This method is fairly straightforward, and is the method I use. You collect your coupons, you get home and cut those coupons out, and then divide them up and put them in a binder. The pro of this system is that you always have your coupons with you when you go to the store. Stores do NOT put all their sale prices in their ads, not mention the clearance sections. So when you find that great bargain you don't want to make another trip to get it, or miss out entirely! This is a pretty big Pro in my mind.
Of course on the flip side there are cons. There are two main complaints I've heard with this system. One is that people have issues with their coupons falling out of the sleeves (if not the binder itself). The other is for people or amass a great amount of coupons the time it takes to cut them is no longer doable. So here's a basic break down of using the binder system.
- Buy a binder - You can use whatever you like, but I suggest a large, zippered binder for couponing. If you can find one with a strap, then that's even better!
- Buy baseball card sleeves - These are the very basic coupon holding sleeve you need for your binder. They are 3 slots across and 3 slots down, and are generally in the trading card section of a store. Of course there are other options, money sleeves (for coin collectors) hold printable coupons nicely, and there are other sizes and options available if you want.
- Divide it up - Have a way of marking different sections for your coupons. That way if you need to find something you can go right to the spot you need. Krazy Coupon Lady has a set of FREE printable dividers you can use if you're a little overwhelmed at the thought of it.
- Put like coupons with like coupons - If you're collecting multiple inserts (and you should be), you are going to have a few of the same coupons to cut. When I first started I use to go through each insert separately and cut out the coupons. Then I got smart and started stapling together pages of the insert that were identical, and then cutting the coupons out. Bit time saver there!
- Put coupons in binder - Now that they are all cut lay them out, and then put them in their correct spot in your binder.
- Take binder to store - Of course the whole point of the binder system is that your coupons are portable and can go with you!
So on to the File or Box system. Basically when you get your coupons instead of cutting them out, you put them in a file system, marking the date and insert type (Smart Source, Red Plum, P&G, etc.). Then when you are getting ready to shop you pull the insert, cut the coupon, and then put the coupon in an envelope or box to take to the store. Here are the basics
- Have a storage place - You will need someone to store your inserts, that can be well organized. A hanging file system would work well for this, with tabs that you can mark the date/type clearly on.
- Store match-ups - Since I don't use this system I asked a Kansas couponer who does how they do store match-ups. Basically there are two ways: You follow multiple coupon/deal sites, they usually list the coupon needed for an item and in what insert, and when it came out. Or you can thumb through your inserts to see if you have a coupon for an item. There are also sites that coupon databases you look at (that also list date and type of insert). The two that come to mind are www.couponmom.com and www.krazycouponlady.com
- Cut coupons - Cut the coupons you will be using for that shopping trip, and put them in an envelope or small box to take to the store with you.
The pros of this system is you don't have to cut every coupon, every time, whether you use it or not! Plus for someone with 100's of insert weekly the idea of cutting out each coupon is just not realistic. Plus, if you're not to keen on lugging around a large binder it's easier to take your coupons to the store with you. The downside of this system is flexibility. You either need to go the store and look for any unadvertised deals you may find, or if you find one while shopping make another trip home for the coupons and then back to the store.
Largely what system you use is whatever works best for you! Don't be afraid to mix the two together also if that works for you. I use a binder, but I put all the coupons I plan on using in an envelope, and leave my binder in the car. I really don't like carrying it around with me. But if I find a good deal my coupons are still with me. I either go get them before checkout, or after I pay and load the groceries in the car make a quick run back into the store. Another Kansas couponer I talked to cuts her coupons, but she keeps them in an accordion type file that she found fit in the cart better. That way she has all her coupons, but doesn't have the hassle of falling out coupons or a bulky binder. So as I said do what works for you. Pick one you think will work best, and don't be afraid to tweak it to your needs.
Got any tips for using either system? Leave a comment and let me know! Happy bargain hunting everyone.