Coupon craze leads to new business for entrepreneur

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.

The Dill Blossom coupon organizer

The Dill Blossom coupon organizer

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?

Follow me on Twitter @atlbargains and on Facebook at AJC Atlanta Bargain Hunter

13 comments Add your comment

Lilia Manangan

February 23rd, 2010
8:59 am

Because I just love this organizer due to its beauty, durability, practicality, and uniqueness, I have bought it for myself, my sister, sister-in-laws, and nieces in Hawaii, South Carolina, and Oregon. I also have given it as Christmas and birthday gifts.

JJM

February 23rd, 2010
9:03 am

being from the real estate sector once that business turned for the worst as a single mom something had to be done. I started a landscape service to supplement my income. I know have contracts with property preservation companies to service foreclosed/vacant homes. You wouldnt expect a 29 year old, 5 foot 1, girl girl to do this, but whatever it takes!

Kim

February 23rd, 2010
9:35 am

What a great idea! And for a good price :) Thanks for the URL to the site! Kim

Anna

February 23rd, 2010
9:42 am

I love my shopper. It so handy and cute!

Louisa

February 23rd, 2010
9:42 am

Awesome idea and SO useful.
Coupons are a chore, but this makes it easy!

Anna

February 23rd, 2010
9:42 am

Enter your comments here

Judith

February 23rd, 2010
4:23 pm

This is a cute idea. Yet less costly is the method my mother-in-law taught me. I use a 4×6 file box and use the file cards to create categories into which I place the coupons in expiration date order. I scan the weekly food ads and list the sale items I want to buy. Then I take an inventory of what I have on hand, using it and the sale list to create a menu for the week. I make my shopping list on the back of an envelope and highlight the coupon items in orange. I place the coupons in the envelope in the order they’re shown on the envelope, then at the check stand I just hand them to the cashier. This isn’t as glamoros as a pretty coupon holder, but except for the time it takes to do this, it doesn’t cost a penny.

Arnold

February 23rd, 2010
9:32 pm

I specially ordered one for a guy for me to use and Jamie created a corduroy cover. My wallet is now not bulky because I am using my organizer to store items that I had put in my wallet that I don’t use often like Home Depot and Lowes gift cards, receipts, reminder notes, car service coupons, etc. With the label sticker that came with it, I can easily find what I have placed in the organizer. Guys, this is not only for the ladies. This stuff is great for guys also!

Leslie

February 24th, 2010
8:48 am

I love the hands-free aspect of this organizer. It attaches to the cart! Very cool.

The Budget Mommy

February 24th, 2010
12:28 pm

Here’s an inexpensive way to store your coupons AND the sale inserts – http://www.thebudgetmommy.com/2010/02/how-do-you-store-your-coupons.html

rebecca

February 24th, 2010
2:04 pm

A good solution to help save time and money by having everything organized and in one place. This organizer is a great way to stay on track by keeping the list handy and the coupons at your fingertips and your hands free to get the job done. A needed piece of equipment for the person who wants to shop smart.

David

February 24th, 2010
7:29 pm

I wouldn’t waste time with any other organizer. My wife has this item and nothing she had tried previously compares to the multiple functions of this organizer. All the others at the grocery store look at her with envy as she strolls the isles with her organizer attached to her cart. This single item has enhanced our marriage in ways you could not imagine. In short, buy one.

[...] excitement to last me for a while.  And then the column was published in the paper and on her blog on Tuesday, and wow, things actually started to happen.  Orders started coming in for my [...]