Don't let the title scare you. It's not as dreadful as it sounds!
You have a few different options for organizing coupons, and you can also combine methods to find a system that works for you. THAT is the key to a good system: It works for YOU.
Option 1- Filing Inserts: This is the method that Couponmom.com creator, Stephanie Nielsen recommends. You collect your inserts and file them according to their company name. So you might have files labeled "Smart Source," Red Plum," " P & G," & "General Mills." You mark the date on the front of each insert using a Sharpie. When it's time to gather coupons for a shopping trip, you pull out the corresponding insert, & clip only the coupons you need.
Pros: You are only clipping coupons AS YOU NEED THEM. You have less coupons to lug around.
Cons: You miss out on a lot of unadvertised sales since you don't have your extra coupons with you.
Option 2 - Accordion File: With this method, you would clip all of your coupons each week, for items that you typically buy, and file them by category. Then you would take your accordion file with you on each shopping trip.
Pros: It's lightweight & you can easily tote your file with you & have all of your coupons available when you spot unadvertised deals.
Cons: You can not view several coupons at once. You must constantly flip through your file and each stack of coupons to remember which ones you have. It keeps your hands very busy. It does not allow you to store a pen & calculator. There's no way to display your shopping list.
Option 3 - The Binder: This is the method I use & I find that it works really well for me. I use a 1" 3-ring binder, with baseball card holders & dividers. I clip ALL the coupons for the items I normally buy, and tuck them into the slots. The rest of the coupons stay in the inserts, which are then filed. This binder goes with me on every shopping trip. You can totally customize your binder according to the way you think and shop for your groceries. This can be by store departments, alphabetical, store aisles, etc.
Pros: You can easily view several coupons at once, thus also building your memory for the coupons you have. It is easy to find a particular coupon. You have room to store a calculator, pen, shopping lists, & individual envelopes/pockets for different stores. And best of all, you always have your coupons with you for all of those unadvertised deals, clearance items, impromptu shopping trips, etc.
Cons: It's big. It can get heavy. You are doing a lot of clipping. It takes extra time to add your coupons to the binder.
The key is just to find some kind of system that will work for you. Each one has it's benefits, but the one that fits your lifestyle, organization method, thinking process, is the one that's going to work best for you.
If you like the Binder Method, but don't like the idea of pre-clipping all of those coupons, I have a trick to help the task go faster. Having most of your coupons with you, you can really maximize your savings by being able to take advantage of the deals you didn't know about, & avoid extra trips to the store, hoping to score the deal.
Option 4: Use a clipping service like CouponDeDe.com or ClippinCraz.com. With this method, you use an online coupon clipping service to order your coupons and whole inserts. You will still want to choose one organizational method above to store and carry your coupons.
Pros: You save time by getting the coupons already clipped, unless you order whole inserts. You only order the coupons YOU want. You can order several "like" coupons for your favorite products so you can really stock up.You can order back inserts for weeks that you weren't able to buy newspapers. These sites are very user-friendly.
Cons: You will have to pay postage/shipping costs. If you're ordering coupons for the current sale week, they may not arrive before the sale ends. You might order too many of certain coupons and some or all might expire before you can use them. They could get lost in the mail.
*More info about this method: You can also try Ebay.com for coupon clippers. (Make note to NEVER buy printable coupons from any clipping service or you run the risk of counterfeit or photocopied coupons.) When using clipping services, you could ask a (local) friend if they would like to combine the orders & save on shipping costs.
Once you start building up your coupon stash, you will want to have a system in place so that you can start organizing right away. Otherwise, the task will be overwhelming, you'll be missing all the great deals, and some of your coupons will start to expire. All of your excitement and effort will be lost.
Ok, now that you've got all of your coupons organized, let's put them to work, shall we?
It's time to learn how to find good deals.
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