red and yellow stop sticker

Fiddly bits of paper are clutter: Here’s how to deal with them once and for all

Over the years, I’ve noticed that if a company wants me to keep buying from them, they’ll offer me some kind of deal which involves me finding some scissors and clipping stuff.

How many box tops have you snipped off packages over the years, just so your kids’ school could get a nickel? Clip the coupon, save them up, hand them in by the deadline at school. Inevitably, everyone I work with has unredeemed box tops floating around, along with fistfuls of expired coupons, and ragged punch-cards that promise to save you a dollar if you spend ten times that.

Today, it’s time to see if you want to invest any more time and energy in managing these scraps.

The box tops are probably past due. If you feel guilty about opting out of this ‘easy’ fundraising opportunity, consider writing your PTA a check at the beginning of the year instead. Donate twenty dollars upfront, and forget about the box tops.

The coupons are only useful if they help you buy something soon you were already planning to buy. Same goes for unexpired gift certificates, which may also be clogging up your purse: Ask yourself how it’s going to feel to march into a specialty store seven years later and ask them to honor that coupon. They probably will, but you’re going to feel cheap. Is the awkwardness worth holding onto the battered gift card? If you say yes, today’s the day to use that gift certificate or toss it.

The punch cards are so riddled with duplicates, your purse barely closes. You could combine them all, but will you? If so, go to the coffee shop today, and use the punch cards to pay. Don’t start a new punch card.

Why bother with all this?

These scraps of paper involve tedious bits of work for not much reward. It’s not just about the debris floating around your purse, it’s about how you’re spending your time.

Are you still interested in messing about with little scraps of paper that save you a penny here and there, or are you ready to cut your losses? What you lose in nickels and dimes, you’ll save in time and energy.

Ready for something new?

Toss all those box tops, punch cards and expired coupons in the trash right now. If there’s a coupon you’re sure you’ll use, stick it in your purse next to your debit card, so you don’t forget it next time you’re at the store. If you don’t use the coupon then, it’s not useful for you, it can go.

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by Lucy Kelly