Coupon organization: the first step to saving money

By ANGELA TREADAWAY / Guest Columnist

You know what it is like. You get a coupon, you throw it in your coupon pile, and when you are ready to head to the grocery store, you quickly put them into your bag. And there you have it. A crumpled mess of coupons that you have lost count of, and have no idea what they are for.

It might seem like an overwhelming task, but organizing your coupons at home before your market trip can not only save you time and stress from digging into your bag of papers, but it can also save you money. A lot of money. You will find big savings in just sorting through your coupons as you clip or print them so that you know what you have and when to use them by.

Before you go to the store, look over your shopping list and then go through your coupons. Put a “c” next to the items that you have a coupon for so that you remember to look for it and use it at checkout.

If there is one local grocery store that you go to most often, or have your favorite as most of us do, one of the simplest things to do to help organize your coupons, is to file them according to their corresponding aisle based on the layout of the store. You can create general grocery categories that your items fit into so that you are keeping it simple and easy. You can even make a category for products that you do not purchase as often so that you keep that off to the side and don’t become overwhelmed.

Each category can be placed into its own labeled envelope, which is inexpensive and portable. Once in the envelope, you can even sort them by expiration dates so that you have the ones that need to be used the soonest, in the front. The envelopes can then be sorted alphabetically as well. If envelopes are not enough space for you, you can use an index file box, or even a coupon organizer binder to sort your coupons.

Although organizing coupons can seem like an overwhelming and difficult task, the hardest part is starting out. Once you get the system that works best for you in place, you will be able to add to it and re-organize it easily. It will wind up saving you time and money, and in the long run you will be thankful you took the time to do it.

If you are interested in attending a coupon organization program, please call 410-3696 or e-mail atreadaw@aces.edu. There will be a class offered Feb. 9 at the Shelby County Extension Office from 12-3 p.m. and there will be a charge of $10 for the class. You can pay at the door but you do need to call ahead because space is limited.

Angela Treadaway is the Regional Extension Agent in Food Safety/Preservation and Preparation with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System. She can be reached at 410-3696.