I think I have always been a couponer. I imagine it is because when I was a child, my mom was a couponer and a refunder. It was something that I always knew. It used to be that I clipped only a few coupons and kept them all in one envelope. As my life changed - school housing, apartment, house and single, married, mother - I started to clip more coupons. I needed a better system for organizing my coupons.
I started with a check file. They generally have twelve or thirteen pockets (corresponding to either the months or the alphabet, or customized with stickers) which allowed me what felt like ample categories when I started. I built the categories based on my product usage. As I have expanded my couponing, I now find myself with two files - one for my health and beauty items (which were all in one pocket before!) and one for the grocery items. I found this split to work for me because I generally only need coupons from the one file for my CVS and Walgreens adventures. The other file is used whether I am at the grocery or a supercenter.
With time, the categories that I have used to file coupons has evolved. Many of them were combined in the original file, which also at one point included a category for baby, now they have their own compartments.
Currently, the tabs that work for me are as follows:
Health and Beauty:
Other - Cat/Batteries/etc.
I have tried other ways to organize over the years. I tried not cutting them, but found that for me it was harder to find them when they were unclipped. Plus, it seemed bulky and difficult to work with in store.
I used to find coupons as I went at the store. Now, I generally plan my grocery store trip, pulling coupons for things that are on deal or that I know I need for the week. I sort my coupon in the order that I will use them and tuck them in an envelope. As I shop, I pull out the coupons that I use (I don't always use them all) and set them in a separate pile so I don't forget to redeem them. I still bring my coupon files along, because there are often other deals that I find while at the store and want to be prepared.
I have been asked if I clip every coupon. The answer is no. I clip coupons for the categories that I buy. I clip for many brands within those categories, but not all. I love a good deal, but I am also a brand loyalist on many things - ketchup, mayonnaise, amongst other things. As a result, if there is a brand or a category that I don't buy, I either don't clip it or if I know a friend that uses it, I clip it for them.
I have been asked how I keep my file free of expired products. I typically will go through the file every week or two and pull out any coupons that are expired or will expire that week. This allows me to use coupons that I have that haven't been on a deal but are worth using for an item that I use.
When it comes to coupons, this is what works for me.
This post shared at Works For Me Wednesday.
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