All About Extreme Couponing: Organization 101

by Marcy on December 2, 2008 · 0 comments

This is the fourth and final post in my All About Couponing series. So far I have talked about coupon inserts, printable coupons and e-coupons. Today I want to talk a little about coupon organization. Because all of those coupons you amass are no good to you if you can’t find what you are looking for, right? :-)

Organization OptionsThankfully there is 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 Walmart and 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. Update: As of 2/6/14 it looks like the Couponizer is out of print. Check out this coupon binder option instead.

4) Coupon Binder – Coupon binders are exactly as they sound…binders with page protectors that store all of your coupons in one place. I first learned about coupon binders after watching Alyssa’s video here. I currently use a coupon binder, which leads me to the next point of this post…

What 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 and watching the coupon binder video that Alyssa at Keeping the Kingdom First put together, 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. I already had regular page protectors at home, which I figured I could also use to file store coupons and other miscellaneous items.

Taking Alyssa’s advice, 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:

– Candy/Gum
– Produce/Eggs/Staples (ex: sugar)
– Beverages
– Dairy Items (ex: cheese, yogurt)
– Meat
– Frozen Foods
– Snacks
– Boxed/Canned Goods
– Cereal/Breakfast Items
– Condiments
– Dish/Hand Soap
– Cleaning Supplies
– Miscellaneous Household (ex: batteries, light bulbs)
– Food Storage and Trash Bags
– Laundry Supplies
– Paper Products (ex: toilet paper, paper towels)
– Lotion
– Hair Care
– Face Soap/Deodorant
– Eye Care
– Dental Items
– Make up
– Feminine Products
– Body Soap
– Vitamins
– Medicine
– First Aid
– Diapers/Wipes
– Miscellaneous Baby/Kids

You can see an example of these pages here:

Note: I do end up having to fold most of my coupons to make them fit.

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:

I didn’t do anything fancy with these pages when coming up with categories. I just wrote the following on a purple post it note and threw it in with the coupons.

– 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 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 that 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 (see right side bar), 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 somet
imes 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).

I hope that this information has been helpful to you. If you decide that this is the route you want to go, be sure to watch Alyssa’s video and read her follow up Q&A’s here. I know that I found both of these resources to be extremely helpful, and I’m sure you will too.

So what are your thoughts? How do you currently organize your coupons? Do you do something that I haven’t mentioned here? What have you found works (or does not work) when it comes to organizing your coupons? Do you still have questions about organizing your coupons? If so, please feel free to leave a comment or send me a note!

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