Hands down, one of the best ways to shave money off of your grocery bill and other shopping is to use coupons wherever you can. However, even if you are collecting coupons, your strategy won’t be overly effective if you don’t have a system in place for how to organize coupons. With all the snipping and printing, you may forget to actually use them. If so, your time and potential savings are lost.
According to Statista, 14% of Canadians who responded like to clip coupons before shopping. Twelve percent use mobile apps. Another 13% search for promo codes.
Don’t let your passion for finding great deals get in the way of actually saving cash. Find a coupon organizing system of your own or use any of the below. Get organized and coupon (yes, that’s a verb) with a purpose!
Here are some tips on coupon organizing methods for maximum savings.
What is your couponing personality?
For a system to be effective, it needs to match your personality, goals, comfort level and organization style. If a system isn’t convenient or isn’t intuitive to you, you may not commit to it in the way that can save time and money.
While everyone who uses coupons is into saving money, not everyone has the same setup. For example, one person might arrange coupons by their expiration date. Someone else might clip and organize according to the product category.
Yet still, others may develop file folders with coupons for specific stores or occasions. There’s nothing stating that you can’t go from one method to the next until you find what works for you.
The Binder Method
A very popular method of organizing coupons is to set up a coupon binder. To start, make sure that you have a sturdy binder that is thick (3 inches at least). You need storage space. Ideally, having a binder that closes with a zipper is a good idea, because you can keep coupons from falling out.
Otherwise, you can use sheets that hold baseball cards, making coupon inserts easy to find. Taking the binder along on your shopping trip can make things run smoothly at the register.
Set up your binder with dividers labelled with your various categories (produce, meats, toiletries). Use sheets for photo albums or sheet protectors to store coupons. These are good because they are clear, and you can see what you need without rifling through. Consider using baseball trading card sleeves. They work well, too.
The Box method
If using a binder isn’t for you, an accordion file box works also. Simply label the tabs with the various categories, and file the coupons appropriately. A coupon box can be as organized or freeform as you like. For example, a less organized but simple option is a note cardholder.
One other box you can use is a shoebox or one of a similar size. Much like the envelope method of cash management, you can place your coupons in envelopes and group them accordingly. Remember, many envelopes come free in the mail from advertisements. If you have the money, you can upgrade to plastic envelopes. Protip: many Amazon orders come in plastic envelopes that are perfectly suitable for the job. Instead of throwing them away, collect them and use them for your coupons and cash
No matter what method you choose, make sure that you set aside time every week to do two things: source out new coupons and go through your stash to get rid of expired coupons.
- Read the fine print to make sure that you are getting the deal that you think you are
- When you are making up your shopping list for the week, make notations for coupon use, so that you don’t forget at the checkout.
- Always ask the establishment if they honour competitor coupons
- Know whether the store will offer rainchecks on coupon items out of stock
- Get multiple copies of coupons and purchase your goods in separate orders if there is use limit
- Avoid using a coupon just because it’s a good deal
- Stack store and manufacturer coupons to save even more on an item, i.e. get free goods
Learn more about saving on everyday purchases with our other money-saving tips.