How to organize your coupons

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At the end of last year, my wife and I started to get into couponing.  We had had our third child and knew that eventually it would be a strain on our food budget. Since I was raised by one of the thriftiest women I know (my mother) and remember her trading coupons with her friends, I knew that I too could help our family in this way. In November, I started researching some coupon sites and tracked deals that were particular to my area. For instance, I like to track Walgreens, Bakers (Kroger), and Hy-vee for deals. Once I got a collection of good coupon websites and deal sites for these stores, then I started collecting the Sunday paper coupons. These are typically Red Plum, Smart Source, and P&G inserts. Quickly I found that the coupons got to be hard to manage and the quantity of them began to grow quickly. With that I realized I needed a system for managing my coupons. So what did I do? I turned to youtube, of course. I found a lot of great systems for managing coupons and this is ultimately how I came up with mine (based on a compilation of others). Here are some pointers on things I do to help organize my coupons.

  • Clipping. Get all your coupon inserts and clip only the coupons you will use.
  • Sorting.
    • Coupons that I will use go into the baseball card sleeves in my three ring binder. The sections include:
      • Cereal/Breakfast
      • Baking
      • Snacks
      • Refrigerated/Frozen
      • Dairy
      • Meat
      • Household Supplies: Bathroom Supplies, Kitchen/Laundry Supplies, Vitamins, etc…
    • Three Large Pockets at the front of my three ring binder are for my main stores. For whatever store I will be shopping at this week, I collect the coupons in these pockets and compose a grocery list. This allows us to have a specific list of what we are going in for and helps us to stick to the list. I bring my binder into the store in order to capture any unadvertised deals.
  • Use your coupons. Now that I’ve collected and organized them, then comes the fun part. Watch for deals to cycle. From the book, Shop Smart, Save More (website: The Grocery Game) they describe how deals usually cycle in 12 week increments. Meaning, if it is January 1st, and there are a lot of store deals on toilet paper that week, then stock up enough to last you until April 1st. This will help ensure that you aren’t paying more than you should. Instead you’re buying when they are the cheapest and using coupons to make those deals even sweeter.

Finally, as I’ve learned over the past few months you need to learn to have fun with your coupons and get your family involved. My son now asks if we have a coupon before we buy something, and is always a hawk for candy coupons in the Sunday inserts. Brings a tear to my eye (proud Dad).

Here is a short video showing the system I’m using based on others’ coupon systems.

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  1. Pingback: Why I got into couponing | Three Thrifty Guys

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