Monday, August 20, 2012

How to use coupons without clipping!

I love my coupons, however, I wasn't enjoying keeping them organized.  Every website I would go to would talk about clipping coupons immediately on Sundays and filing them all into categories in a notebook.  I invested a ton of money on baseball card holders and decided I was going to dedicate myself to keeping them perfectly organized.  I didn't even last two weeks.  I HATE clipping coupons.  Hate it.

I started to do some research, took some other people's ideas (you can check out Fabulessly Frugal's info on going clipLESS), add in my own ideas and came up with the perfect way for me to organize my coupons.  Now, this may not work out for all of you but it has worked out great for me.  So without further ado, this is my coupon organizing system:

My coupon collection, portable so I can sit by the television and watch my evening shows while cutting

I use a file folder box (found at Target for $9) and two accordion style check cancelling envelopes ($1 in the Target dollar are).  The file folder is to hold my weekly inserts, one of the envelopes holds my individual store coupons, and the other holds my miscellaneous loose coupons.

Inside the file folder, my weekly ads are in the front section.

Inside the file folder box I separate my coupons out by their date (oldest towards the front- I throw my inserts away after 12 weeks, so each week the front hanging folder inserts get tossed).  When I get my newspaper every Sunday (I get 5 delivered) I take the coupons out, write the date in Sharpie on the front of each one, go to Fabulessly Frugal and print up a coupon list (this is a list specific to the newspaper I get- OC Register- that will list every coupon that is in the paper), I put the coupon list in front of the hanging folder and the coupons for that week behind it.  I also usually go through and make sure the list is 100% correct.  If there are additional coupons listed I didn't receive, then I will cross them off.  On a rare occasion, I will have an extra coupon so I will print it at the bottom of the list.

Inside my "Individual Store Coupon" folder

In one of my accordion style envelopes I have individual store coupons that are separated by their store names.  In this envelope I will put in things like Catalina's (many are specific to that store), CVS Bucks, mailer coupons for specific stores, and gift cards.  This is small enough that I can leave it in my car during the week.  Perfect to also add in coupons to restaurants, clothing stores, and your Groupons.

Inside my "Misc Coupons" folder

The other accordion style envelope has miscellaneous coupons that I have received from things like peelies off merchandise, in the mail, at the doctor's office, or printed off the computer.  I use very generic categories to keep them separated inside.

So here is the breakdown of what I do every Sunday afternoon:

1.  I grab my newspapers and separate the ad's and my coupon inserts. Then write the date with a Sharpie on the cover of each insert (this will help if they get separated, even though the date is already printed on the side it is hard to read at times)

2.  I go to Fabulessly Frugal's website and print out my coupon list that is specific to the Orange County Register. Current ClipLESS list for OC Register

3. I double check that all the coupons are correct and file with my inserts in the back of the file folder (I use the sticky flags to write the dates). Then I throw out the old coupons from the front hanging folder (I only keep my coupons for 12 weeks).  

4.  I go to a website of my choice to print up the deals for the week.  For this example I used OC Deal Mama and printed up the deals for CVS, Albertson's, and Von's.  

A sample of the list I keep for each week of inserts with all of my additional notes .  Helps cut down a ton of my time because I no longer have to go through every single insert to see if I have a coupon.  This list is offered on Fabulessly Frugal (for free) and it lists each coupon by insert (i.e. Red Plum, General Mills, Smart Source, etc) and alphabetizes the coupons.  Takes me seconds to scan for coupons now!

5.  After the list is printed I read where to find the coupons (i.e.Dove Soap- Red Plum 8/05), I go to the 8/05 file and grab out my printed list and scan under Red Plum for the Dove Soap coupon.  It may be there, it may be crossed off, or it may have "loose" written next to it.  If it's crossed off that means I've used it.  Sometimes it may have a "used 2 & 3 left" note next to it.  Other times it may say "loose" which means in that specific file folder there is a Ziploc bag that has some coupons in it.  Sometimes when I clip coupons I clip ones I didn't need in order to get to the ones I wanted.  Other times I go to the store and decide I don't want something or it wasn't on sale, so I will bring the coupons back unused.

6.  I then clip my coupons and separate them out by store and put them into a Ziploc bag that is specific for that store (I reuse them and just write in Sharpie the name on them). I attach my list to it and I'm ready to go.

7.  Now, for added coupons I will look in my Individual Store's folder and see if I have free money (i.e. $1 off your next grocery bill) or coupons that may work with the deals.  If I do, I will add them to my Ziploc.

8.  And last, I will skim through my Misc Coupons to see if I have any that will work with the deals I'm getting.  I will also go to this folder if I'm looking for a specific printed coupon.  But, usually I don't have a ton of coupons in this folder so its a quick skim.
Ready to go shopping
(Love how I wrote "Vons"- my attempt while trying to fight a baby for the pen)

Now, the downside to doing the ClipLess couponing is you won't "score" those free items from clearance, but I didn't score many of those to begin with.  And on the rare occasion that I did, it still didn't make up for the 2-3 hours I spent clipping coupons each week.  This is an easy "get in- get out" way of couponing that works for me and my growing family.

I hope it made sense to all of you, let me know if you have any questions.  I was considering doing a video tutorial but that would require me to actually shower and brush my hair and I didn't want to go through the whole process if most of you thought my way of organizing was weird.  So if a video might help you out more, please leave a comment (or email me at and let me know so I can work on one.

Now- off to go get my deals!

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