By ERIN TURNER
So, have you spent your week clipping lots of coupons? Now, you probably are going crazy because what do you DO with all of them once they are clipped? To be a successful extreme couponer, you need to organize them…if you don’t you’ll go mad! I’ve tried different methods and have found my trusty binder to be most effective. Yeah, it took me a few weeks to get over all the funny looks from people when I’d lug in my 4 lb binder and hoist it into the child seat of the grocery cart. But now, I proudly stroll down the aisles with my kids walking and my binder riding safely in the child seat!
I use a standard 1” 3 ringer binder although I need to graduate up to a bigger size soon. I also have plastic dividers which have pockets and clear plastic pages made for holding currency. I did start with baseball card pages but found them too small for my coupons. The pages for currency are perfect. I ordered my pages online from a company that sells and trades coins/currency.
Once you get all your supplies, you are ready to sort and group your coupons. This is purely personal how you categorize your coupons. Here are just a few of the categories I use: dairy, canned goods, dental, beauty, cold/allergy medicine, paper goods, laundry, dishwashing, snacks, produce, and cosmetics. Sort your coupons into categories which make sense to you and which you understand. And remember, this evolves almost monthly as you use coupons and acquire different ones. I’m constantly shifting mine around based on what coupons I have at the time. But set your general categories and label them, then when you see a sale on something, you just flip to that page and viola!– you are a coupon queen!
I put all my coupons into their designated sleeve in the clear sheets. The pocketed dividers I use for individual stores. So, I have them labeled for Albertsons, Safeway, Walmart, Walgreens, CVS and Other. I use these to organize my shopping trips…when I know I’m going to use a certain coupon at CVS, it goes into the divider for CVS. I also keep a copy of each store’s coupon policy in that pocket. I do this just in case a clerk questions accepting coupons…it’s helpful to have the corporations statement right on hand. Most of the stores here in Missoula are great about taking coupons so while I haven’t had to pull out my policy sheet, it gives me confidence knowing that I have back-up just in case.
I’ve added a little zipped pouch to the front of my binder which holds a small pair of scissors, a pencil, paper and a calculator. I find these items very helpful when I’m standing in front of a sale trying to figure out if it is truly a savings.
My final tip for this week is to plan ahead! In order to save the most, you need to shift your approach to shopping. Instead of writing a list of needs, going to the store and THEN looking at your coupons, you need to look at your coupons and your stockpile first and THEN write your list. You might think, “Ugh, I don’t have the time!” Well, think about this: if you put in 30-45 minutes each week planning out your grocery needs, you will cut your time shopping by half while cutting your grocery bill in half as well! It’s all about shifting your priorities to planning and saving instead of chaos and spending! Now, go get those binders organized and start planning! Back to Save It blog home page and Save It Club where Erin updates periodically throughout the week with saving tips.
Erin Eisenman-Turner is proud to be a native Missoulian. Along with her husband and three sons, they raise chickens, pigs, rabbits, and vegetables at Turner Family Farms in the Orchard Homes area. When the farm chores are done, the coupons clipped and the blog written, you can find Erin exploring Montana, collecting antiques and trying to maintain a well-run, happy and organized home for her family.