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Coffee Break with Liz and Kate » Handy Dandy Tips, read here, »

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No matter where I live, there’s always one drawer that’s devoted to the coupons. I’ll note one exception: that was when I decided I was done with coupons and would never clip another one. What, you may be asking, could possibly send me so far over the edge that saving money seemed more trouble than it was worth?

Enter exhibit A. The coupon drawer. (You know you have one, too. Admit it. It will make you feel better.)

Oh, sure, I’ve tried those little pouches with a slot for all the dairy and all the frozen and all the meats and all the beverages. But the fact of the matter is, I still had no clue what coupons I possessed. Just because all dairy was in one slot, that cute little coupon organizer wasn’t helping my cause at all. And nine times out of 10, by the time I found that coupon that had been hiding from me, it was expired. Trust me. It’s easy to develop a hate-hate relationship with coupons.

Well, people, I’ve outdone myself on this one. I’ve come up with the B.E.S.T possible way to organize (one of the) biggest messes in my kitchen. A three-ring binder with clear business card or baseball card sheet protectors! (For those of you who’ve been utilizing this method for years, is it too much to ask you to give me a little moment in the sun, here?!?)

Time to check out my masterpiece! Can you stand it? Each little coupon gets its own spot, and is placed into a broad category:

  • Produce
  • Dairy
  • Canned and packaged goods
  • Meats
  • Snacks
  • Drinks
  • Dairy
  • Bakery
  • Deli
  • Cleaning products
  • Personal hygiene
  • Paper products
  • Office supplies

This brainchild actually came from my friend Summer, so credit where credit is due. But I decided to take it to a whole new level. I’ve also inserted some full-sheet size protectors in the back to house take-out menus, and another protector to keep rebate offers, sales receipts and UPC codes.

But wait! There’s more! (This is where I wish we had a video blog here on Coffee Break…) You know those little pockets on the inside of the binder? Guess what goes in there? That’s right! Your SHOPPING LIST!

I am a genius I tell you. (Whatever. It’s Monday. Let’s just roll with it.) Total cost? $4.80 – $3.88 for the sheet protectors and .92 cents for the el-cheapo binder (find ‘em everywhere that offers a wide selection of school supplies – better yet, use an empty binder you already have on hand). Cost to regain my shopping sanity? Priceless, of course.

And while we’re on a roll, I thought I’d also give you my Coupon Commandments. Do with them as you will.

  • If you see a coupon for a product you don’t like, don’t bother clipping it. Saving money on it will probably not make you like it anymore than you did before.
  • If a coupon is for an item you usually don’t purchase, think long and hard before clipping and allowing it to take up space.
  • Instead of clipping every coupon, refer to your new binder for coupons you already have. That way you won’t be stuck with seven coupons for bleach that all expire at the same time.
  • If a coupon for toothpaste expires in a month and you just bought a case of toothpaste, chances are you aren’t going to use that coupon before it expires. So why waste time and space?
  • Pay attention to out-dates on existing coupons as you clip. While you may want more than one coupon for certain products, if you can’t use more than one by the time it expires, don’t bother with it.
  • If you use generic brands, and have a coupon for the name brand, make sure the coupon will actually save you more money versus buying the generic you always use.

Whew! Who can stand all this fun mixed in with a little bit of common sense? Now all I have to do is figure out how to put a cute little cover on this white binder! But that’s another post, entirely.


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