Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Coupon Craziness-post #4


Organization


Now that I've told you all about the different types of coupons and how to collect everything you can get your hands on, it's time to talk organization. I made attempts to use coupons multiple times before, but somehow I could never get past the piles and messy envelopes. This may work for some, but I found that it only left me more discouraged, and I quit before I could ever see very much savings from my efforts.

This time I knew I would have to find a system of organizing things in order for any of it to work. There are several popular methods, and you'll probably want to think for a bit about your personal preferences in order to choose one that will work best for you. Since I hadn't ever really been able to work with envelopes in the past, I was really drawn to the binder method when I read about it. This method seemed to have a lot of positive features for me, and I have found that I am so much more organized than I've ever been before.

I started with a basic binder, a couple of dividers, and one pack of 20 baseball card sheets. I file the coupons by category into the sheets. I put one coupon in each "pocket" unless there are multiples. I've also started putting coupons that are the same except for the expiration dates into the same one to save space now. I just make sure the one with the earliest date is on top. I cut the coupons really close or fold them over to make them fit, but I try to get the main information on the facing side. I also try to put all of the ones that must be turned sideways in the same direction just to make things easier.

I've learned how to tweak my categories and break larger ones up into sub-categories to make filing and finding the coupons easier, and I've since added many more baseball card pages. Some binder users end up with a zippered binder to keep everything inside. I haven't really had trouble with things sliding out, so I got a fancy one (during back to school clearance) with a velcro closure instead. I liked it because it has files and pockets in the front to allow me to keep things like a calculator and coupon policies that I have printed out all together in one place. I really like being able to see everything as I flip through the pages. It makes clearing out the expired coupons and grouping similar ones together much more simple.

Like I said before, this is simply the method that I have found to work best for me. there are probably as many approaches as there are coupon collectors. I encourage you to take the time to find a method of organization that works best for you. Crystal over at The Thrifty Mama has posted a great summary of some of the most popular methods of organizing coupons on her blog. You have to scroll down a bit in the post, but you might like to look over her information about the different types of coupons just for a little review.

As soon as you begin getting your coupon stash organized, you'll want to start using them to get good deals on all sorts of items you need to buy. I'll definitely be sharing some things I've learned about finding the deals very soon.

If you're new here, you might want to check out my previous posts in this series:
1. How I got Started
2. First Things First: How does it all work?
3. Coupon Collecting

Also, feel free to add any comments you think might be helpful or ask any questions you might still have.

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