Organization is key to saving money with coupons

If you don’t organize your coupons, you won’t use them.

I advise easing into the world of coupons, with e-coupons being your first step. Once you have conquered e-coupons, it’s time to move on to traditional paper coupons.

Most people dive right in and start clipping, but I’ve come to realize that if you don’t have a way of organizing our coupons, you’ll get burnt out very easily and may abandon couponing altogether.

Picture piles of clipped coupons sitting on your counter or stashed in your purse or wallet, and you get an idea of the chaos that can develop. Again, if you can’t find the coupons you need when you need them, you won’t use them.

For me, coupon organization has been an ongoing process. When I first started couponing, I used a photo album to organize my coupons by category. That actually worked pretty well, but coupons kept expiring, and I would forget to pull them out. Then the photo windows started tearing, and I realized this method wouldn’t stand up to my heavy coupon use.

I decided to switch to the binder method of coupon organization that many people use. I bought a 5-inch heavy-duty binder and cut out every coupon in the Sunday newspaper inserts, then filed them in baseball card holders. This method looks really nice and works well in the store, but I found I just didn’t have time to cut all those coupons. This method may work for couponers who require less sleep than I do, especially if they enjoy clipping but that’s not me.

So, what I’m doing now is this: I’m using the insert method of organization. Every Sunday I take the inserts from the paper, write the date on the front, and file them in a large decorative envelope. Then, I put the envelope in my coupon tote bag. I still use my coupon binder, but now it’s only for organizing coupons that are not part of a newspaper insert. The binder is for coupons that come in the mail and magazines, from peelies (coupons on product packaging) and blinkies (coupons from the small machines in the store), as well as ones people give me, that are already cut.

How do I use the inserts? Well, I’ll write more next month about the proper way to follow coupon blogs to match coupons to sales, but here’s the short version: When the websites and blogs I follow post coupon matchups, they’ll reference the insert where the desired coupon can be found. For example, when I see a matchup that involves a $0.50 coupon for a package of batteries, the blogger will reference it from the May 28th Procter and Gamble coupon packet. So I find that coupon in my folder and take it to the store.

It’s not a perfect method. Sometimes I’m in a store, and I see a great deal on an item and wonder if I have a coupon. If there’s wireless available, I can use my phone and pull up one of the databases found on many coupon blogs, which is why I carry my insert envelope with me. If I can’t access the blogosphere, I don’t spend the time to flip through each insert. That’s a whole new level I haven’t reached yet.

So, that’s what I’m doing now. It’s subject to change at any time. What coupon organization methods are working for you? Let me know at blountmomstoday.com where you can also find a link to my blog.

Christy Bramblett is a mother of two girls, ages 3 and 1, and she is married to Ash Bramblett, minister of youth and outreach at Pleasant Grove Baptist Church. Her blog is updated daily and is featured at ww.BlountMomsToday.com. She is featured on Page 9 in Blount Today every month and will also be in Blount Moms Today magazine, due out on July 28.

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