Monday, January 24, 2011

Secrets of Saving: Coupon Organizing

After I posted about stockpiling, I received a few comments, e-mails, and facebook messages asking about more couponing tips.  Like I said, I have been out of the couponing groove for a few months now (hanging my head in shame).  I'm still couponing, just not the hard-core version.  The "hard-core" version is what I'm going to share with you today, and hopefully it will motivate me to get back to my A-game!

I have always been a saver and a couponer.  My problem was forgetting what coupons I had clipped or having them expire before I could use them.  I started carrying around one of these...
It's cheap, plastic, and can fit inside your purse nicely.  It has dividers that you can label, like I did here....
It helped a great deal, but I didn't like having to search for a coupon everytime I needed one.  I decided to go all out and start the binder method.  Note:  This is not for everyone.  It does take a little time each week.  You will receive weird looks.  Many of the weird looks will be from your husband, even if he is secretly impressed at your mad organizational and saving skills.
So, here's what you need:
A 3-ring binder, some dividers, and baseball card collecting pages (they have 9 pockets on each page).
I had a one inch binder but I may suggest using one that's a little bigger, because mine filled up pretty quickly.

Don't mind the dirty table, I took my binder outside for better lighting :)
Instead of buying dividers, I already had some manilla folders at home, so I used those.  I started by dividing my binder into different sections and then sub-sections for maximum organization!  The manila folders were labeled into the main sections, and then I used sticker labels to directly label the 9-pocket pages into the subsections.  Here's a picture that may help explain better than my wording!

You can see the main section is "Baking" and the sub-section is "Mixes."
Here's the list of my sections & sub-sections, but I suggest you organize them to better fit your shopping needs or your grocery store layout.
  • Baking
    • Ingredients
    • Mixes
  • Beverages
  • Canned
    • Fruits/Veggies
    • Sauces/Seasonings
  • Frozen
    • Fruits/Veggies
    • Ice Cream/Desserts
    • Meals
    • Sides
  • Grains
    • Cereal
    • Meal Kits
    • Pasta
  • Meats
  • Refrigerated
    • Yogurt
    • Other Dairy
  • Snacks
    • Sweets
    • Salty
  • Cleaning
    • Dishes
    • Laundry
    • Other Cleaners
  • Drug & Bath
    • Bath
    • Baby Misc.
    • Diapers/Wipes
    • Deoderant
    • Feminine
    • Makeup
    • Medicine
    • Shampoo/Hair
    • Toothpaste/Mouth
  • Paper Products
    • Bags/Containers
    • Foil/Saran/Etc
    • Paper Towels
    • Tissues
    • Toilet Paper
  • Store Coupons  (where I keep ExtraBucks, catalina coupons, etc)
    • CVS
    • Giant
Now, all you need to do is clip coupons and put them where they belong!  Yes, it does take a little extra time, but knowing exactly what I have and keeping what I have organized makes me much more likely to use the coupons and SAVE!

A few more helpful hints: 
  • "Like" coupons can share the same pocket.  Just keep the stack in order of the expiration date.
  • Make sure to keep the expiration dates easily visible.  This way you can take the coupons out as soon as they expire.
  • I keep all my "free product"  coupons in a separate envelope in the front pocket of my binder so I'm less likely to forget about them.
  • When I go grocery shopping, as soon as I have an item with a coupon, I put that coupon in an envelope.  That way when I'm standing at check-out, my coupons are all ready and I am not holding up the line.
  • Know your grocery store's coupon policy.  Many double coupons, but keep in mind it is often only the first "like" coupon.  (example:  If I buy two boxes of mac & cheese and have a 50 cent coupon for each of them, the first coupon will double to $1, but the second coupon will not). 
  • Take advantage of stacking coupons - most grocery stores will stack the manufacturer's coupon (the kind you get in the Sunday paper) with a catalina coupon (the kind that prints out at the register). 
  • When I only need a few things, my kids come with me.  When I need a lot, no thank you.  It's nearly impossible, even with typically well-behaved children. 
  • Be nice to the cashiers.  If you have a coupon for a free item, be sure to let them know or put it on the top of your stack so they don't have to search through your receipt at the end.  They will appreciate it.
I hope that helps - if you have any questions, just leave them in the comments.  I was going to add a paragraph on where to find coupons, but thought this post was long enough.  If that's something that would interest you, look for it sometime in the near future!

Linking up to the Penny Pinching Party here! and the homemaking linky here!


Annie said...

This explains the organization so well. Thanks! I'm just getting into couponing and was looking for a way to keep them together.

Jackie said...

I love reading your blog, Angie!! You are so creative! I have yet to use the big binder for my coupons...but it is oh-so-tempting!!! Don't forget about Target...they are the best for allowing two coupons per item!!!

Anonymous said...

YAY, girlfriend! I needed this encouragement! I have been carrying around a 3 ring binder (but knew the baseball card method ~ just haven't taken that extra time yet)! I do get funny looks at the store with my 3 ring binder, and then I get the occasional comment "ooooooo, you're a couponer too!" :-) I was in the same boat with the little plastic just wasn't working for me! Angie ~ I'm loving your blog! (new title rocks too) You and Nikki are inspiring me!!!!!!! :-) Your friend, Jen

Carmie of the Single Nester said...

Great idea! I keep my coupons in a little tiny thing organized by expiration date.

Lindsey said...

Angie! First off, where has your blog been all my life?!? :O ) Love it! And, I have a binder for my coupons, too. Though it definitely takes time to sort them out each week, it's worth it when you get to the store to quickly get your fingers on a coupon. And, I bought a binder with the clear pockets around the outside and put a really fun piece of my favorite scrapbook paper in the front, back, and on the spine of my binder to make it easier to find at home and MUCH more fun to carry when I'm out. Scott, however, doesn't think it's nearly as much fun to carry as I do on our weekly shopping trip! :O )

Anonymous said...

I love this! As someone who gets giddy about organizing, I oohed and ahhed over your sub-categories! Great job!

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