Organizing Your Coupons - Part 2 of the series

Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Last week I started a series on the Basics of Coupon Shopping.  If you missed that post, you can view it HERE.  Today, we will start Part 2 of the series - How to Organize Your Coupons.

Organizing your coupons
Now that you have all of these papers, what is the fastest way to cut, organize, and store them?  Here is my method.  To do this method, you will need a 3 inch, 3 ring binder, plastic sleeve baseball card inserts, and some stickers or tabs to help label your sleeves.  You can get a smaller binder, but you will outgrow it within 6 months.

Getting started - Pull out all the inserts from your Sunday paper that are the same.  For example, Red  Plum, Smart Source, etc.  Stack identical inserts in a pile.
1) Start with one insert.
2)  Go to the middle and rip down the center. Repeat until all inserts are finished. 
3)  Lay out each page on the floor in front of you – matching identical pages.
5)  Do the same thing with the next identical insert, putting matching papers together in a stack.
6) Once you have finished matching all pages from that insert, get your stapler ready with refills handy.
7) Put a staple in each coupon to hold the coupons together while cutting and organizing.  Try not to put the staple through the bar code on the coupon.
8) Cut out your coupons.  When you first start,  cut every coupon.  Now, if you don't have a cat, don't cut the cat food coupons.  However, cut all food, household products, and health and beauty products.  Once you have been using coupons for a about a month, you will have a better idea on the ones you want to cut or just save for later.
9) Decide how you want to organize your coupons.  I organize them alphabetically, by who makes the product.  For example, Tyson chicken goes under "T".  Some people prefer to do it by department, such as "meat" or "frozen foods".  You decide which way works best for you.
10) Then, divide your cut coupons into piles according to your binder organization.  Since I do mine alphabetically, I sort mine by letter of the alphabet.  I make a pile for A, B, C, and so on.  Once all cut coupons are into their group, get ready to file.
10) Slide your “6 dial coupons” that are stapled together into one slot.
11) Repeat until all coupons are filed. (this is the part that takes some time)

Another - less time consuming method (I tried, but it didn't work for me.)
You will need a file folder holder and file folders.  On the side of each insert, you will find the date it came out in fine print. 
1) Take a marker, and on the front of the insert, write the date larger.
2) Place all matching inserts into a file marked with that Sunday's date.
3) Follow the blogs to find out what coupons to use and what date they came out.  Or check the coupons database to see what coupons are out there.
4) Find out what coupons you plan to use that shopping trip.
5) Locate coupons and cut them out.

There is a downside to this method.  It is harder to remember what coupons you have.  And, if you just happen to be out and see an unadvertised special or clearance item, you might not have that coupon with you because it is still at home in a file folder.  By having your binder and coupons with you while you shop, you have a better chance at finding a great surprise deal.


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