I have a coupon trainee, or “padawan” as my husband calls her. We have shopped together the last two Thursdays and it has been a blast. One thing I realized though is that she really needs to organize her coupons. From other posts I’ve seen I get the impression that there are a lot of people out there with this issue so I thought I would give a few tips on how I kept my coupons organized when I first started couponing.
When I first started couponing I didn’t need a lot of space for my coupons so I kept them in a small organizer like you see in the picture. Sometimes you can find these in the stores labeled as a voided check file. I like it because it has tabs that you can label with your categories (see the picture at the right). I setup the tabs to correspond to sections in the grocery store (dairy, meat, canned goods, pasta, etc) and also had one category for non-food items. As my collection grew I eventually had two organizers, one for food coupons and one for non-food coupons.
When looking for an organizer I would stick with one that has some sort of closer. The one in the picture has a band that keeps it closed. I also had one with a magnetic closure. The closure is great because it keeps your coupons from spilling out if you drop the organizer.
Once you figure out the categories you want to use for coupons, it is a simple task to sort out your coupons. I always liked to keep the coupons I was most likely to use in the front of the pocket for that category. I also always kept the front pocket open so that I could slip the coupons I was using into it as I went through the grocery store. This kept them all in one place and made it easy for me to pull them out and hand them to the cashier when I checked out.
I try to keep my coupon filing to once a week. This is just much simpler for me. Some people may prefer to file their coupons as they get them. The key here is to figure out what will work for you and stick to it. When you get too far behind on your coupon clipping and filing the task becomes daunting and you don’t want to deal with it. Not to mention it’s easy to miss savings if you don’t have all your coupons with you when you’re shopping.
You will also need to keep an eye on the expiration dates. I try to sit down at least once a month and pull all the expired coupons from my organizer. While I’m doing that I will also pull any coupons that are close to expiring that I would like to use. That way, they are easily accessible the next time I’m at the store. If, for some reason, I decide not to use the soon to expire coupons while I’m at the store, I’ll leave them with the item. That way someone else may be able to take advantage of them. I consider this good coupon karma. One day someone may leave behind a coupon you can use, so why not “pay it forward”?
However you decide to organize your coupons, remember to keep it as simple as you can. The more complicated the system, the more likely you are to stop using it. And padawan, this organizer is for you, please use it wisely.
For more tips on saving money while grocery shopping, see my previous post on Frugal Friday – Grocery Shopping.
For more Frugal Friday posts, head over to Biblical Womanhood.