How to Organize Coupons

Learn how to organize coupons easily with these simple tips.

Coupons have become a powerful weapon in the arsenal of the modern grocery shopper.

Used wisely, coupons can regularly help you save up to 40% off the total food bill.

Over time, these savings represent a significant amount of your household budget, and therefore, you should take coupon organization very seriously.

Here are several tips on for organizing your coupon collection that will help cement those 40% savings in the future.

1. Round Up the Coupons You Want

Rounding up coupons is getting easier all the time. Direct mail and targeted online sources make them easy to find.

In addition, coupon-based newsgroups, such as the forums found on couponmom.com (in the U.S.), help keep you alerted to local and national coupons, local store multipliers, and allow everyone to spread the word about the deal of the day.

It's fun to collaborate, and saving money makes everybody feel as if they are contributing something positive to their family budget.

The tough part? Paper, and lots of it.

2. Controlled Collection

If there is one area that has the potential to get completely out of control, it's the collection phase.

Coupons are essentially bar codes made from paper, and they can seemingly proliferate everywhere. Because coupons can flow in the house in so many different ways, these things can end up on the kitchen table, in the mail, on the printer, and sometimes the fax machine.

Don't let this happen. Use a tabbed expansion files for coupons. As discussed below, it helps keep all your coupons organized in categories.

3. Use Tabbed Expansion Files

It's fine to use an old envelope, but you'll feel better if you can get to them quicker, and an expansion file can keep them organized by type and store.

Use a small tabbed expansion file with a flap, and only take the coupons that match items on your list.

Create a small section in your file for coupons that are going to expire soon, this will urge you to use them by the expiry date or throw them away. This filing system helps you avoid having coupons lying around your house.

4. Organizing Electronic Coupons

After learning how to organize coupons (the paper coupons!), it's time to sort out your e-coupons.

Cyber-coupons also need to be organized. Innocently lying around (unprinted) on email lists, newsgroups and RSS feeds, you might lose track of which coupons are going to expire.

To handle this problem, you just need about 15 minutes every week, and a good old fashioned cardboard box. Sit down and run through your collection of coupons; it takes some time, but it's worth it to print out the necessary missing coupons.

Extra Tips:

Mark Your Targets

Here is the real secret to saving money by coupon shopping: you cannot allow marketers to persuade you to buy something that is not on your list.

A 20% savings on an item that you would never consider buying before is still a loser. When you go online, you can see all sorts of shoppers claiming to have bought 80 bucks worth of groceries for $3.56. These folks are having fun, but have also fallen prey to the marketer's trap; they bought something discretionary.

Do not join them. Make a list before you go grocery shopping, and stick to it. Saving money is a delicate balance.

The Audit

Surly check-out cashiers are part of the coupon collecting fun, but watch the tape carefully; items can get missed, coupons may not "register" correctly, and items can get lost in transit.

Conduct a close audit of your receipt, and you'll make sure to save money in every grocery trip.