Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Evolution of my Coupon Organization

I love neat, tidy organization, especially when it works.

I shared last August about The Couponizer. I loved it then, and I still love it, but I've outgrown it. It definitely got me back into using my coupons and getting the most from them. I've probably used them more effectively than I ever have since I purchased it.

One of my biggest problems that developed over time was that I have too many coupons for some sections. The other is that when I'm in the store and see something on sale and know that I have a coupon for it, I have to take all the coupons from that section out of the pocket and flip through them. It's too easy to drop one or more, or all, of them while I'm trying to do that without a surface in front of me. I'd also prefer not to be flipping through them repeatedly in the middle of the store, which is what was happening. (For some reason, sometimes the grocery ad comes in the paper or in the weekly mail flyer, and sometimes it doesn't. When it doesn't, I can't always make a comprehensive list and go through my coupons before I get to the store.)

So what did I do? I used a one-inch D-ring binder, baseball card sleeves, tabbed dividers, and my trusty labelmaker. I already had the binder, tabbed dividers, and trusty labelmaker. I did need to buy the baseball card sleeves, which is hard to believe in my house. Although if there had been any I'd have been hard pressed to get them out of Buddy's hands if he'd known what I was doing with them.

Because the day when Hubby got home from work after I started working on this binder, Buddy told him, "I need baseball card sleeves and Mom's using them for coupons."

In my defense, I purchased them for myself, not him. (Two packs of 30 each at Target. I think they were $4.99 each.)

I haven't used all of them yet. I categorized with similar categories to those found in The Couponizer, but I did add a few extra based on what works for me.

There are still five extra tabs in back in case I decide to add a section. Unfortunately (unless of course I redo every tab), they would no longer be alphabetical if I do that.

That could be an issue, but we'll deal with it when it happens.

Each baseball card sleeve has nine slots. Some coupons have to be folded a little, but most will fit. The internet-printed coupons are taller, so I try to put something in the slot above it so I can see the picture and know what it is. This is a sample from the 'beverage' category.

Of course I've been working on this post for a week or so, and now there might be an expired coupon smiling you right in the face. I use them or take them out regularly.

The only problem that immediately came to light with this system was when I went to the store and was pulling coupons out that I wanted to use for that trip. I didn't have a good pocket to put them in. Yes, there is that clear pocket at the front of the binder, but it's tight. Not easy to access. So I needed a better plan for when I was in the middle of the store and wanted to tuck a coupon I planned to use at checkout time.

My answer: the page protector. I love them almost as much as my labelmaker. Almost.

I stuck a coupon inside so you could see what I did. I cut down the front of the page protector and left the back fully intact. I thought I might need to use some of the clear packing tape so it didn't tear, but I tugged on it and I think it's good and sturdy on it's own.

I trimmed the front down a little more than halfway. Again, the back of the page protector is still fully intact. And if I need to add tape later on the sides I can.

I keep a long envelope in that front inside pocket of the binder (you could see it two pictures up) for my CVS ECBs and coupons. I write on the outside of the envelope what I plan to buy, if I have a coupon, and what ECBs I expect to get on the purchase. As I go through the ad, I pull out the coupons I plan to use and tuck them in the envelope along with any ECBs I have. I always check my ECBs at the end of my receipt against what I've written on the envelope before I leave the store or drive away. Every so often I have to have them fix something, and it's certainly easier to have it done immediately.

I've been using this binder for about three weeks now and it's definitely working well. Better since I put that page protector in the front. Best of all, it saves me money.

These are some of my favorite places if you aren't familiar with them:
Moms Need To Know
Money Saving Mom
Centsable Momma
i heart cvs
Coupon Mom
Meijer Mealbox (if you shop at Meijer's, there are store coupons you can print and stack with manufacturer's coupons — just click 'specials' in the box and it will take you to the coupons that are available)

See this post for the Coupon Divider Categories.

This post is linked to Works For Me Wednesday hosted by Kristen at We Are THAT Family.


Mari said...

I'm impressed! I don't use coupons much anymore, but I really should. My daughter has been doing really well with coupons off the Meijer website.

Love Bears All Things said...

Wow, what a system.
I tried doing coupons for a while at different times. Usually they are for the brand name and if I buy the store brand, it is cheaper without a coupon. Now, there are some things which I will only buy brand name but not too many.
I print out the Michael's coupons when I'm going there. Sometimes a particular item will be cheaper somewhere else than there using their coupon.
You are a very organized person.
Mama Bear

Rochelle said...

WOW!!! That's tremendous! Kudos to you. That looks like it was quite the creative effort and it looks great!

I think you should make more and sell them. :)

Anonymous said...

I'm with Love Bears...I buy a lot of store brands, too. But it's not a 1 and done, and I was just gnashing my teeth yesterday about how our coupon organization is ridiculously lacking. I will check out this Meijer website!

Sarah said...

Could u list your coupon categories...... I love it!

Betsy said...

"that could be an issue"...haha...you crack me up! :)

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