To read the first post on couponing systems and tips for beginners please go here.
I want to address each item and why it goes with me, some are pretty simple explanations. The notepad and pen are some of the most obvious ones, before I go out I make my list by scanning my ads, and other sites online. I match my coupons to the ads and pull them out. I go store by store and make a list of what I’m after, for example:
“Meijers – Weber’s Grill Mates – 89¢ – Q 75¢/1 (6)”
Jibberish? Maybe to some – but it’s basically Store name – Item – Sale price – Coupon and Value – Number of Coupons. So I know when I head into Meijers and I’m looking for the Grillmates to grab 6. If I’m really good that week I might add the final cost at the end (14Â¢ on these!) But usually I just like the surprise at the end.
Scissors are kind of easy to explain to – what if you find an in-ad coupon you want to use? Or if you didn’t take the time to cut a coupon out and want to use it RIGHT THEN.. Scissors are a great thing to have! And I found mine for like $2 at Joann’s I want to say :).
My tabs inside include:
- Rite Aid
- Others (Aco, Staples, whatever I find that week)
- Rebates and Offers (bottom of receipts that could be more money)
- Receipts – file them right there after you buy so you don’t lose them!
- Last one remains blank- if I don’t use a coupon I stash them back there to refile in the binder!
This helps me stay organized in the “field”. It fits nicely in my purse and it’s super cute too :).
The tabs inside my binder have stayed the same:
- Free – Any item that is free with coupon. You’ll get a lot of these off Facebook etc. Like the Oreda Free Sweet Potato Fries!
- Baking – Sugars, Flours, Condensed Milk etc
- Boxed Meals – Hamburger Helper, Cereal, Lunchables, prepared meals- the quick and easy stuff
- Canned – Soups, veggies
- Condiments – Ketchup, Mustard, Marinades, Sauces
- Dairy – Milk, butter, cream etc
- Drinks – Water, soda, Mio etc
- Frozen – Desserts, sometimes meats etc
- Health and Beauty – Makeup, Shampoo and Conditioner, Body wash, deodorant, tooth paste, toothbrushes
- Household – Air fresheners, cleaning products, candles, pyrex, tupperware
- Kids – toys, games etc. Yes you can get toy coupons!
- Laundry – You will be shocked how quick that one filled up – anything to do with laundry. Detergent, Fabric softener
- Meat – You’d be surprised how many meat coupons there are out there, lunch meat, sausage, ground meat etc. I tend to put eggs in there as well.
- Medicine – Any oral or topical OTC medicine
- Pets – food, treats, toys etc
- Snacks – Anything you might want for snacks, chips, candy, sometimes I shuffle nutrition bars etc in there.
But I have started to sort them differently. In front of the FREE section I put all of my Restaurant coupons. And right behind that is a mini coupon section – this is reserved for coupons expiring in the next couple weeks. Yes.. they get their own section because otherwise it’s wasted money. Every other week I go through the binder, pull the expired ones and set them aside for Coups for Troops, and I pull the ones that are about to expire. The soon to expire ones migrate up front and are only sorted by “edible” and “non-edible”. Because they are right up front they are right in my face – so I flip through them before I go for a deal.
Also in my sections I have created subsections. These are not tabbed, but rather start on a new page. For example Health and Beauty is the main section, but now all toothpastes are together on one page, all feminine products are on another page, hair care etc etc etc. This way when I’m looking through an ad and see Pantene on sale – I know to look at the hair care page to see if I have coupons. I find it a lot easier to find items.
Are you overwhelmed yet? It seems like a lot of information and a lot of stuff to haul around. But like I said before this is what works for me. You will surely find your own system soon! That’s all of the STUFF – now how do we use it?
Like I already mentioned every other week I go through my binder and pull expired and soon to expire coupons. Sometimes I get ambitious and do it every week. This helps keep the binder clean. I also re-file any coupons I didn’t use at the store that week unless I know I’m going to use them this upcoming week.
Come Sunday I get my papers – several.. I get teased by the girl at the store for the amount I get – but she’s overpaying for items, so I let it go. I go home and I cut my coupons. As I cut them I sort them into piles: Keep, Giveaway (you guys love this pile!), family and friends. If someone tells me of a certain coupon they’re looking for I try to set that one aside for them. I put the ones I’m giving to fans and people in their envelopes or baggies and start to work on my “Keep” pile. I go through and separate the coupons by which section they’re going in first, and then into their subsections. I then pull out the binder and put them in their spots. This I have to do every week – if I don’t they build up and this could (and has in the past) take a half a day instead of an hour or two.
After all of the coupons are ready in their binder I go through my ads – sometimes I go through these first and never file them in the binder, but usually ads are last. Why do ads last? Because when I’ve clipped, organized and filed my coupons I’ve looked at each one I have three times. So now when I go through the ads I know which coupons I have. I’ve seen them, touched them and know exactly where I put them. It helps me match the deals with the ads!
So yes.. couponing is a lot of work. My system is finally set and it takes a lot of work for me to do. But now that I’ve figured it out it only take a few hours a week. And when I can walk out of store with bags of stuff and have paid less than $10 for all of it – it’s well worth it.
What if you don’t get good coupons in your area? I know some people aren’t as lucky as we are in Detroit – we get GREAT coupons, and all the high value ones they release. But there are services you can buy whole coupons inserts from. Some local papers allow you to buy bundles of inserts and not papers. If you are not lucky enough to find coupons near you that are good, or you don’t get any check into this type of service!
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