As helpful as coupon blogs are, I always seemed to have a problem with them – they mention coupons and deals that I would never have any interest in. Several weeks I realize that it would be much better if I did the tough work myself because couponing is not very helpful if you’re buying just what someone else’s family is buying if it doesn’t really fit your own personal lifestyle.

So I bit the bullet and tried to figure out the best way to do it for my household. I knew my coupons needed to be organized because the number one problem I have is not remember what coupons I have and buying something when I had a coupon or not using the coupons before they expired. So last weekend C and I hunkered down and input all of our coupons into a spreadsheet (Google Docs so we could both input at the same time). Here’s an example of what our’s looked like:

We put the essential information into our sheet (Brand/what it is for, the value, and when it expires). It takes a little more time up front, but it’s a method that I think will work well for us. We can sort the list by Brand or expiration date, print it out, and carry it with us to the store. That way, if we find something on sale, we can easily look up whether we have a coupon for it. We organized the coupons into a coupon filer by expiration month. The most shuffling through we’ll have to do is looking through that month to find the coupon.

Why didn’t I use some databases already available? For one basic reason: too much information. I don’t want to browse through a database that has millions of coupons that aren’t available in my region or are for things that don’t pertain to us (like dog food). And, I find it very helpful to have a printable copy of my coupon list to bring with me. Sometimes stores have unadvertised sales that I otherwise wouldn’t realize I had a coupon for. (Unless you’re a crazy couponer and are able to memorize your stash – that’s just not me).

So the first BIG step in becoming better couponers has been set into place. (And really, it doesn’t take too much effort once you have the database set up to enter in the new coupons each week – just remember to delete the ones you’ve used!)

What methods have you created or adopted for your own use?