Friday, February 17, 2012

Handling Household Tasks: Organizing Coupons

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If you're following my series on handling household tasks, you know that I clip coupons. I store all of these in a coupon organizer. Initially, I had an accordion file with labels. Now, I have an actual binder. It has dividers labeled with the following sections:

  • Price list: A printed spreadsheet of each item I purchase for my household and the best everyday (not sale) price (measured by cost per unit) I can find for it. I make sure I note the brand, the size of the item, the store where I purchase the item, and the cost. With this method, I can look to see if a generic item might be cheaper at Walmart than the brand name is at the commissary. I can also send my husband shopping when I am sick and he can look at the list and know whether something is a good deal. The price list is printed on recycled paper and is stored inside a page protector. I update it when necessary.
  • Retailer coupons: Coupons for A.C. Moore, Michaels, CVS (including ExtraCare Bucks), RiteAid (including +UP Rewards), Target, and any other store or retailer that issues coupons or rebates or its particular store only. I put these coupons in alphabetical order by retailer. Depending on the size of these coupons, I store them in page protectors (for 8.5x11-inch pages) or coupon-size binder pages I purchased on Amazon.com.
  • Manufacturer coupons: Coupons for specific items such as vitamins, cereal, sugar, and baking soda. I order these using the layout of the commissary I shop most often. I store these coupons using the coupon-size binder pages I purchased on Amazon.com.
  • Restaurant coupons: Coupons for restaurants from Denny's to Chick-fil-A. These are in alphabetical order by restaurant name. Again, depending on the size of these coupons, I store them in page protectors (for 8.5x11-inch pages) or coupon-size binder pages I purchased on Amazon.com.
  • Service coupons: Coupons for services that rarely use such as dry cleaning coupons and massage coupons. I store these in coupon-size binder pages I purchased on Amazon.com and put them in order by likelihood of use.
  • Coupon policies: I print coupon policies from every store that has one online and place them in standard page protectors. I have never had to use one, but if I need to, I have it. I update these once per year, typically in January.
  • Rewards cards: I use my husband's old baseball card holders to organize these. The cards are in alphabetical order by issuer. If I am acquiring points on a card (such as the cards for RiteAid, A.C. Moore, and Ollie's), I place a small sticky note on the back of the card with the total points acquired to date. I update the sticky notes after every shopping trip (if I use them).
  • Gift cards: I use baseball card holders to hold these, too. Again, the cards are in alphabetical order by store or restaurant. I have placed a small sticky note on the back of each card with the amount remaining.
  • Certificates: I use page protectors to organize my Groupons and Restaurant.com certificates in alphabetical order.

If you want to make your own dividers, check out this tutorial for making dividers from the Cajun joie de vivre blog. If you would prefer not to buy coupon pages but do have page protectors and a sewing machine, check out this tutorial for making your own coupon holders from the Down Abbie's Road blog.

I store the current circulars in the front pocket of my binder and my shopping list in the back pocket. My name and contact information is inside the binder; if it is lost, I hope it will be returned to me. But I treat this binder the way I treat my purse; I do not step away from it while shopping, and I hide it under the seat if I leave it in my vehicle. It is usually stored in a cabinet here at my home.

If you have a home management binder and a coupon organizer, you will probably want to create a cover for each so that you don't confuse them. I used scrapbook paper purchased on sale at A.C. Moore. My home management binder looks like this:

My coupon organizer looks like this:

I love this organizer. With it, I have found that I am able to save $10 or more per shopping trip and to shop more quickly as well.

Whether you decide to use a envelopes, an accordion file, an index box, or a binder like mine, the key is to be organized and to know your system so that you can go to the store and shop efficiently and quickly.

How do you organize your coupons?

Erin

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