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First, understand I only use a coupon on an item IF that allows me to get it cheaper than the generic, or cheaper than at Aldi. Often, when combining coupons with sales, CVS bonus bucks, or Walgreen's rebates, I get items free; such as toothpaste, deodorant and shampoo. But, to take full advantage of this, you usually can not be brand loyal.
Also, remember that often stores such as Dollar Tree and Dollar General also take coupons and also have name brand items at much less. This allows me to get name brand cereal often for $1 a box or sometimes free.
My coupon book goes everywhere with me. My kids and husband will attest to this, we can't leave the house without it! You never know when you may come across an unadvertised special or discounted item that you have coupons for, and you want your coupons with you-not at home.
After having my coupons in folders, envelopes, boxes and coupon holders, I came across keeping them in a 3 ring notebook binder. Inside the binder I have clear plastic photo sheets (the type with pockets that hold pictures).
Each pocket is labeled with a different category, and they are arranged in alphabetical order. I don't like standing in a store searching, so I have lots of categories--so I can find a coupon quicker. I have around 50 pockets. Some of my pockets are labeled as followed: air fresheners, baby, baking goods, batteries, beverages, bread and crackers, candy and gum, canned goods, cereals and breakfast foods, chips, etc. You will want to adjust your categories for your needs.
After my pocket section, I then have a section of my book that has the large plastic page protector sheets. I have around 7 of those. Inside those sheets, I keep the current weekly ad for a store. Each store has its own protector sheets. As I study the ad, I move coupons for the sale items to that pocket for the store I plan to use them in. As I enter the store, I can easily flip to that ad and see those coupons for that visit. So, I have a page for Dollar General, CVW, Walgreen, Price Chopper, HyKlas, HyVee and Office Depot.
For my area, most of these stores are just a couple blocks from each other, so I don't waste a lot of time or fuel going from one to another. Also, I generally do not hit all these stores in a week.
As my coupons expire, I pull them out and pass them on to a military family who can use them. (Most commissaries take expired coupons.)
I generally spend about 90 minutes a week clipping my coupons and organizing them with the sale ads. My time to do this is on Sunday night while the kids are in youth group. We live 30 minutes from church, so I take them and then go to an empty Sunday School classroom and do my coupons. Sometimes a couple other moms join me in doing the same.
If you see an item you can get for free or next to free that you don't use, get it anyway and then donate it. I have given several blood sugar testers to our local food pantry to pass on to someone who could not afford one. They were ones I got free at CVS after rebates and CVS bucks. When you donate them, be sure to ask for a receipt for your taxes for donation purposes.
Also, check your area and join the free frequent shopper programs, such as CVS bonus bucks, Price Chopper frequent shopper and Office Depot work rewards and many more.
By mom-from-missouri from NW Missouri
Great ideas! I use a coupon box that has about 30 categories, with white index cards separating each one. The categories are arranged by how the grocery store I typically use is organized. I have more categories than there are aisles in the store, and where I made the division depends on how many coupons I have in a typical category. To facilitate filing, I have 6 cardboard pieces, 8.5 x 11, those that are on the back of a pad of paper, and I devised a 2 x 6 table for a sheet of paper with the major items in each category and a picture of major items (taken from ads with the coupons).
This is a one-time set-up that expedites filing. First, though, I pull expired coupons. When the ads come out, I pull coupons applicable to sale items if there are enough good sales to justify my going to the store and/or there's more than one store in proximity that have items on sale that makes visiting both worthwhile. I use a paper clip to attach it to the applicable ad and my shopping list. This system works okay, but a book may be easier to carry around!
Wow! You're a serious couponer! We don't have access to many coupons and have even fewer stores that advertise and have coupons. Lucky you!
The best pages to put into your binder are the see through pages that are used to display baseball cards. They are a good size. Also, there are many coupon sites that one can take advantage of.
Because of your posting today I just bought a 12x12 3 ring binder for only 7.99 at a store called Tuesday Morning. It has various size clear pages that are meant to hold scrapbook stickers so they are long ones short and even wide to help hold odd coupons.