Sunday, March 28, 2010

Coupon Storage/Organization Methods

Okay. I hear a lot of complaints/concerns about coupon storage and organization when I talk to folks about couponing. I thought I would bring you an article about potential for storage/organization and the pros/cons of each method. I will even share with you my super secret method that very few have ever seen.

Coupon Binder:

The Coupon Binder is a FANTASTIC option and this is the method I used to use. You need to collect a few items to create your coupon binder.

Here is a tutorial that explains how to put together a coupon binder. (Written by Jessica over at the "Utah Deal Diva"

Pro's:
*Makes it VERY easy to snag great deals from the clearance rack and enables you to get INCREDIBLE bargains when you stumble upon them!!!
*You have all of your coupons with you and if you see someone who looks like they could benefit from a coupon you won't use you can share the coupon love
*It is extremely organized, easy to find all of your coupons, and makes it SUPER easy to save money - very rarely will you discover that you forget to use a coupon this way.
*As you pull coupons out to use at the store you can even have a designated spot in the front to stick them.
*This gives you a designated place to put all of your catalina coupons that print out and any tearpad or blinkies that you snag.
*Your coupons are displayed all laid out in an organized fashion - makes it super simple to see the coupons that you have.

Con's:
*Can be overwhelming for some people.
*This can be time consuming as you end up cutting out EVERY SINGLE coupon that you get and putting them in your binder. You don't have to cut every coupon out though - i'll explain that below.
*Can be time consuming as you must SORT the coupons into a specific order.
*You have a huge, heavy binder to carry with you.
*The binder makes you stick out something awful...now I don't care about that but some folks are self-conscious


The coupon box:
This is the method used by Crystal Paine over at MoneySavingMom.com Here is her post about that.

Pro's:
*Again - you have all of your coupons with you.


Con's
*Coupons are all bunched up together and you have to stand there and sort through the coupons to find the ones you want/need.
*All it would take to make me insane would be dropping that coupon box ONE good time.
*Can be time consuming as you must cut all of the coupons out.
*Can be time consuming as you must sort the coupons into categories.
*If you have kids this can be a HUGE attractant to them - you MUST put it up or they WILL get into it.

The insert filing method:
This is the method I am moving towards. You will only end up cutting out the coupons that you PLAN to use.

Items needed:
Milk Crate type item for hanging folders
Hanging folders - At least 26 of them.(you really need one per week but if you must double up you can double up weeks)


Put your hanging folders in the milk crate type item. Each week when you purchase your papers, pull your inserts out and group them, put your smart sources, redplums and Proctor & Gamble inserts together and stick them in a hanging folder. Use a tab to label that folder with the date of that paper. When preparing to go shopping, you will see an entry like this on your coupon matchup:

-$1.00 3/7 SS

There is a $1.00 off coupon for that item in the smart source insert from March 7th. So you go to your crate and pull out the insert from March 7th and cut it out.

*Optional* You may want to print out a list from the coupon preview of the coupons in your insert. Stick it in the front of your folder and as you use the coupons out of the folder mark through the coupon. That way if you are looking for a coupon for Ragu you could glance at your list first before you go flipping through the insert. You may have clipped coupons from both sides of that page and thrown it away. If it's marked off of the list then you know not to look - right?

As you pull the coupons for your shopping trip you may want to have a binder for you to place the coupons in. (or a coupon wallet or an envelope) IF you use a binder you can group like items.

Pro's:
*You don't have to clip every coupon.
*MUCH less time consuming initially. Your time is more spread out. You will spend more time prepping for your shopping trip than if you use a binder.
*Less stress on your back as most of your coupons are stored at home and not in a heavy binder that you lug with you to the store.
*Makes it easier to find coupons you need. Instead of flipping through your binder pages 4 or 5 times to find that ragu coupon that might have gotten stuck behind a bigger coupon you can flip through an insert and cut that baby out because you only had 14 pages to flip through and once you find it in the first insert then you know where to look for it in the other ones.

Con's
*Because you don't have all of your coupons with you - you miss out significantly on clearance deals and such.
*Much more time consuming as you plan shopping trips.
*Can be frustrating to realize that you forgot to cut certain coupons out.

Mixture binder & insert filing:

You could create both systems and only clip out coupons for items you ALWAYS purchase. In my case we'd be talking diapers for the girl (I cloth diaper the boy if possible) Silk milk coupons, Pasta sauce, cheese, Muir Glen, Knox Gelatin, Benadryl, etc. and you can file those in your binder. File the rest of the insert in a folder then if there is a walgreens RR deal where you can make money or get the item free, go digging for that coupon to snag some freebies or make some cash. Also there are times when you need to buy an item you don't need to make a deal work. The coupon helps you out - so don't pitch them, just file them.

My system: Aka - How not to coupon!!

I don't make a secret of the fact that I am bipolar or that I am super busy. Or that I have amazingly wild children. As a result - I am actually one of the most disorganized people you will ever meet. Part of Bipolar Disorder is inattentiveness. (I learned recently that BPD can mimic ADHD initially. I was diagnosed with ADHD 5 years ago....I don't know if I have ADHD or if it was the early signs of BPD- at ANY RATE - Squirrel....

You all know about my attention span issues ;)

So...here is my system: I don't have one. It is scary and I hate it but here is what I do:

I call this the stack method.

I have stacks of inserts. If I see that something is on sale then I go digging for the insert that I need. For added fun: The inserts aren't in order. They are alll mixed up like someone shuffled them to play solitaire with them.

Some of the inserts are in my bedroom, some are in the living room and some are in my car. I print coupons and carry them with me. I carry a pair of scissors with me. I typically cut my printed coupons out right there in the store. I have been known to carry whole inserts into the store with me and stand there and cut coupons out in the middle of the aisle. I do not recommend this. It is not fun and if you have kids - it gives them time to get in trouble.

Basically I am between systems. What I need is to hire a "Mothers helper" to come hang out and help with kids and housework while I work on organizing things. I did use the binder method but it is just far too much for me to handle. I don't have time or opportunity to cut coupons at all anymore. I need to jump into the filing method headfirst but I haven't.

SO there is your lesson for Sunday night folks. Don't be like me ;) Organize your coupons!

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