Getting the coupons is the easy part…
ORGANIZING THEM IS THE NEXT STEP, and this is the part that will give you the most headaches. There is no right or wrong way to do this. It’s more of a “try it out and see what works best for you” way. There are several ways that you can organize your coupons. There is the file the whole insert method, the binder method, the file box method, etc. You can do a google search to find out more information on each method. But I will tell you about my “try it and see how it worked” ways. My very first couponing trip was to KMart when they had a Double Coupon Day. I had just started couponing and I didn’t have alot of coupons at that time, so I shoved all of them into a business sized envelope and went shopping. I didn’t do too bad for my first trip, but since there was no organization of my coupons, it was a pain in the $%#^. So I decided that if I was going to do that again, I would be organized the next time. YOU CAN READ ABOUT THAT HERE. This method worked out great for a while, but as I started to collect more and more coupons, I quickly outgrew this setup. So I purchased a small photo album with 2 4x6” sleeves to each page. I used the first book that I mentioned earlier for food items, and the small photo album for non food items. This was working out great!! They were small enough to sit in the front of the cart and easy to get to …BUT… then I started to receive more and more coupons from multiple Sunday paper purchases and friends and family that were saving them for me. Now it was getting as bad as the first method where I shoved them all into the business sized envelope! (The next two methods is where I’m getting my headaches) Next, I tried the “file the whole insert method”. I really love this method! This is where you get your Sunday paper, glance through the coupons, leave everything intact and file the whole insert. I have 2 baseball card binders (these are very big binders and they hold alot of inserts) one for the RedPlum inserts and one for the SmartSource inserts. I have inserted Page Protectors in each binder and each Sunday I write the date on the front of the inserts and slip it into the page protector in the appropriate binder. I can slip 10 of the same inserts into one page protector! And I currently have 6 different inserts in these binders and it’s still able to hold alot more.
Here’s a pic of my binder for the whole inserts:
And this is how I have them labeled. EXAMPLE - All of 5-3-09 RP’s (RedPlum’s) are in this one sleeve protector.
This is the method that takes the least amount of time, which I LOVE because I work 14 hour days. This method works great but there are a couple of drawbacks…First, If you go shopping with only the coupons that you clipped for that particular trip and you come upon several items that are on clearance, then you’ll be missing out on a lot of good deals. Items that you could have really used and could have gotten for free “if only you had your coupons with you.” Ask me how I know that :( The second drawback to the file the whole insert method is not knowing what coupons you have. Sure there are coupon databases that tell you what insert a particular coupon is in, but if your computer crashes and you don’t have access to another computer, then it takes forever to search through your inserts. Ask me how I know about that! :( Then there is the binder method. I am currently using this method AND the “file the whole insert method”. This smart lady, Laura Williams, started this method. She gives you very detailed steps to setting up your own binder. Thank you Laura!! You can see my binder here. I haven’t used this method long, but I really love this method also! “My” only drawback with this method is that I am not disciplined enough to get all of my coupons cut and filed :( Which is a problem that I need to work on!! So some of my inserts are dated and filed whole into my “stay at home” binders, then some are clipped and filed into my “carry to the store” binder. But whenever I make up my mind on the method that works best for me, I’ll come back and let ya know! Whichever method you choose, your coupons will have to be organized in some manner to make the most of couponing. I know I probably wasn’t much help in the organizational part, but all I can say is…try several methods, don’t get discouraged, and see which one works best for you.