August 02, 2011

Couponing Resources: Part 4 - How I organize my coupons

There are lots of ways to organize coupons that I've seen.  When I first started, I clipped every single coupon and organized it in a zippered, 3-ring binder, filled with empty clear, plastic baseball card holders.  Keeping up with it all was a full-time job, and not worth the effort.  Half or more of the coupons never were used, so my time clipping and organizing them was wasted.  Here is what works for me in my now balanced approach to couponing that works in my real life.

As I mentioned before, I leave Sunday inserts intact.  (The exceptions are when I see coupons for something I know we will use, or something particularly high in value, and I want to have it ready on my next trip to the store, or be sure I don't forget about.)  When I get the Sunday paper, I pull out all the coupon inserts, grab a pen, write the date clearly on the front of each insert, and file the inserts into my hanging file-folder case, where each folder is labeled for a month.
This makes it easy for me to pull an insert out and find the coupons I need for a particular sale or item on my list.  It also is easy for me to store in an out-of-the way place in my house, while still easily accessible.

My clipped coupons get organized in a 12-section organizer like this:
I think these are called "check organizers" or something.  And it used to have an elastic fastener to keep it closed, but that broke off awhile ago.  Anyway, my coupons are sorted in the following categories:

- The front section is where I put coupons I'm about to use on my next shopping trip.
- Produce
- Health/Beauty
- Paper/Cleaning
- Snacks, Crackers, Cookies, Candy
- Cereal, Breakfast
- Juice, Tea, Drinks
- Ethnic, Soup, Canned, Spices, Instant
- Baking, Condiments, PBJ
- Bread, Butter, Meat
- Dairy
- Frozen
- Restaurant

I came up with the categories, then put them in this order by the general layout of the store where I most frequently shop.  Any coupons I have clipped, printed, or gleaned from other sources go into this organizer.

About 1-2 times a month I go through and discard expired coupons.  Often, when doing that, I come across coupons I forgot I had, and make a plan to use them on my next shopping trip if it's something we want or need.  This is what I have found works well for me.  Feel free to use my ideas, or modify them to fit what works for you.

In my next post, I'll talk about how I plan to maximize my savings before going on a shopping trip.

Click here for Part 5 - "Plan Ahead to Max Your Savings"

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