I have spent more money on coupon organizers in my lifetime, just to have them all end up in the garbage. None of them has the descriptions and categories that I need and they do not hold all of the coupons that I use. It is hopeless trying to pull out the right coupon without all of them falling on the floor and they fall apart before they are a year old.
I have been so disappointed in the fact that no one has made an organizer that really works!
Then, it dawned on me that maybe it is because no one shops the sales the way I do. I am a coupon and sale nut that lives by coupons and cents off ads, but only when it is to my advantage.
Therefore, since I am an organizer and live by lists, I decided to write down all of the things that would make me happy with the ‘perfect’ coupon organizer:
1. It has to be easy to see all of my coupons for every category
2. I would like to see if I have more than one coupon for an item, the expiration date and the amount off the item.
3. I would like the categories that I use most often.
4. It would be nice if I had a place for coupons off on dining out, birdseed and unusual things that I purchase too.
5. I would like to have a place to enter my grocery list, so I do not lose it.
6. I would like to have an area that I can list ‘stock up’ items that I may need, in case I run across an unadvertised special.
Well I hunted and checked stores until the soles were worn off my shoes, checked the internet and found organizers priced from $2.98 to $29.98; but none of them had ‘exactly’ what I wanted.
So, I made my own and I will share my ‘perfect’ organizer with you for free! You can change it to fit your lifestyle, but you will have the basic directions to start you on your way.
Invest in a three ring binder, a package of plastic baseball cardholders that are stored in a 3 ring binder, a couple of packages of dividers and a black magic marker. They are all very inexpensive and easy to find.
Now label each divider with the category of your choosing. You can insert these alphabetically according to the aisles in the stores that you shop or according to the stores that you normally purchase the item in.
Then, simply add to your binder along with 4 or 5 pages of baseball card dividers. Simply place a coupon in each one of the cardholders so that the amount it is worth, the expiration date and the name of the item faces ‘out’, so you can read it clearly.
I have a separate section for coupons that give me money off on entertainment-such as movies, bowling, football games etc; dining out-such as fancy restaurants, fast food places, pizza etc; home maintenance-such as carpet cleaning, furnace cleaning and repair work; auto maintenance-such as oil changes, air conditioner checks, car washes etc. The list can go on and on, it all depends on your lifestyle.
I also included a place in the back for my weekly grocery list and a place for my ‘stock up’ list that I add to continually. I also have a section that I call my ‘price book’ that has the everyday price of items that I use constantly and the size of the container. This is a guide for me to check to see if when an item says ‘sale’ if it is really a sale-in my book!!
Sure, a binder takes up more space than a coupon organizer that fits in your purse, but coupons don’t do you any good if you can’t find them when you need them. After a week of sorting, listing and organizing, I had my system down to a science and I am saving money every time I walk into a store because my coupons ‘walk in’ with me.
Jan Hayner is a Professional Organizer and creator of www.organizingandcleaning.com, she offers tips, hints and shortcuts to everyday problems with organizing your home, work, family and life. She also offers shortcuts on cleaning your house, recipes for cleaners and tips to make the jobs faster and easier.