Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Couponing Step #2, Organize!

When I first learned how to use coupons most efficiently, it involved clipping the ones I wanted every Sunday and filing them in my coupon organizer until I needed them. Then I pulled out the weekly ads for our grocery store and drug stores and looked to see if I had coupons in my organizer for any of the good sale items. When there was a match, I added the item to my list. This took me about 3-5 hours per week, but still saved us hundreds of dollars a month. Some people have to use this system since they either do not have a reliable website to do the work for them or they do not have any big-name stores in their area (usually small towns). We live in a very small town, but thankfully have a city with most of the stores I need within 20-25 minutes of our house.

The first thing you need to do before deciding how to organize your coupons, is look into which websites you have available in your area for matching coupons up with the weekly sales.  I live in the southeast, and the best website I have found is www.southernsavers.com, I know a ton of moms who use it and the stay-at-home mom who runs it (Jenny) does a great job! It's a completely free website, and I can use it to make my list for any grocery store or drug store in my area. I attended one of Jenny's seminars at a local church for only $10. I didn't expect to learn a whole lot of new information since I had already been couponing for a while, but through the changes she suggested I've saved myself several hours of work each week. If you live in the northeast I recommend checking out moneysavingmom.com, the northwest check out nwcouponlady.blogspot.com. I'm not familiar with sites for other regions, but if you know of a good one to recommend please share it in the comments section below this post!

If you do not have a website to use, you will need a well-organized system that makes it easy for you to locate specific coupons quickly, in this area bigger is better. You will end up with a LOT of coupons, so a small cardstock "coupon organizer" isn't going to cut it. In my experience you have three options:

1. Binder system: Purchase a binder, dividers and baseball card sheets. Decide how you want to organize it (alphabetically, by grocery store dept, etc) and put the individual coupons into the sleeves so you can easily read them when flipping through. This is a very time consuming system, you have to make the coupons very small so they will fit and it can take a long time to file them all away. The upside is you can take it to the store with you and locate coupons very quickly.

2. Recipe box: Purchase a recipe box or coupon box and dividers with tabs. Again you can decide how to group your coupons (I do it by the sections of the grocery store: frozen, cold, medicine, etc). I love this system because you can file the coupons away quickly and they are still easily accessible, but it does fill up quickly--which is why I really recommend #3 if you don't have a website to use.

3. Photo box: Exactly like the recipe box, except you purchase a photo storage box (or other box around the same size) and 10-15 envelopes. Cut the flaps to make tabs on the envelopes and file the coupons inside. This system will hold a lot of coupons and still leave you with room to throw a pen and pair of scissors inside.

If you DO have a reliable website for your region, consider yourself lucky--you really have no reason not to coupon since it will take you very little time and someone else has done all of the hard work for you. You will need to purchase one of the large file organizers (around 10" X 13", and mine has 20 pockets--from Big Lots for $5). Here is what your Sunday will look like: you bring the paper inside, take out all the coupon inserts, write the date on the top one and throw them into the next empty pocket in your folder--maybe 2 minutes tops. When it's time to make my grocery list, I just hop on southernsavers.com and click on the store I want (Publix). There I will find a list of sale items this week and their corresponding coupons. So here's an example of something I saw this week:

French’s Classic Yellow Mustard 14 oz. at $1.89 (94¢)
Manufacturer Coupon -.30/1 French’s Classic mustard, SS 1/23
Manufacturer Coupon -.50/1 French’s Mustard printable or printable
(makes it FREE)

It was listed under the B1G1 section so the price in parenthesis is the sale price for one mustard. Then there was a $0.30 on one coupon in the Smart Source (SS) from January 23rd, or there is a printable if I want to do that. My store doubles coupons so I would choose the printable, it would take $1 off and I would actually make a "profit" of $0.06 (the 6 cents would be taken off of something else on my bill). If I do use my Smart Source coupon, it will take me only a minute to find it and cut it out. There is also a check box to the left of the mustard that I can't get to copy on here (but it's there I promise!), so if I'm going to buy it I can check a box. Then at the end I can print my list with all of the items and coupons. I also use a small recipe box organizer for the coupons I get elsewhere, in the mail, the grocery store, etc. 

Make sure no matter which system you use, that you are comfortable with it. I tried all of them before I found the one that worked best for me. Now go get your coupons organized and get ready for the next step...using them!

1 comment:

  1. Awesome, awesome! Thank you for sharing! I'll be buying an organizer tomorrow, I promise :-)