….But I don’t have time to clip coupons and file them all into baseball card pages in a coupon binder!….
So, in this case, here is what to do with your multiple copies of the Sunday coupon inserts…
Use a file box, or portable bag (as pictured above), along with manila file folders. I started with a large, clunky plastic file box, but it was too awkward, rigid and heavy to carry around. Plus, I was always worried the lid would pop off and all of my coupons would dump out! I found this AWESOME Land’s End medium canvas tote . It is sturdy, durable and holds it’s upright shape. It has flexibility, being fabric, to load it up with all of those inserts! Not to mention it is super easy to transport. I am in love with these bags! My only regret is not getting it embroidered with “COUPONS”!
Each week, pull out all of the coupon inserts from the Sunday paper. Let’s say you have P&G, RP and SS coupon inserts. (Proctor & Gamble, Red Plum and Smart Source.) Label your manila file folder in pen with “PG” and with pencil for the date, let’s say “2/14/11”. Do this for SS 2/14/11 and RP 2/14/11. Put the corresponding coupon inserts in the manila file folder. Did you know that each coupon insert is labeled, in tiny print, on the front spine with the date?
Afrin sale price $1.99
use (1) $1/1 Afrin 2/14/11 SS
get $1 UP reward
This means you would go to the 2/14/11 SS file and clip as many of the Afrin coupons as the store will allow you to use, or that you want to buy.
You may also chose to clip the coupons from your weekly inserts only for products that you KNOW you will use. Then, file these coupons in a zippered binder with baseball card sleeves. See my instructions for filing in a binder here. This will show you step-by-step, with photos, how to gather several identical copies of coupon inserts, cut and file them into a coupon binder.
An online searchable coupon database is also a great resource. For The Mommas has one, and there is one available on my blog as well. (It is on the right side, about one quarter down the page, titled “Searchable Coupon Database”.) With using the coupon database, you can match your local store ad to the database to see if coupons are available for specific sale items. I do this with our small local grocery store, since it isn’t listed in any online forum.
One benefit to filing whole coupon inserts is that it is less time consuming than clipping all coupons and filing them in a binder. Another benefit is you can carry the filed coupon inserts with you to the store. If you have a smart phone, you can pull up the online database while you are shopping. So, when you see a good sale price, you are able to quickly search for a matching coupon and clip it out right there in the aisle! If you don’t have a smart phone, you can create a master list of all of your coupons in the inserts by visiting the Sunday Coupon Preview website. With a little effort, you can copy and paste the lists into a spreadsheet, print it and keep it with your inserts. Then, just access your printed master list to find a matching coupon for your sale item.
The downside of filing whole inserts is it can be time consuming and cumbersome finding a coupon for a hot sale price item while you are in the store, and you’re more likely to miss out on a deal. Also, the coupon databases may not list some coupons specific to your area. Again, you may miss a deal.
I have found, after couponing for the last year, that keeping a coupon file system AND a binder works best for me. There are always higher value printable coupons online, so having the binder to file these loose coupons is needed. When I am going through an insert to determine what coupons to clip, I ask myself “Would I use this item if I could get it for free or for a fraction of the price?” If yes, I clip and file in my binder.
Again, everyone finds a system that works best for their situation. Your filing system may also evolve over time, along with your stockpile. When you are just starting out couponing, you may want to clip most of your coupons and file in a binder. This will help you to expedite your shopping trip and maximize your savings in order to build your stockpile at the lowest cost. Once you have built an inventory of items, you may decide to only go after the freebies that are listed on the store coupon match-up forums. No matter how you decide to keep your coupons, know that your efforts will pay off in huge savings!