Lately I have become a bit more obsessed conscious of using coupons when they are available. In the past I’d kind of have them in various places of my room: my desk, my nightstand, my wallet; and then I’d hope I remembered about it when it came time for the spending. About a month ago though I realized 1) I had no clue what coupons I was stashing, 2) when I did remember I had a coupon I had no idea where it was, 3) remembered I had a coupon, but didn’t have it on me when I was at the store. So I decided to come up with a strategy.

1) I had to keep them all in one place. This was the obvious one. I’d often thought I could keep the ones I would be more likely to use in my wallet, and the rest could be kept at my desk at home. But it was still confusing at times (“Hmm, should the pizza hut stay in my wallet or on my desk?”) and sometimes we’d go out to eat something and I thought it was in my wallet, but the coupon had actually been left at home.

2) I had to inventory what I had. Was that a coupon for Chicken Kitchen, or Chicken Grill? Did I use up all the Subway coupons? I needed a way to be able to quickly zip through them and find out what I had coupons for, or the other way around (if I had a coupon to a certain place).

3) I had to make sure they were accessible. This pretty much meant my coupons needed a resting place.

My conclusion:
I took inspiration from a friend I had in college. We teased her once when she pulled out an expanding file in the middle of Target to check if she had a coupon for something. While saving money wasn’t the dorky part we were making fun of (I swear! I was broke too!) it was the way she pulled it….very cute, like a little old lady. Anyway, I remembered that file, and that she had everything sorted in there. A couple years back I had bought a small one for my receipts, but never used it. I pulled it out and decided to use it for coupons.

Its about 3″x5″ and has 12 tabs, I guess originally designed to sort things by month. I did it alphabetically instead. For me its easier to sort them by the location name if its a restaurant (pizza hut, subway, Quiznos), or by product name instead of brands (i.e. I would sort a coupon under “Toothpaste” as opposed to “Colgate”).

I decided to take it a step further and also include my loyalty/rewards cards in there as well. I’m notorious for heading out to the movies, but forgetting my AMC card at home. (Luckily DSW can look it up with a phone number – whew!) While I was at it, I threw in any gift cards too! (Except for the Amex GCs, which I carry in my wallet, and Walmart….just in case, lol)

To take care of my third concern, accessibility, I just leave it in my purse if I know I’ll be using a coupon, but I don’t know which one (eating out at work, or going out for an impromptu meal with the BF), otherwise it stays in my car so I can use it if I need any while I’m running errands. So far this little system has worked, the only thing I haven’t quite figured out is how I can track expiration dates. I guess I’ll just have to look through them every month or so. I’m also working on a way to convince my boyfriend that its “hip” to use coupons….any ideas? hehe. (“Everyone’s doin’ it, man….”)

So who else uses coupons, and do you have a system?