In my post Simple Steps To Saving Money — Part 1: Groceries I talked about using coupons to save at the grocery store. One problem I’ve seen so many times at the checkout is that people often don’t organize their coupons. They miss using coupons for items they’re buying only to find them afterward, they pull out expired coupons, and sometimes the coupons are so wrinkled and worn they can’t be read. It may seem like a silly topic, but coupon organizing is important in helping save money.
There are many ways to organize your coupons. Here are a few of the ways I’ve seen used and used myself over the years.
Boxes – If you’ve looked at the pictures in many of my posts you’ll know I’m a big fan of boxes. Using a box for coupons can be an excellent way to organize them. The box can be as small as a recipe box or as large as a shoe box. It all depends on how many coupons you need to organize.
I like index file boxes because I use the blank tabbed dividers to separate my coupons into groups. You may choose to divide your coupons by expiration date or type of food or cleaning products, etc. Pick the method that make the most sense to you. Mark each tab of the dividers with the types of coupons in that section. You can fit a really large number of coupons in one of these boxes.
The only real issue with boxes is that they can be inconvenient to carry to the store.
Expanding Accordion File Folders – These folders come in a wide variety of sizes. If you’re really into couponing the large folder would be great. If you’re more like me and never have a huge number of coupons then the wallet size folder would probably work out just fine.
An advantage to the expanding file folders is that the normally have a way to hold all the contents within the folder. You don’t have to worry about your coupons ending up all over the floor if you drop it (of course that’s only when it’s closed). And the folders are easier to carry to through the store than a box.
Zippered Binders – I’ve seen a couple of local ladies who keep their coupons in a zippered binder. I have to admit I’ve been intrigued. They carry the coupons and a calculator so they can keep track of their coupons and do a sort of running tab on the groceries they’re buying. I thought they had the coupons in page protectors but they actually use those little plastic sheets that photographs in albums. They have dividers that separate the sheets into their particular coupon system.
Envelopes – This is a simple system in which you just separate the coupons by group and put each group in its own envelope.
You may choose to separate your coupons by aisle in the grocery store if you’re very familiar with the layout. But this can be problematic if the store changes locations of products. You can also separate coupons by:
Product type – You may choose to group your coupons by product type like all baking items in a group or all products found in the cleaning aisles together.
Expiration Date – Although sorting coupons just by expiration date is one way to organize your coupons it’s not always the most efficient. Yes, you’ll avoid having expired coupons with you but you’ll have to sort through all the coupons to find the ones you want. I prefer sorting by the type of product and putting the coupons that will expire soonest in front.
Before shopping make a list and go through your coupons to match items you need with coupons you have. Note each item on the list that has a corresponding coupon with a C or some other way to remind yourself you have a coupon for that item. You can pull all the coupons for that shopping trip while you’re making your shopping list and take only those you know you need. However, you may want to take all your coupons in case you pick up an item on sale and want to also use a coupon.