January 26, 2011

CREATE | How I Organize My Coupons: Vlog + Tips

I've been workng on a DIY custom-fitted and customized t-shirt during January 2011. This week was supposed to be my finished product but alas, I haven't finished it yet. We had a birthday party here at our home + two basketball games this weekend; I'm remembering why "crafty" things always end up falling to the bottom of my endless TO DO list. ;-)

However, I did take a few minutes to create a quick vlog this week about how I organize my coupons to help answer this emailed question from reader A, a fellow Buckeye:
My question for you is: How do you keep your coupons organized? I currently have a small accordion style coupon holder that is alphabetized. I must have looked so funny last week at Kroger's with my coupons, my printed copy of what you saved at Kroger's and my print out of my Kroger's e-coupons! I had my hands full of so many coupons and papers, I felt totally scattered! I also have a hard time keeping track of expired coupons and just knowing what coupons I have.

Here's my answer via vlog; please forgive the blurriness. I realized I was on the wrong setting after shooting it and decided to just let.it.go. since I'm working on slaying my TypeA tendencies in 2011.  I'm also finding that vlogging has been a great antidote to my vanity - oy! ;-)

Ok, in a nutshell, this is my organizational scheme for couponing:

:: File by insert. I use an expandable file folder to store my coupon inserts. Each Sunday, I write the date on the front of my inserts (ie: 01/23) and file them by date in the back of my file folder; this way, my newest coupons are in the back and my oldest ones are in the front. The very front pocket of my expandable file folder is where I keep my weekly ads. Since my expandable file folder only holds about three months worth of inserts in its files, I can pull the oldest coupons from the front and recycle them/send them to military families as it fills up.

:: I only clip what I need. I scan the early ad matchups for Kroger on Saturday/Sunday to see what the best deals will be. I also check my menu plan, my pantry, and my freezer to see what I'll need for my menus and what items I need to restock for my family (ie: cereal, crackers, steamer veggies, chocolate -- ha! Ok, seriously, chocolate is pretty important...lol!); if I spot any stockpiling opportunities for those items in the weekly sale, I'll clip those coupons as well.

:: I check my coupon box. I know, I know - you're thinking, "Wait - didn't you just say you file by insert?!" Well, yes, I do, but I also have a small plastic shoebox with category envelopes I use to file any clipped coupons I don't use and to file any blinkies, peelies, catalinas, mailer coupons, etc. In fact, when I started couponing at the end of 2007, the coupon box method was my first attempt at coupon organization; I quickly realized that the file by insert method would be a big time saver for me and switched but I kept the coupon box because it still serves an important function as a home for already clipped coupons/found in-store coupons.

:: I write my list. I don't print any lists from the blogs/posts I use as reference - I hate to waste the paper.  I simply scribble a small list with pencil and paper of what I'm planning to get at the store and note which of those items are items for which I have coupons with a little star.

:: I put my list and my clipped coupons in an envelope. That's all I take with me when I go Krogering - an envelope with my list and my clipped coupons for the items I'm getting. If there is a Mega Event going on, I will paperclip those coupons together so I can keep track of the items (because it really stinks to get through the checkout line and realize you bought only 29 - not 30 - participating items!).

:: In store, I shop my list and check my coupons as I go. If there's a Mega Event, I make tally marks on my list as I toss the participating items in my cart so I can keep track of my count.

:: I take a few minutes to organize my coupons before heading to checkout. This is my kiddos fave part of shopping with me: Toy Aisle time! When I've got everything on my list, I head over to the toy aisle (which is always pretty quiet) and let my kiddos (usually just my youngest) look at the toys while I get all my coupons sorted and organized to hand to the cashier. Usually I have a few coupons I won't be using (for items that I didn't find or decided not to get) so I pull those out of the pile. I make sure all my coupons are in the same direction (yes, that TypeA thing again) and facing up to make it as easy as possible for the cashier to scan them.

:: I head to check out. Happy savings time! I should note that I shop on Monday mornings just after dropping my two oldest off at school; my Kroger is not busy at all at that time of day so checking out is fairly quick.

I want to stress that this is what works for me. If you use a binder or a coupon box or some other system that works for you, then stick with it by all means. ;-)

If you're looking for more information on how to organize your coupons, I wrote on this topic a while back; you can read my post 8 Tips to Organize Your Coupons Each Month to learn more.

Thanks so much for the good question, A!

And if you have a question out there, please don't hesitate to ask by email or in a comment. I'll do my best to answer it in a post or a vlog. ;-)

Be sure to check out In 80 Seconds over at Savings Lifestyle this week. Be bold in 2011 - create and add your *own* quick tip vlog to the weekly linkup!