Monday, April 18, 2011

Getting Started=Getting Organized

If I was going to do this couponing thing, I knew I was going to have to get organized. Once upon a time I had a small accordion file for the few coupons I did use, but I lost it years a go. I thought this might be a good place to start though, so I picked up a new one. My tabs are labeled with the following categories right now:
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Small accordion file from Hobby Lobby
  • Pantry
  • Refridgerated
  • Fresh/Produce
  • Frozen
  • Health/Beauty
  • Cleaning/Household
  • Pet
And the very last tab is devoted to non-grocery coupons (20% off Bed Bath and Beyond, Kohls, etc). This left me with 4 tabs that I can label later if I find I need more categories.

So now that I had my accordion file, I thought I was set. I began clipping coupons in earnest, but after going through only one coupon insert from the Sunday paper I quickly realized that this was not going to be practical. Not only did it take me a ton of time to go through the coupons and clip the ones I wanted, but sorting them all into the accordion file took way too long. I knew from looking at several websites devoted to couponing that I was going to need to keep a LOT of coupons on hand in order to get the best deals. So I started researching how the pros organize their coupons. There are a couple different methods, but this seemed the be the one that works best for me.
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Inside the file box
I picked up this hanging file container from Walmart (I think it cost me around $7). I decided I'd start with keeping about 3 months worth of coupon inserts. Each hanging file is labeled with the date from Sunday of each week for the next 3 months. So all I have to do each Sunday is pull the coupon inserts out of the paper and put them in the right file. Most websites will reference a coupon by the day it appeared in the paper (i.e. 4/17) and by which insert it can be found in (Red Plum (RP) or Smart Source (SS) are two examples).
I have a somewhat unhealthy obsession with spreadsheets. I get a little thrill out of entering equations into cells and seeing the numbers work out. So when I found a link to a grocery savings spreadsheet, I knew it was right up my alley. Here's the screenshot for what I've saved in the first week of couponing.
Grocery Savings Spreadsheet

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