Reader Q&A: How do you organize your coupons?
I frequently have readers ask me some great questions. I decided to occasionally do a Reader Q&A post highlighting some of the questions that I receive that others of you might find interesting. If you have a question you’d like to ask leave a comment or email me.
This week’s question was one that reader Leslie left in a post comment.
Q: Lydia, I recently had a baby boy and am blessed to be able to stay home with him. I want to start couponing more that I have in the past. I read different blogs and articles on coupon books. How do you start one? How do you organize one? I would love to see one that is put together. Any suggestions would be extremely helpful.
First of all, congratulations on the birth of your son. How exciting!
As for how to start a coupon book….well, that’s a tricky question! Here’s why. There are as many methods as there are people; basically you have to figure out what what works for you and then go with it.
I do a combination of several of the “typical” ways and I like it because I feel like it takes less time than clipping every single coupon and yet I feel organized with it too. I have three different places that I keep coupons- an envelope that I keep just clipped or just printed coupons in, a small coupon folder that I put printed/clipped coupons in that I take to the store with me, and a file folder satchel where I file my coupon inserts.
I have this envelope tacked to the cork board by my desk, right next to where my computer and printer are. (Very glamorous looking, eh?) When I cut a coupon out of a magazine, print a coupon online or get a coupon in the mail with a sample, I tuck them in here. It’s kind of my landing place until I have time to put them in my coupon folder in a more organized fashion. But in the meantime, I don’t have them cluttering up my desk, which is what used to happen.
I store all my clipped coupons in this little file folder. When I am getting my shopping trips ready for the week, I take any coupons from the envelope (as talked about above) and put them in their correct spot in the file folder.
I have the file folder set up with these categories: Grocery, Household, Personal Care, and Baby. I know that isn’t as many categories as many people use but I like it and find it easier to work with than when I tried having categories like Oral Care, Feminine Hygiene, Cereal etc.
Then in the front I have a spot where I put the coupons that I plan to use that week for my shopping trip to each store. I take all the coupons for each store and paper clip them together to make it easy to grab exactly the coupons I need once I’m shopping. Then when I get to the store, all I need to do is pull out the appropriate clipped together stack of coupons and I’m ready to go. I also keep all my FREE product coupons clipped together and put in the front there so I am reminded of them often and can use them before they expire.
I found this lovely file folder at ROSS a couple of years ago. I was excited because I was looking for something to file my coupon inserts in that wouldn’t look ugly sitting by my desk. It fits the bill perfectly.
When the coupon inserts come each Sunday, I immediately get them and mark the date on the front of the insert in the top right hand corner. Then I file them in my file folder, putting each month together in order by date. To figure out the date of the coupon insert simply look at the spine. It will tell you what newspaper it was from and what date it came.
So one slot in my file folder will hold all my Jan. inserts, one all of my Feb. inserts and so on. Then when I need a coupon from a certain insert, all I need to do is locate it and cut out the coupon.
At the end of every month or so, I go through the inserts and take out any pages that have only expired coupons on. In other words, if the page has a coupon that is still good I keep it, otherwise it gets tossed. This keeps my file from getting too huge and thick and saves me from leafing through pages unnecessarily.
So there you have it. Nothing glamorous or amazing but it’s what works for me when it comes to organizing coupons!
You also might enjoy this article by Esther at Coupon Cutting Mom on How to Organize Coupons. She gives more ideas on other methods that people like to use.
How do you organize your coupons? What tips do you have to Leslie?