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Couponing 101: Organizing the Savings

Amanda Arnold-Drinnon • Jun 11, 2014 at 3:03 PM

So, now you have coupons stuffed in your purse, pocket, glove box of your car, and scattered throughout your house. Your phone is loaded with every savings app available and you have enough loyalty cards to build your own house of cards. How do you keep track of all of this?

This can be a challenge. If you are new to couponing, start small. It can get overwhelming. Pick one grocery store, one department store, and one drug store. Then, learn their savings tricks one at a time. Another way to start small is to try digital couponing first. Once you get the hang of that, then start the paper coupons.

Digital Coupons

Most store web sites have an option to let you print a list of the coupons on your loyalty card. Also, if you register your loyalty cards, most stores will let you use your telephone number to look up your card.

The Binder

Once you start the paper coupons, you may find it helpful to start a binder. There are tons of ways to organize your coupons. Try Googling "coupon organizing." My favorite is the Binder Method. There are many ways to organize your binder, but my coupons are organized by the aisles of my favorite grocery store. You can spend a lot on an "official coupon binder," but you can make one for a lot less. Purchase a 3-ring binder, baseball card holder pages, and dividers. Label the dividers by store aisle or by sections, for example, frozen foods, personal care, and pet food. I have a separate accordion file for store coupons, and a separate file for restaurant coupons. You can usually find the accordion files in the dollar bins at Target. Add a pencil pouch for scissors and a notepad for lists. If it is a big shopping trip I will also print off the coupon match-ups from one of the couponing blogs, such as, The Krazy Coupon Lady (http://www.thekrazycouponlady.com ). When I first started, I also had a copy of the stock-up price list from the web and some of the store coupon policies.

Shop with a Purpose

Stores plan and hope that you will make impulse buys. Know the sale cycles and shop with a list. If you shop with a purpose, then you can plan how to "stack" savings. For example, if you are a senior citizen, shop on senior citizen discount day, do a prescription transfer, and use coupons to max your savings. If you are a veteran, make large purchases at home improvement stores when they are offering the veteran discount and a rebate.

As always, find what works best for you. Saving is not all or nothing. Every little bit helps.

Please send all questions, comments, and/or tips to aarnold@timesnews.net. I look forward to hearing from you!

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