If you are a coupon clipper, you know that using coupons effectively requires planning and organization. This is especially true if you clip a great many coupons each week. You want to be able to quickly see what you have in terms of coupons — and when they expire — so that you can make your shopping list with the help of your coupons. This will prevent you from wasting your coupons. While you probably won’t use every coupon that you ever clip, you can increase the chances that you will make use of more coupons if you organize them.
Sorting Your Coupons
The first thing you need to do is come up with a sorting system for your coupons. Many people sort their coupons one of three ways:
- Product Category: You can sort coupons by product category: Cereal, Produce, Snacks, Medication, Beauty, Household Items (paper towels, toilet paper, etc.), Cleaning Supplies, Personal Care (shaving cream, lotion, etc.) and other categories. Think about how you buy products, and what categories they fit into. Then, when you need something, you can go to that category and see if you have a coupon.
- Expiration Date: If you are more concerned about using coupons before they expire, you can sort them by the month in which they expire, and even sort according to coupons that expire before the 15th of the month and those that expire after the 15th. This way, as an expiration date approaches, you can pull out your coupons and see what you should buy.
- Alphabetically: Instead of sorting by category or expiration, you can also sort by the product name or brand.
How you sort your coupons is up to you, and what is likely to work best with the way you create a grocery list. You want a method that is convenient and easy for you to use.
Creating a Coupon Organizer
Once you have decided how to sort your coupons, it is time to organize your coupons. Create a coupon organizer, and you will be able to quickly access your coupons when you need them.
One of the easiest ways to sort coupons is to get an accordion wallet. Choose one that is fabric or plastic, for durability. It is small enough to keep on your person, so you always have it with you. Sort your coupons into different pockets. Leave the front pocket empty, and you can put the coupons you intend to use on your current trip in the front, making sure you don’t forget them.
You don’t have to carry all your coupons with you, though, if you plan your shopping trips and make a list with reference to your coupons. Keep your coupons organized using an index card box. Labels are easy to make, and you can file your coupons away. Every time you get ready to go to the store, make your shopping list, and refer to the coupons in the index box. Pull the coupons you will need and take them with you in your purse.
For the very serious, it is possible to create an entire coupon center by using a zippered organizer. There are usually pockets, paper (for shopping lists and notes) and tabbed divisions. You can create more pockets on the dividers if needed. These are also often large enough to hold a small pair of scissors (for clipping), a calculator and pens or pencils. Zip your coupon center binder up to prevent loss. You can also slip the organizer in your bag and take it along with you.
No matter how you do it, you should organize your coupons. It’s a great way to keep tabs on what you have in terms of coupons, and use them more effectively.