Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Organizing those coupons

I am a big believer in using coupons. Combined with store sales and rebates, using coupons can greatly reduce the cost of grocery and health/beauty items. Eventually, I'd like to track my grocery spending to see exactly how much I'm spending and saving by shopping sales and using coupons. For now, I am secure in the knowledge that the answers are, respectively, not a lot and a ton.

However, my coupon habit is threatening to get out of control. For years, I used a tiny 4x6 inch accordion-style coupon holder. I wasn't serious about couponing then, and it suited my needs (which was to feel like I was saving money by using coupons, without actually doing it). Last August, when I really started clipping coupons, I bought a large yet portable storage tote and set up a system a la Money Saving Mom. For a while, this worked.

Unfortunately, my coupon collection kept growing and growing. And because Jewel and Dominick's stores in this area (Chicago and suburbs) take expired coupons, I never throw any away.

For a few weeks, I tried the method from Erica at I Heart CVS. I kept all of my inserts whole, and would just clip out a coupon when I needed it. The problem is, I only know what coupon I'll need 20% of the time. The rest of the deals are found when I'm at the actual stores. So to stand in front of a good deal in the store knowing that at home, there's a coupon that would make it a GREAT deal was just awful. Obviously, this system doesn't work for me.

Now, I'm giving a new system a try. It is similar to what Jamie does at I am a Money Magnet. On Saturday I hit Office Depot to get a sturdy binder and the plastic pockets to hold all the coupons. I also got alphabetized dividers.
Already, I can tell that setting up this system is going to take a while. I need to get all my old coupons out of my tote and get them in the binder. Then, I need to go through the stack of miscellaneous coupons and get those in the binder. Finally, I have coupon inserts going back 4 weeks. Those coupons need to be clipped and put into the binder.

Can you tell where my spare time will be going this week?


Chicagolandia said...

I was just filing and organizing my coupons last night - trying to use a few more up so I can get them out of the collection!

Amanda said...

What system do you use?

Sarah Eliza @ devastateboredom said...

Oh. Man. How's it going so far? That sounds like a huge project! It's a constant battle for me, to keep my coupons organized lol

This method works pretty well for me though: I stick coupons for items I'm highly likely to purchase, for a recipe or just normally, in a dollar store photo album (highly transportable!) by category (dairy, salty snacks, sweet snacks, frozen dinners, recipe elements, etc). This I carry around day-to-day, for any coupon "emergency" needs.

Then I also keep inserts back at home with their dates written on them, for when I see a really great coupon match-up on the Grocery Game or a blog.

The Atl paper comes in bundles of two (early and late editions) for a discount, so this usually works great for me! :)

Good look with the sorting/categorizing! I bet it will work well once you're done... and you're lucky to have stores that accept expired coupons too... Me = jealous. :P

Amanda said...

It's going! The photo album is a great idea. How many papers do you buy each week?

I get one delivered and get the inserts out of the paper delivered to work. So I only have 4 inserts to clip/sort each week. But that does take time and if I get behind...ugh. I don't even want to think about it!