cleaning out my coups (and how I organize them)

With the new year fast approaching, my coupon binder is overdue for an overhaul!
I use baseball card holders in a zippered binder (remember trapper-keepers anyone? ahhh childhood memories from the 90′s).
The binder has a mini-filing section where I can file my inserts by date. I keep the oldest inserts toward the back and the newer ones toward the front. They are also separated by SS (SmartSource), RP (Red Plum), and PG (Proctor&Gamble). I have a few extra empty files that if I get a large page of target coupons or a “superbowl” extra I will stick them in there so I don’t have to clip them until I need them.

I had a bunch of inserts that I hadn’t gone through yet. So I did that too!

I don’t clip every coupon. That’s just silly and a waste of time. I only clip either
a.) Things I regularly get (cinnamon buns, cheese, pasta, etc)
b.) Things that I know go on sale (dawn, toothpaste- I’m brand specific, Josh isn’t so I clip it all and get it when it’s cheap, dishwasher soap, etc.)
If a store is running a sale on something that I didn’t clip, I’ll run to to see where I can find the coupon (insert name and then the date- example: SS 12/4- SmartSource December 4th). I’ll flip to the filing section, grab the insert I need, and clip the coupon! So much easier than clipping every.single.coup! There have also been times that I have come across an unadvertised deal at a store. I’ll whip out my iPhone, search for what insert/date I can find a coupon to that product, find it in the filing section of my binder, and clip it right there in the store. It takes a few seconds, and sometimes there isn’t a coupon, but it’s totally worth it when there is! Also, I don’t print many internet coupons. If southernsavers posts a good deal that uses an internet coupon, then I’ll print it. I’ll also flip through the coupons on (that I get through swagbucks) and look at what coupons are posted, but I usually only print 1-2 every couple of weeks. If I want a brand specific coupon, then I’ll go to the manufacturer’s website and sometimes they’ll have it there.
separate my coupons in sections (separated by laminate pink dividers, labeled with my label maker):
grocery- I have this section organized by aisle in the grocery store (although within the last few weeks ingles has changed all their aisles… bummer- but things are still basically together- coffee with cereal, popcorn with snacks, etc). I only put coupons in here that can be found in those aisles (so no produce, refrigerated, or frozen coups here).
cold- hmmm pretty self explanatory :) Anything that is in a fridge or freezer at the store. There are hardly any coupons for produce, but when there are they go here.
personal- This is anything thing besides food that goes in my body or on my body (toiletries, medicine, vitamins, etc)
house- all cleaners, paper towels, sponges, paper plates, hand soap.
Rite Aid-Whenever I do Rite Aid’s video values I typically print the coupon immediately so I don’t forget about it. I will put all those clipped coupons here. Remember, Rite Aid lets you stack video values with manu coups!
baby- Unfortunately this section is getting more and more deserted :( It’s where I kept formula, diaper, and baby food coupons. Also diaper cream and things just for baby (even if those things are found with adult stuff). In my mind it’s easier to keep it separated so the coupons don’t get lost.
target- They have alot of store coupons (that you can also stack with manufacturer’s coupons). These can be found on their website and in the newspaper. I will keep them here until I’m ready to make a trip and then I’ll match what I need to the manu coup.
misc- Here I keep pet coupons, restaurant coupons, and other random coupons.
So when I cleaned it out, I went section by section and baseball card holder by baseball card holder. If I have multiple coupons of the same item, I’ll put them behind each other, so I had to pull out every coupon, and every double and triple that was behind those. to check the date. There are TONS of coupons that expire on 12/31/11 and many that expired at the beginning of December that I hadn’t cleaned out yet. Not even gonna lie- cleaning it out took over an hour. But spending the time to do that now saves tons of frustration later when I find a coupon and it is expired.
Also I had a pile of coupons that I had clipped from magazines, or I received at the doctor’s and dentist offices that I just hadn’t filed yet.
And the winner of the oldest coupon lurking in my binder was for Outback. It expired on 8/4/11… ironically my least favorite restaurant and that’s my birthday! hehe
I wanted to share one more trick that I’ve done to make couponing a little easier for me. I have compiled a list of “good deals”, really the best deals that I have found on a particular item. There are similar lists on the internet, but since prices vary from region to region and even store to store, this list is custom to my needs. I try to remember to check my supply well before I run out so I can keep my eyes open for a deal. When I see an item dip to a cheap price, I’ll check the list, and snag however much I need, even if I haven’t completely run out. Now of course, there will be times that we’ll run out of something and I’ll need to pay full price- but from saving pennies here and there, it’s not a big deal when that happens. My best month of all was October of 2011. I had $50 left in my food/toiletries/house budget for that month. It was incredible! Also I’m not sure if it helps, but I only pay with cash. It helps me visualize exactly how much $ I have and when it’s gone, it’s gone. This handy paper stays in the back of my binder for easy reference. And I can add on to it as I need to!
I’ve found that saving money can be so satisfying (especially since I don’t feel like we’re having to give up anything). We can still buy everything we need, plus some, and still end up saving money. It took me 3-4 months to get the hang of couponing, and I never feel like I’m caught up- for instance, my binder is perfectly clean now and I’ll get another newspaper tomorrow- but oh well!
As for how many newspapers to get: I only get 1. Most people recommend getting 2-3. My mom usually gets 2 delivered to her house and she passes her inserts on to me… so usually I end up with 2-3 inserts between her papers and mine.

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