Food Storage & Other Adventures in Motherhood

A Few Thoughts on Coupons and Organizing

by heather

I have a love/hate relationship with coupons. I love saving money on my groceries. There’s something very satisfying about looking at my grocery receipt and consistently saving between 50-60% on the things that my family uses anyway. However, I hate clipping coupons. There are so many other things that I would rather be doing. It’s so tedious and seems like huge waste of time to cut out all of those coupons and use less than half of them.  I’ve heard people say that clipping coupons at all is a waste of time, that their time is more valuable that the 35 cents that is potentially saved.  To those people I say “You should see all of the stuff I get for free when double coupon days comes around.” (A pic of one trip with double coupons is above. Not all of it was free, but I saved about $70.)  And I don’t consider myself a hard-core couponer. There are some coupon clippers out there who have some mad saving skills. An hour or two of organizing, searching and clipping generally saves me $50 a week. To me that’s worth it. Beyond that there’s a point of diminishing returns. Here’s the coupon methods I’ve tried and what has and hasn’t worked for me:
Coupon File Folder: Fine for beginners, but if you take more than one newspaper, this quickly becomes insufficient to hold all of your coupons. It is nice to have it all with you in one place and it easily fits in your purse. I used to take 3 newspapers, but I decided that 2 provided more than enough coupons for my family of four. Even with cutting back to 2, that’s a large amount of coupons.
Drawer/Box o’ Inserts: When my newspapers arrive I write the date on the front of the insert, skimmed through the contents and dropped in my kitchen drawer, which eventually was transferred to a large shoe box. Yes, I wasn’t clipping coupons I wouldn’t use, but I did spend hours digging through the drawer/box trying to find the inserts that I was looking for. I hated the mess I made every time I was looking for a coupon.
Coupon File Box: I actually didn’t do this, but I do like the idea. I bought the box, the index cards and the envelopes and decided that although it would make me very well organized, I just don’t want to spend that much time clipping coupons. If you do want to be that organized, go for it. You will probably always be prepared with any coupon that you need.

Coupon Binder: I used to see some women with coupon binders with baseball card page protectors full of coupons and was somewhat in awe. Not enough to do that myself. It seemed like more work than it was worth. Recently on PYP blog, one of the writers demonstrated the method that she uses for organizing coupons. She has a 5″ 3-ring zipper binder that she puts all of her inserts in. She staples the multiple sheets together and puts them in plastic page protectors. I bought the 3″ zipper binder and a new stapler and then decided I didn’t want to do that. If I ever am cooking and shopping for 8, I will probably re-examine that method, but for now I don’t need that many coupons. But it is nice to be more organized than the Box o’ Inserts method.  I put every dated insert in its own page protector. I also have a small coupon file which holds various coupons from stores and the mail. My binder was $18 on Amazon, has plenty of room for inserts, my coupon file and has a few more files on the left where I store receipts, coupon booklets and restaurant coupons. When I make my grocery list I cut out what I need and put those in an envelope, with my list written on the outside. (I always refer to the grocery lists at PYP when making my own, it saves me a whole lot of time and money. They’re fantastic.) I leave the binder in the car, in case I really need it, but frankly juggling my kids in the grocery store is challenging enough without searching for coupons too.

What have you found to be the best way to organize your coupons? Do you find coupons to be worth your time?

One Response to “A Few Thoughts on Coupons and Organizing”

  1. Heather says:

    Today I was at Target and the same binder that I purchased from Amazon was only $13.98. Who knows how long that price will last.

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