Thursday, September 16, 2010

How do you organize?

If you've been reading my blog for any amount of time, you've probably picked up on the fact that I love rebates. I love getting money back for items I'd buy anyway, trying new items for free and sometimes making money on rebates. There's also something about that delayed gratification that comes with waiting for your rebate check that makes it even more satisfying.
So how do I keep myself organized? Its sometimes not easy! I usually do multiple rebates, using my address, my boyfriend's address and my parents' address. That means I have to keep all my paperwork organized. One of the biggest tips I can offer you is to process everything shortly after you've shopped. Even if you just put a post-it on the receipt to remind yourself that you bought a rebate item, you have to do something to distinguish that receipt from others so you don't throw it out. I usually put all my receipts into a folder in my desk and keep them for a couple months anyway, so I don't run into that problem too often. I hang onto receipts in case I have to do a return, but this has also come in handy when I've bought a NBPR rebate for grocery items. I can just look in my receipt folder for qualifying items that I've already bought.

Anyway, getting back to the day-to-day. As I'm writing my blog posts, I usually enter my receipt info into my spreadsheet at the same time. I'll usually circle the qualifying items right away and throw them into my coverted Easter basket for processing later. I keep the basket on my desk, so I can easily look through and see what I have there. I used to do my rebates right away, but lately, I've been waiting until I have a bunch, and then I process them at the same time. This older post has my step-by-step process for processing out rebates. I'm just gonna focus on my organization today.
I've found that if I just put the receipts into the basket, I'll sometimes forget what item the rebate was for. So right away, I circle the rebate item(s) on the receipt. Sometimes receipts are really hard to decipher and I've found that if I wait, I'll totally forget what the item is and what the rebate was for.
If I'm working on a rebate item by item (ie. save $5 off $15 of produce and I'm buying fruit and veggies here and there), I'll keep all the receipts together in an envelope. If I wanna get crazy, I might even keep the rebate form in there too. I try to put post-its on the front of the envelope telling me what rebate it is, the expiration date and my progress towards the total.
I also keep all of my rebate forms together in one spot. I use this envelope for tearpad and NBPR rebates and I have a separate folder for larger or printed ones. This helps me look quickly for something.
Organization is so important in helping me save money and keeping me sane. I can't stand it when my desk is a mess.
I'd love to hear your methods for keeping everything on track!


Peppermint Twists said...

I should keep all my receipts to elimate these kind of issues... I used to, but back then I didn't do any rebates so it wasn't really worth.
When I did keep all my receipts, I placed them all in a shoe bow sized tupperware container in my second bedroom.

P.S. Thanks for always posting the deals a few days before the week start so I have time to print the good coupons before the print limit is reached.

Alwina said...

Thanks so much for sharing your system. I'm now left wondering how you make sure that you have all the UPCs for the products you purchase for NBPRs. I have noticed a lot of them require UPCs. Maybe I'm misreading them and they mean for the alcohol, and not the snacks, or veggies, or meat. Your thoughts?

frugalsuz said...

Peppermint Twists,
You're very welcome! I like to plan ahead too, and usually start looking at the upcoming week's deals on Monday or Tuesday of each week.

I always figure its better to hang on to my receipts for a while, just in case something goes wrong. Then every couple of months, I go through and purge the old ones.

Ugh, the UPC's are such a pain, aren't they? I'm never 100% sure either if they really want the UPC's for the produce or if they mean the alcohol. I figure, better safe than sorry and include the UPC's wherever possible. If something doesn't have a UPC, I'll make a note of that when I mail it in.

slugmama said...

I have 2 folders and 1 spiral notebook.
1 folder I throw my rebate forms(and printouts)I plan on sending for eventually. I also address an envie and tuck the receipt/upc/anything I need to send it in)so that everything is there when I sit down to actually fill it all out. And I wait and do a bunch in a batch like you.
The other folder is the paper copy of what I submitted for the rebate. When the check or gift card comes in from the company, the copy of the info. is taken out of the folder, this way I can see what rebates I am still waiting on and which are late and which companies need

The spiral notebook is where I tuck all shopping receipts when I get home. I also list all spending in that notebook to track my monthly spending. If a rebate comes up AFTER I have bought something that may qualify, I know right where to go to find the receipt this way....and then it all gets put into the folder until I have a batch of rebates to fill out.
At the end of each month, all receipts get put into an envie and the month marked on it and they get filed in the filing cabinet so if a rebate opportunity comes up during the year I can still find the receipts to check for qualifying items. At the end of the year the receipts in the cabinet can be discarded.
I agree, to effectively rebate, you have to have a system and be organized!

spaghetti0625 said...

I need to be a bit more organized. Can you send me the excel spreadsheet you use? I do mine on paper and on excel is SO much easier!

frugalsuz said...

Sounds like a great system! I love checking off rebates as I get them, and I can only imagine that throwing away your copies is just as satisfying.

Absolutely, just email me at and I'll send it off to you.