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Monday, September 6, 2010

Getting organized; the key to success

Okay so now you know where to find all those great coupons every one is always talking about, so the question is what to do with them. (click here for the article on where to find those coupons) Being disorganized is probably the number one way to miss a deal. Imagine finding out about a great deal, and being unable to get it because you can't locate a particular coupon. You must get organized, there are a lot of coupons to keep track of and if you are not organized it can be very overwhelming and chaotic.

The most important thing is finding what works for you here are some suggestions:

Coupon Binder: This is one of the most common ways for avid couponers to organize their coupons.
How to: Take a standard size coupon binder and fill it with baseball card sleeves. You can find these in the stationary section of most any store with the sheet protectors. Fill the baseball card slots with your coupons, organize them in a way that is easy for you (alphabetically, by date, by category) carry to the store and never miss another deal again!

I have not tried the coupon binder yet, though I am not ruling it out as an option. However, my husband does a lot of the coupon trips while I take care of our small children and he will not carry a coupon binder so we do things a little differently.

What works for me

For Whole Inserts: I usually get 10-20 copies of the inserts from the newspaper each week. I have never used all the coupons in an insert so for me it hardly makes sense to cut and file every coupon in a binder. Instead I have box where I file all my inserts by date, I cut the coupons when a sale comes up and take them with me. Additionally, if there are coupons in a particular insert that I know my family will use, I will cut those immediately before filing the inserts into the box

For non-insert coupons: I have a shoe box storage container, I believe it is intended for photos, I purchased it for a few dollars at Wal-mart. In this box I contain all my non insert coupons and my cut insert coupons that I am not currently using. I use dividers to separate these by category. Some of the categories include, Health and Beauty Aids, Pharmacy, Frozen Groceries, Meats & Cheeses,  Condiments & Sauces, and so on. I have at least 30 different categories. This way when there is a deal using a coupon that is not from an insert I know just where to look.

For Store Trips: I keep an envelope size expanding file for all my store trips. The one I am using currently has 13 sections. I have 10 of these labeled for the stores I shop most frequently. Within these sections I keep coupons for store deals that are going on currently. For example, if I know that Wal-mart has free dish soap with my $1 Gain dish soap coupon, I will put all my gain coupons in the wal-mart section of my expanding file. As for the other 3 sections I keep one empty for coupons I find on store displays like blinkies and tearpad coupons, another is used for free coupons that can be used anywhere and are not for a particular store deal and a section for receipts, in case I need to return or exchange.

What is most important is that you find what works for you, and don't stress if you miss out on a great deal. You can only shop so many hours in a week, you need to prioritize and focus on what is most important to you. If you can only organize a couple of trips a week, it is still better than what you were getting before you used coupons at all. Be aware that you will have to put some time into organizing your coupons, I usually do it on Mondays after the paper comes out. The time you put into it will pay off in the end. So get organized and get saving!

Happy Saving

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