Sunday, March 1, 2009

Lesson 1: Getting Organized

Almost everyone uses coupons every now and then. You get one at the grocery store or in a mailer or the annual Victoria’s Secret birthday gift card, you stick it in your wallet and forget about it until the day after it expires, right? Or you forget where you put it and go frantically searching about the house before you go shopping, trying to find where you put that 40% coupon for Michael’s. Obviously, if you want to use coupons and make the most out of them, you need to find a way to keep them all organized in one place. Being able to see what you have and get to them easily is a big plus!
There are lots of ways to organize coupons. There really isn’t a “best” way to do it, it all depends on a number of different factors. I’m going to give you a run-down of some of the more popular ways to organize coupons. Before you read through them, answer these questions to help you decide which method will work best for you. Consider it a sort of coupon personality quiz!
  1. How often are you going to use coupons?
  2. How much money are you willing to invest in an organizational system?
  3. How much time are you willing to spend on organizing your coupons each week?
  4. Do you want to be able to take all your coupons with you to the store, or just the ones you’ll need?
  5. How do you best like to organize information (what strategies work best for you)? <-- that’s a metacognitive question :-)
The Tried and True Coupon Wallet

When you first think about organizing coupons, this is probably what comes to mind. I’m talking about the accordion wallet with the dividers inside that you can buy at the dollar store or Walmart or Staples. It’s great at organizing smaller numbers of coupons and you can usually get these wallets with 7 or 13 dividers inside. If you don’t plan on using coupons all the time or it’s just something you want to try, this is a good place to start.

Pros: inexpensive, it’s easy to organize the coupons, doesn’t take a lot of time to file coupons away
Cons: not practical if you have a lot of coupons, limited number of dividers, can be hard to find the coupon you’re looking for, you can’t see what you have

The Notebook

No, I don’t mean the Nicholas Sparks novel. This is a 3-ring binder used to organize coupons. Coupons are put in a baseball card pages (or business card pages, or currency pages for larger coupons, you get the idea) and usually organized into categories using dividers. This is becoming a very popular way to organize coupons. It allows you the flexibility to take thousands of coupons to the store with you and still be able to find what you’re looking for. Because the coupons are individually slid into clear plastic sleeves, you can view 18+ coupons at a glance (if you use both sides). This method works best for people who use a lot of coupons and are willing to put a little extra time into the organization process.

Pros: store limitless # of coupons, can be divided any way you want, flexibility to take coupons to the store, easy to see what you have and find coupons
Cons: takes more time to organize coupons esp. if you have a lot, notebook can be heavy and bulky; you will attract a lot of attention at the story (mostly good attention, though); you’ll need to buy a sturdy notebook, dividers, and baseball card pages

The Coupon Mom System

If you’re interested in couponing and haven’t checked out Stephanie Nelson’s website (, you need to go there. She has a unique system for organizing coupons that makes the whole process a lot faster than a regular notebook. Basically, when you get your coupon inserts on Sunday, you just use a marker to write the date on the front and file it. Then you use the internet (the Coupon Mom site or any coupon blog) to find the deals you want to get and the coupons you need. Then, you just grab the inserts you need and clip the coupons you’re going to use before you go to the store. This way you only cut the coupons you use and you don’t have to spend a lot of time organizing them on Sunday.

Pros: spend virtually no time organizing coupons on Sunday, clip only the coupons you want, create a shopping list before you go so you don’t spend a lot of time at the store
Cons: don’t have coupons with you at the store for spontaneous deal grabbing or unadvertised sales, must cut coupons before going shopping, you will need to do some research and planning before you want to use coupons

The Filing Cabinet

Rumor has it there is a woman in Greenville that has so many coupons, she keeps them in a portable file box! And, yes, she brings it to the store with her. I imagine it’s much like the notebook system I described above, but I haven’t seen it. But if I keep going the way I have been, I might be giving this a try before long :-)

So there you have it. Hopefully now you have a better idea of how you want to organize your coupons. If you’re interested in trying the Coupon Mom system, definitely check out the website. Stephanie gives step-by-step instructions on how to set this up. Personally, I use the notebook system because I like having the flexibility to take my coupons to the store to grab unexpected deals. If you want to see it, here's the link to the post.

1 comment:

  1. Melanie,
    Could you post the categories you use to divide your notebook?


A Random Thought

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