June 26, 2009

"An Organizational Genius" aka "What My Life Story Will Never Be Called"

So I've spent some time considering coupon organizers lately. Normally I would (and have) made fun of such things. As it is, I shun the extraneous, especially when other people tell me I just HAVE to have it. If you tell me I just HAVE to have something, I will go out of my way to never have it, just to spite the populous. What can I say, it's the rebel in me. It is for this very reason that I was never into New Kids on the Block as a pre-teen. On the other hand, tell me I can't/don't/shouldn't have or do something and it's as good as handing it to me. (Hello, teen drinking!) Anyway - the point is, the fact that I am considering anything such as the "coupon binder" is a huge coup, and I don't know how I feel about it.

For one thing, my current organizational method really works for me. I like to call it the "PILES System." PILES isn't actually an acronym for anything, I just like to emphasize the obvious. Everything I own is literally categorized into many tiny piles all around my house. Books without shelves? Check the piles. Shoes outside of the closet? If my husband hasn't arranged them in a shoe parade through the living room, then they are in a pile. Important papers needing my attention? That's this pile over here. Clean clothes yet to make it into drawers? You guessed it: In a pile. Thing is, I know pretty much what is in any given pile at any given time and having to sort things and put them away simply makes me lose stuff. That's why I very rarely put anything away. Then I can't find it and I end up dissolved into a puddle of tears on the floor, screaming about how someone broke into my house and stole only my left silver flat or the power bill. So it makes sense that when I created my coupon organization system, it too would fall into the "PILES" method of paper management.

Since coupons are so small and easy to float off the coffee table should someone open the front door vigorously, I do manage my piles into small receptacles from time to time. One receptacle, where I keep coupons that are dated for expiration far into the future, is one of those very small plastic wallets that has the button on the outside and the 12 inner dividers. I have them - obviously - divided into months so that I can stow away my future coupons and get them out again when it is coming up to that month. This assures that I get the most coupons used before the expiration date because I KNOW when they will expire. It also assures me that I will end up buying a whole lot of crap without a coupon because it's in the December slot and it's only June. Of course, they say that it's wise not to use your coupons too early, but at a certain point it just becomes a ridiculous game of "Now? Should I use it Now? How about now? NO? What about yesterday?" etc., etc. But I digress.

The other receptacle for my coupons is a plastic ZipLoc type baggie that I keep in my purse. In this baggie I keep all current month's coupons that haven't been doled out for shopping trips PLUS any store-specific coupons that I can use while I'm out. You know, "free french fries from McDonald's with purchase of Huge-Ass Latte" or "Free Diapers with Purchase of Breast Pump at Babies 'R' Us" type coupons. (What is with some of the strange "Get One" coupons, anyway???) They are close at hand this way so that if I'm out and need french fries with my latte, there's my coupon and I'm not kicking myself for having to pay for those fries while my coupon rests at home, surely in a pile somewhere.

So that's what got me thinking about investing in one of those major coupon binder thingies. I had seen women at the K-Mart when coupons up to $2.00 were doubled, strolling around with HUGE binders, much like the Trapper Keepers of yore, flipping through plastic pages full, I MEAN FULL, of coupons and circulars. And here I was with my little paper list, items written on each and coupons tucked neatly into the folded list for easy access. They just seem to have it so together. All the pages. All the sections. And all they had to do was flip through, while I dropped first one coupon and then another flipping through them like a cheap deck of cards to double check the parameters of the coupon's power.

But might this technique be too much for me? I already have trouble putting things into categories. How do you organize them? By expiration date? By product type? By price?

It's a bit much for me to handle.

I think for now I'll stick to my PILES System of coupon management, but I'd love to hear your tips and tricks for coupon organization. Got a binder you love? Let me know. Think a binder is for the weak? Tell me your tips and tricks. I'd love to do a follow up post with all your best tricks and tips for organizing posterity!


Tiana said...

I do piles too! And I deliberately avoid popular things like Titanic (never seen it, never will) and Harry potter

Anonymous said...

I have a cheap organizer I picked up from the dollar store. It's about to fall apart...essentially it's a paper wallet, divided into sections like "canned and frozen", "meat and dairy", "paper goods", "bread and rice", "drug items", "cleaning items", "sauces and condiments", and "snacks and misc". There was another category but I crossed it out and named it "EXPIRES SOON".
If the coupon expires more than five weeks from now, it goes in its appropriate slot. Cat food is a misc.
If the coupon expires within the next 5 weeks, it goes in EXPIRES SOON. That way I won't forget it.
Before every shopping trip I sit and sort the coupons and move the ones I intend to use to an empty envelope, on the back of which I've written my list. That way it's all together in one place.
At the end of the month I sort the coupons again, moving the appropriate ones to EXPIRES SOON, and toss the ones I don't plan to use before they expire.