Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Ask Megan: What System To Use?

This week's Ask Megan also comes from my pal Tara :) We had a very good info session last week, so I wanted to keep sharing.

Question: What Coupon "System" Works Best?
This is the age old question - to which there is no one cut and dry answer. Even though I can't give a definitive answer, I can tell you what works best for me. I have sort of developed a hybrid of two common;y used systems: The Coupon Binder and Filing Whole Inserts By Date.
Like I said, both of these are commonly used, and there are many blogs I could attribute them to; so I will just let the places I learned them from claim them :) For the Coupon Binder System, I follow Hip 2 Save. For the File Inserts By Date System, I follow Coupon Mom.

In a nutshell, the Coupon Binder System is:
  1. Cut your coupons
  2. Organize your coupons into a large 3 ring binder using dividers and baseball card holders
  3. Carry your binder Everywhere!
    In a nutshell, the Filing System is:
    1. Take your coupon inserts (intact) out of you paper
    2. Write the date on the front of each insert with a permanent marker
    3. File your inserts by date
    4. Go to a website that lists the sales with what coupons you need, like CouponMom.com and cut out the coupons they list for the items you want.
    As you can see, these methods both have their pros and cons. The main advantage for the CouponMom method would be that you don't have all that clipping time (you only end up clipping what you know you will use). Unfortunately this also would mean missing out on things you didn't plan for. There is nothing more frustrating than finding a deal and knowing you have coupons that would make it even better but not having them with you. I hate going somewhere and finding a good deal and not having my coupons. This leads to my favorite aspect of the binder system: you always have all of your coupons with you and they are all organized according to what they are for. I cannot tell you how many deals I have gotten from clearance sections just because I had my binder! The drawbacks to the binder are the shear size of the thing - it is a bit conspicuous and draws a lot of attention from other customers - and the time it takes to organize everything.

    So, now that you know my gurus' methods, you may ask, "How do you combine these two methods?" Well, I will tell you. I currently receive 2 newspapers each Sunday. Every Sunday morning, I wake up, eat breakfast, and clip my coupons. Then I organize them into 5 piles: Food, Restaurants and Candy, Health and Beauty, Cleaning, and Miscellanious. After I have everything separated into their larger categories, I then take each pile and separate it by my divider system in my binder. I modeled my organization after the aisles in Publix and Target. So, my dividers are:
    Some things do fit into a gray area, so I just make sure my placement is consistent to ensure I always know where to find the right coupons. This is my main method. It is time consuming, I won't lie, but it is also incredibly profitable.

    Now, in addition to my two papers per week, I go "coupon hunting." When I do this, I honestly end up with more inserts than I physically have time to manage (believe me, I tried once - it was an exhausting week and my finger tip went numb from all the clipping). So, for this large stack we always end up with, I go through the night of the hunt and clip the coupons I know I need immediately for that week's deals and then stack the rest according to what they are and write the date on them. That way, I can go back to my huge stack for the next week's sales but still have some on hand for the unexpected deals. Voila! My hybrid system :)

    So, now that you know how I do it, you are free to apply these techniques as you see fit. I'm a big believer in adapting things to your personal situation. If something is not working for you, try something else that will or else you will tire of the hassle and give up. Using coupons efficiently should be all about organization paired with convenience to make it as fun as possible :)

    I shared mine! Now it's your turn :) How do you organize your coupons? Leave a comment and let us know!

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