Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Coupon Binder

I am quoting directly from the mouth of one of my male coworkers here:

"You're like a 65 year old woman in a young chick's body."

Ummm, thanks....I think.  What inspired such an interesting comment/compliment/insult/whatever it was?  My coupon binder.  It was a Sunday morning, so I had grabbed my Sunday paper before heading to work and pulled out the coupon inserts and my favorite circulars.  I tucked these goodies inside my coupon binder and headed in to the restaurant.  I needed to pick up a few things after work, so I spent some time after my shift going through the coupons, clipping, and filing them in my binder.  Of course, that's when I got the looks and the comments. 

It just wasn't working anymore to try to cram all my coupons in that little accordion folder I had.  I can't tell you how many times I had to keep myself from cursing in the middle of the grocery aisle as I sent stacks of coupons fluttering to the floor while trying to hunt for a particular one.  I needed something better, so (in true Type A fashion) I hit the Internet to research.  I really liked the idea of a coupon binder so I compiled tips from numerous websites, headed to Walmart, and spent about 2 hours putting together my version. 

Step 1 - Pick a pretty binder: Several of the websites I looked at recommended using a zippered binder, but I just didn't like the look of those.  Call me snobbish, if you will, but I wanted something pretty.  I went with a 1" binder, but I quickly realized I probably should have purchased a 1 1/2 inch.  This is working though!

Step 2 - Set it Up:  Fill your binder with a full pack of baseball card sheet protectors.  I found mine at the front of the store in Walmart by all the collectible card games and such.  I also purchased two packs of dividers (with pockets please!) with tabs that you can write your own labels on and erase as you see fit.  I labelled them with these categories and put them in my binder in this order - Store Coupons (for Target coupons, Walgreens, and Piggly Wiggly), Refrigerated & Meat, Beverages, Fruits & Veggies, Pasta & Soup, Snacks & Lunches, Breakfast & Baking, Sides & Condiments, Frozen & Bread, Baby, Food Storage & Paper Products, Cleaning, Medicines & Vitamins, Body & Teeth, Hair & Beauty, Batteries & Misc.  I tried to set my binder up according to the way I shop, by store and by how the store is set up.  I also put one 8 1/2 x 11 regular page protector at the back of my binder for coupons to Archivers, Michaels, and any other random or oversized coupons I might encounter.  I put another regular page protector at the front of my binder to be my "To be Filed" folder.  This comes in very handy when you're out shopping and you decide not to purchase an item you had set aside a coupon for.  Just throw it in that page protector and refile it when you get home!

Step 3 - File your coupons:  I took out that over flowing accordion folder and sorted every single coupon into one of the above categories.  I folded the coupon so that I could see the product and what the value of the coupon was.  When the page is flipped, I can usually see the expiration date on the coupons.  I tried to keep like things together as much as possible (Huggies separate from Pampers, Target coupons by department, etc.) 

Step 4 - Don't Forget the Tools!:  I also purchased a $0.97 zippered bag to put in the front of the binder to hold a pen and a scissors.  These are essential!  There are times when I only have time to print the coupons and throw them in the front page of the binder before I leave the house and I have to leave the clipping for later.  It's real handy to have the scissors right there to be able to cut it out when I need it.  I also figured out that large Post-Its make for amazing shopping lists!  I use different colors for different stores (pink for Target!) and then just stick 'em to the inside cover of my binder for easy transport.  When I get to the store, I take the list out and ......wait for it.....put the Post-It on the handle of my cart!!  Try it just once.  I promise you'll be amazed.

Step 4 - Stock your ads:  Last, but not least, I slip a copy of the recent circulars I will be using in the front and back pockets.  Grocery store ads go in the back, Target and Walgreens in the front.  It's nice to have these handy so you can price check or remind yourself about a special you planned on checking out.

And that's it!  There's how I set up my ultra-nerdy coupon binder that is quickly revolutionizing how I shop.  If I'm wandering through the Tarjay abyss and I see a trial sized Dove body wash for $0.98, I can quickly flip to the "Body" section of my binder to see if I have a coupon that could score it for free.  No more digging through piles of coupons, no more dropping scraps of paper all over the floor.  I love it. 

How do you set up your coupons?  Do you have a system you'd like to share?  Maybe you already have a coupon is it set up?  Do you have any suggestions for me on how to improve mine?

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