Thursday, March 1, 2012

My coupon filing drawer, part 1

Welcome to this week's Frugal Follies Frugal Tip!

I thought I'd take you on a tour of my coupon insert filing drawer.  It helps me save money and time every week!

The coupon insert filing drawer is located on the bottom drawer of a 5-drawer filing cabinet that we got for free.  My husband's previous workplace was getting rid of filing cabinets as they downsized (and eventually closed) their office, so my husband was able to get one for us.

In the drawer are 20 hanging files.  Why 20?  Because that's how many I had at the time, and how many fit in the drawer.  No special reason other than that.

The first hanging file contains magazines which hold coupons (like ALL YOU), coupon books I've received in the mail or found at the store, and Publix coupon flyers.  I go through these every month or so and throw out those that have expired.

The rest of the hanging files hold coupon inserts for each week.  Each file has a Sunday date written in pencil (you'll see why later) on the file tab. I have them in reverse chronological order, with the most recent inserts first and the older ones toward the back.  I do this because I'm more likely to use coupons that have been recently issued, as the older inserts contain many expired coupons, but possibly still some usable ones.

So the most recent file I have as of this writing is for the 2/26/12 inserts; the oldest that I have is for the 10/2/11 inserts.  You don't necessarily need to have this many inserts on hand.  Three months is a good number to keep, if you're short on space.

In each file I have inserts I get in my local major newspaper as well as the inserts from two free local newspapers in my area.  I'm usually able to pick up 4-6 free copies of each of the two newspapers each weekend. The inserts in the free newspapers run a week behind the major newspaper. The coupons in the free newspapers usually aren't as good as those in the major newspaper.  Occasionally I'll also buy a second copy of the major newspaper if the coupons are particularly good.

When I get the inserts, I don't cut out the coupons; instead, I just file them in the drawer, uncut.  (By the way, if you're not aware, the date of the coupon insert is located on the spine of the insert.)

So depending on whether I've been able to pick up those newspapers or not, each hanging file contains anywhere from 1 to 12 copies of each insert from that week.  If there are multiple inserts (Smartsource, RedPlum, Procter & Gamble, and others) in a given week, the file folders can become very full!

Next week, I'll cover how I use my file drawer to find coupons for products I want to buy, as well as how I keep my coupon file updated each week.

For more frugal tips, please go to my Linkup Parties page and check out the bloggers listed under Frugal Tips Linkups.  There are lots of great ideas on each blog and I'm sure you'll find lots of wonderful tips!

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