By Emily Fredrix, AP Business Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — Getting coupons has never been easier with the growth of Twitter, mobile phones and online marketing. But all those sources make keeping track of them a nightmare.
Having all the coupons in the world won't save you any money if you don't know what you have and can't find them when you need them, said Sarah Humphreys, executive editor of Real Simple magazine.
"In order to save money you have to be mindful of what you're doing, and you have to be diligent," she said. "There's a real payoff if you stay organized."
- How to Avoid Disaster With a Store Credit Card
- Here's How to Stay Within Your Budget This Black Friday Weekend
- Spend Thanksgiving Day In Shopping Mode? More Americans Are
- Loyalty Programs and Your Small Business: Which Ones Work?
- 'Hidden Price' of Business Is Paid by You, Making a Customer Service Complaint
And since your time also has value, it shouldn't take more than an hour or so a week. Here are some tips:
The key to using coupons is knowing what you have, Humphreys said. For paper coupons, get a small binder or accordion file. Organize it by expiration date, store or product category, such as groceries or clothing.
Get in the habit of checking your stash before you go out. Take the coupons along in a purse or wallet, or stow them in the glove compartment so they're always handy.
Go through the file regularly, perhaps once a week, and move coupons nearing their expiration date to the front.
Don't forget your online coupons, too. Make a note in a separate slot to keep track of those online coupons. It might stop you from paying full price in the store.