Friday, August 15, 2008

Money Saving Tips for the Beginner - Part C: Coupon Organizing

On Monday, I touched on the topic of Coupon Attaining, then on Coupon Clipping. Now lets talk about Coupon Organizing. It is very important to be able to quickly find the coupons you are looking for. If you have them in some sort of binder or tabbed device, it will be so much easier. When you are first starting out you can simply use an accordian binder which looks like the below picture.It doesn't have to be the kind that attaches to the cart but you get the idea. In the accordian binder, you can label your different coupon categories. Usually there are only about 10 slots to label so here are some examples of categories you could divide to:
  1. Beverages (including all drinkable items),
  2. Breads (including breads, pastries, buns, donuts, crackers, croutons, etc.),
  3. Canned/Fresh (including vegetables, fruits, soups, pie fillings, etc.)
  4. Cleaners (including air sanitizers, candles, cleaning products, laundry soaps, etc.)
  5. Cooking Ingredients (including seasonings, spices, sugar, vanilla, etc.)
  6. Dairy (including milk, ice cream, dips, yogurt, pudding, etc.)
  7. Frozen Foods (including fruits, vegetables, meats, ready-to-make meals, ect.)
  8. Hygiene (including feminine care products, deodorant, shampoo/conditioner, etc.)
  9. Medicine (including vitamins, pain relievers, band-aids, etc.)
  10. Miscellaneous (including everything else.

These can vary but that just gives you an idea. You will find which categories really work best for you and you may change them a few times. If you find that your Dairy category is always really thin and your Medicine is huge, you may want to combine your Dairy with your Beverage and break up your Medicine into Medicine & Vitamin.

Once your coupon collection gets large, the accordian style may not work well anymore. My cousin uses the envelope style. You get a picture box or Rubbermaid container (like the picture below) and a pack of envelopes.

You can then label each envelope with your coupon categories. Since the envelopes are only so big and you want to make finding your coupons easier, you will need to expand your list of categories. Here are the categories I use:

  1. Baby-Food
  2. Baby-Diapers/Wipes
  3. Baby-Medicine
  4. Baby-Products (Bath, Clothes, Nursing Products, etc.)
  5. Bags (Containers, Trash, Foil, Wraps, etc.)
  6. Batteries/Film
  7. Baking (Ingredients, Pie Crusts, Box Mixes)
  8. Beverages
  9. Breakfast (Eggs, Frozen Breakfast Meals, Oatmeal, etc.)
  10. Candy/Gum
  11. Cereal
  12. Chips
  13. Candles
  14. Cleaners-All Purpose
  15. Cleaners-Bathroom
  16. Cleaners-Dishes
  17. Cleaners-Disinfectant
  18. Cleaners-Floor
  19. Cleaners-Insect (Bug Sprays, Insect Repellents, etc.)
  20. Cleaners-Laundry
  21. Clothes
  22. Dairy
  23. Frozen/Fresh Veggies or Fruits
  24. Health Foods
  25. Hygiene-Deodorant (Deodorants & Body Sprays)
  26. Hygiene-Face (Facial Cleansers/Moisturizers)
  27. Hygiene-Feminine
  28. Hygiene-Hair (Shampoo/Conditioners, Stylers, etc.)
  29. Hygiene-Hair Dye
  30. Hygiene-Lotion
  31. Hygiene-Makeup
  32. Hygiene-Shaving
  33. Hygiene-Soap
  34. Hygiene-Teeth
  35. Meats
  36. Medical-Bandaid (Neosporin, Bandaids, etc.)
  37. Medical-Eye
  38. Medical-Sinus/Allergy
  39. Medical-Stomach (Antacids, Dietary Supplements, Laxatives, etc.)
  40. Medical-Miscellaneous
  41. Medical-Pain Relief
  42. Medical-Vitamin
  43. Paper Products
  44. Pet-Cat
  45. Pet-Dog
  46. Sauces/Seasonings
  47. Snacks

If you are more of a binder than a box person, you may choose to do what I do and get a 3” 3-ring binder and trading card plastic inserts. I was able to pick up a 3” binder at Walgreens for $3 and the trading card inserts at Wal-Mart for $.75 per 9-pack. Here are some pictures of what I use.

For me, this is easier to carry and sort through but you may prefer the box with a lid. Again, it is all about finding what works best for you but I think organization is definitely essential!

If you have another organization method you use or an idea for one and would be willing to share, please leave a comment here. Come back soon for Part D: Samples & Rebates.

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