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How To Make Coupons Pay Off

As Published In Smead Organomics
How To Make Coupons Pay Off

Publicity -- Smead Organomics

Tell me if this sounds familiar — you sit down with the Sunday paper (or your favorite discount website), and are seduced by all the money-saving offers. You diligently clip and snip and print — stashing your coupons in an envelope (alongside a few gift certificates you really should use and a couple of rebate forms that need to be sent in). This is where they lie lonely and forgotten until their deadlines have passed. Coupons are like leftovers — they make you feel thrifty at first, and then guilty when you have to throw them out because they’ve gone over. Money lost and time wasted. Let’s get those things organized!

Why Is It So Hard?

During a financial crunch, you’d think it would be easy to take a little piece of paper with you shopping, in order to save some cash at the store — but it’s never going to happen unless you have a coupon organizer that reminds you what discounts you have on hand to use. Fortunately, there’s an easy and effective D.I.Y. solution to this problem. The first step is to trade that oversize envelope for a small accordion file — and create a labeled section for each category of “savings”:

  • grocery and household items
  • other shopping
  • health and beauty
  • restaurants and fast food
  • entertainment
  • personal services

Sort coupons into logical groups, so you can locate any offer in seconds. Then all you have to do is keep your organizer with your purse or wallet — within easy reach, both when you’re clipping and at the store. (Of course, if you can rely on app-driven savings, you’ll have that much less paper to organize — but a lot of stores still require you to print the coupon for scanning at check-out.)

Planning Your Errands

The next step is to actually plan your shopping around the savings and certificates you’ve accumulated. (Without buying things that serve no purpose in your life, just to use a coupon — if you don’t need it, don’t clip it in the first place!) Go through your organizer as you write out your grocery/errand list, noting which items have a discount or free money to spend. Clip this list to your organizer, and let the savings begin!

Tickle Your Way To Savings

If you have a sale that you must take advantage of on a specific day or a rebate that has a set submission deadline, you need some way to jog your memory. You could make a note in your calendar (simple enough, and great for virtual groupons/coupons you might otherwise forget to use). You could attach a sticky note to coupons expiring that month, as an immediate visual reminder. Or you could create a tickler file — a wallet with sections for each month. (Simply place the ad/coupon/rebate in the correct date file, check that month’s folder each weekend, and take care of any items that will expire in the next 7 days.)

Is It Worth It?

Creating and maintaining your coupon organizer may seem like a lot of work — but I recently saw a story about a woman who cut her household grocery bill by two-thirds, doing nothing more than clipping discounts. So in this uncertain economic climate, putting forth a little effort to create a reliable savings system can definitely pay off in the end!

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Ramona Creel is an award-winning 15-year veteran organizer and member of the National Association Of Professional Organizers. As well as having birthed “The A-To-Z Of Getting Organized,” Ramona is also the author of “The Professional Organizer’s Bible: A Slightly Irreverent And Completely Unorthodox Guide For Turning Clutter Into A Career”—and the creator of more than 200 “quick-start” business tools and templates for use by productivity professionals. She writes seven different blogs, has worked with hundreds of clients, and has delivered scores of presentations on getting organized. Ramona resides on the roads of America as a full-time RVer—living and working in a 29-foot Airstream. Learn more at and

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