How to Organize Coupons! See these coupon basics so you can save money (and time)!
Lesson 2: How to Organize Coupons
This post will help you if you’re getting started couponing, or you need tips on how to organize coupons.
While we have many coupon formats now (like apps, digital, and paper coupons), keeping track of all your coupons is a must! There’s nothing more frustrating than having a great coupon that expired without being used just because it wasn’t organized well enough. See how to avoid these common mistakes with our Lesson 2: How to Organize Coupons!
If you read Where to Find Coupons: Lesson 1 on How to Coupon, then you know where and how to obtain coupons. If you haven’t checked out that post, be sure to take a look for some helpful tips!
You’ll remember in lesson one we encouraged you to get and keep several copies of the weekly coupon inserts. This gives you multiple coupons on the same item so you can stock up when you find a sale or clearance.
But where do you put them all and how do you keep them easy to find you may ask? Several ways include:
- Manila envelopes – Put each week’s inserts in. I label the outside of the folders with the date the coupon inserts were found in the newspaper. I do this in pencil so I can erase and use the folders over and over.
- File Cabinet– This is nice to have if you have many folders, and the room to store one.
- Plastic Container– For a smaller amount of folders or inserts, store them in a Rubbermaid or Cardboard container.
- Hanging Files– You can use these instead of envelopes, just remember to label and date!
Benefit of Storing Coupons as Whole Inserts:
It saves time! – Having your coupons organized this way saves so much time because you don’t have to cut out every single coupon. When you see a deal listed on the blog telling you where to find the coupon, you just flip through your folders, find the right date and cut out your coupon!
You can save money months later! – Keep your inserts for at least 8 months. I know that sounds crazy but some coupons don’t expire up to a year and you never know what’s going to be on sale a few months down the road. I was able to get Dole canned fruit for 25¢ each because I had kept my inserts from 4 months back that had Dole coupons in them.
Organizing Individual Coupons
Although I keep most of my coupons at home, I always keep the coupons that I know I’m going to use with me.
For example: My cat loves Friskies Party Mix treats. Any time I see these coupons I cut them out and keep them in my coupon binder. My grocery store doubles coupons up to $1.00 so I know I can get them free or cheap. Having those coupons with me all the time keeps me from missing out on unadvertised sales and I can pick up a pack every time I’m in the store.
Ways to Organize Coupons:
- Larger Binder Organizer
- Small Organizer – Great for beginners or if you use fewer coupons
- Larger Binder Organizer- Great for multiple coupons, experienced couponers, stores that have lots of unadvertised deals or double coupons.
Binders: There are different binders to choose from……just depends on your preference. You can use a regular 3-ring, 2 – 3 inch school binder or one of those nylon binders that zip up all the way around. Using a binder makes it easy to shop because I can turn it on it’s side in the grocery basket and have all my divider tabs sticking up where I can see them making my coupons a lot easier to find.
Baseball Card Holders: Many couponers use plastic see through baseball card holder sheets to store their coupons in. There’s usually 9 slots per page to put coupons in which makes it easy to see what you have because you can see 9 coupons at a glance.
Zippered Pencil Holders: If you don’t like to use baseball card holders try using a zippered see though pencil holders to separate your coupons. You can just put all your dairy coupons into one zippered pouch, beverage coupons into one zippered pouch etc. etc.
More Organization Tips:
- Use Divider tabs – To make finding your coupons easier you need divider tabs labeled with all your different coupon categories. You can use plastic and paper 3 hole punched divider tab sheets.
- Buy supplies during back to school sales!
- Look at the Mini binder at Staples. They even have the small coupon inserts made especially for mini binders. If your Staples is out of them or doesn’t carry them you can order online and have them shipped free to your local store. 🙂
Here’s some suggestions for dividing your coupons into categories:
- Baby ( diapers, wipes, formula, baby shampoo etc.)
- Baking ( cake mixes, baking powder, baking soda, frosting etc.)
- Beverages (soda, water, coffee, tea, kool-aid, juice etc.)
- Bread and Crackers (frozen, fresh, mixes, refrigerated, saltines etc.)
- Canned (Chef Boyardee, soup etc.)
- Candy ( any candy, gum etc.)
- Cereal ( hot cereals, cereal, cereal bars etc.)
- Cookies & Snack Crackers
- Condiments ( mustard, mayo, BBQ sauce, salt, pickles, peanut butter, salad dressing etc.)
- Dairy ( butter, sour cream, yogurt, cream cheese, eggs, milk etc.)
- Frozen (ice cream, frozen dinners, frozen pizza etc.)
- HBA (health & beauty)
- Make-up (cosmetics and facial care items)
- Meat ( frozen , canned and fresh)
- Medicine (pain relievers, band aids etc.)
- Misc. ( light bulbs, batteries, air fresheners etc.)
- Paper ( toilet tissue, paper towels, foil, napkins, paper plates, plastic bags etc.)
- Pasta ( pasta and pasta sauce, rice)
- Pets ( food, treats, toys, flea and tick medications)
- Produce (fresh, frozen & canned)
- Snacks ( chips, popcorn, fruit snacks, pudding cups etc.)
My Personal Preference on How to Organize Coupons:
All though I prefer a binder, there have been times when I’ve had to use a large 26 pocket accordian-style coupon holder. I had a really nice notebook binder that I kept in my car but when our neighborhood flooded, my car flooded, and my binder was no more!
It took days to dry out my coupons, but that’s another story. I needed something quick and easy and when I saw this storage box at Walmart I grabbed it. The advantages of the accordion-style storage is that it already has divided compartments with plastic tabs attached. I just filled out my categories on the perforated white paper that was included, slipped them into the plastic tabs and threw in my coupons! It couldn’t have been easier.
The only problem with the binders at Staples is there are no divider tabs that work with the coupon pages. The ones available for the mini binders aren’t long enough to stick out past the coupon pages so it makes it hard to locate your categories. Before I obtained my Coupon Possible binder I made my own divider tabs by cutting down a large one, making a template. I then made enough to fill my binder and used reinforcement tabs around the holes I punched in my homemade dividers before putting them in my binder.
No matter which organizer you choose you need to include the following:
- A copy of your store’s coupon policy: Ask at the customer service desk if they have a written policy. Some stores have them on their website. There are always cashiers that think they know their store’s coupon policy but don’t. Having the store policy with you will help solve any problems that come up. If that doesn’t work ask for the manager. Click here for links to store coupon policies.
- Calculator: You’ll need this to calculate the price of an item after use of the coupon (if you don’t have a smartphone).
- Small Notebook and Pen: These are something I use a lot! I write down prices of items on clearance so I can check the coupon data base for coupons to use on them. If I see an unadvertised great deal but don’t have the coupons with me I write it down so I won’t forget. If I see a new product I’d like to try, I write it down so I can remember to watch for coupons.
So you know where to get coupons, what to do with them after you get them, now it’s time to learn how to use them at the store. Read Lesson 3: How Shop With Coupons.
Need more info? See How to Build a Coupon Binder Here!
If you missed Lesson 1- Where to Find Coupons you can find it HERE
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