Saturday, August 9, 2008

How To "Coupon"

I am often asked how I keep my coupons organized? How many do I clip each week?

It seems most people are turned off by the amount of work and time that couponing requires. It does require work and time. However, like everything else in your life, you make time for what is important to you. If couponing is important to you, then you will schedule the time for it. (Need a little motivation? Click here to check out what has convinced me that couponing is worth it.)

Here is how I coupon:

Get one set of coupons each week. Usually the weekly Sunday paper is my primary source.

Designate a set time to clip the coupons each week and file them immediately in your coupon organizer. I find this to be the area that is most essential and requires the most self-discipline. I have two coupon organizers (cheap, traditional coupon caddy): one for food and one for household/personal supplies. I file by category. Some people file alphabetically. Find what works for you.

Clip all the coupons. Yep. All of them. I ask myself, "Would we use this if it were free?" Clip. "Could we use this to replace something we would normally have to buy?" Clip. "Could I use this to bless someone around me?" Clip. "Could I use this as part of a gift?" Clip. There are very few coupons that do not fit in one of those categories.

Try to get more than one set of the Sunday paper insert coupons. The more coupons you get, the more you will be able to stock up on items that free or close to free. Ask friends, neighbors, and co-workers for their coupons if they do not use them. Certain gas stations in my area, will give them away at the end of the day if you ask nicely. ;-)

If I get more than one set of coupons, I write the date with a black Sharpie marker on the front of the insert and stack them in a designated cupboard. I do not cut more than one set of coupons each week.

Pull out expired coupons once per month. This is a must to staying organized. Not only does it eliminate the number of coupons you have to flip through when planning your weekly shopping, it familiarizes you with what coupons you have in your organizer. I usually do this when I am going to be riding in the car for about a half hour.

Only print internet coupons as needed and keep them aside for your weekly shopping. I have envelopes in my purse, one for each store I shop at regularly. When I print an internet coupon, it is almost always because it is connected to a deal that I will pick up during my weekly shopping trip. I clip the coupon and put it right into the appropriate store envelope. Very few internet coupons make it into my coupon organizer.

Need more ideas for organizing coupons? Check out this and this post showing other ways fellow couponers organize their coupons.

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