Different Options for Organizing your Coupons
There are many different ways in which you can keep track of your coupons. Without an organization method sometimes this can lead to getting lost and not tracking your coupons and discounts correctly. Everyone has a different method, some of the most commons ones I talk about below along with the benefits and disadvantages of each.
The envelope method: The envelope method is perfect for the lighter coupon user. Just as the name suggests, you use legal size envelopes to categorize your coupons. Within this system there are two options:
- Label the envelopes A-Z and classify by product name (e.g. Philadelphia Cream Cheese goes in the “P” envelope)
- Label the envelopes by product type (e.g. dairy, snacks, beverages, etc.)
Advantages: The envelopes fit easily into your purse and therefore are ready to go when you are. This allows you to carry all of your coupons at all times.
Disadvantages: You have to manually remove any expired coupons, which could create a lot of work at the end of each month. Also, over time, you will need to replace the envelopes from normal wear and tear.
The binder method: For this method, you store all of your coupons in a large binder (at least 2”). Make sure you purchase a zippered binder or the first time you drop it on the floor you will be kicking yourself! J You will need the following supplies:
- Large, zippered binder
- Baseball card sleeve inserts (20+)
- Divider Tabs
Mark the tabs either according to product type (dairy, snacks, beverages, etc.) or use A-Z tabs and classify coupons by product name. When you clip a coupon, it goes into the right section of the binder, slipped into one of the inserts.
Advantages: This allows for a large amount of coupons to be accessible at all times.
Disadvantages: The binder can get heavy and does not easily fit into a purse. You will have to manually remove any expired coupons. Also, there is a small investment in the supplies to make this system work.
The accordion file method: Similar to envelopes, you will need to purchase an A-Z accordion file and you simply drop your coupons in by product name in the correct section. Again, this is best for a light coupon user.
Advantages: This makes coupon sorting extremely easy. If the binder is small, it is somewhat unobtrusive.
Disadvantages: It can be frustrating to find coupons using this method. Expired coupons must be manually removed.
Coupon organizer/box: Remember those old school index card boxes that you used to have? This method uses something similar only it’s a box or wallet-shaped container that’s shaped specifically for couponers. It holds small index tabs that you can personalize and allows for an easy, oftentimes fashionable, way to catalog your coupons. There are some great ones available online.
Advantages: It adds a little bit of flair to your coupons as you can find many nicely decorated boxes and fabric wallets. Is not as ostentatious as a binder or accordion file.
Disadvantages: You will have to clip all of your coupons and bring them with you. Also, like other methods, it requires you to periodically sort through the coupons and manually remove expired coupons.
Coupon insert method: This method requires no clipping of coupons, rather, you are cataloging entire newspaper inserts. For example, you would buy a pretty thick accordion file and label the tabs using the months of the year, January-December. On Sunday morning when your newspaper comes, you simply mark the insert with its name and date (e.g. SS 12/5 for the SmartSource Insert of the December 5th newspaper) and only clip a coupon from the insert when you see a good deal for that item. For many extreme couponers, this is the method of choice.
Advantages: It requires much less time and when an insert expires, you simply throw it into the recycling bin.
Disadvantages: This does not allow you to carry your coupons with you at all times. Therefore, if you are in a store and see a great clearance deal, you may not have the necessary coupons on hand.
Whatever method you choose, it is important to realize that you are not bound to that method for life! Many couponers will cycle through two or three methods before they find one that works for their personality and lifestyle. In the beginning, it is best to choose one that does require that much of a financial commitment before you hop onto Etsy and buy a really adorable (but perhaps impractical for you) coupon organizer!
You may also find that more than one method works for you. If you subscribe to multiple newspapers, it might make more sense to catalog the extra inserts and just clip from one to carry with you in store in case you find that amazing clearance deal. There is not one “right” method! Just as you have a unique personality, chances are your organization method will be uniquely fitted to you as well
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