---- — Dear Jill,
I’ve followed your blog for several years now, and do quite well with couponing. However, lately, I seem to be unorganized! I follow your clipless method and only clip what I am going to use that day, then carry an envelope with the clipped coupons. Sometimes the items are sold out, so I am left with extras. I then put those in another envelope labeled ‘extra’ and try to remember to check this first. Also, I have an accordion file next to my computer into which I put peelies, printed coupons, mailed coupons, etc., but almost never know or remember what’s in there. Do you keep a written list of these? I would love to know how you organize those, so I’m not constantly throwing out great coupons.
Help is here. You’re not the only one who uses an envelope to hold coupons. Next to an actual coupon wallet, it seems to be the most popular container in which to carry them. And why not? Envelopes are plentiful and inexpensive. (Quite a few readers have shared that they even recycle envelopes from a utility bill or junk mail to hold their coupons.) But I use a coupon wallet to carry my coupons around, as I’ve found it helps me stay more organized.
Coupon wallets are very inexpensive - look for them at your favorite dollar store. Office supply stores carry them, too, for a few dollars more. I’ll explain how I have my wallet set up, as it’s a method that I’ve found works well for me.
Grab your new coupon wallet (hopefully you only spent $1 on it!) and open it up. Most wallets have tabs along the top of each pocket and adhesive stickers to label each pocket. Instead of labeling your pockets by product type, I prefer to label each pocket by store name. Choose a few stores that you shop frequently and label one tab for each pocket. Leave the front pocket in the wallet blank - we’ll come back to that one in a moment. Once you’re done labeling your stores, you can label the remaining pockets however you like. Behind my frequent stores, I have a pocket labeled ‘Other’ for trips to stores I don’t visit often.
Now, I’ll walk through a shopping trip. Let’s pretend your favorite store is called Jill’s Market. After you’re done cutting out your coupons, put all of them in the ‘Jill’s Market’ pocket of your coupon wallet.
Then, once you go to Jill’s Market (where undoubtedly, you’ll find some good deals) you begin to shop. As you add an item to your shopping cart, move the corresponding coupon from the ‘Jill’s Market’ pocket of your wallet to the front, empty pocket of the wallet. When you’re done shopping and ready to check out, everything in that front pocket should correspond to what’s in your cart, making it easy to hand the stack of coupons to your cashier and check out.
Now, when items are sold out, you won’t be able to use those coupons in this particular trip. Instead of taking them out of your wallet, leave them in the ‘Jill’s Market’ pocket of your wallet. Any coupons left in that pocket after checking out should be reminders to get rainchecks for those products. So, get your rainchecks at the service counter and place them back in the ‘Jill’s Market’ pocket. The next time you go back to this store, the coupons and rainchecks are still in the correct pocket of your wallet, ready to be used. This eliminates any re-filing or carrying those extra, loose coupons around at the risk of losing or misfiling them.
Smart Living Tip: If your coupon wallet has another empty pocket left, consider labeling it ‘FREE.’ I’ve found that anytime I get coupons for free products, I like to keep them with me so that I don’t forget to use them. I sort my free-product coupons with the ones closest to their expiration dates up front in this pocket, and I remember to check it frequently so that nothing expires.