One of the reasons I think so many people become frustrated with couponing is due to a lack of organization.
It is very important that you have a plan for storing and keeping your coupons organized, or else they become just another paper pile on your kitchen counter.
How to Choose an Organization Method
There are many different ways to organize your coupons and everyone has her own opinion on the best method. Whatever you finally settle on, the most important thing is that it works for YOU.
Here are some things to consider when choosing an organization method:
1) What are your money saving goals?
Do you want to save a little or a lot? Are you happy with saving $10 a week or are you wanting to see the big savings roll in? Are you looking to save only on what you use on a weekly basis or are you wanting to stockpile in order to cut future costs?
Your answers to these questions will help determine what method you should choose.
If you’re only looking to save a little money here and there on the products you already use or only on the things you buy on a weekly basis, then I would recommend a simple organization method that doesn’t take much time. If you choose an extremely detailed and time consuming method, you will end up putting more time into it then you save and will become discouraged.
If, however, your goal is to save BIG and/or stockpile in order to save in the future, then you need a more advanced, better organized organization method.
2) How much money do you have available to spend on supplies?
Some organization methods will require a bigger investment than others. If you only have a few dollars to spend right away, then it might be best to start with a simpler, less expensive method and then use your savings to switch to a more elaborate system later.
3) How much time do you have to spend on organization?
Some systems simply take more time. It will ultimately be up to you to determine how much time you have to spend AND how much time you ACTUALLY WILL SPEND on organizing your coupons.
4) What method will you ACTUALLY use?
You know your personality and your schedule better than anyone else.
It’s one thing to like the idea of using an elaborate organization system but are you the type of person that will actually put the time into it? Do you even have the time? Are you detail oriented? If not, then choose a simpler method so that you don’t take the chance of becoming overwhelmed and frustrated.
When choosing an organization system, always consider which method you will actually use.
These are just a few tips to help you determine how to organize your coupons. It may be that you already know which method will work best for you. It may also be a game of trial and error until you get the hang of the money saving game.
Remember to keep it personal. Whatever method you decide on, make it your own. Don’t compare yourself to others. Everyone shops differently and thinks differently so what works for one person may not feel right to you.
My Two Favorite Organizing Systems
I currently use two organizing systems for my coupons. After over five years of couponing, I find that The Binder and The Filing System work simultaneously to fulfill my needs. However, you can use them as stand alone methods as well.
My zippered, 3-ring binder is equipped with:
Tabbed dividers labeled according to the categories I shop.
I like to use the pocket dividers so I can slip last minute coupons in and stay organized.
Clear pencil bags labeled with store names. These hold my shopping list and coupons to be used for that trip.
Collector’s card sleeves or photo sleeves go between tabbed dividers to hold coupons.
- Coupons can be seen at a glance. This method is great for visual people.
- Easy to clean out expired coupons.
- You can keep all coupons with you and have them on hand for unadvertised sales.
- Organizing and maintaining your binder on a weekly basis is time consuming – plan on about 1 hour, give or take. (used in conjunction with the filing method, this time is cut in half.)
- If you use only collectors card sleeves, most coupons will need to be folded to fit.
- A quality binder that will last awhile can be costly.
Note: Seriously consider a zippered binder to protect your coupons in case of a fall.
The File System
When I receive each week’s inserts, I go through them and clip all the coupons I know for sure I’ll use as well as any rare, high value coupons or coupons for new products. These go in my binder.
I leave the remaining coupons intact and file them by date.
Each file folder is labeled with the insert type (SS = SmartSource, RP = Redplum, PG = P&G Brand Saver, etc) and the date published.
This system is very effective to use if you follow frugal bloggers. They usually post deals in the following format:
Reynolds Wrap Heavy Duty Aluminum Foil $2.19
– $0.75/1 reynolds wrap foil 35sqft+ 5/19/13 SS excludes wrappers foil sheets (exp 7/31/13)
Final Cost: $0.69
If you use the file system, you would simply find the SmartSource insert that was published on 5/19/13 and then clip the coupon for Reynolds Wrap.
- Takes very little time, file your coupons in minutes.
- Low cost to get started.
- You won’t have your coupons with you for an unadvertised or clearance sale.
- You may go looking for a coupon to find you’ve already clipped it.
How will you (or do you) organize your coupons?