I like coupons. I like them a lot. They save me lots of money on things I like to buy, like cereal, toothpaste, shampoo, and deodorant. But what I am not crazy about is the whole process of managing my coupons. I have not been very successful at it lately. Allow me to explain.
When I started using coupons seriously, about a year ago, I started with the insert filing method of organization. This did not work for me. For one thing, once you start cutting up that insert, the whole thing is a mess. For another thing, I was always seeing random clearanced items while I was out shopping, and of course I wouldn't have the coupon with me. And what was maybe worst of all, I had a really hard time remembering if I still had a coupon or if I already used it. It was too hard to rely on internet sources to match up coupons for me and tell me what inserts certain coupons were located in.
So I started to cut out mostly all of the coupons in the inserts, except the ones that I was 99.99% sure I would never use, and file them in a huge accordion file thing by categories. I have a little accordion file that I keep in my purse that has a section for each store that I am going to. I put all the coupons that I want to use in there, and I keep the big file nearby in case I find something extra. For the most part, that system has worked okay. However, maintaining it is pretty time-consuming. Cutting the coupons is time-consuming, looking for them when I want them is time-consuming, and then getting rid of all the expired coupons is time-consuming. And when I don't use a coupon in my little store file, it just sits there and I usually forget about it, so I don't end up using it at a different store.
These little organizational glitches make me miss deals! For example, earlier this week I wanted Olay coupons because there was a sale at CVS. I could only find one. Today, when I cleaned out my file, I found more. Last week, I didn't bother going to Stop and Shop when they had Special K on sale for $1.50, because I only had one coupon for Special K- or so I thought. Today when I cleaned out the little file I found a pile of Kellogg's coupons that expire tomorrow, that I could have used if I had only been a little more organized. ARGH!
When I clean out my coupon file, I get rid of a lot of expired coupons- I would say I don't end up using 90% of the coupons I cut out. I am not sure if I should be more particular about what coupons I end up cutting out- like, cut out things I know that I will use, like cereal and Colgate, and maybe leave the 80 gazillion L'oreal coupons in their inserts in case I need them. So many people swear by the binder system, but I don't know if that would be any better for me. But I should probably try something different if what I am doing now isn't working all that great...