Coupons. I collect them, I clip them using my simplified system, and I save money with them. But somewhere in the process I also have to store them.
In the past I've used envelopes, boxes, and boxes of envelopes. Those storage methods worked fine, but I've found something I like even better: A coupon notebook. It works for me and saves me time, the two things that really matter in any organizational system.
To set it up I use:
--3-ring binder--mine is about one-and-a-half inches thick. And it's being held together with duct tape. Seriously.
--Dividers--I use five of them that are the plastic type with pockets on each side. Any kind will do, but I really like the pockets.
--Baseball card holders--Each page would hold eight cards. I use thirteen pages. You can buy these at a baseball card store (my boys' favorite store) or at the front of Target (their other favorite store).
--Plastic pencil holder--The kind that goes in a notebook. Not a necessity, but it comes in handy.
--Index cards, scissors, pen.
First things first: Put your name in the front of your notebook. I used an address label and added my phone number. This will save you a couple of tears when you forget it in the front of the shopping cart. Been there, done that.
Next, put the pencil holder in the front, followed by the dividers. Two or three pages go behind each divider. I then cut the index cards into narrow strips, label with each type of coupon, and slip them into the pockets.
Here is how my dividers and pages are set up:
First divider label: Beverages/Dairy/Fruit & Veg/Meat
--Page one: (1) Milk, Cream, Creamer; (2) Tea, Coffee, Hot Cocoa; (3) Juice, Juice Drinks; (4) Water, Soda, Other; (5) Sports Drinks; (6) Yogurt; (7) Butter; (8) Sour Cream.
--Page two: (1) Kraft Cheese; (2) Other Shredded or Block; (3) Cream Cheese, Ricotta, Processed; (4) Canned Tomatoes; (5) Veggies; (6) Fruit; (7) Dried Fruit, Nuts; (8) Pickles.
--Page three: (1) Fresh Poultry; (2) Frozen, Canned Chicken; (3) Lunchmeat; (4) Smoked Sausage, Processed; (5) Fresh Sausage; (6) Ham, Bacon, Pork, Beef; (7) Fish; (8) Eggs.
Second divider label: Dressings/Prepared/Grains
--Page one: (1) Kraft Salad Dressings; (2) Salad Dressings, Dips; (3) Mayo, Mustard, Ketchup; (4) Sauces; (5) Mexican; (6) Peanut Butter, Jelly; (7) Frozen Pizza; (8) Frozen Snacks, Meals.
--Page two: (1) Bread, loaf; (2) Other Breads, Bagels, Buns; (3) Frozen, Refrigerated Bread; (4) Pancakes, Waffles, Syrup; (5) Pasta Sauce; (6) Pasta, Rice; (7) Canned Soup; (8) Broth.
Third divider label: Snacks/Cereal/Baking
--Page one: (1) Crackers; (2) Chips, Snacks; (3) Granola Bars; (4) Cereal Bars; (5) Hot Cereal, Pastries; (6) Big G Cereal; (7) Kellogg's Cereal; (8) Other Cereal.
--Page two: (1) Candy; (2) Ice Cream; (3) Frozen, Packaged Desserts; (4) Baking Mixes; (5) Sugar; (6) Flour; (7) Baking Goods; (8) Oil.
Fourth divider label: Health/Beauty
--Page one: (1) L'Oreal, Garnier (hair products); (2) Finesse, Herbal Essence; (3) Hair Color; (4) Hair Products (other); (5) Revlon Make-up; (6) L'Oreal Make-up; (7) Cover Girl, Almay, Other; (8) Lotion, Skin Care.
--Page two: (1) Deodorant; (2) Shaving; (3) Tothpaste; (4) Toothbrushes, Floss, etc.; (5) Hand Sanitizer; (6) Chapstick, Cough Drops; (7) Bar Soap, Bodywash; (8) Hand Soap.
--Page three: (1) Tylenol; (2) Ibuprofen, Aspirin; (3) Children's Medicine; (4) Stomach Medicine; (5) Cold, Allergy Medicine; (6) Misc. Medicine; (7) Vitamins, Natural Medicine; (8) Contact Solution.
Fifth divider label: Household/Miscellaneous
--Page one: (1) Plastic Wrap; (2) Foil; (3) Baggies, Containers; (4) Kitchen Papers, Cooking Bags; (5) Paper Plates, Napkins; (6) Trash Bags; (7) Toilet Paper, Tissues; (8) Paper Towels.
--Page two: (1) Laundry Soap; (2) Fabric Softener, Other; (3) Dishwasher; (4) Dish Soap; (5) Magic Erasers, Sponges; (6) Cleaning Supplies; (7) Window Cleaner; (8) Dusting, Floors.
--Page three: (1) Lysol Products; (2) Clorox Products; (4) Candles, Lighters; (4) Air Freshener; (5) Batteries; (6) Miscellaneous; (7) Feminine Pads; (8) Tampons.
I assign a different grocery or drug store to each each divider and use the pockets to hold that week's coupons. My grocery list (when I don't use my iPod) and menu plan also go right up front so I can see them easily while shopping.
When I'm at the store, I set up my notebook in the front of the cart (easier since I no longer use the seat for my kiddos). After I place an item in my buggy, I put the coupon into the plastic pencil pouch so it's ready for me at the check-out.
Organized. Easy to use. Ready to save me money. Gotta love that!
What system do you use for filing your coupons? Do you like it or are you looking for a new idea? Tell us in the comments!
This post is linked to Works for Me Wednesday.