ORGANIZING YOUR COUPONS Cutting coupons from paper, mailer or magazine or printing them from a website is of little interest to you if you don’t organize your coupons so that you can see the coupon you need or if you don’t even know you have that coupon. There are many ways to organize your coupons; you need to find the one that works well for you and one you will continue to use. Several basics to get you started: Develop a coupon filing system. You can organize by category–dairy, frozen foods, cereal, canned foods etc. You can organize by aisle (this works best if you shop mainly at one store. This method is also the better option if you take your puma coupon with you to the warehouse and discover unadvertised sales for which you might have a coupon). You can also sort your coupons by date. This method, however, requires you to sort through all your coupons each trip to the store. (More details on organizing your coupons are listed in the next section). Determine what you will keep your coupons in You can use a shoe box or a card wallet to start out. However, if you get serious about couponing, you will soon find you need an accordion folder or a notebook (or several notebooks) with slotted sleeves to sort your coupons by whatever method you have settled on using. If you use the accordion folder (or a box), you will also need envelopes to sub divide your coupons by your chosen method. Sort and file your coupons as soon as possible The more organized you are, the more money you will save. The more organized you are, the natural couponing is. Therefore, it is important that you file your coupons (either the ones you cut out or the ones that you print out) soon after you acquire them so that they don’t get misplaced or thrown away. It is also much easier to sort and file as you go, rather than attack a huge pile of coupons all at once. Remove expired coupons on a regular basis Expired coupons don’t save you money, and they make finding the tickets you need more complicated. Set a schedule for removing expired coupons and stick to it. COUPON FILING SYSTEMS One of the first things you need to do is decide what type of system you will use for sorting and organizing your coupons. You need to decide on which filing system best suits your personality and style. The purpose of coupon organization is, so you will know where to find a particular card and to help you make use of that coupon before it expires. If you try one system and it doesn’t work for you, try another. The key is to get one that works best for your personality and that you will consistently use. Bottom line: If you do not efficiently organize your coupons, you will not save as much money, and you will be less likely to continue couponing. Alphabetically by product name (i.e. Kellogg’s or Kraft). Simply put, you sort your coupons by name A-Z. The biggest problem with this method remembers how you sorted them. For example, did you sort the Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes coupon under K for Kellogg’s or F for Frosted Flakes? Did you arrange the Kraft Macaroni & Cheese by K for Kraft or M for Mac & Cheese? If you choose this method, you must determine how you will classify your coupons (by manufacturer or actual product name) and consistently follow that decision. If you are brand or product loyal, this method works well. Again, this is a simple way of sorting A-Z. If you are not brand or product loyal (and to take the fullest advantage of coupons you shouldn’t be), sorting your coupons by product type, rather than product name makes it easy to save money. For example, you need cereal. If you sort this way, you can search and see if any of your coupons match up with a product on sale. Our kids prefer Cocoa Krispies and Cap’n Crunch, but if we have a coupon for Cheerios and it’s on sale, we buy Cheerios that week. It is also easier to remember to put the Frosted Flakes coupon under C for Cereal than it is to remember if you put it under K for Kellogg’s or F for Frosted Flakes. Alphabetically by Product category (i.e. Health and Beauty or Dairy or Canned Goods). If you use this method, you will have fewer categories to sort into, and some people prefer that. For example, if you need soap and it’s in your HEALTH & BEAUTY section, you will have to sort through coupons for makeup, shampoo, Q-tips, etc. to find the soap coupons. You also have to remember how you categorized a product. For example, did you put the aluminum foil under BAKING (for example) or did you put it under PAPER PRODUCTS? Did you put the coupons for Ziploc bags under GENERAL GROCERY or SNACKS or PAPER PRODUCTS? By Expiration date. When sorting coupons by expiration date, you file by the month the coupon expires. For example, you put all your coupons expiring in December together; all those in January together, etc. Using this method makes it much harder to find special coupons as you have to sort through every coupon each shopping trip. However, using this method does make it easier to cull your expired coupons. By Aisle. When using this method, you sort your cards by the aisle the product is found on in the store. This method works best for those who shop mostly at one store although many stores have virtually the same layout. Sorting coupons by aisle work really well if you decide to take your coupons to the store with you. You may also find it helpful when sorting by aisle or by expiration date to set up sub categories of similar products to make finding the coupons easier.