Coupon organization, you say? This type of organization might come as a surprise to some, but yes, a lot of us are so serious about savings, that we have coupons stashed all over the house, the purse, and sometimes even in the car. Needless to say, when we really need them, they might be tough to find. If you would keep coupons organized in some sort of system, you would always have what you need handy, which is a goal of all frugal shoppers.
There are many different ways to organize these little important papers. Something that works for us might not work for you. In fact, people can get pretty passionate about their organization methods, but we will talk about a few of them to make sure you can find what you like.
There are a few steps to figure out what kind of coupon collector you are, what is your personality like, and how can you keep your deals organized based on the first two criterions.
1. What kind of couponing do you do?
Most of us have seen at least a glimpse of TV show "Extreme Couponing", right? The people on that show are really extreme "couponers", who spend a lot of time finding hundreds of coupons, matching them with products or sales, creating shopping lists, and keeping track of all the clipped coupons. They save money in the expense of their time. They all need some extensive organization to keep track of the deals and use them before they are no longer valid.
You don't have to go to extremes to save money; all you need is a bit of time to keep yourself organized. If you use a few coupons from time to time, you need a simple system to have them stored conveniently. The more coupons you use, the more complex your system should be. Treat your time as an investment and never spend more of it than you get in return by saving with coupons.
2. Savings other than coupons
Clipping coupons is not the only way to save money while shopping for household items. You can save quite a bit by planning your meals and making sure nothing goes to waste. Comparing prices of different grocery stores and shopping at the cheaper one always works too. You can create and use a simple price list to help you with price comparing.
3. Should you clip or not?
This is a really big and a very important question. Some people choose not to clip separate coupons, but instead file the entire coupon insert until they are ready to use it. This definitely saves time and has many fans in the couponing community. There is, however, another school of thought and people who swear that clipping individual coupons is the only way to go. This decision is personal and might work for some of us better than for others.
Let's take a look at some pros and cons of coupon insert filing without clipping:
If you go with no clipping system, it's pretty simple - just file them by date and find what you need when you need it.
4. Setting up your system
Once you choose the method you will be using, it is time to organize the system. This is what everybody should keep in mind while setting up their method of organization:
If you choose to file inserts, consider finding a company that will send you alerts about upcoming deal expirations, so that you can take advantage of them before it's too late. Even with clipped coupons, such help would really make matching coupons with sales easier.
If you clip your coupons, make sure you categorize them for easy access. You should create categories and subcategories for organization.
The best tool to organize clipped coupons is a coupon binder. You can use a sturdy three ring binder, create dividers for your main categories, and place individual coupons in plastic sleeves, such as for baseball cards. This type of binder can be taken to shopping trips and will always provide good access to the coupons you need.
Another option for coupon organization is coupon wallet or coupon box. This method puts coupons in a box, which has to be flipped when you are looking for a certain coupon. If you don't have many coupons, you can use a wallet for that purpose.
5. Maintaining your couponing system
If left unchecked all systems will become cluttered with old coupons and will eventually get abandoned. It is very healthy to develop a habit of adding new coupons about once a week. At the beginning of each month you should overhaul your system and throw away old coupons because they tend to expire at the end of the month.
Don't be sad if some coupons get expired before you get a chance to use them, because coupons tend to come in cycles and you will definitely get a similar deal again, sooner or later.
Beware that many stores have coupons only for new customers. But sites like retailmenot, couponcabin, coupons4brands usually have coupons for both new and existing customers. They search emails, mobile app offers, Facebook promotions to find available codes. Sometimes Groupon has the best deal even without coupons. So be sure to check their app also.