Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Thrifty Thursday- Organizing Coupons

Now that you bought the Sunday paper it's time to organize your coupons! (Click here to learn the most efficient way to clip your coupons) I use the "binder method" and have great success with it! Here are the supplies:

3" Zipper Binder (a handle/strap is very nice)
Divider Tabs (18 tabs)
Baseball Card Holders (I use 60 pages)
Price Grid (18 sheets)
Photo page (with two 4X6 pockets)
Zipper Pencil Pouch

First, be sure to put your contact information in your binder!

DIVIDER TABS/BASEBALL CARD HOLDERS: I use the baseball card holder pages for my coupons and store cards. Click here to view and print the 18 divider tabs. They are in the order of the aisles of most grocery stores. Some of the tabs have "sub categories" to make filing easier. I use a label maker and put the name of the sub category on the top of the baseball card page. For example, under the Canned divider tab I have a Soup sub category. See picture below:

Below is a list of the sub categories when applicable. (Note: if a tab is not listed then it doesn't have a sub category)

  • Canned- Soup, Fruit, Meat, Vegetables
  • Baking- Mixes, Oil & Sugar, Seasonings
  • Cereal & Breakfast- Brand names of cereal (ie Kelloggs, etc.)
  • Cleaning Supplies- All Purpose, Bathroom, Dish Detergent, Disinfectant, Furniture & Floor, Glass
  • Paper & Plastic- Cups & Plates, Plastic, Tissue, Toilet Paper, Towels & Napkins
  • Frozen- Bread, Dessert, Meat, Veg/Fruit/Potatoe
  • Dairy & Refrigerated- Bread, Cheese, Eggs & Butter, Yogurt,
  • Health & Beauty- Band-Aids, Deodorant, Face, Feminine, Hair, Lotion, Make Up, Shaving, Soap, Tooth Products, Medicine & Vitamins

PHOTO PAGES (with two 4X6 pockets):

  • I use the two pocket page to plan for my shopping trips. I put a label with the name of the store on the top of the page. In the top pocket I put all the coupons I plan to use for my trip. While shopping, I move the coupon from the top pocket to the bottom pocket when I find the item that I'm going to buy. When I get to the register I simply pull out all the coupons from the bottom pocket and hand them over. Trust me, an organized shopper means a happy cashier!
  • If I decide not to use a coupon (either the store is out of the item or it wasn't a good deal) then I put it in a different page labeled "re-file". This prevents coupons from falling all over the place and getting lost. Trust me, I know from experience (and some tears)!
  • I also use the photo size page for: the Bread sub category (under dairy & refrigerated). There are so many Pillsbury coupons they fit much better in this size rather than the baseball card holder. I also use the photo size page for: Medicine & Vitamins (under health & beauty). I alphabetize them A-I, J-R, S-U, V-Z.

PRICE GRID: This is probably the most important tool of your entire binder!!! Click here to download the form. The price grid helps you track the price of common items that you buy. The only way you are going to know whether to use a coupon is to know where you can find that item at the lowest price. I put one price grid in the front of each tab (for a total of 18 price grids). Simply use your reciept when you get home from your shopping trip to fill in the items and the price. After two months you'll find that you tend to buy the same things over and over. You'll become aware of the best deals and if a coupon is worth using. The goal is to NEVER BUY THINGS AT FULL PRICE AGAIN! Your aim: to buy items when they're on sale AND when you have a coupon. Trust me, you will save hundreds of dollars!!!

ZIPPER PENCIL POUCH- I use this to hold my receipts and my grocery cash. Trust me, it is best to use a cash envelope system! You will be forced to take things out of your cart if you don't have enough money. There will always be a good deal...but it's not a good deal for your family if it makes you go over budget! Remember, your goal is to save money...not to get more things for the same amount of money! Currently we are on a $75 per week food & toiletry budget. This is a significant improvement from Oct 2008, but I'm still trying to get it lower.

Organizing your coupons is the key to saving money! If you can't find your coupons then you won't use them. There are many different methods to organize--you need to decide what is best for you. Here are a few other ideas:

1) Filing your Sunday paper inserts (RP, SS, P&G). This is the method that Coupon Mom suggests in her free e-book. I did this at first and it saves you time initially. However, when I was planning for my first triple coupon shopping trip I found it very difficult! It’s not easy to remember all of the coupons. To find one, you have to use her online coupon database to find the date and insert of the item. Then, flip through the correct insert to clip your coupon. Not to mention you won’t always have a coupon with you when you see a clearanced item.
2) A coupon box- this has been very successful for some of my friends. The example I show has a top to the box. This is very important because I have heard of kids knocking it over. What a horrible, time consuming mess! I will note that with the binder method I like the ease of seeing every coupon at a glance on the baseball holder page.

So, what organization method do you use? Leave me a comment and tell me how you like it! If you're new to couponing let us what you decide. This is the beginning of an exciting journey to change how your family spends money!



SRose said...

Thanks so much for the information. I have been trying to use coupons since the beginning of this year with no luck only frustration. I am going out to get my items this weekend to start organizing. I will let you know how it goes. Thanks

HPS said...

Whoa. This is serious bidness but if you can get by on $75 a week for your family of 4 INCLUDING toiletries, I'm along for the ride! This is a LOT of very valuable information. Thank you so much! Great job!

Kristi said...

GREAT POST!!!! I needed this kind of step-by-step training from a pro. Thanks so much!

Chandra said...

Where is the best place to get baseball card holders?

Carolina Clipper said...

Chandra~ Great question. I got my baseball card holders from Staples. Any office supply store should have them, so hopefully you can pick them up when you get your binder and other supplies. (I heard they are also at WalMart, but my location did not carry them). Let me know how it goes!

SRose- Looking forward to hearing how it goes this weekend!

Happy Four said...

EXCELLENT tutorial on how to organize my coupons...thank you so much!

Tara M said...

Hey Richelle, don't know if you need these or not but I found some dividers that extend past the baseball card sheets in my binder. You may have that already or it doesn't bother you to have them somewhat hidden between the sheets. Anyhow, if you want more detail I'll tell ya. THx for the pictures. They help so much.t

Dolly said...

Thank you for taking the time to type out step by step instructions. this is very helpful info!

Ashlie Miller said...

Wow!...thought I was organized with my coupons, but this helps even more! It's funny, you can spot the double coupon users at Bi-lo and triple users at HT by their binders! :) Hey, do you gals know about My sis turned me onto it. You can get gift certificates for really cheap to local restaurants (today for instance, I can get $25 gift certificates for $3! if I type i PREZ). Check it out!

HPS said...

Ash, just saw this comment. I remember that site from a while back but forgot about it. I'll take a peek. Thanks for the reminder!