Thursday, May 21, 2009

Coupon Organizer

It began with a handful of crumpled coupons stuffed in my back pocket, transitioned into categorized envelopes floating in my purse, and finally graduated to this grownup coupon organizer.

When combing the web for various coupon organizing strategies, I found the binder option appealing for a few reasons. First, it was important to me to have all my coupons visible. The binder method, using baseball card holders found at Target or Walmart, makes it so that I can see each coupon (I do stack multiples of the same product in one card sleeve) without shuffling through envelopes. Another plus of this system for me is that it allows me to take the whole binder with me when grocery shopping without sorting out the coupons I think I'll use, only to have to refile them later when I don't use them or scrounge for a coupon for an item not on my list. Finally, this system looks attractive. Shallow, yes. But I'm not above it when it comes to my coupons!

So here's what I did. I repurposed a zippered three-ring binder I had used once-upon-a-time for a portfolio. It works perfect for coupons because it has pull-out handles for easy carrying, and maybe more importantly, a zipper to keep any stray coupons corralled. It also has spaces for a pen and small scissors (for those sheets of coupons I stuff in the back because I'm too lazy that week to cut them all out) and for store cards, gift cards, etc. There are pockets to stash my grocery lists as well. After I found my binder, I needed category dividers. Using old manilla file folders, I cut them in half, then covered them with scrapbook paper to pretty them up.

Here are the categories I used:
  • Fresh Foods
  • Canned
  • Cereal/Snack
  • Bread/Baking
  • Frozen
Each major cateogory is also subdivided into smaller categories. For example, under "Fresh Foods," I have the categories "Dairy," "Meat," and "Produce." To mark these subcategories, I used one of my son's trading cards as a guide and made cards using matching scrapbook paper. I then put those labeled cards in the top right sleeves of individual sheets. For those subcategories needing more than one sheet, I simply place blank sheets behind the labeled one. Yet another advantage of this system is that you can customize and change the number of sheets allocated to a specific category based on your current needs.

You'll notice that I don't have any household categories in my binder. This is because most household goods including pet food, cleaners, and beauty/health products get purchased at Walgreens, CVS, or Target. Rather than having one giant binder, I choose to divide my coupons according to where I use them. That way, I can take my big binder with me when grocery shopping (a planned, specific outing complete with large cart to perch it on) and use a much smaller coupon organizer that fits in my purse for household purchases. An added advantage of having a purse-size organizer is that it will always be on me when I make those spur of the moment stops at Walgreens or CVS.

So there you have it, my new and improved coupon organizer!

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