Feb 6, 2009

The quest for the perfect method for organizing coupons continues

The past

A little over one year ago, I used to clip only those coupons that I was likely to use, and toss the rest. And I never printed coupons either. Then I started playing The Drugstore Game and realized that I needed all of the coupons because I never knew what was going to be free or a money maker.

So I clipped all of the coupons, bought a second compartmented wallet, and soon discovered that my coupon folders were overflowing. Obviously, that system wasn't going to work either.

The present

Then I started clipping only the coupons I knew I would almost certainly use, and the ones for weekly deals that I planned out. (Much like Erica's system.) Everything else stayed in the inserts, which I dated and left in a magazine holder on my desk.

But in the last month or so – once we got the car back from the body shop and I could shop frequently again – there have been several times when I could have gotten something for free with a coupon that was sitting back on my desk at home. So that's made me want to have all of my coupons with me again.

The future

I've looked at the popular solution of carrying a coupon binder, but I don't think I can use something that big when I've got a kid in the shopping cart. (Check out MoneyDummy's YouTube video for a great example of a coupon binder.)

I recently purchased two additional compartmented coupon wallets from Target's Dollar Spot section, so my new idea is to use all four coupon wallets to carry all of my coupons. I'm currently clipping coupons from the stored inserts on my desk, and deciding on the categories to create for all of them. (Using Money Saving Mom's list as a guide.) I think that with four wallets, the coupons will be spread out enough to not overstuff them, and there will be enough categories so that searching for a specific coupon won't get overwhelming.

But I'm not convinced that this is the perfect solution either, so I'm asking for suggestions: how do you organize your coupons?


Christina said...

Oh, how I can relate to this! I think I'm going throw the same stages as you, too! I started out with just a little organizer, which got overloaded, then I switched to a binder, then back to an organizer (and just clipping the deals). But now I'm finding that I am frustrated when I see deals and know I probably have a coupon for it back at home... so now I don't know what system to use.

I guess I've learned that there is no perfect system. :-)

I sure how some of your readers have other ideas! I could use some!

Mrs. J said...

I also use the target check file organizer. I have 3 of them. One is for food, 2nd is for beauty items and medicines and the 3rd one is for cleaning supplies and my ecb. Although I want to use a binder, I don't want to be bringing something that catches much attention. I try to be as discreet as possible when using coupons so those 3 coupon organizers work well for me! I put them in a makeup bag so if I need to go couponing, I just put it down on the cart so I can navigate well around the store. We don't have children yet so it's works for me.

Camille said...

My system is OK -- I use business sized envelopes and keep them in the original box they came in. Then last week the bottom fell out while I was shopping!

I keep resisting purchasing a coupon system because I figure I can do something similar on my own for free. But after having ALL my coupons laying on the grocery store floor, I gave in and used some Amazon.com gift cards from Swagbucks and ordered The Couponizer. I think it cost me $1.94. It looks like my system, but better organized and bound together. I'm still waiting for it to arrive! I will be sure to post on my blog after using it!

Anonymous said...

Check this one out, I just saw it today...stylish and thrifty!!

Quattro Stelle said...

I find too many deals that weren't in the sale paper not to have my coupons on me at all times. I've found that by not clipping medicine and makeup coupons, my coupon wallet doesn't get too bulky. Those are items I rarely buy and never without advance planning.
As for organizing my wallet, I have categories for cereal, pantry, cold/frozen, household, health/beauty, and store coupons. Within each pocket, I alphabetize by brand.

Anonymous said...

I use those same Target files. I love them although as you overfill them the buttons pop off that the band goes around....
I alphabetize mine in 2 coupon wallets. 1 is food, 1 is non-food.

The food file has 2 tabs upfront for my favorite grocery stores. As I am going thru coupons that I see I need to use at the store that week I place them in the proper store slot.

The non-food file also has 2 tabs upfront, 1 for CVS and 1 for Walgreens. Same tactic, need a coupon for upcoming week, put in store tab and alphabetize behind that.

I do:


Anonymous said...

My system is much different than yours or any of the comments so far.

When I get the Sunday insert, I label it with the date. Then I put the entire insert in a Rubbermaid box. Generally, I put a month's worth of inserts in a manilla envelope and then put the envelopes in the box.

Before grocery shopping, I use Couponmom.com for all the deals and the coupon database to find coupons that are not on current deals but that I really must have that particular week. Her database lists the coupons by month/day and RP, SS or PG. Her site is free to use unlike some of the other online coupon database sites.

Then I clip the coupons that I need for that shopping trip and store them in a 3x5 coupon/receipt organizer. I do not vary from my shopping list often so this works very well for me. I am not organized enough to be at the grocery store only 1 time a week. Inevitably we need more milk or gas, which we generally purchase at Kroger. So, if there is a killer deal, I know I can stop back in later in the week if I absolutely must have it. Also, I have 2 grocery stores, 4 drugstores, and 1 superstore within 4 miles of my house. I am passing these stores all the time. So an extra stop in a store is usually not a big deal for me at all.

When I create my shopping list for the week (generally on Sundays or Monday mornings), I create the list for each store that I am going to go to. Sometimes it is only the grocery store. Other times, I go to "FreeVS" or other drugstores, more than 1 grocery store, and/or a superstore if the deals are too good to pass up. I clip all the coupons for each store at the same time and have them in my purse ready to go when I make that shopping trip later in the week.

This is the system that Stephanie Nelson from the couponmom.com taught me to use at a seminar at a local church in Atlanta. I have been using it for almost 3 years and it works well for me. It works well enough that I can create the list, clip the coupons, and send my husband to do the shopping without having to give him a tutorial on how to use a coupon notebook before the shopping trip.

On the other hand, I have read some blogs that do not like this method for whatever reason. I can see how it would not work if you cannot easily make another stop in a store later in the week for a deal you cannot live without. Also, I can see how it would not work well if you do not plan your shopping lists extremely well in advance of the shopping. One other thing I can see is that if you have used a system where you clip all the coupons or most of the coupons every week and need to have them with you for security purposes when you shop. If you have a system that works for you and you have used it for awhile, I can see how it using this system may be too much of a paradigm shift to actually do it.

Since I learned from "The Coupon Mom" herself and did not even clip coupons before that meeting at a church in Atlanta, I have never used another system of clipping coupons and cannot compare 1 system to another except in theory.

Anyway, sorry this is such a really long comment. Hope you have a great weekend!

Family Balance Sheet said...

I too have been searching for a coupon method. I go between cutting everything out to not cutting out much at all, it depends on my mood. Right now I am using 3x5 plastic box that I found a Target. I have 3x5 tabs with all of my categories. My biggest problem with it is that it doesn't fit in my purse very well and it is kind of cumbersome.

Dr. Mom said...

I have tried every system and finally settled on my current system which uses a binder with straps like a purse and pencil pockets to hold my coupon sections. They have little zippers that keeps my coupons from slipping out and I don't have to worry about stuffing them into little baseball card size pockets which just drives me crazy. I have pictures of it here:


wyokari said...

I take the whole coupon booklet, write the date on it with a black marker and put the booklet into an accordion file (2 files) by date. By now they are overlapping, so August's coupons are with January's, but it is easy to find SS 2/8 and cut the coupon out I need. When I am preparing the shopping trip, I cut out what I need and put it into the smaller wallet-sized accordion file that has labels like, "Walgreens", "CVS" "Walmart". I don't keep the larger file with me in the car, but it would be easy to do. Works for me!

Anonymous said...

I use a store bought organizer that fits in my purse. It was only 2.99. I buy two a year becuase they do wear out. I feel the convienance of always having it in my purse so I don't miss any chances to save outway the cost. I relabled some of the pages to suit our needs and I save 40% to 50% per week.