Breaking Down the Inserts

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There are a lot of opinions on what you should do with the inserts when you get them each Sunday.  How you handle them is totally up to you.  The Coupon Wizards all subscribe to the same method because we each tried everything else before we caved and realized that the Wizard himself was right.  If you follow this method you will save precious time in the long run.  You will not have to worry about constantly culling your coupons for expired coupons and you will know right where to find them as you prepare for your shopping trips each week.

Since we buy our papers in large quantities, the first thing we need to do is break down our inserts so that we are able to more efficiently manage them.  If you buy 10 papers, do you really want to be cutting out the same coupons 10 times?  We didn’t think so.  The best way to handle this is to sort your inserts by page.  For example, if your Smart Source insert has 14 pages, you would take the first paper and create a stack for each of the 14 pages.  You would then take the insert from the next paper and sort the pages by placing each page on the corresponding stack that you had created.  You would do this until you had broken down all 10 of your Smart Source inserts

Once that process is completed, you pick up each pile and staple it at the 4 corners so that the pages are aligned and don’t slide around when it’s time to file them.  You then put the pages back together in the format they arrived in.  When done, you will have one Smart Source insert that is 10 think on every page.  Once you have completed this task, you would place your Smart Source insert into a manilla folder labeled “Smart Source” and set it aside.

Why do you break the ad down like that Coupon Wizard?

The answer is simple.  With two people working on breaking down the ad, you can breakdown, staple and rebuild the insert to completion in about 5-7 minutes depending on how many pages there are.  Once completed, each time I need to clip a coupon for a shopping trip, I am actually clipping all 10 coupons that are in that insert.  I spend little to no time actually clipping because I am only clipping once to get everything that I need for that trip.  Make sense?

Now that we have explained that, it’s time to move on.   Continue the process above until all of your inserts have been broken down, stapled and re-assembled.  The hard part is now over.

The real key to the couponing lifestyle is planning and organization.  You may feel like you are spending a little more time to prepare for your shopping trip, but when you see the savings at the end, you will understand why it is worth the investment of that time.  To organize my inserts, I like to use a plastic file box like the one pictured to the left.  I currently have 4 of these boxes full of coupons.  I use these as opposed to a large metal filing cabinet because they are portable.  If I want to watch a football game on the big screen TV in my living room, I want to be able to take my coupons with me so that I can multi-task.  Three of my filing boxes are normal Sunday paper inserts, the fourth one is filled with store-specific and brand-specific flyers.  The nice part about these file boxes is that you can use hanging file folders in them and then separate your inserts further by using manila folders to separate the inserts by type.

For example, I bought 20 papers on January 2, 2011.  In my file box, I would have a hanging file folder labeled 01/02/2011.  When I open my box, I will immediately see the raised tabs for each hanging folder with the corresponding dates written on them.  Inside that hanging folder for January 2, 2011, I would have 3 manila folders filled with inserts.  One folder for each of the three types of inserts that were included in that day’s paper.  On January 2, we had 2 Smart Source, 2 Red Plum and 1 General Mills in my area.  Therefore, there are three manila folders labeled appropriately to keep these inserts separated.  I keep one month’s worth of inserts in each of the three filing boxes.  When the new month rolls around, I pull all of the inserts from the oldest box and put them in a large filing cabinet in my office.  Now that I have an empty filing box, I have a place for the new month’s coupons.  I typically don’t go through to pull the expired coupons out of the ads and discard them because there are multiple coupons on pages and it would be a waste of time.  I have enough space in my filing cabinet that I am able to store them until the end of the year.  At that time, I go through them and have a major recycling party!!!  The one exception to this is the Proctor and Gamble inserts that expire nearly every month at the end of the month and the store specific flyers that don’t carry over from one month to the next.  Otherwise, I keep everything.  You don’t know how many times I have seen an ad and there was a 6 month old coupon that had not expired that made the deal that much sweeter.

Now that you have your file box(es) set up, now what?


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