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Friday, January 21, 2011

46 January Challenge: Project Paper {step 6}

This is the one I know many of you have been waiting for.... are you ready for this?!  COUPONS!

So far we have done some Research, Kept and Recycled, Created a Filing System, Organized ReceiptsCreated a Daily Routine to Maintain and Gone Paperless.

These days, everyone is doing what they can to save a penny.  And what's the most popular way to do so?  Why those dreaded paper stacks of coupons.  Love and hate 'em at the same time.  Love that they save me oodles on groceries and home goods.  Hate that they are mostly in paper form, tedious to round up, print, clip, and store.  Some days I wonder if all the trouble is really worth it, but when I see those savings of $30 plus dollars on the bottom of the receipt when I walk out of the store, I know I am doing the right thing for our family.

Here is the all important disclaimer.  How and why you use coupons, will have a major impact on the most successful way to store/file/organize your coupons.  What I show you today, goes with my weekly system well, however, it may not mesh into your system.

I have seen boatloads of storage options for coupons, from photo albums {dividing out the page protectors by category and sliding the coupons into the page protectors themselves}, to using baskets with card dividers to sticking with the simple receipt/coupon envelopes like the one I shared here.

I actually tried a coupon envelope once upon a time....


Too much work for me.  Really.  I was honestly confused at the best way to utilize the filing part, do I file coupons by product name?  Or by type of product?  I was doing both and inconsistently.  On top of that, I began stuffing all my coupons for the current shopping trip into the front of the envelope, and then at the store, was left digging through all of the other slots trying to find something because I knew I had a coupon for something I just found on sale.  And then, I decided the envelope just wasn't working for me so I started using a regular legal sized envelope.  Which didn't hold up past two shopping trips before it looked like it had been run over by a shopping cart twenty six times.  Then I started tossing them into a large ziploc bag.  Really?  Another totally awful solution.

It was time to really analyze how I use my coupons, and come up with a practical way for me to store them.

I shared here my morning process of searching for coupons, clipping them, meal planning accordingly and stacking up all my coupons for my weekly shopping trip.

Knowing this process... here is how I analyzed the situation:
  • I wanted one place to house all coupons that correlated with our weekly meals/shopping trip
  • I wanted to have a back-up location to store the remainder of my coupons, for future trips
  • I wanted to have a place to store all coupons that are store specific {30% off at Kohls, 20% off at Bed Bath & Beyond} or restaurant specific
  • Using a filing system is too time consuming for me
  • I don't want to lug around a large binder, basket or envelope everywhere
Again, these are all personal preferences, however, based on this information, here is what I had come up with.

I found simple stationary envelopes, which seemed to be the perfect size for toting around with me, inside my planner or attached to my grocery list.


I knew right away from previous experience, left as is, the envelope would hold not up to my weekly shopping excursions.  It needed to be beefed up a bit.  So that's what I did...

I cut down strips of heavy duty cardstock paper.


And I wrapped the paper around the envelope and secured with some double sided tape.


I whipped up some additional labels to match my receipt envelope, one envelope would be used for my "Current Trip" to the store, the other would be for all remaining "Coupons" and the last would be for my "Store Specific" coupons.


Then, for a final step of durability and longevity, I popped the envelopes through my laminating machine...


I paper-clipped together my stacks of receipts and popped them into their respective envelopes.


Each week I fill out my shopping list, {you can purchase your own personalized version here in my Etsy shop}, and keep it clipped to my clipboard as I am shopping.  Yes, I am that girl.


And now I can also attach the envelope with all of my coupons for that specific trip, right to the clipboard with the shopping list.  The coupons will always be right at my fingertips.  No more bulky envelope....


The other two envelopes?  Well, they are tucked in my planner in a pocket in the back {on the opposite side of where my bills to pay are tucked}


Of course, my planner is always with me, so I still have access to my other coupons if I need them throughout my trip for an unexpected sale or purchase.

So there you have it.  That's what has been working for this gal.  However, as I mentioned it all really depends on your current system and how many receipts you clip and need to store.  It helps to make a list of what you want/don't want first, when creating your system.  Brainstorm and then Google around for solutions, because there are all sorts of them out there.

While I have you all here, many of you were extremely interested in the label I had used for my receipt folder.  I will plan on adding another label tutorial to my blog list, however, until then, I will share my template with you to play around with and use!

Click here to download and edit Label template

I print these on Avery 18163 labels and just stick them accordingly.  Enjoy!

And that wraps up Project Paper for January!  Six easy peasy steps.  A couple of days left until I will host our link party and you can all share all of your Project Paper work in all it's glory!  I am super giddy excited to see all the organized eye candy, it sounds like many of you have been hard at work!

Let's keep talking coupons for a moment shall we?  Where do you find all of money saving deals?  Any couponing tips and tricks for us soft core couponers?  What storage methods work best for you?


UPDATE:  After a couple of weeks, I decided the stationary envelopes were just TOO SMALL!  So, I switched to creating larger envelopes!  Much better!!



Seriously, how cute is that paper?  Little fruit dots?  Are you kidding me!  Had to do it!


I decided a little challenge would be fun! This month we are getting all those papers in order!  Wanna join?  Take pictures and blog about your awesomeness as you go!  I am hoping to do a giant, "We did it!" celebratory post where we can all link up our paper filing success stories at the end of the month!

46 comments:

  1. Wow, nice timing. I JUST did a post on this at the request of a friend, but since I'm not a huge coupon clipper I think that you did a more thorough job than I did.

    One suggestion that could work for some people: sort your coupons by expiration date and then set 1 trip a month to go "use your coupons."

    I love your envelopes though- and for what it's worth- here was my post on the subject:
    http://cleansmartsimple.blogspot.com/2011/01/of-coupons-and-purses.html

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  2. I just stumbled in here...see you have 3 boys and give you a "high five" b/c so do I :)

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  3. I am going to a coupn class next month. I am super excited! :O)

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  4. I have been looking for a solution and I think your method is it! I read all the way down and saw your labels and thought "oh, I hope she shares those." And you DID! Thanks so much. :)

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  5. Hmmmm... I may have too many coupons for this system to work for me. But I have made a little coupon caddy that straps onto my cart and it holds my coupon organizer, pen and list for me while I shop. I use a little pocket from one of my old planners to hold my list and the coupons I planned to use for the trip. You can see pictures of mine and the tutorial here.

    http://prettythingsbylaurah.blogspot.com/2011/01/projects-for-modern-mama.html

    The cardstock is adorable. Where did you get it?

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  6. I tried the coupon file method as well and it was a horrible disaster. I tried the box method and I missed out on so many great deals because I couldn't see all of my coupons. The only thing that has worked for me and I absolutely love is the binder method. Yes, I'm the lady at the grocery store with a 3 inch binder in her cart. I was a little bit self conscious about it at first and everyone would stare. I eventually got over it and love how people in line behind me are always amazed by the amount of money I'm saving and give me encouraging high fives. I carry my meal plan with me and sales at the store that I'm looking for in the front pocket (I'm thinking is time for me to carry it all on a clipboard). I have a little plastic bag where I put the coupons as I'm putting items in my cart. Once I'm at the register I hand over my little plastic bag and I'm out of there. Now that my coupon stash has grown...a lot...I've worked on my categories a bit more, so my binder is divided into food (grains, dairy, soups, etc), personal care (make up, lotions, body wash, etc) and on and on. I do my best to "clean out" my binder every few weeks, to make sure I take out any expired coupons and to move anything expiring soon to the front. For coupons for Kohls, Bed Bath and Beyond, etc I usually just keep them in separate labeled envelopes and throw them into the pocket of my planner.

    Thanks for the label template!! Also, I went ahead and ordered an Erin Condren planner after seeing it on one of your posts and I am so glad I did!!! It's the most perfect planner for my needs.

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  7. Might be a stupid question, but how did you laminate the envelope and still be able to open it?

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  8. Not a stupid question at all. I actually just put the laminating sheets over the envelope below the opening so it wouldn't seal it shut.

    xoxo,
    Jen

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    Replies
    1. So then the flap part of the envelope is not laminated? Just want to make sure I am understanding this correctly. Thanks

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    2. Yep! I actually just sliced off the flap but I believe you could leave it on and just laminate below it.

      xo!
      Jen

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  9. These coupon envelopes are genius! the perfect size!!!! =) Thanks Jen!

    xoxo
    Jenn @ Peas & Crayons

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  10. i came up with this, i take an envelope from the mail (i really like the big ones that bank statements come in), open it carefully, then reuse it. i actually write my grocery list on the recycled envelope and put the coupons i am using that trip into it.

    i put pictures up on this blog of it:
    http://winonadeals.blogspot.com/2009/11/grocery-store-envelope.html

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  11. I use way too many coupons to fit them into 3 envelopes! I save every. single. coupon. that I can get my little hands on. I do not cut out my coupons, though. I write the date on the coupon insert and put it in a file. Then, each week, I look at blogs which match up the sales with coupons. (You can find the store deals on my blog www.thedealscoop.com under the "sweet deals" tab.) They tell the date of the insert that has the coupon I need to match the sale. I can then find that insert in the correct file and clip the coupon. Then I put those coupons into an envelope to take to the store with me. I like your "beefed up" envelopes, though! I think I need something a little more sturdy like that. (And they're much cuter too!)

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  12. What a great idea, Jen! This is one of those posts of yours that I will end up looking at and loving all weekend. Thanks so much for the adorable labels!! Your blog is the best!

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  13. Love this!!! What kind of laminator do you have?

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  14. Hi Sarah!

    I just snagged a GBC printer from Target for around $25 or $30. I think both Target and Walmart sell versions around that price range.

    Thanks!
    Jen

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  15. I Heart coupons and I Heart Organization so you are talking my language! I have tried the coupon binder, coupon box, and finally ended on the filing coupon inserts method. It is quick and easy which works for my busy life! In order to really slash your budget in half (we're at $60 per week for a family of 4) you have to keep every coupon. That way you won't miss out on matching a sale with a coupon. You can see more on the pros and cons of each method at my website: http://thecarolinaclipper.com/2010/11/getting-started-step-2-organize-coupons-4/

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  16. Great system!!!! And adorable, too.
    :)
    I find the BEST coupons are through the manufacturer online. You HAVE to be diligent in signing up.
    Other than that - we have one store that doubles, so that makes a BIG impact on the wallet.

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  17. Such a cute solution, however, I have way too many coupons to put all the extras in that one little envelope. It would be a disaster. I file mine by aisle in the store, e.g. canned food, dairy, breakfast cereal and bars, cleaning...
    I am always working to improve it though. I like the idea of the separate envelope for teh ones that I plan to use- I may try that. Thanks!

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  18. I just love saving money with coupons because I feel like it is a way to PAY yourself and that is the best reward ;) My first rule of thumb for saving money is to only buy what is on sale that week and to always use coupons on the sale items. I use my local supermarkets on-line, services to prepare my shopping list and to make notes about what I need and what great coupons I have. I blogged about it here if you'd to see my system ;) Hope it helps! Fondly, Roberta
    http://con-tain-it.typepad.com/my_weblog/2010/11/the-21-purge-day-4these-shoes-are-made-for-walkin

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  19. Thanks for the labels download, Jen. And I love your laminated envelopes - great idea.

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  20. That's kind of how I used to store my coupons. :-) Only my envelopes weren't nearly as cute.

    Now though, I typically shop at just one grocery store (Kroger). I have a Kroger plus card, and if you get on their website, you can download coupons directly to the card. Then the cashier just scans it at the beginning of the transaction and the coupons are applied to their respective items. :-)

    It makes things muchhhh easier on me since I don't have to worry about forgetting my envelope anymore.

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  21. I finally settled on organizing my coupons by the route I take through the store when I am shopping. I only shop at one grocery store and Target, so before my trips I organize my shopping list in the order that I shop in the store, go through all my coupons and grab them, then sort them in the same order. I am not a "stockpiler" so I tend to only buy what we really need or what is on the menu plan for the week. Sometimes this means I am not saving as much money, but then sometimes I will also look at coupons nearing the expiration dates and add some of those items to my shopping trip as well if it will mean a good deal.

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  22. I like that you have a laminator and aren't afraid to use it.

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  23. You can also just laminate the entire envelope and then take a sharp scissor or razor blade and slit carefully through where the opening of the envelope is. I did that all of the time when I was a teacher for my class take home folders.

    Would you ever consider putting these in your store? I would definitely buy them from you!!!

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  24. I am an avid coupon user that has a trapper keeper full of coupons. i use the page protectors that are meant for baseball cards. i found that the slots are the perfect size for most coupons, some have to get folded though. I have mine alphabetized by category. my categories are things like: baby, baking, pantry, dairy, freezer, snacks, meat, bathroom, cleaning, and first aid. i've found that this method works really well for me. the dividers that i bought have pockets in them and that is where i put things like rebate forms and store and restaurant coupons. when i'm going through the ads for the week, i take an envelope and write my list for each store (i typically go to 3 different stores each week)and put the coupons inside. we are a family of 5 and i spend about $75 a week on grocery and household items. some weeks its more like $50. it takes a little time every sunday to figure it out but it is so worth it in the end.

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  25. IHeart You!!! I'm so going to copy this idea... I almost gave up on my coupon clipping because I would always forget to bring them with me or use them by the time I got to the register. Now with these sassy envelopes I'll be sure to use them! Thank you for your great posts! p.s. I'm also working on transforming my guest room closet into a mini office - I appreciate you sharing all your great ideas! =)

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  26. Hey Jen! How did you add that ribbon and brads to your clipboard? Does the ribbon hold up well? I have the same one and would like to be able to hang it also. :)

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  27. Seriously, this is the most AMAZING organizing blog I have ever seen! I love all your ideas and appreciate that everything looks so adorable & crafty. You really have a great gift...I hope your blog will be around for a long time :)

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  28. We drilled holes into the clipboard and then popped the ribbon through and secured with knots on the backside. I added the scrapping brads to clean up the look of the drilled holes.

    Hope that helps!

    xoxo,
    Jen

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  29. Those are adorable labels. Thank you! :)

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  30. Fantastic Job Jen! I am the girl with those tattered white envelopes because I like them the best in my planner but never thought to beef them up. I'm so happy I invested in a laminator :-)

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  31. Thanks for sharing this. I still haven't found the right way for me yet, but I might try this way. Thanks!!! ;)

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  32. Thanks so much for this great coupon envelope idea ... and I love how you decorated it! And also, thanks for the label template!

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  33. As usual Jen, all the best ideas! I'm so glad you had already talked me into buying a laminator.

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  34. Your blog is my favorite.

    Where do you find all of your scrapbook paper? You always have the cutest and I never can find any that cute!!

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  35. I have been enjoying your blog for a few weeks now ... love all your ideas! Thanks for the coupon organizing idea, and the free download for the labels. Made some coupon envelopes this week ... thank you! http://pursuingheart.blogspot.com/2011/01/emails-and-coupons.html

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  36. what size envelopes did you use? I also having trouble having a sturdy envelope that's big enough to hold all my coupons. I'm a coupon junkie ;)

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    Replies
    1. I actually just ditched the envelope all together, and took a piece of heavy cardstock, folded it in half, hot glued the edges and popped it through the laminator.

      Much better!

      xoxo,
      Jen

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  37. I do something similar but a little different. I do have a coupon binder for at home, but not with the little pockets. Too much time for this busy momma to cut out all the little coupons.

    Instead I take the entire insert, mark the date on it, and it goes into a large sheet protector. I just pop an index card with the highlights into the page protector so I know where to find our family's favorites. Otherwise, I just use my favorite blogs that match the coupons up to cut only the coupons I want. These then go into the envelope to go, and I am good!

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  38. If you're envelopes don't hold up....zippered pencil pouches are nice, flat and durable! A solid color with a cute label wirks great for me!

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  39. Brandy CaballeroMay 1, 2012 at 12:25 PM

    where did you get that cardstock?!?! love it!

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    Replies
    1. I typically purchase my cardstock at Archivers or in paper packs from Michaels or JoAnn.

      xoxo,
      Jen

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  40. Do you sell these on your etsy shop i would love to get some? If not would you consider it?

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  41. You know what works well for coupons? Those little photo albums. They have plenty of sleeves for easy viewing and are not nearly as big and bulky as a binder. Decorate how you will; I highly recommend it.

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  42. I was just thinking of doing this earlier as I was stuffing my coupons into the old wrinkly white ones.Thank you for sharing this!!

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