Friday, February 10, 2012

Be Organized About Your Couponing

The next topic in the Be Centsable book by Chrissy Pate and Kristin McKee (New York: Penguin Group, 2010, pages 11-18) seems to be a perfect combination of our group's foci of de-cluttering/organizing and couponing - Organizing Our Coupons! We have heard some basic information from many of the Organizing Professionals that seems contradictory to the idea of Extreme Couponing. We have been warned not to purchase in bulk or to purchase things that you don’t need, because it can add to your feelings of having too much stuff in your life. And I think that the idea of cutting out excessive amounts of coupons would be on the "Don’t" list of many de-cluttering experts, but we are going to find the justification for learning to control your expenses by using coupons wisely, and what better way than to find out how to apply all of our organizing knowledge to collecting coupons. The authors remind us of one of the “Golden Rules of Organizing: Touch it once!” This is the art of putting things where they belong as soon as they come into the house. They provide a system that will debunk the myth that clipping, sorting and filing coupons takes too much time. The system that they use is actually one that they got from Stephanie Nelson, the self-proclaimed “Coupon Mom.”

This “system” is done online – the authors call it a “virtual” filing system. They promise that the system will clear up your time to “plan your shopping trip, create menus and count up all of the money you will save…the coupons are sorted, filed and cross-referenced by some specific criteria with a simple click of the mouse.”

The “How to” of this system is described on page 14 of the Be Centsable book. They suggest you get an expanding box file with divider tabs to separate the contents by month or get a large three-ring binder with page protectors. Every insert you get should be filed, whole and unclipped, in a section of the box or in a page protector in the binder. The insert should be labeled on the front (using a blank address label) with the date that the insert was issued (either printed on the spine of the insert or taken from the date of the newspaper it was pulled from) and the source of the insert. Use the following code to identify the source of the coupons: GM: General Mills; KG: Kellogg’s; PG: Procter and Gamble; RP: Red Plum and SS: SmartSource. The inserts should be filed in date order.

The reason you want to do this is so that you can find the coupon you want when you want to use them. This will be done by using one of the free publicly available coupon databases on the Internet such as or the one found on the authors’ own website These databases list where particular coupons can be found such as online on the manufacturer’s site or in an insert issued on a particular date (i.e.: 01/05/12 SS). If you have filed your inserts properly, you should be able to find the coupon you need a few minutes just before you are heading out to the store.

The authors talk about ways that even expired coupons can be used. We had a collection box in the library for a while that was provided by the Greater Brunswick Area Womans Club. They sent 20 lbs. of expired coupons to the U.S. Army Base in Grafenwoehr, Germany. The authors of the book suggest visiting the Overseas Coupon Project website at about where to send unused or expired coupons to military families stationed overseas.

But, as you might be able to tell from the brief description above about how to handle coupons and from watching the TV show Extreme Couponing, this kind of organizing does not come easily. It takes a lot of planning and discipline. Are you willing to take on this challenge?

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