OK, I've been busy on a knitting project and ignoring my coupons... wow, do I have a ton. (obviously - if I usually give away around 100-150 coupons a month).
Here's my old process:
1) Get Sunday paper, collect coupons at stores, or in products, or in the mail
2) every Sunday I would clip ALL of the coupons and put them into two piles - keep AND give away. It used to be that I would keep less than 25% of the coupons; but you never know which coupons with sale prices might be free in the coming weeks - so I learned to keep coupons I didn't think I would need "in case" ... I still don't keep coupons for items I wouldn't use even if free.
3) The pile that I was going to give away -- would get divided again. Coupons that didn't expire for over 30 days... were going into an envelope for a giveaway... coupons expiring sooner would get thrown into an envelope to send overseas to Military families (they can use coupons over 6 months past expiration date at their military shop).
4) Then I would file away the coupons I'm keeping into a 3-ring binder with dividers for grocery aisles.
5) While filing, I would pull out expired coupons that I hadn't used and put them into the Military family's envelope.
6) Then flip through all the flyers and sale ads, and the coupon book & try to match everything up. Browse online at some favorite blogs who do the same & see if I have the coupons they list to match up for some real bargains.
7) Pull out matching coupons & clip them to my notebook with store; sale dates; items on sale
8) When I go to the store, if the bargain isn't available - i.e., item sold out or pricing doesn't match the online board's pricing - if I don't use the coupon after all, I put it in my purse with the coupons I'm collecting that week for the following Sunday to sort out again.
------ big issues here... steps 1 through 5 take forever when you figure I handle about 200 coupons per week. So - I've got a stack of coupons to clip & sort and very few that I can find. I haven't clipped for a couple of weeks - and the piles are too tall now to keep on my desk. sigh
I'm leaning toward one step - which is only to file the coupons that are 'loose' - and then take the non-clipped coupons and file them by date in a manilla folder. Benefit here is reduced time cutting. Disadvantage is that although the online posts usually reference "see coupon in 3/8 paper" -- it doesn't help me when I'm flipping through my sale ads and coupons.
Also, I always justified in the past that I was going to end up clipping them anyway to mail overseas even if I didn't use them.
sigh ... guess I just need to be an adult about it and go home tonight and clip coupons. I just know it's going to take three or four evenings (if not the whole weekend) to get caught up.
Its not like I don't know it's worth it... on average I'm getting about $30-40 worth of free merchandise a month, plus saving over $50 per month on groceries. I've done the math - and the money issues I'm in means that clipping coupons means we're eating better than we would if I didn't. I just wish it was easier (but then, wouldn't more people do it if it was easier???).