For years, I was very haphazard with using coupons. If I thought of them and had the time to find and sort through them for the one or two I thought I’d use, I would. A great deal of the time, it was just too much trouble. Most of the time, I wouldn’t even think about it until I was at the store. With the changes in the economy, and some added expenses to our budget, I began to want to make better use of my coupons. But, I struggled with how to organize them in an efficient manner that was easy to maintain and portable enough to wag to the stores.
Just about this time, Penny at Tupelo Deals started to share with some of us about how to organize our coupons using a binder and baseball card holders. I got my binder at Wal-mart. I think it was around $20, and the sleeves were about $6. The handles are retractable. There’s a built in calculator, a pocket I use for storing a small pair of scissors, and a surround zipper that helps keep everything in the entire binder in place. It pretty much looks like a briefcase when closed. It fits perfectly, when opened, onto the area of a shopping cart where you usually stow your purse or toddler.
Here’s how I make the Coupon Binder System work for me: I use “found time” for clipping and sorting coupons. This includes times when I’m a passenger in a vehicle, when I am waiting in the van for family members, when I’m waiting in the doctor’s office or while watching television. The binder is truly self-contained and can be opened and organized very discreetly. Only clip coupons for products you normally buy or truly want to try. If not, you'll end up spending more money at the grocery store just to use coupons to save a few cents on items you don't really need. You'll also become bogged down with having to keep so many coupons organized. I speak from experience!
On menu planning day, I quickly flip through my binder and remove any coupons that will expire in the next week.
- If the expiring coupons are for things I need, I put it in the proper empty sleeve at the front of my binder. I have an empty sleeve for each store where I use coupons.
- If the expiring coupon isn’t something I need, I try to give it to someone else, or toss it.
This process takes less than 10 minutes, and it helps me stay fairly familiar with what coupons I have.
Once I have my menu for the week, I flip through the binder and remove any coupons I will need for the week’s shopping and place them in the proper sleeve in the front of the binder. I also place my shopping list in the front of the binder. I take the entire binder with me to the store. It never fails that there will be an unadvertised special, or I’ll remember something that I failed to put on my shopping list. Because I have all my coupons with me, I don’t miss an opportunity to use them. On the occasions I don’t take my entire binder, I always regret it!