Thursday, January 13, 2011

Couponing 101, Part 3

I know this coupon stuff is intense, but we're almost done! I just wanted to show you how to organize coupons, because it's actually a huge part of the process. I probably have a lesser, messier version of what a lot of couponers do to keep their coupons in check, but my method goes a little bit like this: I have a coupon accordion folder where I store all of my coupons that are ones I think I may use before they expire. These coupons include newspaper inserts and internet printables. However, I get my parents' newspaper insert each week and cut up every coupon, which gets judged to go in either this or an envelope (more on that later). Newspaper inserts are kept here and I print out internet coupons if I am in need of it for the week or if I happen to see something that's of high value that I know will get snatched up quickly (a lot of coupons have print limits, so if you don't print it right away, it may be gone when you need it).

I have the sections organized into different food groups, with the first slot empty. This first slot is where I pull out all the coupons I am going to use for my trip, so that I can be a sort-of normal shopper in the store instead of pulling out and deciding on my coupons then. That way, when I check out, I just pull them out and hand them to the cashier. Super easy!

I also have an envelope that holds all the coupons (mostly from the newspaper) that I may not use, but you never know if you may need them. I have also done a little bit of coupon trading on Southern Savers, so this also comes in handy if I happen to need a coupon that I don't have and I need to look at my stockpile to look for a good "trade."

I go through each of these about once a month to cull out all the expired coupons. Most of them expire at the same time, mostly at the middle or end of the month, so I know when a lot of them will go at once.

This is how I plan my trips. I have a notebook I keep with me for all kinds of writing purposes (not just coupons) and sometimes I'll jot down scenarios so I can get it all right. Couponing, especially at CVS, is a little bit of game, so sometimes I have to write them out a few different ways before I get it all straight. It really helps!
While I don't have a photo, I also create and print out a Southern Savers grocery list every week as well. I like to go ahead and calculate what my totals will be after coupons, just so I can get an idea for my budget what things are going to be like. It seems to work for me.

I will say, there are tons of different ways to organize. Some use binders, big accordion folders, baseball card holder binder inserts, or any combo of the two. You've got to find what works best for you, because everyone operates differently!

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