How to Organize Coupons – Lesson 2 in How to Coupon

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How to Organize Coupons! See these coupon basics so you can save money (and time)!

How to Organize Coupons

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!

Home Storage:

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.

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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:

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:

  1. Baby ( diapers, wipes, formula, baby shampoo etc.)
  2. Baking ( cake mixes, baking powder, baking soda, frosting etc.)
  3. Beverages (soda, water, coffee, tea, kool-aid, juice etc.)
  4. Bread and Crackers (frozen, fresh, mixes, refrigerated, saltines etc.)
  5. Canned (Chef Boyardee, soup etc.)
  6. Candy ( any candy, gum etc.)
  7. Cereal ( hot cereals, cereal, cereal bars etc.)
  8. Cookies & Snack Crackers
  9. Condiments ( mustard, mayo, BBQ sauce, salt, pickles, peanut butter, salad dressing etc.)
  10. Cleaners
  11. Dairy ( butter, sour cream, yogurt, cream cheese, eggs, milk etc.)
  12. Frozen (ice cream, frozen dinners, frozen pizza etc.)
  13. HBA (health & beauty)
  14. Make-up (cosmetics and facial care items)
  15. Meat ( frozen , canned and fresh)
  16. Medicine (pain relievers, band aids etc.)
  17. Misc. ( light bulbs, batteries, air fresheners etc.)
  18. Paper ( toilet tissue, paper towels, foil, napkins, paper plates, plastic bags etc.)
  19. Pasta ( pasta and pasta sauce, rice)
  20. Pets ( food, treats, toys, flea and tick medications)
  21. Produce (fresh, frozen & canned)
  22. 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.

coupon class

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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  1. I recently decided to go the route of storing the coupon inserts intact rather than cutting them out individually. I love it so much. When I was cutting them out….I grew to despise my coupons!

  2. It's so much easier to just store them and cut out when necessary……I'll never go back to cutting them ALL out again!

  3. To learn what works best for you, I strongly recommend experimenting with a few different organizational systems for several months. You might find it easiest to start with the intact-insert method described above, or clip just the coupons you know you’ll use, carrying them to the store in your wallet or an envelope. Due to the greater initial investment of time and money, I’d hold off on the coupon binder method until you know whether or not the simpler systems are enough for you.

    As a new couponer, I’ve been experimenting with all three methods for the past four months. My conclusion: to use a combo coupon binder/filed insert method. Why?

    1) I do best when I can see all of my coupons in one quick glance.
    2) The act of clipping and filing my coupons into the baseball card holders cements them in my memory.
    3) I’m prepared well in advance for any shopping trip.
    4) I’m able to immediately take advantage of unadvertised deals.
    5) I have all the coupons available for possible money-making (overage) deals.

    What I do is clip and file into the binder just my very favorite coupons – those for products I buy regularly, want to try, or that match store deals I plan to take advantage of that week.

    I keep the remaining coupons in the insert, then file them in a portable file box. The reason I keep these less-desirable coupons is 1) to share with friends who might want them; 2) for trading; and 3) for taking advantage of unforeseen money-making deals.

    Summary: Experiment, then choose whatever method best suits your temperament, time and energy needs.

    Have fun and Happy Shopping!

    1. Well said Amy! I do the same with the exception of the baseball card inserts. I don’t have the time to put each and every coupon in a card slot so I have those see thru zippered pencil holders and just put all of my dairy coupons in one, frozen foods in one etc. I like the baseball card method, I just don’t have the time to do it. I too keep my inserts in a file but since I keep them for up to a year (I’ve found really good unadvertised sales using coupons from inserts that came out months before the sale) I can’t carry them with me because it’s too many. I keep mine in a file at home. Sometimes I carry the most recent coupon inserts with me just in case I see something new. Thanks for sharing!!

  4. If you keep those inserts at home filed and for so long, how do you know when do get them? And how can they help you or do you have to leave the store, go home, get them, and come back?

    1. Myloe, You know when to use them by following a blog that lists the weekly ad deals for the store (or stores) you shop at. Take Homeland Grocery here in OK. Every week I post the weekly ad deals. I post what item is on sale, what coupon to use and where to find it in your file and how much it will cost after you use the coupon.
      For Example: I’m just making this up lol!!
      Tide Detergent 40-oz. $2.99
      Use $1.00/1 any Tide Detergent SS 3-13-11 (doubled)
      Final price: $.99

      You plan your trip, & organize your coupons before you go to the store. Now you can cut out all the coupons every week if you want. There’s nothing wrong with doing that but if you have a lot of inserts it’s going to take you a long time. Yes, the down side to not cutting every one of them out is that you may see an unadvertised deal that you have a coupon for but it’s at home. I always cut coupons I know I will use for sure right when the insert comes out in the paper and I put it in my binder so I always have them for a deal.

  5. So inserts last for up to a year or some do?
    I really have tons of time for couponing but is clueless as too my stores do double coupons or not.

    1. What we’re saying is that some of the coupon in the inserts don’t expire for a year so you should keep them for a future sale:)

    2. The best thing to do is call the stores you shop at and ask if they double and what are their rules about it (ie what do they double up to and how many of each particular coupon will they accept for doubling)

  6. Ok i dont understand the whole $1/1 thing could you explain it to me. I’m trying to understand as you can tell im very new to this.

    1. Sierra, I’m not sure which part you mean but if it’s the part about taking a calculator with you let me see if I can help. Most stores will put things on sale for say 3 for $5.00. Now most of the time you don’t have to buy three of them, because the store will let you just buy one if you want. For example: at the store Dial Soap is 3 for $5.00. You only have one $1.00 off 1 coupon so you only want to buy one. You’ll need the calculator to tell you how much they are apiece. $5.00 divided by 3 is $1.67 so each one you buy will be $1.67 or 3/$5.00. Since you only have one $1.00/1 coupon you’ll buy the one Dial Soap for $1.67, use your $1.00/1 coupon and get it for $.67.

  7. I am really grateful for the vast collection of knowledge that I have been able to get from this website! I found a zip up binder at Walmart for $10 that has pockets on the outside for my scissors and such and it even has a hook for me to keep my car keys while I am shopping, which has all my store rewards cards on it. I was able to get all my baseball card plastic holders for FREE! I just dug up that old 3 ring binder my husband had in a tub that held all of his childhood baseball card collection and simply repurposed them for something a little more useful. He didn’t mind at all. He is actually looking forward to saving money. On only my 2nd couponing trip I saved over 50% on my total order!

    1. Lynn all you have to do is click on “find my store” tab on the homepage of our website (the website is the blog) once you click on “find my store” click on the store you want to see the deals for and all the most resent deals will come up:)

  8. This site is so great. I’ve learned a lot from reading the questions people posted. I’ve use coupons in the past but I really want to help save on our budget more. I can’t wait to start. Thank you for the website.

  9. I think I know the SS means it’s in the Sunday sale ads but what does RP mean? See below for an example.

    Use $1.00/1 Nivea For Men Body Wash 16.9-oz RP 7-31-11 (exp. 9-30)

    Are there any other abbreviations we need to know?

    Thank You.

  10. Thank you so much Princess Karen. I never realized the name on the Sunday coupons. I printed the list to learn the lingo. For those of you reading this asking the same question, the lingo is under Lesson 5.


  11. I added the large plastic sleeves to my binder and use them for grocery adds, my master grocery list, and copies of store coupon policies. . Plus I have pockets that are marked redeem need and use soon. so that I can get to the register and know what Im doing.

  12. Hi there, I am new to the website. I was reading the CQ savings chat and — what is a “saving star acct” . Really enjoy your friendly, easy to follow website. Thanks for all your work.

  13. I was watching the extreme couponing series and notice some of the women carrying a tablet with prices and lists on those, that looked like another nice way of keeping track of purchase’s and coupons to use. Is there something that can be downloaded to use that application on phone or tablet?

  14. I’ve been couponing for quite a while but was cutting all coups out and using a box. I’m ready to do the binder, but was confused about one thing. So “queen mum” if you leave your inserts at home, then am I understanding that you go ahead and put every thing you will use in your binder divided by folders? I’m still not understanding if you don’t use baseball card folders, how do you get the to stay in the binder?

  15. I use the file method, it works better for me with 2 young kids. I don’t always have time to sort, staple and clip, and put in a binder. So the file method works great for me.

  16. I am new to this site and using coupons as well. My husband is the only one working and we are expecting a new addition to our family. My due date is in a couple of days and before I found this site all I was thinking about was our new baby and how we’re going save money but now I find myself thinking about learning and dreaming about coupons all the time. I just want to thank Consumer Queen, ‘Queen Mom’ and everyone who is a part of this website for the help and the work put in to sharing this information with others who need it most. I look forward to learning a lot and would continue to learn to save money for my family. God bless!!!

  17. Just received my Coupon Possible binder this weekend and loaded it up. I love it, just wish I would have ordered the 1-inch instead of 3/4-inch. I’ve already got it bulging!

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