Thanks to Amanda at Simple Saving Savvy for this guest post,
There are many different ways to organize your coupons and everyone has her own opinion on the best method. Some favor a small, compact holder they can fit in their purse, some go for an accordian file, some use a three-ring binder while still others use a brief case. The options are limitless. Whichever organization method you finally settle on, the most important thing is that it works for YOU.
Here are some things to consider when choosing an organization method:
1) What are your money saving goals? Do you want to save a little or alot? Are you happy with saving $10 a week with coupons or are you wanting to see bigger savings roll in? Are you looking to save only on what you use on a weekly basis or are you wanting to stockpile in order to cut future costs? Your answers to these questions will help determine what method you should choose. If you’re only looking to save a little money here and there on the products you already use or only on the things you buy on a weekly basis, then I would recommend a simple organization method that doesn’t take much time. If you choose a more time consuming method to save a little, you may become discouraged. If, however, your goal is to save BIG and/or stockpile in order to save in the future, then you need a more advanced, better organized organization method.
2) How much money do you have available to spend on supplies? Some organization methods will be a bigger investment than others. If you only have a few dollars to spend right away, then it might be best to start with a simpler, less expensive organization method and then use your savings to switch to a more elaborate system later.
3) How much time do you have to spend on organization? Some systems simply take more time. It will ultimately be up to you to determine how much time you have to spend AND how much time you ACTUALLY WILL SPEND on organizing your coupons.
4) What method will you ACTUALLY use? You know your personality and your schedule better than most. What method will you actually use? It’s one thing to like the idea of using an elaborate and time consuming organization system but are you the type of person that will actually put the time into it? If not, then choose a simpler method so that you don’t take the chance of becoming overwhelmed and frustrated.
These are just a few tips to help you determine how to organize your coupons. It may be that you already know which method will be best for you. It may also be a game of trial and error until you get the hang of the saving game.
My two favorite organization systems, which I use simultaneously, are the A5 ring binders and the portable hanging file.
For today, we’ll discuss the binder method and next week I’ll elaborate on the hanging file.
My main organizer is the 3 1/2 inch three-ring binder you see above. It is divided according to the categories I shop and collectors’ card holders are used to keep the coupons organized. (You may purchase collectors’ card holders at Hobby Lobby, Walmart, Target and even on eBay, anywhere they sell collectors’ supplies.) Each coupon gets it’s own pocket according to the product, amount and quantity on the coupon.
When I have “like” coupons with differing expiration dates, I simple file the longest expiration date to the back. This makes “cleaning out” a breeze and older elementary school kids are even able to help with this.
Fellow “binder bearers” often add alot of gadgets (calculators, pencil holders, scissors, etc)to theirs. I, personally, like to keep things simple. (I carry a small pair of scissors and calculator in my purse at all times).
I put my current shopping list with specific coupons in the front pockets for easy access when I go into a store. And yes, I do carry my binder into every store I enter. (It’s like carrying a diaper bag or baby carrier, once you get used to it, you just do it!).
In the back pockets, I carry a current weekly sales circular for each store I shop. This makes it easy to double check sales prices or sizes while shopping.
I also use the first few sheets in my binder to hold coupons that I want to remember to use, like those for FREE or BOGO FREE items or those that will double at Homeland for FREE or CHEAP stuff.
I also reserve a few pages for my ECBs, RRs and Target Printables.
At the very back, I have a few 8 1/2 x 11 sheet protectors. I use these for my printable rebate forms. They’re there for easy reference when I’m shopping and I can slip my receipts in behind the form to keep everything together until I get ready to submit the rebate.
Why do I like the binder organization method?
Reason #1 ~ Think back to a time when you stood in the middle of the grocery store aisle frantically searching for that coupon you knew you had for that unadvertised deal you just stumbled upon only to realize that you can’t find it ANYWHERE! Then later, at home, you find it stuck to the back of another coupon in your accordian file.
Reason #2 ~ No matter what organization method you use, you still have to weed out expired coupons. It’s alot easier to flip through pages with expiration dates at a glance than to rifle through numerous coupons that stick and cling together.
Reason #3 ~ I am a very visual person. I like being able to see the pictures of the products. It helps me to recall them and find them when I need them for an unadvertised deal.
Reason #4 ~ Most people who start using the binder method never switch back!
I hope this gives you some food for thought! Again, whatever organization method you choose, the most important thing is that it’s a method you will commit to and that works well for you.