The First Cuts: What’s the Best Way to Organize Coupons?

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I am organizationally challenged.  I don’t pretend to be organized.  I just keep striving to that organizational goal! So, this post will not only benefit you guys, but it will benefit me as well.  You see, it isn’t that I don’t know how to be organized.  I just don’t have time to be.  I know there are probably several of you that are gasping right now thinking, How can you not have time to be organized?!  I have 3 kids, I homeschool, I run a blog, I cook, I clean, I chauffer, and I try to pencil in a little time for sanity.  Organizing somehow doesn’t always fit on the list.

Well, today I am going to show you several different ways to organize your coupons.  Everyone is different and one of these may work better for you specifically than another.  I personally use more than one of these methods.  I am a rebel, what can I say! :)

Filing

Filing has to be one of the simpler ways to keep track of whole coupon insert from the newspaper.  I personally do file the whole inserts.  I just take an empty file folder each week.  Place that week’s inserts inside and write on the outside of the folder the date, and what types of inserts are inside.  Like this

6/6 SS, RP, P&G

For those of you who get confused by all the coupon code, you can check out my previous post on coupon abbreviations to decode the letters above.

Then, when you go to wonderful sites like A Few Short Cuts that offer coupon matchups you will notice things like this.

SuperPretzel Soft Baked Pretzel, 6 ct, 13 oz box, BOGO $2.99
-$.50/1 SuperPretzel Soft Pretzel Item, any – 05-02-10 RP
-$.50/1 SuperPretzel Product, Any – 03-14-10 RP

You will know to look for the file folder marked 5/2 and pull out the redplum insert to find the coupon you are looking for.  No more clipping the entire insert!

Now, this works well if you plan your trips ahead of time.  For you spur of the moment shoppers you may want to think about the next two methods.

Coupon Box

image from MoneySavingMom.com

Again, this is another way I organize.  Except currently it is a little less organized and more just thrown in a box.  It is the definition of Organized Chaos. I know exactly what is in there, and if I did organize it I would probably have no idea how to find what I was looking for.

You can buy great little boxes at Michaels with dividers in them, or Staples.  You can even get just a clear plastic shoebox container from Walmart for around a $1.  Use index cards to set up your own categories like, Dairy, Produce, Canned Goods, Cereals, etc.  When you clip your coupons file them in the correct category and take your box with you to the store.

I use my box for my printable coupons, and magazine coupons.  Oh, and my blinkies.  Any loose coupons I may have.  I do not carry it to the store with me.  I try to plan before I leave.  When you fill your box with that week’s coupons, look for expired coupons and remove them.  That way you won’t have such a big job on your hands later.

Is a box necessary?  Why not just use one of those little accordion folders?  Well, if you are getting serious about couponing you will quickly realize that the little accordion folder will quickly become outgrown.    They are great to place coupons in that you know you will use that week.  For example, place coupons for the grocery store in one tab, cvs in another, Walgreens in another.  That way, you plan one day and shop all week.

For those of you who coupon for a small family or a couple, it may even be easier for you to clip your insert coupons and keep them in your box as well.  That way all of your coupons are in one location. Since you will only be clipping 1 or 2 inserts it will not be that time consuming.

Binder

Coupon Binders are fabulous.  I have really, honestly, and truly decided I want to start one.  This may be just the push I need.  The most convenient thing about binders is they are portable.  You don’t look strange carrying one into a store.  Plus, do you know how much you can fit into one binder?

First things first, you will want a binder that zips shut.  This is for many reasons, but imagine dropping a binder full of coupons, or accidently picking it up upside down.  Yeah, not pretty.

Inside the binder you will need dividers, and those plastic baseball card pages.  You can pick them up at Walmart, or order them online really inexpensively.  For larger coupons you could use photo album pages.  The picture pockets are larger than the baseball card ones.

The easiest thing to do would probably just check out Coupon Clutch. They have really great binders and you can order the inserts right from them.  One stop shopping from the comfort of your own home!

Now, you could organize by category, but I think the most logical would be alphabetical order.  That way you know right where to find specific coupons.  There will be no guessing if you put that L’Oreal coupon in hair care or beauty.

Don’t forget to toss a calculator, and a pen in your binder.  You can also have sleeves for the current sale paper, your store reward cards, rebate forms, receipts.  Your binder can be your one stop resource for everything coupon related!

There really is no right or wrong way to organize your coupons.  You are by no means limited to just one either!  I hope this post helped give you some ideas on how to organize your newly found coupons! Come back on Sunday to find out how to match your coupons with the grocery store sale to get the most bang for your buck!

Comments

  1. Great post amanda!!! I can attest to dropping an entire binder in a grocery store upside down is NOT a nice way to enjoy your shopping trip. Last year when my 2 year old was about 18 months old she shoved my zippered binder off of the cart (We were in the car cart at publix) and into the floor….upside down….and it took me 30 minutes to pick up all of my coupons – not to mention the additional time it took me to re-organize them. SOOOO imagine if you dropped an unzippered binder somewhere *Shudder*

    I too need to get better about organizing my coupons. I have a post coming out in a few weeks about this and lemme tell you – just WAIT till you see my “Before” picture of my coupons!! (there is no after picture yet…*faceplant*)
    .-= Crazy Coupon Carol´s last blog ..CVS Photo Center – 50 free prints!! =-.

  2. ALSO i wanted to say that for the larger coupons – in the coupon binder – you can also just slip those in the bottom row of the baseball card holders. They will stick up a little bit but at least then you don’t have to add the extra expense of photo pages :)
    .-= Crazy Coupon Carol´s last blog ..CVS Photo Center – 50 free prints!! =-.

  3. I also use a binder that zip shut and the baseball card inserts. One other thing that I did was to get colored pocket dividers. I got a printout of the Publix store that I most frequent and it had what items could be found on each aisle. I used the colored pocket dividers to organize the aisle…first divider has 1/2 so I know that the products on these aisles will be located behind the marked divider and so forth. The pockets on the dividers are also marked…one is riteaid , cvs, walgreens and target….i keep their coupons or weekly sales in them! Helped me get organized! Now when I hit an aisle at Publix I know what I’m looking for and can turn to that section in the binder and the products for that aisle are waiting for me!

  4. I use a binder, also. I have 2 pencil cases in the front- 1 for that trip’s list and coupons and 1 for pencil, pen, scissors, and calculator. Then I have baseball card pages organized by my Publix aisles (I don’t do drugstores). I only need one page per aisle. Then I have a divider, then pages protectors with each weeks inserts in them. I print out the coupon preview each week and slip it in the front of the page protector. My store has a great clearance section so I like having ALL my coupons with me, but hated sifting through every insert to find a coupon. Now, with the preview printed out, it’s much easier to find what I’m looking for. I’ve scored some great deals this way. I keep my IPs in the pocket in the back. I keep the whole binder in a reusable bag and carry it in like a purse. I get stopped ALL. THE. TIME and asked about my binder.

  5. I use a binder but need a new one mine has seen better days, I really want one of the cute covers up there for mine. I don’t clip but save the entire insert and just write on it the date and put them in a page protector
    .-= Joy´s last blog ..Wordful wednesday-One great hit =-.

  6. Ok, so I am new at couponing. Please bear with me. Somehting I don’t understand. For those of you who don’t clip the inserts how do you know or remember what is in them and how long do you keep the whole inserts? And how often do ya’ll go shopping? every week with the sales? Thank y’all for your time and for helping me understanding!

    • Sarah,

      Usually if you keep the entire insert you put them in a file folder with the date marked on it. When you go to websites like mine that provide you with matchups it will list a coupon and then a date like this 10/3 SS
      You will then know to look in your SmartSource insert from 10/3 for the coupon. Hope this helps! :)

  7. Jeanette says:

    I’ve been couponing for about two years now. I’m using the whole insert method. We use “milk crates” purchased at Staples and plain old manilla and file folders. I put the date on the file folders and then the name of the insert on each manilla folder. My only problem was when to pull out the expired ones. I found a site in a google search called Coupon Cleanout (www.CouponCleanout.com) and its been very helpful in that last respect. I select my state and it shows me what inserts are safe to pull out. Thought I’d pass it along for any other “whole insert” filers.

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