Ashley with Frugal Coupon Living wrote a great post on all the different ways you organize coupons. I personally use the binder method and it works great for me. But it is import to use what works for you. So this is a great way to show you a few choices. If you would like to read my post with photos of How I organize my coupons click here.
One of the most important things to do when couponing is organizing your coupons. If you don’t know where to find a coupon you have (due to a stash full of unorganized coupons) then you are not able to reach your full saving potential. Below I am going to show you different organizations methods that work.
Method One: Organize Inserts by Date
This method has been the method I have used for years. The funny thing, however, is when searching the internet for other’s organizational methods, I was the only one that I found using this method.
How to Start:
1.) Pull your inserts from the Sunday Paper and write the date on the front.
2.) Hole-punch the left margin of the coupon (In all my years, have not had problem with this messing up barcodes to scan.)
3.) Place your inserts in a large binder with oldest in the back and newest in the front (arranged by date.)
1.) This makes finding a certain date’s coupon VERY easy to locate.
2.) All your inserts are in one place.
3.) Doesn’t require much time to organize each week.
4.) Easy to get rid of expired coupons. Clean your binder starting in the back.
5.) You have every coupon that came out in the Sunday paper – no coupons went to waste. So even if there is a coupon for a product you don’t buy, you might find the product cheap/free and you can donate the item.
2.) When searching for a particular coupon (toothpaste), it is not easy to locate. I could be anywhere in your binder.
3.) There is a lot of “extra” advertisement paper (coupons only take up so much room on each insert.)
4.) Doesn’t leave room for loose coupons – another method is necessary to attach to this style of organizing.
• See My Example HERE.
Method Two: Organize Coupons by Type
This method is the most common for couponers. Most coupon “pros” (if we can call them that) arrange their coupons this way.
How to Start:
1.) Pull your inserts from the Sunday paper and cut. (Note: If you have multiple copies of the same type, lay individual, like pages on top of each other and cut coupons from multiple inserts at the same time.
2.) Once your coupons are cut, organize them by type. You can arrange by type using photo sheets or baseball card inserts.
3.) Place photo/baseball card inserts into a large binder. You can add as well a zipper pouch for scissors, pens, paperclips, etc.
1.) Organization at its best. If done right, this system is very orderly and neat.
2.) Easy to navigate for type of coupon. When you are in the store you can easily go to your health section for a toothpaste coupon.
3.) Easier to see when a coupon is about to expired.
4.) All your coupons are in one place.
5.) All the “extra” paper in the Sunday inserts are recycled or throw away. You do not have an abundance of extra weight due to unneeded paper.
1.) Time – you do need to find time to cut and organize coupons each week.
3.) Hard to find a coupon by date. If you need to go to the 1/3 SS insert, you don’t know which coupon came from where.
4.) You must search page by page for expired coupons when cleaning out your binder.
5.) When cutting coupons, you are most likely throwing away coupons you don’t use/need. If there is a sale where that coupon makes something free or cheap, you don’t have that coupon to donate that product to others.
• See Kerri ‘s binder example HERE – She actually sells them as well so you don’t have to make your own.
• See Sarah’s binder example HERE
• See Shannon photo album example HERE
• Coupon Magic Organizer also has a place where you can buy a premade binderHERE.
Method Three: The File System
I have seen this method before, but I was unable to locate a picture or example during my research. It is pretty self explanatory, however.
How to Start:
1.) Acquire a file cabinet or cube crate that can hold handing file folders
2.) Take your inserts and arrange by date. Each handing folder will house a different date’s coupons.
1.) Clean and Neat.
2.) Requries the least amount of time.
3.) This makes finding a certain date’s coupon VERY easy to locate.
4.) All your inserts are in one place.
5.) Easy to get rid of expired coupons. Clean your files starting with the oldest date
6.) You have every coupon that came out in the Sunday paper – no coupons went to waste. So even if there is a coupon for a product you don’t buy, you might find the product cheap/free and you can donate the item.
1.) Bulky – the most bulky method.
2.) Not really portable. You will not walk into the store with this method in your hand/cart.
3.) When searching for a particular coupon (toothpaste), it is not easy to locate. I could be anywhere in your file system.
4.) There is a lot of “extra” advertisement paper (coupons only take up so much room on each insert.)
5.) Doesn’t leave room for loose coupons – another method is necessary to attach to this style of organizing.
• Please share if you have/see an example to where I can link.
When couponing, you will most likely want to mix in other organizational methods. Of the above methods, method 1 and 3 don’t allow you to do it all in one place. You might be able to do it all with method 2.
For loose coupons, it is nice to have an accordion file. You can arrange this by type of coupon. You organization can be as specific ad dairy or as broad as grocery. Other tabs include health and beauty, baby, cleaning, household goods, etc. The accordion file is VERY easy to carry in the store. It can be as small as an envelope size or as large as a piece of paper (in width and height comparison- not depth.) This is a great place to organize peelies, catalinas, blinkies (store dispenser coupons), etc.
When shopping in a store, I plan my lists ahead of time. Like I have shared before, I do not walk in with my large coupon binder. Instead I carry in envelopes (and usually my accordion file mentioned above.) My envelopes are arranged by store name. For example, when I organize my CVS list I carry instead my envelopes coupons I need for THIS trip, Extra Care Bucks, My CVS Card, and rain checks. At the end of my CVS shopping, the envelope will be 95% empty from what I came in the store with.
My particular grocery store, Publix, often has a lot of additional coupon flyers/booklets. When I have extra booklets, I hole-punch the booklets and arrange them in a smaller binder. This I call my store coupon binder. If you desired, you could add some photo/baseball card inserts and place additional store coupons inside this binder as well. These would be coupons earned through rewards cards, food/baby clubs, etc. They usually are mailed, printed, or acquired in the store.
Photos above used with permission from: Save at Home Mommy, The Bargain Jargon, and Frugal Coupon Living.