Thursday, May 21, 2009

Coupons 101: Lesson 2- Orginzation

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Okay so I have debated about what lesson to do next, how to organize your coupons or how to use them. I decided that if you don't know where your coupons are, because they aren't organized then you won't be able to use them anyway. So here we go.

1st- You need to learn the number one rule, DO NOT throw coupons away! Unless it is something you are absolutely not going to use, i.e. dog food coupons and you do not have a dog. Otherwise keep them!! You never know when there will be a sale that combined with the coupon will make the item free or practically free, which might change your motivation about getting it.

Obviously once coupons are expired you can throw them away. Or you can ship them overseas to the troops. Their families can use coupons that are expired for up to 6 months.

Okay, so what to do with all those coupons:

Way #1 to Organize:
First the kind of intimidating scary way, but the best way, this video shows the method I use

This way might seem like a lot of work but it really is the best. Imagine you are at the store and see a great price on something you need but didn't realize was on sale, if you do it this way you will have the coupon with you and will not have to make a trip back to the store or lose the money you could have saved if you had the coupon.

With my spreadsheet, I will also sort my coupons by expiration date (I don't print it this way though), then I can quickly see what ones have expired and go through and pull those out.

You will want to update your spreadsheet weekly or you will get way behind and overwhelmed, trust me!

Way #2
You can always cut coupons and sort them by category, beauty, medicine, food, etc. etc. Choose whatever categories are best for you. This way is good as long as you don't have tons of coupons and as long as you remember what category you put that coupon in. You will not have a nice list in this method to search from though. Also it is easier to miss out on a coupon because it expired this way.

Way #3
Don't cut any coupons out until you are writing your shopping list. You are probably thinking, well how will I know where my coupons are. The best site I have found for this, is The is a free site that seems a little tricky to navigate initially but really isn't hard.

When you are on the site just go to the Grocery Coupon Database, circled above. In the Database select your state and then it will list the coupons from Sunday inserts. It also shows internet coupons, from which are available to print.

You can search for whatever coupon you are looking for. For example if you want Pillsbury crescent rolls, then you can search Pillsbury. A word of caution, if you don't spell it right it won't show up. So use less words in your search (just search "Pillsbury" instead of "Pillsbury crescent rolls") and to be safe you can even put part of the word (pills-for all Pillsbury items).
As you are looking at your ads and writing your list then you can pull up this site and search to see if there are coupons for the items you need.

The trouble with this method is you will not have coupons with you for unexpected items. Also what do you do with all of your extra coupons, the ones you get from the store, in the mail, etc. You could make a miniature spread sheet where you enter all your "other" coupons.

If you do this method you will want a place to keep your Sunday inserts, not your kitchen counters it doesn't work trust me. I use a file cabinet with hanging folders to put my inserts in.

Ultimately it comes down to figuring out what works for you. I cut and store coupons like in method #1 but I also use all of the time. I do not cut out every single coupon so I keep the extra ones, just in case, hanging in file folders.

As you start couponing more you will begin to realize which coupons are important to make sure you have on hand. You will also learn what method you like best, or even invent your own.

Take it slow, do what you want and don't get burned out as I promise you it will save you a lot of money.
And to leave you with a little inspiration:
Today I spent $33.08, with sales and coupons I saved $47.40 or 59%


  1. Great tutorial!
    I learned a long time ago not to clip all the coupons. I just keep them sorted by date in an accordion file and get cut them as I need them.

    Thanks for the tips!!

  2. No stores around me double coupons. I need to use more. My husband is a coupon aholic. He wont buy something without one.

  3. More great tips. Thanks, as always.

  4. Great job spreading the word about coupons! I love how you said to do what works for each of us. I use and love grocerysmarts. I've tried the other ways and they just don't work for me. So I agree, do what works for you.

  5. SA-WEET! I really do need to start a "System" and Organization is the first step! Thanks!!