Thursday, June 2, 2011

Extreme Couponing LITE Part III: Organization

I’ve only been really organized for about 20% of the time I’ve been couponing -- and that’s the time when I’ve been getting the really great deals. It definitely pays to be organized.
First, have a place to save coupon inserts. It may seem like a lot to keep all the inserts you normally throw in the recycle bin (you are recycling these, right?) But when you’ve kept all your inserts, organized by type of insert and date (I keep the most recent on top and check the back ones for expiration dates weekly), it will make finding coupons for weekly deals SO much easier. 
I have a coupon binder with folders inside it where I put my inserts. One folder for Red Plum inserts, one for Smart Source, one for P&G, and one for Wegmans store coupons.  The Proctor & Gamble insert gets changed out at the end of each month because the coupons are only good until the last day of any given month. For example, the May P&G insert came on the first Sunday in May, and those coupons are only good until May 31.
NOTE: I do NOT clip all the coupons out of each insert weekly and then organize them. That would be crazy, in my opinion. Seems like a waste of time. But you do want to save the inserts in an organized way, because if you find a deal using, say, a coupon from the 5/15 RedPlum insert, you know exactly where to find it and it will be fast and easy to clip the coupon you need!
The insert section of my coupon binder looks like this:

Now, I do go through the inserts each week when they come and clip ones I know I will use.  First, I clip coupons for items I would buy even if I didn’t have a coupon -- like eggs or soy milk or my favorite brand of hummus.  Then, I clip coupons for items that I know are commonly or currently on sale at Wegmans or one of the drugstores. Examples of the second type of coupons are cereal coupons and toothpaste coupons. There are ALWAYS sales on those items. 
The coupons I do clip in advance go in the front of the binder. I have several pages of plastic baseball card pages, divided by category (organic, dairy, health, etc). This is where I put my clipped coupons, and it really helps when I am planning my shopping trips to find them easily.


It looks like this:


Finally, I keep several empty envelopes in the front pocket of my binder.  I have one for each store I go to that accepts coupons: Wegmans, Walgreens, CVS, RiteAid, and BJs.  When I am preparing my list and coupons for the week, I put the coupons I need into each envelope so they stay organized and -- most importantly -- I remember where they are. 
I hope you’re enjoying this series. Next time I’ll walk you through one of my best coupon “hauls” from clipping to check-out.

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