Thursday, May 13, 2010

Couponing for Beginners: How to Manage Your Coupons

In this overdue 2nd post in my "Couponing for Beginners series," I am covering how to organize your coupons.  (You can read the first post in the series, How to Get Coupons, here.)

If you are just getting started or are a "casual" couponer, an envelope or two may be all you need.  I also used to have a cute organizer that I bought at a drugstore with pockets for each store category.  However, once I got into "serious" couponing, I quickly outgrew such a small booklet

Of couponers who save most or all of the weekly coupons and actively hunt down bargains based on the coupon deals, there seem to be two schools of thought: the "cut out" method and the "whole insert" method.  As you might imagine, the first group cuts out all their coupons and organizes them (usually by category) in a box or binder.  The second group simply files their newspaper inserts by date and cuts out what they need before each planned grocery trip.

There are ups and downs to both methods.  The cut out method enables you to quickly find any coupons you need, and you have your coupons available at the store if you find an unadvertised deal.  Cutting them out also may help you easily remember what items you have coupons for.  However, cutting out and organizing all the coupons every week can definitely be time consuming, and depending on what you use, your box or binder can become unwieldy.

If you plan to use the whole-insert method, here is a pretty detailed post with ideas to make it work.  Crystal also just published her own overview of the various coupon-organization methods, which is definitely worth checking otu.

I personally use the cut-out method, using a shoe-box sized plastic box from the dollar store.  I really got the idea from Crystal's coupon box, but I have adapted it to my needs.  I'm planning a follow-up post to share exactly how I organize my coupons.  If you are interested in the binder method, you might check out the Couponizer*, which is spoken well of.  Erin also has a post here on how she made her own coupon binder, as well as links to lots of other bloggers' coupon systems.

Whatever system you use (and I think you'll find you'll adapt to your own needs over time), the important thing is to keep your coupons organized.  Having a good system saves a lot of time both preparing for shopping trips and while in the store, and it ensures that you don't miss out a great deal.

Coming Up Soon: the 3rd post in my "Couponing for Beginners" series: How to Make Your Coupons Work for You.

*Full disclosure: I am a Couponizer affiliate, so if you purchase the Couponizer through my link, I receive a small percentage.  Thanks.

Photo by daitenshi6.

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