Don't clip any coupons until you're ready to use the coupons!
I've been clipping coupons for at least 20 years, and I've used all sorts of methods. My favorite method used to be clip, sort, file, tote entire file to store... It works, but it requires too much time spent in the store.
I've come up with the world's easiest form of coupon use: AND YOU WON'T CLIP THE COUPON UNTIL YOU'RE READY TO USE TO USE THE COUPON!
But, you ask... "How will I know if I have the coupon that's needed, when it's needed? And once I finally determine that I need a particular coupon, how I you locate it if I haven't clipped, sorted, and filed?"
Well, let me break it down for you:
This one came from The Container Store, but they have them at office supply stores and discount stores like Wal Mart and Target.
Keep the coupon intact, just the way you pull them out of the newspaper. Using a marker, label the front of the coupons with the date and type. For example I write "ss" for Smart Source and "rp" for Red Plum.
File the coupons in chronolical order, behind the appropriate month tab.
File your local grocery store flyer in the front pocket.
** Go to Coupon Mom and register for free.
** Click on the "coupon database" link, located on the left side of the page, in the sidebar.
** Enter your username and password.
** On the next page, Click on "coupon database". It's about the 4th choice on the list.
At this point you can do one of two things:
1. Print the entire database, staple it together, and insert it front of your file.
2. Bookmark this page/site. You will use it in the next step each time you shop.
TIME TO CLIP!
Grab a cold drink, cup of coffee, or tea. Make sure you have scissors. You're gonna clip! Basically, you will cross reference your store sales flyer and your shopping list with the database list. Sounds complicated, but it's actually very easy, as you will see.
I'm going to teach by example:
At our Super S, Ziplock Bags are on sale this week for .75 off. I'd like to maximize this sale, especially since Super S doubles coupons! At the website, I typed in "ziplock" in the search window. Ziplock brand bags popped up, and I discovered that a coupon was in the Smart Source flyer on 10/12 (last Sunday.)
I went immediately to the "October" section of my file, pulled out the Smart Source flyer that I had marked with the date, found the coupon & clipped.
To make staying organized even easier, make a chart for all your coupon finds before you start pulling out flyers and clipping. That way you'll only pull out each flyer once, instead of going back and forth.
For example, I would pull out a sheet of paper, draw several columns then cross it with several rows so I get a checkboard. Since the database listed the Ziplock coupons being in the 10/12 Smart Source flyer, I would write 10/12 SS in one column. Underneath that date I would write "Ziplock - .75/1" In the other squares, I would write the dates and names of coupons as I find them. If I found another coupon for that date listed, I would write it down in the corresponding square.
When I'm done looking my coupons up, I need only use my chart to pull flyers and clip coupons. I'll pull each flyer only once, even though I'm looking for several coupons for several stores.
Once you follow the steps to do this, it won't seem so complicated.
Although my system is EASY, it does require a little time investment, but not as much time that's required if you were to clip ALL coupons, sort, file, and then search through piles of paper scraps for the ONE that you want. And The best thing is the payoff. It is absolutely fabulous! You save TONS by matching coupons to sales.
If you try this out, please post a comment to let me know how it goes!