Step 1: Start collecting coupons!
Are you wondering where you can find coupons? They are all over the place. The first place to look is the inserts in the Sunday Paper. I would recommend getting 2 Sunday Papers. You can also find coupons at the drug and grocery stores. Coupons may be located by products on tearpads, in a box with a blinking light on the shelves (we call this a “blinkie”) You might also find coupons on the actual product you are buying (we call these “peelies” because you peel them off). You might also find coupons inside product boxes and inside free samples. Free samples are great to sign up for. Not only can you get some great products but they almost always come with high value coupons! I would suggest that you that you keep all your coupons, even the ones you think you may never use. You never know when a coupon can turn a good deal into a freebie (great for donations) or even into a money making deal. You can also print coupons online at www.redplum.com , www.smartsource.com , and www.coupons.com. You can print most internet coupons up to 2 times per computer. I wouldn’t recommend printing these coupons unless it is a high value coupon or one that you know you will use. There is no point in using your paper and ink only to throw it away. If there is a really *hot* or high value coupon I will let you know. You should go ahead and print these because there is a good chance you will use it and they are sometimes limited in the quantity of coupons that are released. If you don’t print it right away you may not get a chance. Another great place to find coupons is ALL YOU magazine. You can find the magazine at Wal-Mart only. It is also available by subscription. In my opinion the subscription is worth it. It is a great magazine to read and it is filled with great coupons! It is a good way to start your coupon stash!
For now, start collecting all the coupons you can. Don’t hesitate to ask neighbors, friends, and co workers for the coupons they aren’t going to use. Stay tuned for details on how to organize your growing coupon stash!
Step 2: Getting Organized!
Being organized is essential to using your coupons effectively. If you don’t know what you have or they aren’t easily accessible it will take way to long to get prepared for a shopping trip and you may miss out on some really great deals. Nothing is more frustrating than looking at a table full of loose coupons in search of that one coupon that will score you a freebie. Trust me, I’ve been there. There are 3 main methods for organizing coupons. You may need to try different things to find out what is best for you. I have tried all 3 methods before I settled on the binder method (I think the binder method is the best choice for getting serious coupon savings). This is the first post in a series about coupon organization
The first organization method is to use a small accordion file or coupon box with dividers. With this method you need to clip all your coupons and file them in to separate categories that make it easy for you to find them. The benefit of this method are that you have all of your coupons in a small file that fits easily in your purse. The downside is that it can get frustrating sorting through the stack of coupons to find the one you are looking for. It is also much easier to file a coupon in the wrong category using this method. I don’t really recommend this method if you plan on getting serious about coupons! When I used this method I had two separate accordion files that stayed in my purse at all times. One file was for food items and the other was for non-food items. You may have to play with it a little bit to find out what works for you. To get you started I will let you know what my categories were. My “Food File” categories included Baking, Bread, Breakfast, Canned Goods, Condiments, Dairy, Drinks, Frozen, Meat, Pantry, Pets, and Misc. my “Non-Food File” included Air Freshener/Candles, Baby/Kids, Bath/Lotion, Cosmetics/Face Care, Feminine Hygiene, Laundry, Oral Care, Paper Goods, and Pharmacy.
The second method for coupon organization is a file folder system. I recommend one that is accordion style and portable as opposed to a big bulky file box or cabinet. This is known as the “clipless coupon method” and the main benefit of this method is that you only clip the coupons you are going to use on your shopping trip. The rest of the insert remains whole. You will need to use a small accordion file for all of your loose coupons (the ones you didn’t use, the ones found on products or in stores, as well as the coupons you print from the internet). To start label your tab dividers by insert name and month (I would keep 3-4 months of an insert at a time). The inserts come in the Sunday paper and have the name on the front of them. They are Proctor & Gamble, Red Plum, and Smart Source. Write the date you get the insert on the front of it with a sharpie (this will make it easier to find later). For example you will have tabs labeled “Red Plum January”, all of your Red Plum inserts from january will be found in this folder. Do this for each insert type and month. If you buy more than one paper in a week label them both and paper clip them together. To prepare for your shopping trips you will need to make a list and find your coupons. If you find the deal listed on my blog the insert name and date for the coupon will be listed below the deal. For example: $1 off any Covergirl Product PG 01-16. This means the coupon is found in the January 16th Proctor & Gamble (Smart Source is abbreviated SS and Red Plum is abbreviated RP). You can find also find it in the searchable coupon databases online. There are several out there but my favorite is at For The Mommas, found HERE. Once you know where your coupon is located you can easily find and clip the coupon. The great thing about this method is that it does not involve actually clipping any coupons until you are ready to use them. It takes the least amount of time to set up. The downside is that it takes longer to prepare for your shopping trip because you need to pull the insert and clip the coupon. You also will not have all your coupons with you or easily accessible during your shopping trip.
The last coupon organization method I want to talk about it the binder method. It is by far my favorite. The binder method keeps all of your coupons neat, organized and easy to find. It kind of makes me excited to talk about it (yes, I’m a nerd like that) For this method you will need a 3 ring binder. I would suggest getting a 2 inch binder. You might be tempted to get something smaller because they are slightly cheaper and 1 inch- 1.5 inches may seem plenty big right now, but you will out grow it sooner than you think (and needing to buy a second binder certainly won’t save you any money)! I highly recommend investing in a zippered binder, this will keep your coupons from falling out if the binder gets turned upside down. Once you have the binder you need some tab dividers. The amount of dividers you need depends on the number of categories you have. I personally like to have smaller categories but you might like to have broad categories. You have to do what works best for you. I purchased 3 packages of 8 tab dividers and I have 3 left over. Now you have your binder and tab dividers and you need something to put the coupons in. Clear plastic baseball card holders make great coupon holders. The baseball card holders can be found at Wal-Mart or Target with the trading cards (up near the books). They can be hard to find (I had to have someone walk me to them after searching for way too long myself). 2 packages of card holders should be plenty to get you started. Once you have your categories and card holders it is time to start clipping! If you have more than one of the same insert you should put like pages together and clip them at the same time. This way you only have to clip once for each coupon regardless of the number of copies you have. Slide your coupons in to the card holders. You may have to fold the coupon to fit it into the pocket. If you have more than one of the same coupon put them in the same pocket with the one expiring soonest in front. I take my binder to the store with me. If I see a good deal I can easily open it up, flip to the correct section and see all the coupons I have that might apply. It may seem overwhelming to clip and file all your coupons but you can easily do it in the time it takes to enjoy your favorite cup of coffee.