How to Coupon: Get Organized with a Coupon Binder
Help! I Can't Find That Coupon!
You have already figured out that couponing saves money, but now you need to know how to organize your coupons and save time. Having your coupons in order means more savings for you and less time searching. Take a few minutes to create a couponing strategy, and save more time and energy every week as you find the deals.
To Clip or Not to Clip Coupons
The are two basic strategies for keeping up with your coupons. Plan A is to clip coupons weekly from the newspaper flyers. This works if you have the extra time or you find weekly coupon clipping therapeutic (it really can be!). There is the risk of time wasted since you may clip coupons that you end up never using. The benefit is, once organized, you have every coupon you would ever need at your fingertips when shopping.
Plan B is to keep all the coupon flyers intact and only clip when you are ready to use. You will need to date the flyers and find a drawer or binder to keep them. This plan works especially well if you use a coupon-matching website to find your deals. These websites direct you to certain coupon flyers by date, so you would be set up for that. The drawback is that it would be very cumbersome to carry all your coupon booklets with you to the store and then have to search through them all if you come across a possible deal.
My personal couponing plan is actually a combination of the two. I browse the coupon flyers weekly and only clip the ones I know I will absolutely use. Then I store the flyers in a big binder that stays home in case I am directed to a good coupon match-up.
As for coupons you print off the Internet, the same strategies exist. You can print the coupon as soon as you find it, or you can print it only right before you plan to use it. Printing all the coupons you come across could lead to wasted ink and paper, but then again, you will have the coupon in the event it becomes unavailable later. I print the ones that are for items I regularly buy, especially if it is a high dollar coupon. If a good match-up comes along, I go back and print the coupon later.
The Coupon Binder
The binder is crucial to keeping your coupons organized. You will need a thick sturdy binder that is going to stand up to some wear and tear. I purchased a colorful Five Star nylon binder that zips up and keeps my coupons secure. My binder also has some small zip-up pockets, which are good for scissors, pens, and a calculator.
You will also need to purchase some baseball card sheet protectors - yes, baseball! These pockets are the perfect size for coupons. This will allow you to organize your coupons by subject. You can put like items together, or even organize by which aisle of the store the items will be found. For example, put coupons for cake/muffin mixes, spices, and oil together.
Even if you clip coupons only as needed, you will still need a binder for miscellaneous coupons you come across or coupons you receive from another source, like by mail, "peelies" on a product, "blinkies" from little machines in the store, mail flyers, etc.
Once your coupons are organized, place a few empty protector sheets at the front of your binder. These you can fill with coupons you will use that day. For example, I may plan a trip to Publix and Harris Teeter one day. All my coupons for Publix will be placed on the first few sheets, and then the remaining sheets are for Harris Teeter. Some people may want to skip this step and just pull coupons as you go down each aisle, but I find that the first way cuts time. Once you have the item in your cart, you will want to pull the corresponding coupon and place it in an envelope or if you have a binder like mine, in one of the zip-up pockets. That way, you are prepared at the check-out lane and don't have to fumble over coupons.
You Are Ready to Shop!
Remember, you can spend money to save time, or you can spend time to save money. Couponing is hard work, but the amount you save is such a payoff. Get your coupons in order and you will be more efficient and confident. Good luck!
My favorite coupon matching website is southernsavers.com
I also keep one folder for rebate offers I am working on and another folder for rebates I am awaiting a check.
Kids love to help clip coupons - let them join the fun!