Organizing Coupons--Another Opinion
Extreme couponing has come into the mainstream media and with its own television program has captured the hearts and minds of many with unbelievable savings. The world of coupons now has coupon clubs, coupon swaps, coupon blogs and websites, and couponing strategy books.
While I am not an expert couponer, I am an expert organizer. And I have taken an interest in them lately because some of my clients use them and needed a way to keep them organized. Thus began my research into the best way to that.
At this time in history, the resources for learning about coupoining and how to organize them are plentiful. Just Google "organizing coupons" and over 4 million sites come up. I checked out a few of those, talked with friends and family and eventually sat in on our local Savvy Shopper's presentation where I took pages of notes. ( http://weblogs.dailypress.com/features/shoppingblog/#start ) This basically confirmed that there are as many ways to organize coupons as there are people to do it. It is a matter of time and personal preferences.
Those who prefer individually clipping coupons often store them in divided plastic sleeves (baseball card holders) in 3 ring zippered notebooks by categories. Others prefer to use wallet style expandable containers with dividers for each category. A combination of these are used by some couponers who do not want to carry the large notebook of plastic pages on every shopping trip and will put only those coupons used for each trip in the wallet version.
For those who want to skip the task of cutting out all the individual coupons and sorting them at one time, saving the coupon inserts in newspapers, magazines and mailings is more efficient. These inserts and pages are saved in stacks, folders or large envelopes by date for access when references are made to them for those extreme saving opportunities. Updates on the matching websites and blogs are mostly done weekly to coordinate with weekly store specials.
If you are one who is new to couponing, you will have to use trial and error to determine the best organizing style for your coupons. Experience is the best teacher and knowing your own preferences will help as much as anything. Try not to purchase the most expensive organizing supplies with coupons until you have an idea of what is working for you and what is not. As you use them, you will be able to better determine what you need. Gradually you will develop your own system.
Organizing coupons requires organizing your time. To save the most and become an "extreme couponer" you must match the manufacturer's coupon with a retailer's sale price and if possible store coupons and rewards programs. This takes an organized system and time to process even using the websites and blogs that do the matching. Since different stores have different specials or may offer double coupons on given days, extreme couponers map out their strategy to take advantage of the best deals. (Somewhere in there you have to have your shopping list of items you actually need right now.)
Since this discussion is on the coupons, I will not give the professional organizer's advice on storing the abundance of items gleaned from extreme couponing. I will only remind you that the golden rule of "only having as much stuff as any space will reasonably contain" also applies to cereal and toothpaste. Any overflow in designated spaces in your home should be donated to the foodbank or local homeless shelters. Otherwise it can become extreme couponing clutter.