I have never been so bombarded by all these coupons, gift cards, store cards etc as I have been these past few years. We were lucky we never had to buy diapers for our daughter until she was 9 months old (yes, we had a stockpile of diapers from the many showers thrown for us). I was rudely brought to my senses when I saw the receipts and how much diapers cost!
Hopefully an end to diaper usage was in sight, but it seemed a long ways away. So began my love hate relationship with coupons, which I will disucss in future posts. So for now all we can work with is the receipts that come out of a transaction, coupons, gift cards, and store cards. How do we make them work to our advantage and not the stores?
I have never believed how being organized was until I had to find a way to organize all these small bits of paper and cards and be able to carry it everywhere. I mean I never leave home without these two things, you never know when you are going to need it. At first it was a total failure to our pocketbook, going to a restaurant finding out I had a coupon for $10.00 sitting on the counter at home, forgetting my store card at the drugstore that gives us a percentage back of what you use and the failure went on. It was part game to utilize those coupons, because when I used them, I felt I had won the game.
I wish I felt that way more often. When I sat to think about all those times I missed out on that coupon or tally on my frequent store card, it added up to quite a sum! A sum that was nothing to dismiss. After spending more money on what did not work, I found a system that works for me and has been working for me about three years now. When I did get my system working, I felt like I could walk into a store knowing I had a good chance of maximizing my buying power. I am not saying you only need totally rely on these tools and you will tweak your dollars. You still have adhere to what is being offered on sale and manage your wants, availability, and needs. For example our meals are totally planned and executed according to what is on sale for that week. As a child, I remember my mother would shop for what she felt like eating or the convenience of having to cook it. We buy what is on sale and we plan out what we are going to cook and sometimes cooking may not be in the week it was bought.
This change in just this one household behavior has allowed us to not only get more value for our money but has decreased the stress of figuring out what to cook. This was especially on the work and school days. The real benefit I feel is that is has allowed us to invite people over at the spur of the moment especially our daughters friend without too much trepidation. This system did not come over night and will take some trial and error and some dollars.
My first Pocket Filofax was a Finisbury from 3 years ago. The rings on this little work horse became misaligned so pages were getting caught. I needed to replace it but there was no deals to be had. My stubbornness in buying at regular price was reward by eventually getting a binder 50% off and with all the specifications I wanted and most of all needed. Features such as a full length pocket to put receipts and cards until I can put them in the right place and for future reference and card slots for my cards. My Filofax also has double duty as it also functions as my calendar/appointment book and a place for notes and To Do lists.
I will touch upon how the calendars come to play in our journey to monitor deals being offered. For now, just think of how you will organize your buying tools. In the inserts at the back of my Filofax, I place cards and coupons that I will be using soon. It also provides a quick visual to see where I need to go as I proceed throughout my day.
The second thing I never leave home without is my Card Cubby
. Of course, this is not for the coupon clippers of the extreme coupon-must- have caliber, as it much too small for the volume of coupons they collect. I only collect coupons for the things I will USE or NEED (don’t be confused with want). This Card Cubby is a actually a filing system for all the gift cards we receive and store cards we use. For the purposes of keeping your gift and store cards organized, the card chubby has been such a valuable and most of all functional tool for me. As you can see it hold your cards alphabetically.
It minimizes your having to look for something and wasting your valuable time, searching for it. Before we even hit a store or restaurant I will venture into my Card Cubby and scan for what I need. As I insert new coupons in the correct alpha order I check for any cards or coupons expiring. Whoever invented the Card Cubby is pure genius.
I can’t wait to see and hear how your system develops and flourishes but no one should have to carry around these cards that take up precious real estate in our wallets. We are consumers and if we have to spend our hard earned dollars let us make sure it we get the maximum benefit. Until the next post, try to organize your cards and coupons.