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Find the system that works for you

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By Darby Dugan, the Coupon Goddess

Now that you know where to find coupons, you need to have a system so you can keep them organized. Here are three tried and true systems and I will list the pros and cons of each. I have tried all of them. There is a right or wrong way to do it. I actually incorporate all three.

Expandable File — where you keep the coupons you have clipped and accumulated. Pro: Your coupons are with you when you shop. Con: Many people clip only the coupons they know they will use and dispose of the inserts when they’re finished clipping. This is potentially throwing away many great deals.

Binder Method — where you keep all of the coupons that you have clipped and accumulated. Coupons are filed in baseball card collector pages. They are organized by product; i.e. dairy, canned goods, household goods, etc., alphabetical order or store layout. Pro: You always have every coupon at your disposal. Cons: You spend hours clipping each coupon from the inserts and filing them and then purging them when they expire.

If you use a binder, I recommend putting your name and contact information on the front of it in case it is lost. And I advise you to keep a close eye on it while at the store. There are numerous reports of people having their binders stolen from carts.

Insert Method — you take a magic marker and put the date of the insert on the front page and file according to date. Pro: Every coupon insert is at your disposal. Cons: You come across a deal and don’t have the coupon with you. That, however, is easily remedied. If you find a deal at the store, make a note of it. When you get home, search for the coupon in a database, (I use afullcup.com) clip the coupon and take it back to the store when you go.

I combine all three systems. My primary method is the Insert Method. I use a binder to organize the catagories I receive, coupons I print off the Internet, those I get through the mail and those I clip from magazines. I put the coupons I intend to use in a recycled envelope and take it with me when I go shopping. Not very glamorous, but it works.

As I said, there are no right or wrong ways to organize your coupons, just as long as they are organized. If they aren’t, you will soon become frustrated and be tempted to give up. Please don’t. Try a system and if you find it doesn’t work for you, go on to another one. I promise it will be worth it.