Now that we've discussed the general basics of couponing, I want to take it a little further and throw you all the awesome details on how to be an effective coupon junkie! My first order of business....Get organized!: The Sunday paper in the driveway is always a great way to start the day, but the thought of cutting out all of those little rectangles along the dotted lines can be a true test of patience. My solution: Don't take out the scissors until you're preparing to go to the store or it's expired.
I use a filing system which, at this point, has been incredibly effective. It even prevents my precious little munchkin from terrorizing my coupons to the point they would make an awesome confetti! I separate all the pages of each insert, get rid of the "junk" pages, staple all the like pages together (if I bought multiple papers), and then number the pages so that I can keep everything in order.
Afterwards, I place them in a folder labeled with the date, and file them in a file box. This is also a great way to store those awesome coupon booklets you find while shopping!
In the case of those ever so valuable Internet printable coupons, tearpads, peelies, blinkies, MIRs, etc, the process is slightly different.
Note: (Tearpads are the post-it note like pads found in grocery stores. Peelies are the coupons stuck to products. Blinkies are the coupons in those little black boxes with the red blinking light that your kids love to pull, and MIRs are Mail In Rebates.
Unlike the weekly ads, there is some clipping involved, but not to worry... It won't be too bad. I like to separate all of my individual coupons into categories similar to those you find in your grocery store: Deli/Bakery, Canned/Boxed Goods, Cereals, Desserts/Baking, Snacks/Drinks, Refrigerated/Dairy, Frozen foods, Misc. Food, Beauty/Hygiene, Pharmacy/Drugs, Paper goods, Cleaning products/Household, Baby, and Pet.
To begin with, I was using a canceled check file. While I have outgrown it, it is a great starting point and fits great in your purse for a quick run to the store. Now, I have moved on to a zippered binder with repurposed inserts, nifty pockets, and space for everything! This makes is very portable and great for shopping!
I use dividers to separate my categories, then fill each section with Baseball Card and Photo pages. Then, like coupons are placed in individual slots making it easy to browse/find what I'm looking for. To maximize space, I like to put one coupon facing the front and a different coupon facing the back. If you have multiple coupons for the same item, place the coupons which will expire first at the top of your stack before you put it in.
Using your Fabulously Organized Coupons
So, you've got your coupons all in order... now how on earth do you know what coupon is in each of those file folders?!?
You find an active coupon database! Personally, I am a firm believer and devoted follower of my go-to-girl Jenny over at Southern Savers. She is geared towards the stores in the southeast US, and she provides information for over 10 stores including the Commissary. A good coupon database will give you the weekly play by play of sale ads in your area and provide a comprehensive coupon match-up for each item on the list.
And there you have it!