Part 2: The First Steps: SO MANY COUPONS!!
by Tawdra Kandle
I came home from my coupon class just bursting with good ideas and money saving wisdom.
I couldn’t wait to put it all into practice!
But the first steps are often the hardest. I had to undertake the monumental task of organizing my coupons.
I used to keep my coupons in one of those handy little organizers. If you’re only a recreational couponer, that’s perfectly adequate. However, if you are seriously coupon planning and using all the websites, a better system is needed. One site had suggested not clipping the coupons at all; rather, you keep them intact and organize the inserts in a larger accordion folder by date and type.
For instance, the two popular inserts in my newspaper are Red Plum and Smart Source. Using this system, I would file each insert under either RP 7/31 or SS 7/31. Then when I’d check the websites and see that a coupon I need was in the Smart Source insert from July 31st, I’d know exactly where to look for it. I wouldn’t need to flip through my categorized Qs.
Coupon Queeny Tanya offers a binder organization system. She even sells it at her classes and through her website. The night I was there, those binders were snatched up like hotcakes. I’m sure they work well, but they didn’t look like my style. All the coupons had to be put into these little windows, like a baseball card book! I couldn’t imagine doing that every week.
As I mused over my own system, though, I decided to tweak it slightly. So this morning I sat down on the living room floor surrounded by coupon inserts, store fliers and envelopes. I went through my older coupons and put the expired ones in a pile. (Interesting note: give your expired Qs to military friends—commissaries and post exchanges accept expired coupons for 6 months past their dates. Or donate them to a shelter, as they are also frequently able to use them.) Then I began clipping coupons from each insert. As I did, I organized them into category piles which I fastened with paper clips. After I finished each insert, I put the coupons into a business sized envelope marked with the type of insert (Smart Source or Red Plum) and the date of issue.
This has a few advantages for me. First, it eliminates the coupons I don’t need and won’t use. Although the Coupon Queeny recommends clipping all coupons, there are things that I know my family simply won’t use and that would be difficult to donate to food banks, churches, etc. I admit I might change that thought later, but for now, my main goal is to get this system working for my family.
I also made up a separate envelope for blinkies, those coupons that roll out of little blinking machines at the grocery store. I had many store specific coupons, and so I added envelopes labeled just for those stores (one for CVS and one for Publix, for instance).
One of the most interesting things I learned from Coupon Queeny was that Publix, one of our grocery stores, accepts coupons from competitors. This was a revelation! The closest grocery store to us is a small Winn-Dixie. We use it for quick last minute pick ups, and we often earn register coupons for $10 off a $50 order. However, I almost never use them. Now that I know I can take these same register Qs to Publix, I’m excited! That’s like someone giving me ten dollars. And so I tucked those into my Publix envelope.
I did have some coupons that defied organization. These were stray coupons from here or there that didn’t have a date or issuer, coupons that came from products I’d bought or those that arrived in the mail. I used my old coupon organizer and placed them there according to category. I hope I remember to check that little wallet of goodies when I’m planning my lists.
It makes me happy to have my little money-saving slips of paper ready to use. Tonight I started hitting the websites to see what’s on sale this week. . .
Tune in next week for Part 3: The Plan’s The Thing.
Tawdra Kandle is stay-at-home, homeschooling mom of four children who range in age from 8 years to almost 20 years. She and her husband of nearly 22 years live in central Florida, where he is in seminary. Tawdra spends most of her precious free time writing and reading, and she loves to travel. She is also a staff writer for www.takingtimeformommy.com