Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Way I Do Coupons

This is probably a little too much work for some, but it's what I finally settled on as the best way for me to keep track of my coupons. In the long run, I think it takes less time than the way I used to do it. I used to clip my coupons every week and sort them by category into several small accordian folders: one for food, one for health and beauty and one for household. Then I read of a different idea and adapted it for my own use.

I keep my coupon circulars in a 3-ring binder. Being a scrapbooker, I have plenty of page protectors. If you don't know what that is, it's a plastic pocket with 3 holes on the margin. You slip your scrapping page inside and put it in a binder. (They come in larger sizes, too, but 8.5 x 11 is my scrap size of choice.)

So, each week I put my circulars in the plastic sleeves, one circular per sleeve. I use a permanent marker to write the date on the margin of the sleeve, and the initial of the circular--V for Valassis, for example. The two 'biggies' for coupons are Valassis and Smart Source. There are several others that appear periodically, like Proctor & Gamble.

I've been playing the "Grocery Game" for several years now. If that was the only thing I did regarding my shopping, I'd leave this coupon method as it is. GG gives you a list of sales each week and which circular you can search for a coupon. But I also want to use coupons for CVS and other places. So I list my coupons each week in a notebook. At first, this might seem like just one more job to do. But, of course, I don't use every coupon in every circular. So jotting down a list of what I might use from each one only takes a few minutes. I divide them as I used to divide the accordian folders: Food, Health & Beauty and Household. I write the expiration date next to the coupons and if I need to buy more than one item. I don't write down the amounts, although that would probably be a logical step. If I'm going to use a coupon, I'm going to use it no matter what the amount on it.

When you do this for a while, you start to become very familiar with what is available. So when I glance over the CVS circular, for example, I pretty much know whether or not there's a coupon someplace in my binder.
After using a coupon, I cross it off the list. Towards the end of every month, I take a quick look at my notebook and see if there are any coupons about to expire. Some will just go in the trash, but if there is an item I need, I will clip that coupon and see if I can find the item on sale.

So, anyway, that's how I do coupons. It does take me some time, but is well worth it for the money I save. Oh, and those page protectors? When I've used up a circular, I take the empty sleeve, change the date, and use it for a new one.


Maggie said...

I fell off the coupon wagon while pregnant but I am starting back up. I do like the first half of your system. I use online coupon databases to search for coupons for sale items and then cut them out. That and following the Meijer and CVS threads at hotcouponworld and seems to work pretty good for me. Everyone doubles up to .99 here to, so that really helps!

Heather said...

While that seems like a lot of work for me to keep up with, I think it is a cool system you got going there!

Debbie J. said...

That's another good way to organize the coupons. Seems like less work to me than cutting out all the individual coupons. Hmmmm, must think about this.... I'm all for less work!!!

Susie Q said...

You are SO organized!! I am in awe of this!
Cool system.

MoneyCommonSense said...

I've just started couponing. Maybe because that's how I keep my recipes in my recipe book but I also started by putting the whole insert inside clear sheet protectors. I actually put a sunday's worth of inserts per sheet. I also think I will go a step further and print out a masterlist of the coupons that are in that sunday's inserts from taylortown. So that just by looking at the list I know what coupons are in there without having to flip through the inserts themselves.