized, lets talk about grocery lists!
I have a tip that works well for me!
When I make my grocery list, I write it out on a business sized envelope and put my coupons inside. Before I started using an envelope, I would always fumble and drop coupons while I was shopping. Using an envelope is great!
No go check out part 2 – Getting Coupons! Stay tuned for more in the Be A Better Coupon Shopper Series!