Monday, May 11, 2009
Coupons, Coupons and More Coupons...
I was just reading the post from my frugal friend Candace at Dealectible Mommies about coupon dread and how to handle coupons and organization.
This is one area I needed improvement when I got back into couponing. When I had just adopted the kids and 10 kids under l7 at home, with multiple teenagers, finding time for clipping and organizing coupons was a premium.
Clipping the coupons was not the problem, getting them all put away was. For clipping I had help. The kids who were in "Trouble"their sentence; clip all Mom's Coupons. Yes, those days MOM equates to Mean Old Mom when someone was sentenced to coupon jail. There was always someone who was in trouble for mouthing off, hoarding something, got in trouble at school (if Mom got a phone call from school-negative misadventure, it was an automatic consequence) or just plain being obnoxious. The offending in trouble child had their choice clip Mom's coupons or pair the socks for a family of 13 or write a quota of sentences. Coupons was a easier choice.
As the kids were doing better and less often in "trouble", there were those with Occupational Therapy Challenges, and "we practice using scissors and cutting on the lines". The only problem, don't turn your back because someone may cut their hair or someone elses and make a thorough accounting of the scissors or the Barbies all had new hair styles.
Sometimes when kids wanted something, or to go do something, I had willing helpers who VOLUNTEERED to cut coupons.
I even had a couple of kids who swore that when they grew up they were NEVER going to cut or use coupons. Kristy, Marissa are all couponers, and Nathan married one. Ian shops at Mom's Superstore storage room along with DJ, Matt, Deangelo, and Shay with finds from this Mom's Coupon savings.
I learned that some kids could do better than others in sorting out the older expired coupons. When I got behind, I felt guilty as I dumped the coupons into the trash and started over.
For years I kept my coupons in two multiple plastic organizers and divided them into food products and then household and each was a different color making it easy to grab the right pouch. With our original family we were mostly on a gluten-free diet so what food coupons we could use would be limited, but we have always never paid much for paper products, personal care and household goods. Once we adopted the kids and every meal was divided into gluten free and wheat foods we started clipping and saving snack and wheat containing food products.
When we were delivering papers for our livelihood while my husband was back in school and medical school, I had up to 40 loose coupon sections to come home with, we learned the art of stack cutting. I would only stack up to 10, tear them down the middle fold (if the middle has a coupon on both edges we pull it out. I staple the coupons I want together through the entire stack. That way the coupons do not shift and I have them together and neatly organized.
To this day I still stack cut my coupons, it saves time cutting and organizing as all the coupons of the like kind are ready to be put away. When I want to use one or more it is easy to pull the staple. But most often when I need a coupon I am buying more than one anyway and just hand the cashier the coupons and they scan them as a packet one at a time.
I had never had time to be so organized, but with just the girls at home, I had TOO MUCH time on my hands. I went to putting my coupons in baseball card pages in TWO BINDERS.One for FOOD and One for Household products with DIVIDERS.
After stack cutting the like coupon sections I sort them into piles or a coupon pouch till I have time to put them into the binders.
I fold them to fit and it only takes me an HOUR a week. But when I shop I have all my coupons where I can see them. I am saving so much money by toting my binders when I head to the store, the binder sits nicely on my purse in the baby seat when I need to check them while browsing the clearance racks. Both binders fit in the carrying bag I bought on Black Friday from Bath and Body Works. The bag is heavy but worth the weightlifting when I see my total from the cash register.
For the first four months of using the binders, it may take me an hour a week to put them away, an hour to pull them at the end of the month. But the time and ease of finding a coupon when I need it is much less frustrating and time consuming. I have saved hundreds of dollars since I started using this system in January because I can easily place my hands on a coupon when I find a bargain price.
Today Becca is my coupon police once a month. With her autism and thing for numbers she will not stop until every last expired coupon is out of my binder saving me at least an hour or two a month :)
I get the stares, with having my coupon tote and TWO binders. Almost everytime I have my binders out, someone comes up to me and says you are "Really Organized". I smile. It may have taken me 30 years to get that organized, but better late than ever. Organized--me? Mrs. ADHD/OCD...have I always had it, or did I catch it from my kids?
My favorite thing is while standing in line, is to go into my coupon binder and pull out coupons to hand to the person in line with me and save them $$. My random acts of coupon gifts is just something I have always done, now with my binders it is much easier to bless someone.
OK, I must admit, I usually get them organized each Sunday, but the last two weeks, I have been tearing my house apart cleaning, organizing and with being out with Becca hitting garage sales, I am two weeks behind. Yikes... I have way too many coupons to organize.
I have learned my lesson, take my hour a week and get it done, or I will be lost in Coupon Confettti.
Well I have got to go, I have two+ hours of coupons to catch up on, before I head to Target tomorrow night.