How to Organize Coupons
Coupons are an easy and invaluable way to save money on purchases and are available in most Sunday newspapers and on national coupon websites. From grocery coupons to the store-targeted variety, once you accrue a stockpile of coupons, you need to organize them in a way that makes them easily accessible, simple to view and portable. When properly organized, coupons can be matched up to specific store sales and special offers for more savings. Here are some tips on how to Organize Coupons!
Method 1 of 3: Your Organizing System
Keep it simple. You do not have to have a fancy schmancy system to be an avid couponer. You may actually find that dealing with a binder (or whatever system you use) is cumbersome and needless. Use what’s available in your house already — don’t go spending money for the purpose of saving money.
- Use a big zipped baggie and paper clips. If that doesn’t sound up your alley, grab a shoebox. Repurposing your old goods is greener, too.
Use a large accordion file. Something that comes with individualized sections already does half the work for you. You can place labels on each of the tabs in the sorting system that you choose.
- Accordion files now come in all sorts of shapes and colors; some are plastic and bendy and others are more like a box. Think about the volume of your coupons and what your needs are.
- Use a small accordion check file for your purse or a clutch. That way when you go to the store, you’re not carrying around all of your coupons.
- The downside to an accordion-style coupon organizer is the accessibility of the coupons. Because coupons are merely stacked on top of one another within each category, they are difficult to see and often stick together.
Invest in a binder. One of the most popular methods of organizing coupons is in a binder. With fewer coupons, they virtually collapse. With more, they expand to just about as big as you need. If you’re serious about couponing, get a 3″ or 5″ binder — the 1 inch ones just won’t do.
- Use trading card sheets. They keep all your coupons separate and easy to reference. You can find these at toy stores, hobby shops, or sporting goods stores.
- This style of coupon organizer allows your stash of coupons to be easily viewed, readily accessible and simple to take into the store. The downside to this system of coupon organizing is the bulk of the binder.
Buy a couponizer. Since couponing has become so trendy, products and companies have sprung up as a result. Now you can find little gadgets dedicated just for coupon organizing.
- Most couponizers have pages for shopping lists, a coupon stacker section, a coupon tracker section, scissors with a blunt tip, and a carrying bag.
Keep your extras handy. Surprisingly, couponing isn’t just about coupons. You need more than just your system to stay on top of things. Couponing is a lifestyle and you’ll need everything to be as easy as possible.
- Keep scissors with your system. Otherwise they’ll be easy to lose as a family member or roommate may misplace them. What’s more, keep a pen and paper handy. You may need to write a grocery list, take notes on stacking or plan meals.
Method 2 of 3: How You Sort
Sort them by category. Even once you decide to sort by category, there’s still a bit of wiggle room. Your categories can be whatever you choose — aisle, product type, or how often you buy.
- Examples include “dairy/frozen,” “paper products/cleaning products” and a category dedicated to drinks and snacks. This method used to organize coupons allows you to focus on a specific category of products if your trip to the store is for a few items only.
- If your coupons are in order by aisle, you are less apt to forget important items on your list. Think about how you meander through the store as you organize.
Sort them by store. If you have a bunch of stores you frequent, this may be the method for you. if you sit down on Sunday mornings with the newspaper, it’s pretty easy to grab each store’s ad and file away accordingly.
- Generally this method should only be used if the number of stores you frequent is greater than the coupons you use at each store. If not, you’ll wind up with 50 coupons in each section and have to sift through them to get to the ones you want.
Sort them alphabetically. You can do this either by brand name or by product type. This can be easy to flip through if you’re shopping for a specific product. However, this also may be a bit more difficult if you have a lot of coupons on your hands.
- You also may need a lot more tabs. If you try this method, you may need to refine your system by adding more space for the common letters and take out the tabs that don’t get used.
Sort by expiration date. If you want to get the most bang for your buck, you’ll want to use every coupon before it expires. Organizing by expiration date may help you plan meals in addition to saving money.
- The main downside to this system is that sometimes expiration dates are long into the future. Your coupons will stack up and you may be looking at months and months and stacks and stacks of coupons.
Decide whether to clip or not to clip. Whether it is nobler in the binder to include the width and length of the entire sheet or to take scissors against the border of the sales and by cutting make them smaller. Some couponers swear that filing away the entire insert saves them time and thus money. Others say it’s just too bulky and nonsensical. You decide which way feels right for you.
- The pros of not clipping: You don’t clip any coupons you won’t use, so you never have to waste time clipping something that will later just get thrown away and you won’t accidentally throw away a coupon that, at the time, you didn’t think you’d use but now discover an awesome deal where it could be used, and wish you had saved it.
- The cons? You’ll spend more time right before a shopping trip getting ready, since you’ll have to retrieve and clip specific coupons at that time. And to the extent you also collect and use loose coupons, such as printable coupons, blinkies, catalinas, peelies, etc., you’ll need to keep track of these coupons too, and since they aren’t in an insert you’ll have to create a separate organization system to organize coupons from these categories. In addition, because expiration dates differ, you’ll be holding onto some inserts for a very, very long time.
Method 3 of 3: Maintaining Your System
Clean out the expired coupons. You’ll be sifting through piles and piles of ads if you don’t routinely clean out your binder/filing system. As the coupons expire, throw out the ones you haven’t used — you’ll be carrying around fewer and notice which products you aren’t buying.
- Set aside a time each week to coupon and throw out. Getting into a routine will help you stay organized. Saturday and Sunday mornings make the most sense, as ads are greater on those two days.
- Send the expired ones to the troops. They can use coupons up to 6 months past the expiration date.
Compare grocery store prices. As you get into this, it’ll benefit you to know what the base prices are. A coupon for a product at one store may be the retail price at another. You’ll be able to toss out coupons that really don’t save you any money.
- Take a spreadsheet (or grab a grocery price book) when you go on your shopping quest. Write down the prices of the products you buy most often. Soon enough, getting the best deals will become a breeze.
Get into stacking. So your coupons are organized in the manner of your choosing, but what about stacking? If you find manufacturer’s and store coupons, sometimes they both can be used, doubling your savings.
- If it appeals to you, deem a section just for this purpose. It should be the first section you go to if you’re trying to see how much money you can save.
- Create a section in your coupon organizer for store-specific coupons. Major grocery store and retail chains often offer special store-specific coupon savings; however, some stores will honor others’ coupons — check the coupon policy of the stores you’re looking at.
- Prioritize coupons that have a fast approaching expiration date so you do not miss out on savings.