I follow a blog called The Days of a SAHM, I saw that she recently wrote about how she organizes her coupons and she uses a SPREADSHEET! Now this is a woman after my own heart! I'm a strong believer in coupons, if you are willing to invest your time, you will see the rewards immediately. There are several ways to organize your coupons, I'll list the ones I have used.
- The Coupon File: This was a little plastic check organizer that I found at Target, it only had about 8 tabs that could be labeled. I would put the newest coupons at the back of the section so that I could use the ones that were about to expire first, and they would be near the front of each section. now I'm a little OCD, so I had to put all like coupons together and spend hours organizing them and not using them (my eyes would get so tired). I only had to drop it one time to realize that it was not for me. I currently use it in the truck to keep all of my reciepts, I tend to have a lot of paper clutter in the truck without it (that is another system for another day).
- The Hanging File: I found a milk crate to use as a hanging file holder, and I had several green hanging files that were given to me from a previous job (the best price = free of charge). I don't recall what life changing event caused me to fall behind on my coupon clipping (oh yea, I dropped all my clipped coupons and decided to take a hiatus from clipping); so I had several Smartsource and Red Plum (back then known as Valassis) inserts that were stacking up. I noticed on the side (what would be the "binder" of a book) there was a date on each one. I was already using the website www.couponmom.com and she indicates the date that each coupon comes out along with abbreviations for the inserts. Now I like to color code everything, so I used one color to represent Smartsource and another for Valassis etc. I used the same abbreviations that "Couponmom" used, and dated each label (in pencil of course, I didn't want to buy more labels). I would just cut out the coupons I needed to go with the list I printed out, and put them back into the file when I was done. I would just have to look at any old dates, pull the file and any unused coupons would be expired anyway, so I would toss it. So now you are probably wondering why I changed systems...I was throwing away a lot of expired unused coupons!
- The Binder: This is the system I currently use with Couponmom. The double binder I got on sale at Target (yes I do like Target a lot), and I bought some baseball card protector sheets (you can find them in the store near the check out where the Pokemon and Yu Gi Oh cards are found). Now this is were the correct dividers are needed. I couldn't find any that I liked so I made my own (if anyone knows where to find dividers that have tabs that stick out far enough to be used with these sheets, please let me know). I used some manila file folders that I cut and punched to fit in the binder. I also labeled both sides of the tabs, I didn't want to waste time flipping back and forth. I have all of my food product coupons on the left binder and the toiletries, cleaners etc. on the right binder. I also like to dedicate each page for the same product. For example, I have a "refrigerated" section, and I have two pages dedicated to yogurt, two pages have meat coupons, a page for eggs/butter and so on. it makes it a lot easier to find the coupons. Now that I have a baby, I can only clip one insert at a day, so once I get them clipped I separate them into stacks, one for each side of the binder. I'll put them into the sheets during nap times. Now if anyone announces that they are going to the store, I ask what are you buying and which store are you going to, and give the appropriate coupons to be used (I still throw out unused coupons, but not as many as before).
Now don't get me wrong, I'm probably not going to use the spreadsheet system, mine works for me, and I can do it blindfolded. I will say this, there is always room for improvement, and I love spreadsheets. I'm going to create a spreadsheet to use with the binder that will help me identify any spur of the moment coupons that can be used the next time someone announces that they are going to the store (I may even time myself).
If anyone needs any help with a spreadsheet or would like one created for them, please email me the specifics and I'll be happy to do it for you at the best price (the best price = free of charge)!