Topic: How To Organize Coupons
If you’re just joining us, I started a How To Tuesday series to help you learn how to achieve Extreme Couponing status. You’ll learn how to coupon shop step-by-step and take your regular couponing to Extreme Couponing. If you’re new, be sure you check out our previous week’s features.
- Part 1: How to Accumulate Coupons
- Part 2: How to Organize Your Coupons
- Part 3: How to Understand Bargain Jargon
- Part 4: Understanding Your Coupon
- Part 5: Knowing When to Use Your Coupon
- Part 6: How to Use the Coupon Database
- Part 7: How to Stack Coupons
This week you may be looking at your coupon inserts wondering what in the world to do with them. Today’s topic covers coupon organization. There are really three main methods of organization with pros and cons to each.
:: Whole Insert Filing Method
The first method I will highlight today is Whole Insert Filing. This is my preferred method because it takes the least amount of time. You can read a very detailed account of how I do it but here’s a quick run down.
Take the Sunday Coupon Inserts each week and write the date in large numbers so it’s easy to read. Then place them in chronological order in an accordion file, file box or just a stack on your desk. Each week when you make your shopping list, you’ll pair up available coupons with the items on your list and only clip the coupons you need.
Disposing of inserts can prove tricky since the coupons inside expire at varying times. You can either write on the cover the date the last coupon expires so you know when to toss. Or, you can just toss inserts after 3 months. You may miss some deals that way but you won’t have stacks of coupons taking over your house. I recycle mine after three months. I keep them for a full three months. That means on April 1, I got rid of December 2010 inserts.
:: The Pros
It’s quick and easy. You are only clipping the coupons you need when you actually need them. Sure I need dishwashing soap, but it might not always be on sale or a better coupon may come next week. So I don’t clip a dishwashing soap coupon until it’s on my list. Then I can choose from the highest value coupon available.
:: The Major Con
You don’t have all your coupons with you. If you spot a killer clearance at the store and know you have $2 coupons at home, you either have to pay more, miss out or make a second trip. For me, I prefer not to sacrifice my time for a good deal. I will just skip the clearance find. However, I will write it on my list and grab the coupons, in case I need to make a second trip that week or if the item is still on clearance the following week.
I’ve been using this method for over a year and find it best suits my needs, however, you may find one of these other methods a better fit for you.
:: Coupon Binder Method
This second method is one you likely see on the TLC show Extreme Couponing. Not all Coupon Binder people are crazy though. It’s just a method that works well for many people. I personally find it too time consuming but people swear by it and love having their coupons organized.
First, you’ll need to get a binder, tab dividers and some baseball card protector sheets. You can find them in stores or just grab them from Amazon. Use the tab dividers to divide your binder into categories like Frozen Foods, Refrigerated Foods, Hair Care, Baby and more. Each Sunday you clip all the coupons from the Coupon Inserts. and file like coupons in the baseball card sheets in each category. You’ll be able to easily see what coupons you have and they’ll be organized by category.
To get rid of expired coupons, you’ll need to filp through each page and find the expired ones and pull them out.
:: The Pros
You always shop with your binder and therefore have all your coupons will you. If you spot a great clearance find, you can take advantage because you have the $2 coupons with you. Also, if you have multiple coupon inserts or multiples of the same value of coupon, they can all go in the same slot so they are organized by value in addition to category.
:: The Cons
It is very time consuming. Clipping and filing coupons from multiple inserts can take quite a bit of time. Also, flipping through the binder while you organize your shopping trip can also be time consuming.
If you have kids that can wield scissors and would like to clip coupons for you and even file them, then this might be a great method for you. Just add clipping and filing to the chore chart each week. I know others clip and file while they watch TV or do it at weekly family dinners. If you can fit it into your schedule, you might find this method to work well for you.
:: Coupon Wallet Method
This third method is kind of a middle ground of the two already mentioned. You go through the Sunday Coupon insert each week and clip out the coupons that you know you will use. Things like toothpaste, shampoo and food items. Then you file them categorically in a small wallet file. The cancelled check files you can find at office supply stores work well. Keep the wallet file in your purse so you’re ready to shop anytime. Other take this method a step further and use a box because they have more coupons than will fit in the file.
To get rid of expired coupons, you have to sort through your file one by one and pull the expired coupons. Some people do this weekly and others do it monthly.
:: The Pros
Similar to the pros of the other methods but in a more limited degree. This method takes less time that the Coupon Binder Method because you are only clipping and filing coupons you use. You also have your coupons with you so if you spot a clearance deal, you can take advantage of it.
:: The Cons
It can be time consuming to clip and file coupons. You also may not know which insert they originate from so matching them to your shopping list may be more difficult. You also are only clipping the coupons you need. You might come across a big money maker on a product you’d never heard of. You wouldn’t be able to take advantage because you don’t have the coupons needed.
If you are only buying a few items with coupons, this might be a great method for you.
You can also try a combination of these methods. While I predominantly use the Whole Insert method, I do have a coupon wallet that I put extra coupons in. The ones I print off the internet, ones I get via mail or ones I just don’t end up using on my shopping trip for whatever reason. They all sit in my coupon wallet until I need them.
Experienced Couponers Chime In: Which method to you use? Why do you love it?
Check out the entire How To Tuesday feature to learn how to achieve savings success using coupons.