Blog: Minimizing Financial Clutter
Minimizing Coupon Clutter
I stopped clipping grocery store coupons a few years ago, because they were just more trouble than I thought they were worth. But today, with bad economic news all around us, I'm rethinking that decision.
The trouble with coupons, of course, is deciding what to do with them until you use them. The same rules of organization apply to coupons as they do to other kinds of paperwork and possessions:
· Keep Them Where You Use Them. Anyone who has ever approached a check-out line with a cart full of groceries, and who suddenly remembers that he left $50 worth of coupons on the kitchen table, knows that coupons don't do much good if you don't have them when you need them. Of course, the local Safeway is not going to hold your envelope of coupons in their office for you to pick up when you do your regular shopping trip. So, the next best option, in my opinion, is to keep your coupons in your car. I have done this for years with my non-grocery store coupons and restaurant coupons. I keep them in a transparent string envelope in the pocket of my car door. When I receive new coupons, I simply add them to the envelope. When the envelope gets too fat, I toss the expired coupons. Very simple, but effective.
· Keep Similar Things Together. In the coupon-clipping world, the concept of "similar things" can have different meanings to different people:
o Organize by Product Category. Using either several individual envelopes or one envelope with dividers, specify one envelope or section for Paper Goods, one for Frozen Foods, one for Toiletries, one for Vegetables, etc.
o Organize by Expiration Date. This might work for you if you are motivated by deadlines! Using 13 envelopes or a divided envelope with 13 sections, sort the coupons by expiration month. Why 13 and not 12? Because some coupons do not have an expiration date.
o Organize by Store. If you regularly shop for certain items at certain stores, then sort your coupons by the store in which you'll use them.
· Use It or Lose It. Left unchecked, coupon-clipping can take over your life. Well, maybe that's a slight exaggeration, but only a slight one. But this, my friend, is true: the more coupons you have, the fewer you will use. Why? Because the sheer volume will make them unwieldy. If you have a simple envelope of coupons for products you actually use in your car, it will be a breeze for you to find the coupon you're looking for when you hit the checkout line. But what if, in the name of "Gee, look how much money I'm going to save!", you had a shoebox full of coupons in your car? Would you take the time to dig through them while making your grocery list? Would you bring them into the supermarket and rummage through them, looking for the ones that match your purchases, while the 5 people in line behind you give you the evil eye? No, of course you wouldn't. If you find a coupon for a product you'd like to try, then purchase the product that same week. Frequently, you'll find that product already on-sale, so you'll get a double discount. (The manufacturers plan it that way.) Otherwise, only clip coupons for products you actually do use.
· Use Lists. Save yourself some time and money by making a shopping list before you go to the store. Instead of writing your list on a sheet of paper, write your list on an envelope. Then put the coupons for the products you'll be buying on your list. You'll remember to take both your list and your coupons!
· Get the Right Container for the Job. When you have chosen the method of coupon organization that will work for you, it's time to get something to hold your coupons. Here are some suggestions:
posted on: 10/19/2008 11:30:00 AM by Katherine Trezise
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Minimizing Financial Clutter
by Katherine Trezise
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Katherine Trezise is president of Absolutely Organized, based in Baltimore, MD. She is president-elect of the National Study Group on Chronic Disorganization. Katherine holds a masters degree in business administration, is a Certified Professional Organizer® and a Certified Professional Organizer in Chronic Disorganization®. Absolutely Organized specializes in helping people organize their homes, paperwork and financial records to make room in their lives for the things, people and activities that are most important to them.