Systems for Couponing

What’s Your Couponing System?

Couponing System
One of the very first blog posts I wrote in here was about my couponing system. We’ve gained a lot of new readers and facebook fans so I wanted to go over this again. My system has grown with me, and you will notice yours will too as you continue to coupon.

To read the first post on couponing systems and tips for beginners please go here.

Everything in the picture above is what goes out shopping with me each week. It seems like a lot but it all fits neatly in one canvas tote bag. We have a note pad, a pen, scissors, a coupon “wallet”, an ad “wallet” and my coupon binder.

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 (14¢ 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 :).

Coupon Wallet

This is what I call my “Coupon Wallet” (sorry this pic is so blurry). It is really a check file that I got on clearance. Inside it has 13 separate sleeves I slide coupons into. I have created tabs with the stores I go to the most and when I find the deal I must have I pull the coupons and put them right in that store’s sleeve with the list. This is also a lot easier to take into some stores instead of the giant binder (I have a GIANT binder).

My tabs inside include:

  • CVS
  • KMart
  • Kroger
  • Meijer
  • Rite Aid
  • Target
  • Walgreens
  • Walmart
  • 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 :).

Ad Wallet

This is what I refer to as my “Ad Wallet” – it’s a 13 pocket travel file. I have it separated out in similar sections like my coupon wallet. Each week when I get the paper I pull the ads I want, clear last week’s out of the file and put the new ones in. Seems like a lot of work right?

Labeled Tabs

Not really! And it saves me a ton of time later. When you’re out shopping you don’t want to carry a pile of ads with you. You may just want to bring 1 or 2 in. OR you bring in the whole file – it only weights about a pound. But then if you go to a store and can’t find an ad, or the cashier can’t find the deal in the ad, you can pull yours out and show them what you are talking about! I often circle the deals I want in the ads – this helps when you are heading out and want to target things. Then when the cashier can’t find it you can flip to it and show them quickly. Trust me, they will appreciate you not wasting time searching for the deal in an ad -or having to send someone back to the other end of the store.

Coupon Binder

Now onto the biggest thing – and dare I say – the most important. The Coupon Binder! I told you it was HUGE! Say it with me now “ooo ahhh”. Before anyone asks where I found the binder, it is actually a recycled Wallcovering Sample Binder, I have never seen another 5 inch binder that is set up like this. I shiver at the thought of how much a binder like this might cost retail. It has it’s downfalls (top and bottom are open) but let’s go over it’s good parts!

Coupon Binder 2

This picture will begin to show you why I chose this binder – it has TWO three ring binders in it. They face each other when closed, but it’s easy to lay out on a table, or even over a grocery cart and flip through my sections quickly. The binder also has a large plastic handle, and when it’s closed is secured with a twist latch. Now yes, it would be better if I had something over the top – occasionally coupons do try to escape – but that’s why it stays in the bag unless I need to get in it while shopping.

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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Becky

Owner and Editor at Week99er
Becky is Content Creator in metro-Detroit. She is also an interior designer, a former adjunct professor, a gluten free foodie, and world traveler. Week99er is a lifestyle site featuring real life reviews of the latest in entertainment, technology, travel destinations and even set visits. Her Youtube channel gives in depth reviews and travel videos. Contact her at [email protected]

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