Amassing a large quantity of coupons does little good if you don’t have a method for organizing them, so read on for a few tips to help get you started. I also provide you with step by step instructions for creating a coupon binder which happens to be my favorite organization method of the moment.
Thankfully there are a multitude of ways that you can organize your coupons, which means that you should have no problem finding a system that works for you. Here are a few systems that I am aware of:
1) Accordion Style Coupon File – You can find these wallet style coupon files at stores such as Walmartand Target for under $5. These files allow you to sort your coupons by the categories of your choice and are often small and easy to carry with you to the store. These work great if you don’t have a large number of coupons in your stash.
2) Coupon Box – You can make your own coupon box using a recipe box or other small storage container and your choice of dividers and/or envelopes. For more information about these, check out Crystal’s example here.
3) Professional Coupon Organizing Systems – There are several pre-packaged coupon organizing systems available online and in stores. One that I am familiar with is the Couponizer. This system comes with a spiral notebook with pockets, a coupon sorting mat, shopping lists and several other features. You can read more about it here.
4) Clip/Print As You Go – I quite possibly just made this method up, but it is exactly as it sounds. File your coupon inserts and printable coupon sheets and clip only what you need for the week. If you are utilizing blogs like this one when preparing your grocery lists each week, the location of each coupon will be spelled out for you. All that you have to do is know where to go to find the coupon. Sounds easy enough, right? :-)
5) Coupon Binder – Coupon binders are exactly as they sound…binders with page protectors that store all of your coupons in one place. I personally LOVE my coupon binder when it is up to date. The hard part for me is keeping it current. Because this is the method that I prefer, I have outlined how I put together my binder what what I would do to keep it up to date assuming that I actually do!
What (Sometimes) Works for Me
As I just mentioned, I used a regular old coupon file for several years. As my use of coupons grew, I found that I grew out of my file. It ended up being stuffed too full and started to tear. After doing some research online, I decided to give the coupon binder a try.
I went to Walmart when back to school items were on sale and purchased this binder:
I also purchased the inserts that you file baseball cards in. I had a hard time finding these in my Walmart…and I ended up finding them not in the office supplies but up in the front of the store near the registers with all of the sports memorabilia type stuff. Because these were a little pricey, I only bought one pack and decided to make it work (Note: check eBay for a better price on these). I already had regular page protectors at home, which I figured I could also use to file store coupons and other miscellaneous items.
I store my weekly store ads, extra coupon inserts, coupons that are too large to file, and a pair scissors in the front part of my binder here:
As for my pages, I do try to file like coupons on the same page, using one page per category. Here are the rough categories that I came up with for my binder, with these coupons being filed in the baseball card style pages:
- Produce/Eggs/Staples (ex: sugar)
- Dairy Items (ex: cheese, yogurt)
- Frozen Foods
- Boxed/Canned Goods
- Cereal/Breakfast Items
- Dish/Hand Soap
- Cleaning Supplies
- Miscellaneous Household (ex: batteries, lightbulbs)
- Food Storage and Trash Bags
- Laundry Supplies
- Paper Products (ex: toilet paper, paper towels)
- Hair Care
- Face Soap/Deodorant
- Eye Care
- Dental Items
- Make up
- Feminine Products
- Body Soap
- First Aid
- Miscellaneous Baby/Kids
You can see an example of these pages here:
Because I have more coupons than space, I reserve the baseball card pages for the coupons that I am confident I will use. For all others I either don’t clip them (and keep the full insert in the front of my binder) or I throw them in page protectors that I put in the back of my binder here:
- Restaurant Coupons
- Store Coupons (including Catalinas)
- Miscellaneous Coupons
- “To be Filed” Coupons
In terms of keeping my binder up to date, I try to go through once a month (*cough*) and pull out the coupons that either have expired or will be expiring soon. The last week of the month is when I usually do this.
It is easier if I clip my coupons every week and file them, but that doesn’t always happen. On weeks when I am being lazy (or don’t have time) I just file my entire insert in the front of my binder and reference it whenever I need to clip a coupon before shopping. (Note: the date that the insert is in your newspaper is printed on the binding of the coupon insert. That means if you use my grocery deals posts to make your shopping list, you can easily reference your coupon inserts using the dates that I write in my store sale/coupon match up posts.)
I personally do not take my binder with me to the store. I am a planner, so I always take a detailed list to the store with me. That means I am able to pull the coupons that I plan to use for each shopping trip and I put them in an envelope (Tip: save money and use the envelopes that come with your bills if you pay bills online like me!) labeled with each store name.
Yes, that means that sometimes I don’t have a great coupon on hand if I see an unadvertised deal that I didn’t know about. But I figure that I can always go back to the store to get the item (with my coupon) if it is that great of a deal. Plus this helps me stick to my list (and budget).
You can learn more about the following topics in my All About Couponing Series:
I also offer some General Coupon Tips here.