Tuesday, February 17, 2009

coupon gathering and organizing

** My first order of business on this post is to let you know I will be using "Q" for the word "coupon". It is easier to type :)

Several people have asked where I get my Qs as I use many duplicate Qs to get the best deals.

First of all, I subscribe to the Sunday paper. This is where I get 98% of the Qs I use. I also get additional copies of inserts from neighbors and friends. Ask around. There are so many people who don't even look at their inserts. There are some people I know who buy multiple papers from the store each week to have extra Qs. That is another option. But to me, FREE is better :)

I also use several websites to get online Qs. Each store has their own policy about accepting internet Qs. You also have to evaluate the cost of paper and ink for printing these Qs. I usually only print a Q when I KNOW I am going to use it and already have a plan. I don't even file it anywhere. I paper clip it directly to my shopping list.
My two main internet Q sites are smartsource.com and coupons.com. But you can also subscribe to sites like Kraft and Nestle and they will send you e-mails with links to their Qs. Also the drug stores usually have store Qs online when you sign up on their sites.

How do you organize ALL these Qs you now have?

There are really two ways you can organize your Qs (ok, maybe more than that, but only two I really know about :) Sort into categories or sort into dates.

One way is to cut out all the Qs you may use. I would suggest that you cut out any Q that you would even consider using if the item were FREE or almost FREE. Because you never know how low a sale price may go during the course of the Q. I started with this method when I was only getting one set of Qs. I know some other moms who still use this method. I had a 3-ring binder that I recycled to use for Qs. I bought some plastic "trading card" holders (found near the checkout lines with the trading cards) for only about $5. I then used card stock that I already had on hand to use as dividers. It seemed more economical to me to use those than to buy tabbed pages. I could also add more as needed and not have to buy more pages. I bought a pack of adhesive tabs to put on the card stock. I actually never got as far as putting tabs on before I switched to the next method. I would also suggest using post-it notes for your categories until you have them exactly the way you want them. It is easier than switching tabs around every time you switch categories. As I added more pages in each category I also added notebook paper for sub-categories and so I couldn't see the Qs on the pages below.As you can see, I still have post-its for my categories.

I think this method works great for small amounts of Qs because you can see them all at once instead of having to flip through an index file or envelope. I know some people love that method and it is certainly GREAT to use what ever works for YOU!!!

But what if you collect TONS of inserts, like me? I have an alternate method that I use that works for ME.
I have this hanging file box that I put all my inserts in. Can you see how fat 1/4 is?You can just take all the inserts from one Sunday and put them in a folder with the date on them. Then you can easily find the Q that is in the SmartSource insert from 1/25. However, because I usually cut 6-8 Qs of an item, I go one step further to make things simpler for me when I am clipping Qs for my shopping trip.
I take all my inserts and open them up on my DR table. I sort (collate) them out into like pages, then staple each stack of same pages together.
(be sure to staple in a spot that doesn't have a Q) Then I put them back in a pile in the insert cover and into the dated folder. Now when I need a Q, I find it and can clip as many as I need all together. I love this method.
I hope this makes sense. I just do it, it is hard to write out without sounding confusing.

Some people have asked if I need a Q and they are all in files, how do I find them?

Simple... There is this AWESOME site called couponmom.com (I mentioned this in the previous post as well) You can type in any part of the name of a brand or item and it will list all the current locations of that Q. You do have to register to use this site, but it is FREE.

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