The Ins, Outs and Hows of Coupon Organization
By Shannon M. Medisky
Many people are simply put off by the prospect of coupon collecting. Sure, the allure of saving money is indeed a strong one, but who wants to acquire, maintain and then muddle through a mountain of slips of paper? I’ll admit, I’ve fluctuated more than a few times between being a coupon queen convert and leaving the potential savings by the wayside. Whether the realities of the economy has forced your hand to reach for coupons or you’d just like to get more for your hard earned bucks, there’s fortunately a wide variety of ways to tackle coupon organization. So take into account your own personal style and preferences and keep reading because the information below runs the gamut from “all in” to “just a dabble.” No matter your technique, an organized and accessible coupon collection can quickly translate to more stuff your family needs and more money in the bank.
Envelopes, and only envelopes. Simple, sleek and easy to tote around, a simple envelope system can work quite well, especially for a coupon novice. I suggest keeping a small basket or box inside which several envelopes are kept, one for each coupon type such as “paper products,” “canned goods,” and “cleaning supplies.” This small container can then fit neatly inside a shopping cart and accessed while shopping. Another idea, keep an envelope available just for shopping trips. “Pre-screen” coupons using the weekly sales fliers and then move only the coupons you’ll use on a particular shopping trip to the envelope you’ll be taking with you. (Psst! Open up your junk mail and use all those reply envelopes for your coupon collection.)
Plastic coupon caddy system. One step up from envelopes, plastic coupon caddies offer a sturdy and convenient way to organize and carry all your coupons with you. Such caddies are offered in both small and large (legal) sizes and often feature an elastic band closure to help guard against woeful spills. While they do offer extra protection for your savings stash, they can become cumbersome to rummage through if they’re stuffed too full.
Index card box and file system. A hybrid of both the envelope system and the coupon caddy above, an index card box offers the ability to grow as your coupon collection does and can easily “sit” inside a shopping cart. Again, this system can be as simple as purchasing a plastic index card box at your local store or ordering one specially made just for couponing. Coupon clippers who choose this route can opt for a index card box that features a small handle on top of added convenience. (Just make double-sure the box is always securely latched shut before lifting up the handle!)
Binder and page system. Lastly, there’s the system I favor: a simply binder with pages. I like using a binder because—even if I drop it, as I often do—all of my coupons stay neatly tucked inside. No harm, no foul and no big mess of coupons to pick up. The “pages” can be anything from cheap, plastic zippered pencil pouches created to be stored inside binders to (my personal favorite) plastic baseball card pages. As with any of the above, this system, too, can be as simple or as complex as you like. Whether you opt for something as fancy as a coupon clutch, for example, or just a plain old binder, make sure it’s something that you can embrace and stick to.
Photo credit: AllThingsBelle
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