Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Couponing Part 2 of 4: File the Coupons

This one took some trial and error for me, but I finally settled on a method that is working perfectly, & I’m excited to share it with you!

I picked up a plastic tub, with a handle, made to store hanging files, at an office supply store (I had a cardboard accordion style one a while back, but it wasn’t sturdy enough and the clasp wasn’t strong enough, so trust me and spend the extra money for a plastic one). I got 4 different colors of hanging folders so I could color code the months, but you don’t have to be that OCD if you don’t want to. Label each folder with the date, make one folder for each Sunday for a 4 month period. So, if you started last Sunday when I gave you the homework of buying 2 Sunday papers, you’ll label your first folder 7/11 and make a folder for every Sunday through 10/31. Make one last folder labeled “Old”. Here’s how your new filing system will work. Every Sunday you’ll take out the inserts from your newspaper, write the date on them, and put them in the folder for that day. The end. Nope you didn't miss the part about clipping the coupons... why spend time clipping coupons you may never use, and what if you don't remember what heading you filed them under, and how much time do you want to spend pulling expired coupons out of your filing system?! No clipping at this stage of the game, just file by date. Could it be easier than that?!

The vast majority of coupons printed in the flyers will expire within a couple of months of when they were issued, which is why I only put the effort into organizing 4 months worth, but just to be safe I hang on to them via the “old” folder through the 6 month mark. So here’s how you’ll rotate your flyers out: If you’re starting now, in November you’ll move all of the inserts from your July folders into the “old” folder and then re-label the July folders to 11/7, 11/14 etc. Then in December you’ll pitch the July flyers and move August to the “Old” folder & re-lable the August folders to 12/5, 12/12 etc. A little tip: If you use a labeling system to label the plastic tabs on your hanging files, like I do, not only does it look nice & neat, the labels peel off easily when it’s time to re-label the folder

In addition to your hanging files, you’ll want to get a 3 ring binder, some dividers with a pocket in them, and some baseball card holders. My dividers are labeled: refrigerated, pantry, deli, baby/health, cleaning, & frozen. I recommend the dividers with pockets because if you don’t have the time to file the coupons away in the baseball card holders, you can just stick the coupons in the appropriate divider and at least that level of sorting is done when you have a minute to put them in the holders. You’ll use the binder to store the coupons you get randomly (you’ll be surprised once you start watching for them all the places you’ll find them) like in the mail, inside packages of products you buy, or from friends who find out you coupon, as well as for the coupons you clip and don’t end up using for whatever reason, and rain checks.

Now that you have some coupons & filed them in a way you can actually find them, tomorrow we’ll get into the nitty gritty of this whole couponing thing with part 3: Finding the deals


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