Couponing Tips – Where to Keep Your Coupons
This week I was going to start showing you beginning couponers how to put together a deal, but I changed my mind. Not only do you probably need at least another week to gather some more coupons & to work on your list of products your family uses (you did start working on that from Couponing Tips Week 1, yes?), but before you start to gather too many coupons, we should probably talk about how you’re going to store them.
There are basically three methods to containing your coupons. Which technique you use is up to you. What works for one person, may not work for another, but I’m going to give you a quick summation of each system. If you want even more in depth examples, we have a whole section devoted to it here on our website. Try one for a while. If it doesn’t work or you don’t like it, switch it up. Better yet, combine the things you like most about each and come up with your own. Here are the 3 main ones:
The Binder Method
This is probably the one you’ve heard about the most. People who use this method usually like to take their binders with them while they shop. The idea is, every coupon that comes into your possession, will take its place in your binder. That means any printable coupon, any blinkie or tearpad coupon, any coupon you get in the mail, and yes, every coupon from the Sunday paper. This is the one that stops me in my tracks. I get 8-10 papers a week. That would be a lot of clipping!
If you choose the binder method, you’ll need a binder of course. I recommend one that zips up, like a Case-It Binder. The first time you accidentally drop your binder and coupons scatter to the wind, you’ll know what I mean! You’ll also need baseball card sleeves. There are sheets that have 9 pockets on them. Perfect for coupons. Plus you’ll need divider tabs. How you divide out the sections is up to you. For example you could have Pets, Baby Food, Paper Goods, Canned Foods, etc. Whatever you’ll be couponing for most, use those items as your guide. You can always change it up later.
Once your binder is set up, it’s just a matter of inserting your coupons into the slots. When you’re searching store ads for items you need that week, consult your binder to see if you have coupons for those items. The beauty of a binder is that you can take it shopping with you. Find something on clearance? You have your coupons with you. Just remember something that you need to buy, but didn’t plan for? Binder to the rescue!
The Filing Method
This one is pretty straightforward. The idea is, you clip as you need them, not as you get them. When you get your Sunday paper insert coupons, you don’t have to sit there and clip,
clip, clip. Instead, you file them away whole and clip them when a deal comes up. The best thing to do is break them down by pages, putting like with like. For example with a 10pg insert, you’d put all 10 page 1s together, all 10 pg 2s together, all 10 pg 3s together, etc. It makes clipping them when the time comes so much easier. You can watch this video David put together here to get a better idea of what I’m talking about. Once you have your inserts broken down, clip the individual page sets together and drop them in a file folder tabbed with the date.
If you’re going to file, you’ll need an empty drawer or two, a filing cabinet or even one of those portable filing boxes will do. You just need somewhere to house the files. This method works best for people who mainly get their coupons via the Sunday paper. A lot of people don’t worry about printing coupons or searching out blinkie machines in the store. If you think you’re going to want to take advantage of every resource though, then maybe this third method is for you.
The Combination Method (AKA the “Hybrid Method”)
This is the one I use and one of my favorite couponing tips. I like not having to clip every coupon from the Sunday paper all at once, but I also like the organization of a binder. What I do is file my coupon inserts and any loose coupons such as printables, tear pads, coupons I receive in the mail, etc., I put in my binder. I don’t take my binder to the store, I just leave it at home. For me, it’s no big deal to run home for coupons. I live in the Tampa area and have 3 of every store I shop at within 5-7 miles of my house, but if your stores aren’t close, you could tote this binder around and at least have some coupons on your person if you use this method.
As you were learning about the above methods, I’m sure a question that came to mind was, “This is great, but whichever method I use, how do I know I have the coupon in my binder/files without searching high and low?” Great question! Our coupon database will be your new best friend.
If you see something on sale that you want, for example, Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes cereal, and you’re not sure if you have a coupon, all you have to do is put Frosted Flakes in the Search Box (and click on Search) and our database will pull up any coupons currently available. Maybe it says there was a $1/2 coupon in the 8/30 SmartSource. Well you got papers that week so all you have to do is go to that insert and pull out the coupon(s). Or maybe there’s a $1/3 printable coupon available. Our database will give you the link to it so you can print it.
Couponing Tips Weekly Homework Assignment:
- Pick one of the above methods for organizing your coupons and start setting up your system.
- Put any coupons you’ve gathered so far into your chosen system.
- Continue working on your list of products your family uses. Next week we’ll start working with it.
- Buy 2 more newspapers on a 2nd Sunday for the coupon inserts. (See the schedule here to make sure which weeks have them)
- Print some more coupons you think you might use. We have a whole section, here, on the website, with links to printable coupons.
Last week you got a basic idea of what couponing is and where to start getting your coupons from and this week we covered the three main ways people organize their coupons. Next week we’ll start putting together some deals. I’ll show you how to use our store matchups and how to find deals on your own. Make sure to do your homework. We’ll see you next Friday for the next installment of my Couponing Tips for the beginning couponer.
Until next time, Shop Happy!
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