Fumbling through coupons for cat food and cereal, dish detergent and diapers, is worsened when impatient shoppers’ sighs of exasperation are audible behind you.
Perhaps the coupon holder is antsy, too, having spent too much time in the store rifling through a plastic bag or the bottom of a purse for coupons that match sales items. This is the picture of a well-intentioned but inefficient bargain shopper.
It was the picture of Jamie Manangan.
“I wanted to be fast and get the trip over with, but I was using Ziploc bags to hold coupons and dropping them. Plus, I had to keep track of my shopping list,” said Manangan of Tucker.
Unable to find a product that suited her needs, Manangan, 31, dusted off the sewing machine she’d once used to make curtains and created decorative coupon organizers that she began selling in December. Her business, The Organized Shopper on Etsy.com, is one of many that have launched during the economic downturn.
Manangan worked as an ecologist before becoming a stay-at-home mother two years ago. To supplement the family’s income, she began coupon shopping, but wanted to be better at it. That’s when she started making organizers, which she sells for $20-$24.
“I made this because it didn’t exist,” she said. “I couldn’t find one that would hold my shopping list and the coupons, and would be cute, too.”
Orders for the customized organizers have come in from 11 states. There’s the brown corduroy one she made for a male customer and the ones made from colorful fabrics. Some even double as a budgeting book.
Still, during a period when consumers are cutting costs, spending $24 on something like this may be a stretch. After all, shoppers can use anything from a three-ring binder to filing envelopes to improve their shopping system.
“If you get something made in a factory, it’s going to be less expensive,” she said. “I’d love it to be affordable. It is durable, it’s custom-made and more unique, and it’s helpful. That’s why I think it’s been selling.”
During economic downturns, the spirit of entrepreneurship rises. Mananagan, whose husband is a health scientist for the Centers of Disease Control, was not forced out of the job market. Still, creating a business from scratch has inspired her. She doesn’t know yet whether she’ll devote herself to this new craft full-time. In the meantime, she’s saving — and making — money at the same time.
Tips to Make Your Own:
Not ready to plunk down money for a coupon organizer. Here are tips on making your own, and for organizing your coupons by product and expiration date.
Here’s just one from TipNut.com:
To organize all the coupons you have on hand with envelopes, one idea is to make an envelope for each category (such as Meat, Beauty Products, Soaps & Detergents, Paper Products, etc.).
Clip all the coupons you’ll use and store them in the applicable envelopes so you’ll find them easily. Once you have all your coupons sorted within the envelopes, store the envelopes in a plastic tub, shoe box, file folders, whatever works best for you.
Another idea for envelope organizing is to label and sort the envelopes by month (expiry dates). You’ll find more sorting tips toward the bottom of this post (under How To Sort & Organize Coupons).
How have you made extra money? Did you launch a new business during the recession?
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