New Strategies for New Situations – Organizing Coupons

#1 – Organizing Coupons

At the beginning of the year, I made a change in how I couponed.  I tried it for five months.  It was not the best way for me to get the best deals with my shopping strategy.

My preferred method of organizing coupons had been to file them in my box, which came with me into the stores I shopped.  Sections for produce, staples, meat,  frozen, dairy, had further divisions (milk, cheese, yogurt, Pillsbury).  any coupon I thought I might eventually use got clipped and filed.  What I didn’t clip, I traded, gave away or tossed.  My box was full, and it took a major effort to clean out expireds.  I found I was missing out on deals because I didn’t clip a certain coupon here or there.  Time to try another method.

I know the binder method is not for me.  Not that particular, nor do I collect 50 coupons for sports beverages, nor do I want to spend my time buying just the right pocket pages.  I don’t like lugging and balancing a binder in the store.

I know the envelope method is not for me.  Tried it; didn’t like it.  I need all my coupons with me.

So I decided to try the method touted on blogs of successful couponers, and by participants in that crazy “Extreme” show.  I continued to file printables, but the Sunday inserts got a cursory clipping and then were filed (okay, stacked in a pile on top of my computer center).  I could read about deals, then go back and clip the coupons I needed.  There are issues with this method.

The deals I find in stores on my own require me to have the coupon right there, right then.  If I don’t have the coupon, I miss out on some great deals.  And I have.

There’s no easy way to know when to purge inserts.  The “Leaning Tower of Lisa’s” was unsightly, gathered dust and was a pain to flip through (even though the inserts were kept in date order).  But I couldn’t toss February inserts because there were still coupons that hadn’t expired.  Not working.

The inserts in the Omaha market aren’t the same as in the areas where other bloggers report.  I do have access to an Omaha database, and I do check that for matchups when I hear there’s an insert coupon I don’t have in my box, but that’s not always as up to date as I hope.  Best to have all my own coupons with me.

My coupon stash was drastically smaller, and they kept falling down inside the box.  Over time, this became a major frustration.

This insert filing method would work great if I got 50 inserts per week, had major coupon events I could plan for (like on that show), and/or was OCD about my coupons.  It doesn’t work for me.  I’m going back to my box method.

Some of you have seen my gold-topped Harry & David box with its 20-year-old hand-written dividers.  The black filing box I used for years broke at the clasp, and the elastic band was a hassle, so I moved the contents to this pretty one.  The top has blown off more than once, and it has also toppled into parking lot puddles, my kitchen trash (don’t ask), and the floor of my car.  Cheap, but not a Thrill.  The black box, the gold-topped box, and even the old ivy-covered check file I used for a while, were free or dirt Cheap.  I’m investing in something else this time.

I got a plastic box from Office Depot ($3.99), from the Really Useful Box line, about 8″ long x 5″ deep x 6″ high.  Mine’s pink!   Because I measured, I know it will fit in the seat of the carts at my favorite stores.  This box is small enough to fit almost anywhere, so carting it around won’t be a problem.  It doesn’t have a carrying handle, but it has locking levers and handle grips on the sides.  No more fearing the wind.  My old dividers fit inside nicely, but I replaced the main section dividers with nice pink-to-match ones I made from cardstock.  The top fits under the open box nicely as a tray to hold the coupons I’m using on any trip. 

I’m thrilled with my new box.  It’s sturdy, the right size, and so me!  I’m looking forward to using my old system, and getting the deals I’m accustomed to getting because I have my coupons with me.  Now that I have my system back in place, I can work on reformulating my store visits.

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