by Debra Wyatt
(last updated August 28, 2013)
I like to look for coupons in the Sunday paper. With great hope and anticipation I begin to cut and clip out all those money-saving coupons. If I set them aside, waiting for another day to organize them, it doesn't take long for the coupons to begin to accumulate. Next thing I know I have a huge mess; they seem to be all over the place. I now have coupons that are lost and expired and it is much harder to make use of them effectively.
I like to use coupons because that is the easiest way for me to stretch my food dollar. Using the coupons and making sense out of them takes a little bit of organizing. Organizing coupons can go from simple to complex. I find that using a simple organizing file works best for me because if the coupon organizer is too complicated I stop using the coupons.
When I first started to use coupons I came across a coupon organizer. It is a very basic organizer and is usually best for beginners. This type of organizer usually can be found at any discount store like Kmart, Target, or ShopKo and costs anywhere from $1 to about $5. The organizer usually comes with labels printed with names of categories and even some blank labels to print whatever category that is not included on the pre-printed labels.
I labeled my organizer with category headings like cleaning, meats, beauty, household items, canned meat, dairy, produce, and baby. I found that I needed to use labels that made sense to me and as time passed I adjusted the categories to account for those I no longer used. That is when it is time to reorganize the coupon organizer.
After getting my organizer and labeling the categories I begin to clip the coupons. Then I gather all of the coupons and file them into their appropriate category. If I find that I have several for the same product I will file the coupons that will expire first in front of the other ones that have a later date.
One of the goals that I have set for myself is to use coupons to help stretch my food bill and to keep the costs down. I do this by cutting and clipping coupons only for products that I normally use. This provides me with three benefits. One is that if I only cut and clip the coupons for products that I use or have had a great desire to try then I am not tempted to buy a higher-priced product. The second benefit is that this helps me to keep my coupon organizer clean and easy to use. The third benefit is that I avoid becoming overwhelmed with too many coupons.
Before I head out to the grocery store I look at the weekly shopping ads and see what is on sale and if I have a coupon for it. I then begin to make my grocery list. If I have a coupon for an item that is on sale I will put a little 'c' on my grocery list. That way I know that I need to get the coupon out when I am shopping and I won't forget to give the coupon to the grocery clerk.
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