Monday, July 12, 2010

Market Monday - Coupon Organization

Well, since we've been out of grocery money since our main shopping trip of the month, I don't necessarily have a shopping post to write. So I thought I would share my newest method of madness. The organization of my coupons has been a great frustration to me. I read a few posts through some other blogs recently that gave me some ideas of how others organize. So, using some of those ideas as guidelines, I customized them to suit my person preferences. So people's ideas still sounded like too much work to me. Personally, I don't feel I use enough coupons to spend the 10 hours+ a week that I've been spending trying to clip and organize, not to mention the hours I've put in trying to figure out what to buy. Here are some pictures I took (because I'm a visual person) of what I'm going to try for the next few weeks. I'm liking it already as I spent almost no time organizing coupons yesterday, and my table and counter are now cleared of sales ads and coupons!

First, I have my folders.

The big one is for my sales ad and coupon organization.

The first tab is for resources (which I'm considering changing to restaurants). This is where I keep the grocery aisle layout, my scissors (which I just picked up my free pair at CVS instead of what's pictured), a list of couponing websites that I got in my coupon class, and hopefully I'll pick up a cheap calculator with back-to-school sales.

I then have individual tabs for Sunday ads and Wednesday ads. Then I have a tab for "All You" coupons, P&G, Red Plum, and Smart Source. Because I really don't use most of the coupons I get, I was getting annoyed with clipping and organizing, just to go back through my folder a few weeks later to pull all of the expired coupons. This was taking up a great deal of time for me, and was pretty much a waste of that time. So what I've done now is staple all of the coupons together by group. After reading the articles that I like in "All You" I pulled all of the coupons from the magazines, alphabetized them, pulled the list from the magazine as to what coupons are there (which I forgot to do before taking the picture), stapled them together, and wrote the date at the top of the front page. For each of the newspaper inserts I simply tore the pages apart, pulled out the filler pages, and then stapled them together and wrote the respective source and date on the front page of each. From what I've read, there's a list on the internet somewhere of what coupons are suppose to be in each of the newspaper inserts each week. I'm going to find that list, print it out, and staple it with my inserts so I know what is in there. And then, an idea I got from another blogger, I'm going to cross off coupons as I use them so I don't go looking for something I already used.

I then have tabs for Publix flyers. Anything for Publix that I pick up in the store will go in this slot.

and one for store coupons. This includes Publix, Target, K-Mart, Walgreen's, etc. coupons that are not manufacturer's coupons.

Then I have my organized, alphabetized coupons. I got baseball card sleeves at Walmart. It was a pack of 35 sleeves for around $6...cheaper than going to a card-trading store. I currently don't have a binder for these, just a ring clip that my husband had in his stash of stuff from college. I'm actually like this for now because I don't have the huge amount of coupons that some have. This way I can keep my coupons in my folder and just carry that, rather than carrying a binder with open ends. This way my coupons are contained, and it doesn't take up too much space in my cart. (Space is precious and valuable when you do your shopping with two little ones. If I leave the baby in the carseat, I usually push one cart and pull another behind me. But usually I wear her, and she can also now sit up in the "car" grocery cart with her sister.) I love having my things alphabetized...I'm actually a little OCD about it. The problem I have found with this system is that I have to go through and shift coupons around when I get new ones because, even though I left blanks on the page for coupons, I still have to rearrange them so that everything stays in order. This get frustrating to me, so then I end up with mounds of alphabetized coupons on my counter that don't land in the sheet protectors. But I'm going to start putting DH to work on putting the coupons in the sleeves while I do my other work in the evenings. (I grade packets for a correspondence school after the girls go to bed.)

And here is what had been stacked on my counter waiting to go in the sleeves. They are now in a ziploc bag in my folder, so that I still have them with me when I go out.

Then I have my small folder. I've been doing this for a few weeks and really like this system. There is a slot for each individual store, and then one for ECB, RR, $Off, and Receipts. Since I do most of my shopping in one day, and just hit multiple stores, this has been very helpful. Before I go out I place the list for each individual store and the coupons for that list in each respective slot. That way, when I get to the store, I really only have to deal with my small folder. I still carry the big one in, just in case I need something from it. Then at the back of the folder I have my ECB, and RR so I don't have to keep them in my wallet. I also have a slot for $off coupons (eg. $5 off $20 purchase), although I never seem to get those printouts at Winn-Dixie or CVS. I also have my large Customer Care card and K-mart Rewards card in the very front, for those times that I run in and leave DH in the car with the girls, leaving my keys behind in the process. That way I don't have to run back out to the car for my rewards card.

This is my system for now. It may take a few months for me to decide what I think of it, but I thought I'd share with anyone looking for ideas. But also to get feedback from others to see what they think might work better, and to hear what they do with their coupons. Would love to hear feedback on this!

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