I've shared a little bit about how well the Grocery Game is working for me, and how I shop. I thought I would post pictures of my binder system for organizing my coupons. This system works well for people who do not want to spend a lot of money on their system. Many grocery gamers spend a ton of money on zip up binders, organizers, etc. That didn't make sense for me, as I am trying to *save* money, not spend it!!
To create a system of your own, you will need:
A binder, a simple basic one will do just fine
Envelopes (standard size, not big ones)
First, figure out how many categories you will need. I started with 6 and added more, I now have a total of 18. I found that the more categories I had, the fewer coupons per envelope (therefore less digging to find the right one!)
My categories are: (I'll explain these more in a bit)
Baby & Kid Items
Household & Paper Goods
Body Wash, Soap, Lotion
Razors & Deodorant
Laundry & Dishes
Meat, Dairy, Cheese
Refridgerated & Frozen
Dry Boxed Food
Sauces, Condiments, Spices
Next, label your envelopes, then cut off the top flap (the triangle with the sticky on it). Then use tape (or glue or staples) and attach your envelopes to a piece of notebook paper (two to each sheet). Make sure the opening is facing out so you can slide your coupons in. Make sure to use a paper clip on each envelope to hold your stack of coupons in. If you drop your binder or tip it upside down, your Qs will not fall out (I learned this the hard way as I watched a hundred coupons flutter away across the parking lot!).
This is how mine is set up.
Ok, so more about my categories. In my first envelope I have the weekly coupons. Once I receive my list, I go through and pull out the coupons that I will need for that week. I also grab any coupons that are going to expire that week, bundle them together and put them in my Weekly Q section. I also clip together the ones for each store since I go to several.
My store Qs are coupons that are exclusive to a store but ones I won't use that week (ex: a Walgreen's only coupon that expires next month). This envelope also includes register rewards and catalinas. These are coupons that are printed at the grocery store checkout (some are for a dollar amount off of your next order, free items, percentage off, etc).
The rest of the categories are pretty self explanatory. At the beginning I lumped them together (just one envelope for personal care) because I did not have very many coupons. As I have collected more coupons I had to expand the categories, they got way too full.
My binder goes with me all the time since I might be running to the post office and decide to stop in at Target suddenly. I usually leave it in the car and grab it when I go into the store. As I shop I place my binder in the front of the cart and grab coupons as I need them. If I have a kiddo in the front of the cart, I leave it in the back but refer to it often. Does it make it harder to shop? Sure. But I am willing to sacrifice a little time and convenience for a little more dough in my pocket. Often I shop by myself on Sunday mornings while The Hubs watches the childrens, which makes it a little easier.
So, that's the basics. I have several hundred coupons organized in my binder, and that is after only 4 weeks. Some weeks I use 3 or 4 coupons, some weeks I am handing over a stack of 30 Qs to the cashier.One more note.....each Sunday I get my paper with coupons. I cut out the Qs, sort them by category and then add them to my envelopes by expiration date. At that time I can pull out the ones that are about to expire. These will all be right at the front of the stack, so it is easy to keep track of them.
Yet one more note...As I walk through the store I will grab an item on my list, then pull out the coupon for it. I put it aside with a paper clip on it. As I shop I will add the Qs I have used to the paper clip group, so once I am at the checkstand I can just hand over my stack of coupons that are organized. This way I am not fumbling around trying to find the correct one as my cashier is standing their impatiently.
This may work incredibly well for you. And it might not. I have received some odd stares from people wondering why I am shopping with a binder full of coupons. It may seem nerdy, but I am laughing all the way to the bank. My binder full of these little snips of paper...yeah it is worth hundreds of dollars. Just last week I used 20 coupons worth over $100. Boo yah!