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Coupon Mom: How to Organize your Coupons Using the Insert Method

Updated on May 20, 2012

For some people, cutting coupons and sticking them into little baseball card sized slots for hours each week is just too tedious and time consuming. For those of you who don’t have a child at home you can bribe into stuffing your binder for you, there is an alternative. Here is a step-by-step guide to creating and using an insert method of couponing.

If you shop mainly form a pre-written list, the insert method is probably the most efficient and the most effective system for you. In a nutshell the way it works is you will keep your inserts whole, and use a coupon database to find the coupons you want.

Materials you will need:

1. Inserts

2. 12 File folders, or a divided file organizer with twelve slots. I find that a hanging system works the best because you are able to keep more inserts.

3. A marker

4. Bookmark these two web sites: Hot Coupon World and A Full Cup

5. A small shoebox or other durable box.

Now that you have your materials, pull out the file folders. Label them, one for each month. If you do not have the capacity to keep twelve months of inserts, there is another option for you. The reason I recommend keeping twelve months of inserts is that there are sometimes surprises in the expiration date of coupons. Late last year there came a great sale on toothbrushes and floss. A coupon that came out of March had still not expired and these items were free with it. Not too many people still had that coupon so long after the insert came out, but had you kept twelve months worth, you would have free toothbrushes and floss.

If you can’t keep them for that long, I recommend keeping four months at least. Then, go through the inserts you are about to donate to military families overseas (Don’t throw them away!) and cut out anything not yet expired. These will go into the shoebox, along with any coupons that did not come in an insert that you might have picked up along the way.

Once your folders are labeled, pull out your inserts and sort them by month. To keep them organized you can set them on top of the folder marked for that month. Now, find that marker that probably rolled off of your table. On the top left corner of each insert write the month and day of that insert. You can find that information on the spine, center for Smart Source and at the top for Red Plum. The reason you are doing this is because when you are searching for an insert, it is time consuming and tedious to squint for the date on each insert. This way it will be quick and easy to find the one you are looking for.

Now, file those inserts and put them away. You are now ready to put this system to work!

Here is how to use your nice, organized insert system. Each week, create your shopping list. You can use matchups for your store to help you figure out what is on sale, and what has coupons to go with it. Now, take your list and head to the computer. Open one of the coupon databases, I usually start with the one from Hot Coupon World since I find it easier to use. Change the “source” (it’s a drop down box) to insert and type in what you are looking for. It works best if you type in the actual brand name, but if you aren’t brand specific you can type “Mustard” or “yoghurt” and you will usually find many options.

Once your list has appeared, scroll through and find the highest value coupon that works for what you want. Right after the description will be a date, such as 05-20-12. This is the insert in which you can find this particular coupon. Take note that sometimes there will be two like coupons listed form the same insert, with different values. Different areas get the same coupon, but one area will have one value, such as $1.00/1 (one dollar off of one) and another area will have .50/1. It’s like the lottery to see which you will have.

After the date, you will see one of a few different sets of letters. Here they are, and what they mean:

· SS: this means Smart Source. This is one of two most common inserts.

· RP: Red Plum. The second most common insert.

· MTS: Moments to Save. This only come out occasionally, and usually has coupons for Pepsi, Fritos, Sobe, etc.

· PG: This is the P&G Brand Saver that comes out on the first Sunday of each month, or occasionally if the first is early in the week it comes out the last Sunday of the month. These coupons are usually only good until the end of the month.

As you find the coupons you want to search for, write down the insert next to the item. Then, use your organized files to easily find the insert you need and cut out the coupon. Don’t forget to file the insert back where it came from!

If you want an easy way to keep your coupons organized in the store, try this: Take two envelopes and glue or double stick tape them back to back (do not glue the flaps, but they should be touching) mark one side “To Use” and the other side “Used”. Put all of your coupons in the “To Use” side. Now, as you add an item to your cart transfer the corresponding coupon to the “used” side. At the end of your trip look through both sides and make sure you didn’t forget anything, or mistakenly add a coupon you did not use to the “used” side. Once you get to the cashier you can pull out all of the coupons from your “Used” side and there will be no fumbling or struggling with your coupons!

There you have it, a quick and simple way to use coupons without all the cutting and stuffing. New to couponing? Check out Couponing like a Pro for Beginners.


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    • Colleen Fowler profile image

      Colleen Fowler 5 years ago from Mildenhall, England

      Yes Sherry, I have seen that done as well! I have never gotten it down to that, the most I have done is $165 down to $22 - and even then thing like that are rare! However even seeing that you saved $50 or $80 in coupons alone is always a great feeling.

    • SherryDigital profile image

      Sherry Duffy 5 years ago from Here. There. Everywhere. Currently: Portland, OR

      Great tips! I once saw a lady get her bill down from over $300 to under $50!

      I need to start couponing!