Sunday, April 24, 2011

How I File My Coupons

(Above) - This is usually what my coupon area looks like.  It doesn't take up much room.  You can see the inserts are filed in hanging folders, the store ads & the coupons I've print & need to be cut are sitting on top waiting for me to cut.  I usually cut the printables about every week.

(Above) - I have the coupon inserts filed by the date they came out.  Each week has it's own folder.  You can see some weeks I get more than others.  I only get 1 LA Times delivered.  If I know there is going to be 3-4 inserts on a certain Sunday, I will go buy more newspapers.

(Above) - You can click on the photo to make it larger, but I usually don't label each folder because: 1) they are in date order anyway and 2) if you look on the spine of the coupon insert, it tells me the information I need.  The spine of each insert tells me the date it was released & which newspaper it was from.  It's important for me to know if it is from the LA Times or VC Star.  The LA Times usually has more coupons than the VC Star.  I only receive the LA Times Sunday issue subscription, but sometimes my family gives me their extra inserts, so I end up with VC Star coupons also!!  Many people write the date on the front of the insert so it's easy to see at a glance.  I also read that another lady finds the longest dated coupon in each insert & writes that on the front, so she knows when she can toss the entire insert away.  Usually I go through my inserts every 4-6 months and make sure they all are expired before I toss them.

You can tell which insert it is by looking on the front: SmartSource, Red Plum, Procter & Gamble or General Mills.  It's important to identify the different inserts because when you use Coupon Mom or if someone posts the insert, you will understand the coupon lingo.
ExampleBlink $1 4/3 SS, you know that a coupon to save $1 on Blink Tears product is located in the 4/3 SmartSource insert... or...
M&M B2G1F 3/13 RP, is a coupon for Buy 2 Get 1 Free M&M/Mars product and it is located in the 3/13 Red Plum insert.  It helps locating coupons MUCH easier!!  Yay for the people who post these lists!!

(Above) - So I file my inserts in the pink hanging file folder, and I cut out any coupons from the inserts that I know I may use based on past sales & items we often use.  I have 2 friends who live out of state that also cut coupons & mail them to me, so I usually have plenty of "loose" coupons to file.  I put all my loose coupons & all of the printable coupons I have cut in the blue baby wipe container until I am ready to file them into my coupon "suitcase".  I like having the coupons cut and all in one place in the baby wipe container, so I can flip through the coupons quickly (if I haven't filed them yet), or if I'm on the go... I can grab the coupons to file & my coupon suitcase and file in the car during lunch or while I'm waiting at a doctors office.  My son's dentist office knows me as "The Coupon Lady", because I'm usually doing some sort of couponing while I wait during his appointment.  It's a great conversation starter!!

(Above) - When I have time to file (above every 2 weeks), I sit in front of the TV and put on a movie or something I've recorded and clip my coupons & file them.  Clipping & sorting usually takes me about 2 hrs every 2 weeks.  One hour to clip & one hour to sort them.  So I take all the coupons from the blue baby wipes container and sort them according to my coupon case categories.  My coupon case has 130 categories, but I actively use about 80 of them.  When I sort them into categories, I don't usually have one for every category, but I end up with multiple cereal coupons, multiple air freshener coupons, multiple cheese coupons, etc.  So it's easier for me to sort them into categories.  They are mostly sorted left to right in alphabetical order by category so it's easier for me to find as I sort.  Then it takes me 15 minutes to put them all in my coupon suitcase.

(Above, click on photo to make it larger) - This is my coupon suitcase.  I ordered it on eBay and it's my best coupon organizer ever in my 20 years of couponing.  Believe me, I've tried many different methods!!  I think I've had this one about 5 years now.  It came pre-made, and you can see it's STUFFED!!  Of course, I got my when they had a blow-out sale for $20, and the one I use retails for $29.95.  My savings increased 20% after I cost this coupon organizer, so it was definitely worth it.  They have different sizes, based on your needs.

Many people ask me:

(1) Do you use all of those coupons??  No, of course I don't.  I clip & save the coupons for products I WOULD buy if I can get it free or cheap. 

(2) Don't you have a lot of expired coupons??  I usually weed out my expired coupons while I'm shopping.  As I flip through the coupons in a certain category, I pull out the expireds and stuff them on the right edge of my coupon suitcase, then when I walk past a trash can or get home, I toss them.  Besides then, the only other time I weed my expired coupons is when I'm taking my car in for an oil change.  I take my coupon case to keep me busy while I wait, and I go through every category, pulling expired coupons out. 

(3) Do you use everything you buy?  Aren't coupons only for junk?  If I don't use the product, I know someone who will.  I don't have a cat or dog, but if I can get free dog & cat food, I get it.  I have plenty of friends who have pets and I have also donated the pet food to the Humane Society.  I donate over 20 bags of food a year to Food Share.  It does not go to waste.  My son's teachers receive gift bags during the holidays full of lotions, air fresheners, lip balms, etc.  I like to give away useful products to people.  It's not Christmas for my brother-in-law if he doesn't receive a new Gillette razor every year!!  LOL

Even if you don't eat the food products that the coupons are for, you still need: toothpaste, toilet paper, paper plates, tissue, shampoo, lotion, etc.  Coupons for organic products are becoming more common.  I get coupons from Mambo Sprouts every 1-2 weeks.  You can use these coupons in Whole Foods, and more & more stores are carrying a larger organic section.  There is also a blog committed to Healthy Life deals.  I LOVE the Newman's Own Natural Lemonade and I always seem to have a Newman's own .50 coupon that will double to $1 off.  99 cents for a carton on yummy lemonade works for me!!  Most of my non-food items are purchased at the drug stores (CVS, Rite-Aid)... playing what we call the "Drugstore Game".  You will learn about this game as you get more into the couponing.  Each store has their own sales & rewards.. and you'll be able to combine the sales, in-ad coupons, manufacturer coupons & store rewards savings into getting products for next to nothing!!  I won't pay more than .25 for toothpaste, and most of the time, I won't even pay .25!!  I won't spent more than .10 for a toothbrush, and most of them I get for free!!  Most shampoos... my limit is .50 per bottle.... I just wish there were more deals on toilet paper!  We can never have enough of that!!

(Above) - When I'm done clipping, you can see it all stores nicely & neatly in one area.  Couponing doesn't need to be everywhere.  Designate one area to your couponing and make it work for you.  To get the best savings, you need to stay organized, so it's better to have all of your stuff together.  Actually, my blue baby wipes container fits inside the pink container when I push all of the hanging file folders forward, but I like to keep it out in the open so I can toss any new loose coupons in there.  I also make lots of notes on "What's on Sale Where" and I toss the notes in there too so I can compile the notes onto one nice list when I'm ready to shop!  HAPPY CLIPPING!!

No comments:

Post a Comment

I'd love to hear your comments!!