This is the second article of a “back to the basics” series currently running on Frugal in Virginia. Click here to read the first article, Coupon Sources, in the series.
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Now that you’re collecting coupons, you probably have a nice stack that’s growing. It’s important that you find an organizational method that works for you, the way you shop, and the number of coupons you generally keep.
When I first began couponing, I just threw all my coupons in a big envelope. I quickly found that wasn’t very practical, and it was taking me too much time to find the coupons I wanted to use while in the grocery store. So I began using multiple envelopes. This worked just fine until I accumulated even more coupons- and my then-seven-month-old daughter took a great big bite out of one of the envelopes.
At that point, I knew it was time to move onto another system.
I began using an index box system for several months. I just found a recipe box, made tab dividers throughout the box, and labeled the tabs according the different aisles in the grocery store. I also had tabs at the front of the box for specific stores. If I knew I would be using a coupon at CVS, for example, I would move it from its grocery aisle tab to the CVS tab. This system worked like a charm at the time.
The index box system may be great for new couponers with a fairly limited number of coupons. As it’s just a small box, you can’t use this system if you plan to collect and carry a lot of coupons. But I believe it would work wonderfully for the average couponer. As I collected more coupons, however, I found that I outgrew my box, and needed something else with a bit more room.
Thankfully, a few months ago, my husband bought me a Couponizer. While it was initially against my frugal principles to spend money on something that is supposed to be saving me money, I have actually really enjoyed this organizer. Buying it saved me quite a bit of time making one (and time is money, right?) and I have found the Couponizer to be very sturdy.
Whether you chose to buy an organizer like the Couponizer, or make one of your own, there are a few important guidelines I would suggest following for your coupon organization.
First, I would recommend organizing your coupons by the different grocery store sections. So if you’re shopping the cereal aisle, all you have to do is flip to the cereal section to find your coupons.
From the picture, you can see my “household maintenance” and “meat/produce” sections. (I’ve made some of my own changes to the Couponizer just for my ease of use, as you can see.) For example, if I get a coupon for Dole salad kits, the coupon goes right into the produce section.
Then I would recommend somehow organizing the sections in a way that’s easy to remember. If you shop at only one grocery store, perhaps you would want to order your coupon sections by the aisle layout of that particular store? I have personally found alphabetical order to be most helpful, as I shop at numerous stores with many different layouts. If you flip through my Couponizer, you will see a few coupon sections for specific stores I shop, followed by coupon divisions for baby, baking, beverages, bread, breakfast, canned goods, condiments, etc. This system (implemented in my Couponizer) works for me. It would be easy to replicate in any homemade system as well.
Coupon organizing is an ever evolving system, I’ve found. The Couponizer works great for me right now, but might something new be necessary in the future?
If you are new to couponing, I encourage you to create a system that works well for you. It may take a couple of attempts to find something that suits you. Be creative! And expect the system you use at first to change as you see the need based on your couponing and shopping habits.
I would love to hear from you, my readers. You always have wonderful couponing ideas to share, and I’m sure at least a few of you would love to let me (and those just starting out with coupon shopping) in on your coupon organizing secrets. If you have a blog, why not write a post sharing your coupon organizer? Then come back here and leave a link to your post. Or if you don’t blog (or just don’t feel like writing another blog post, doggoneit!), just tell me about your system in the comments field below. I look forward to hearing your great ideas!Coupon Database. Have a coupon tip, email us and we will post it on our Coupon Blog