Getting Started with Coupon Organizing
When it comes to saving money at the grocery store, I’ve traditionally focused most of my energy on menu planning based on what’s on sale each week. I also tend to shop at warehouse stores and buy in bulk to save on items we use frequently. I’ve begun investigating Alice.com and Amazon.com as ways to purchase food in bulk and with free shipping, and I’m always looking for ways to use inexpensive cuts of meat in my weekly cooking. One thing I haven’t regularly done to save money is clip coupons, and I’ve been increasingly interested in how coupons might help me stretch my grocery budget even further.
While I know I have a lot to learn about the best way to find and use coupons, I do know for coupons to work for me I’ll need a way to keep track of them that doesn’t take a lot of time. This week, I spent some time researching keeping track of coupons and learned quite a lot:
- Find a system that works for you. Over the years, I’ve learned that an organizing scheme doesn’t work if it doesn’t work if you aren’t comfortable using it, so you may need to experiment with a couple of different approaches to managing your coupons before you find one that really works for you. Coupon Geek has a great post that outlines three different organizing approaches to give you some options to consider. Common Sense with Money also has a similar overview for more information on each approach, and Coupon Savvy Mom provides a run-down of your options with pros and cons for each.
- Plan for the inserts and the loose coupons. I hadn’t really considered this, but coupons come in varying flavors, including groups of coupons that take the form of inserts or books, and loose coupons you gather over time. HomesteadBlogger took a class on couponing and put together a very detailed overview of what she learned about how to manage all forms of coupons. Worth the read if you are looking for some great detail.
- Consider what kind of couponer you are. Casual couponers have different storage and organizing needs than more dedicated couponers. The Donna Reed Syndrome blog has a fantastic overview of the difference between types of couponers and systems that might work for each.
- Think about how you’ll want to categorize your coupons. Almost all of the coupon organizing approaches include some method for sorting coupons into categories. But, what categories will you use? Will you sort by product type? Alphabetically? By the way the store is organized? Stay a Stay at Home Mom offers some insight into your options, and The Frugal Homeschooling Mom offers up her collection of categories as a guide. Coupon Loving Mom also shares her more detailed categories so you can see how your categories might evolve over time.
- Pay attention to how you clip. Sometimes the devil is in the details, and organizing neat coupons is easier than organizing ones that are ripped and folded. A Thrifty Mom details her approach to clipping coupons with step-by-step photos.
While I haven’t quite decided what method I want to use, once I do, there’s a wealth of good advice on how to make each approach work best:
- Binder method from Carolina Clipper, Utah Deal Diva, MomSaves.com and from Coupons, Deals, and More
- Coupon wallet from Junie Moon
- Hanging file method from A Thrifty Mom and CouponCravings
I’m just dipping my toe into the world of coupons, and I’m not wholly sure how deep I’ll go, but I’m looking forward to learning more.