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Help me out here! Should I switch my coupon organization system?


Anyone who has read my blog for more than a few months knows that I’m a big fan of clipping and filing every coupon you think you might use. I got into this habit because I used to shop almost exclusively at Kroger where the deals and mark-downs were plentiful and I was often able to snag unadvertised specials for free or almost free every week thanks to having all my coupons clipped, organized, and handy.

However, as most of you know, our Kroger stores were bought out a few months ago (I’m still agonizing over the loss!) and while I’ve continued on with my clip-and-file-every-coupon system, I’ve noticed I rarely have come upon any unadvertised deals or mark-downs. And I do mean rarely, as in non-existent. Well, I did find one mark-down one time, but I didn’t even have a coupon for it.

In seeking to streamline and be more efficient, I’m seriously considering keeping my inserts whole and just clipping out the coupons I need each week as I plan my shopping trip. This would save me the hassle of having to spend a lot of time clipping and filing; it would also save me the trouble of going through my coupon box for expired coupons every month, too.

But I’m really tossing and turning over breaking tradition and completely revamping my whole coupon organization system as I know it. It’s become so ingrained in me to clip and file all my coupons in my coupon box as I’ve done it this way for going on eight years.

Does it really work to just file the inserts and clip out the coupons you need? Do you find yourself having to pass over a lot of the deals when you’re at the store because you don’t have the needed coupon with you? Can anyone reassure me that I really will not end up spending twice as much at the grocery store if I don’t clip all the coupons? Do you think I’m up to the challenge of a complete revamping of my system? 

Any feedback or thoughts would be much-appreciated.

Note: For those of you who may need a point of reference, here’s my current system and here’s the system I’m considering switching to.

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  • Sheila says:

    I just stumbled apon your site and it’s open my eyes to deals that I never even thought about before. Using a coupon on a clearance item? Stacking coupons? ECB’s and RR’s? Wow, I’m feeling a little overwhelmed by the possiblities. 🙂 Thanks

    Anyway, I used to cut all coupons and keep them in a file system, but I found myself buying stuff I never used. So now I cut only the coupons I am going to use and keep them in a small file folder, that’s always in my purse.
    After stumbling apon I started keeping dated inserts in a file folder. But only five weeks worth. I pretty much realized that if I am going to buy an item, I will do it before the five weeks are up.
    And I do use the Coupon Mom Virtual Coupon Database. I love that it’s searchable and printable.
    I just recently started a Price List Database of all the common items I buy from my favorite stores, and I quickly realize that in order for me to make it an effective tool, I will have to go to the Binder System.
    I am going to take advantage of the back to school sales and pick up the items I need.
    I am going to take my cues from KingdomFirst’s system, but I am also going to add the print out of the coupons from the VCD and my Price Sheet.

  • Lynn says:

    I recommend the Couponizer system. I’ve been using it for years now and have saved a ton of money. Plus I’m very organized, and this system works well for me.

  • isaacsjuarez says:

    To Clip or Not to Clip…

    If you’re really organized with your coupons & don’t like having to go through the inserts EVERY time you need a particular coupon then, I don’t think this will be a good fit for you. On one of these sites, someone mentioned that they were so much more happier with this “clip-as-you-go” method because they weren’t “handling” their coupon three times (1.clip; 2.file; 3.use) & thus, saving them more time for other things. But, my question is this…”HOW many times are they handling that same insert EVERY time they need a coupon?”

    My system is pretty much like yours is with the envelopes (just not in a box)- I have them in 2 – 5″x8″/13 pocket expandable files; one for “FOOD” and one for “NON-FOOD”. Each one is broken down into specific catergories, such as:

    Food Catergories… DAIRY; CANNED; BOXED; BAKING; SNACKS; FROZEN = Entrees/Treats; CONDIMENTS; MISC; etc., and…

    Non-Food Catergories… PAPER GOODS; BABY CARE = Diapers/Wipes (Thank God, I don’t have to use this section anymore!); PETS; PERSONAL HYGEINE = Hair/Body/His/Hers; BEAUTY; MEDICATION; CLEANERS = Surface/Laundry/Air Fresheners; MISC; etc.

    Some of these catergories are broken down into SUB-Catergories and some of the SUBs might be broken down if needed.
    Paper Goods
    2.Toliet Paper/Wipes

    It may seem like a lot at first, but it makes it so much easier to find the coupon you need when you’re in the store & come across some of the “clearance” items or unadvertised specials. I always go through the sale ads & match the coupons to the sales/deals (I circle the item & mark on the paper the coupons I’ll be using … ex: Cpn = $1/2 & $1/1 + B1G1) that I plan to use & then put those coupons in an envelope marked for that store.

    Also, I have a section for B1G1 coupons to keep up with those & try to match them up with another coupon to maximize savings.

    Like you, I’m considering changing my system as well. I’m in the process of switching the expandable file for the binder, but still keep my catergory filing system. I think I might like being able to just flip to the page, see the coupon I need and pull it. I don’t think I’ll use only the trading card pages. But, I’ll add some photo insert pages as well. Like the 4×6 inch photo pages (to keep up with the refunds, store receipts/coupons, RRs, & ECBs in their own section) and 3×2-1/2inch photo pages (6 slots per page) for larger coupons.

    I definitely would never go to the “clip-as-you-go” method.
    My reasons:
    1. Too Disorganized (Coupon dates expiring at different times – holding on to inserts for more than a week. How many times will I be searching through this same insert before I’m finished with it?)
    2. Too Messy (Clipped up inserts cluttering up your system.)
    3. Too Time Consuming (Clip today. Clip on Sunday. Clip on Wednesday. Clip next week. Clip next month! QUESTION TO SELF: “Self, Why didn’t you just clip them all at once and be DONE with it?”)

    I usually clip them all (even the ones I will NEVER use) at once & separate them as I go. The ones I don’t want/need/use I put in a big mailing envelope & put to the side for when I “weed” out the expired ones. Then, these are sent to military families to use –they can still use the expired coupons for up to SIX months.

    Okay, I’m done with the miniblog on “to clip or not to clip”. I wish you luck on finding which one works best for you.

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  • You could try it for awhile and see if it works for you. If not, you could always go back to your old system.

    I tried using CouponMom’s method of keeping the coupon flyers whole and just cutting out the ones I need right away, but I ended up going back to cutting and filing them into my coupon files. I discovered that my 4, 7 and 8 yr olds are actually pretty good at cutting out coupons and they love it, so I let them help. It goes by much faster that way and then I just file them. Just something for you to look forward to, in a few years you’ll have some helpers;-)

    Having the coupons already cut and filed actually saves me time during the week when I’m really busy, I just print out my shopping lists, grab my coupons out of the organizer and go. Spending the time to do it all at once on Sunday is just easier for me. Everyone’s different though, so if you think of an easier way for yourself then give it a try!

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