Sunday, April 24, 2011

Coupon Organization

One thing that has helped me become a successful couponer is keeping my coupons organized.

Once you have started to grow your coupon stash, the amount of coupons you have can start to get overwhelming, especially if you are cutting them all out.

When I first started couponing I tried several ways of organizing before I settled on one that worked for me.

I started out buying 2 papers each Sunday and I began by painstakingly cutting each coupon from the insert and putting them into a VERY small accordion file. After a few weeks that filing system was full and I graduated to another small accordian file, this time it had 3 times more pockets. But after a few weeks, cutting coupons and organizing them by category got really old.

Eventually even that accordion file filled up and I couldn't keep up with the cutting and tossing away of expired coupons.

Then I moved on to writing the dates on the outside of the inserts to keep then organized but inevitably I still managed to stay unorganized.

Finally I settled on my current method of organization...

I have all of my coupon inserts together in a filing cabinet (I used to use one of those colorful egg crate boxes which is a great and inexpensive option!).

I separate each week into a hanging folder, and then each type of insert into a separate tab folder. I write the date the insert came out and what kind of insert it is on the file folder, this way, when a coupon is listed i.e. 4/17 SS, all I have to do is go to that date, find the folder marked 4/17 SS. Then once I have found that folder, I look for the coupon in the insert and cut it out.

By doing it this way I know whether or not I received the coupon or if I have used it. It also cuts down on all of the tedious cutting each week leaving me with plenty of time to do other things!

And when my file cabinet is full and I need to put in another week's coupons, I pull the oldest set of coupons out, and put the new folder in. I double check the coupons in the oldest inserts to make sure all of the coupons have expired and if I come across one that hasn't, I cut it out and put it in one of my OLD small accordian files. By doing it this way I am able to reuse the same hanging and tab folders over and over again so I am not spending extra money on organizing my coupons!! This is definitely an added bonus for me because I am all about repurposing and reusing!!

When I am ready to do my shopping and I have cut out the coupons that I plan on using, I then put them together in my original small accordion file divided up by store. This way I know exactly how many of each item I am planning on getting and all I have to do is pull out my coupons at the register! And the best part is that this accordion file fits in my purse!!!

This is just the method that works for me. There are many other ways to organize your coupons such as in binders with baseball card sleeves. Those methods just didn't work for me because I am always on the go and my time is very precious. I tried to cut out each coupon but the amount of time I was having to dedicate to cutting was not worth it for me. Plus I like that this way has the greatest return with the smallest amount of effort!

And while this way works best for me, I want to stress the importance of organizing your coupons in a way that works for you... Because in the end you are the one who has to find and use the coupons.

What kind of organizational method do you use?


  1. Thank you so much for sharing this! I was so excited to hear you on Cornbread after watching you on the show! I actually do the binder method which is becoming extremely time consuming. I really like your method, but my only concern about doing that for me is that many times a store has an unadvertised sale that I would miss out on if I did not have my coupon binder fully stocked. How do you handle a situation such as that?

  2. Ya know, I am just getting back into this, but I was wondering the same thing. Here's a way I think I might try...I like the idea of the milk crate for the hanging files, because I could just throw that in the car with me. Along with a printout of the weeks coupons in a given circular as a way to know without going through each circular what is available to me. (Printing the sneak peak for the next weeks coupons that the bloggers usually post after) I could cross off each coupon as it is used. Then, in the store, if I carry a small binder with the coupon inventory sheets in it, I could scan and see if I have a coupon for the unadvertised item. If so, I only have to run to my car to grab the coupon for the item. If I happen to be doing more than one checkout for a particular store, then by going through the whole store the first time through, I'll know when I put those groceries in my car that I need more coupons. (If I am doing more than one grocery checkout, I buy shelf stable items only on my first run, so they can sit in the car without spoiling) May seem like a lot of work, but I think it would save me from hauling more around than what I want, and yet, I don't have to let a really good buy pass me by! This is theory, not practiced. Hope this all made sense. Oh, one more bonus with the milk crates...since they are mobile, I can take my crate with my laptop to my favorite spot, like the window seat or couch, and do my couponing there, where I am relaxed. :) Winning!