Couponing 101 – A Step by Step Guide for Beginners: Lesson 3 – How to Organize Your Coupons

There are several schools of thought on the best ways to organize your coupons.  The one thing that is agreed upon however is that you MUST organize your coupons.  If you just have a bunch of cut coupons lying around in a pile you will never find what you need and you will never turn those little slips of paper into savings!  I will go over some of the most popular methods of organization and then you have the decision of what is best for YOU.

One of the most standard and long-standing methods is the coupon box.  This can be as small as a little card file box you buy from an office supply store all the way up to a large box specifically made for couponing.  For years I used the deluxe coupon file from Refund Cents – you can find it over in right margin of their page. A coupon box like this is divided into categories by type of product, such as baby, pet, frozen, meat, pasta, produce, cleaning, paper products, etc.  This method served me well for a long time.  I would always bring it with me to the store and when I was shopping needed a coupon for a particular item or something was on sale that I didn’t expect,  I would look through that section and pull it out.  The drawbacks to the method is that it took a LOT of cutting and filing all the time and I would have to dig through each section to find the appropriate coupon (although I tried to keep each section alphabetized by brand which helped.

Another very popular method of organization is the coupon binder method.  In this method you use a big three-ring binder with clear baseball card pockets to organize your cut coupons.  Like the coupon box, it is arranged by category, but it is different in that each particular coupon has its own pocket so they are easy to see as you are flipping through the book, which is one of the main benefits.  The drawbacks to this method are that again it takes time and effort to clip and sort and your binder can get very big and heavy if you have a lot of coupons!  However, it’s technically portable so you can still take it to the store to find coupons as you need them.  (But don’t be surprised to have a lot of people asking you what IS that big thing you have in your cart.)  For details on how to create a coupon binder, visit Queen Bee Coupons.

The third method, which is the method I use myself, is to save your complete Sunday coupon inserts and organize them by date.  What I do is take a black marker and write the date of each insert on the front as they are received.  I then either just leave them in a big stack (depending on my current state of couponing and how many inserts I have) or else store them in a portable upright file box with hanging folders to divide them by dates.  I often just tuck the whole stack into a shopping tote as well.  With this method, when you need a particular coupon you can use an online coupon database, such as the one at Hot Coupon World and type in the coupon you are looking for.  The database will tell you which insert on which date has that coupon.  This method works great if you find a lot of your deals online from bloggers.  The deals will usually list the insert and date in which you can find a particular coupon so all you have to do is go to that insert and cut out what you need.  (For an example see my Walgreens post and how I list what inserts have the coupons you need.)

The biggest benefit of this method is that it is easy and you don’t spend any time cutting coupons that you may not use in the future.  It’s also very easy to find coupons for a particular deal.  I also do a slight variation on this method in that each week when I receive my inserts I browse through them and clip out any coupons that I know I will use (or am at least 80% certain that I will use).  These are any free item coupons and also coupons for products where we always buy the same brand and buy them often – for example the Lean Pockets my husband likes to take to work.  I keep these coupons in a small coupon file in my purse so that I always have them available when I’m at the store.  That being said, the the main drawback to this organization method is that you can’t take ALL of your coupons to the store with you and you might sometimes see an unadvertised sale and you won’t have coupons for it.

So how will you organize YOUR coupons?

Find more couponing posts here.

About Chrysa

Chrysa is the founder and owner of ThriftyJinxy.com, a site dedicated to living a fabulous life on a frugal budget. Her approach is that by spending less on the boring everyday stuff, you can have more money to splurge on the things you REALLY want, whether it’s travel, fashion, electronics – you name it! Chrysa is married, has a 5-year old nephew she dotes on, as well as two lovable cats and a big sweetie of a German Shepherd.

Comments

  1. I do a combination for organizing my inserts. I have what would be the equivalent of a “coupon box” and then extra inserts that I get from family get filed away my month/date. :)

  2. I worked my way up from a small wallet sized organizer to a binder, and back down again; these days it all depends on the amount of couponing I do. I agree–even if all you have is an envelope stuffed with loose coupons, you must have some sort of order or system or you’ll never use them!

  3. Great ideas! I’m blog hopping and found yours! Am now following! Would love for you to check out my blog and follow back!!

  4. thank you for the tools of the trade i need to move forward you helped me understand more about what i can do with coupons..thanks again for writing this for us beginners it truly does help ..

  5. So with the method you use, do you mark the date they expire or the date you received them or both?

  6. I mark them with the day they were published. Most coupon deal lists will refer to the date the coupon came out and this way it makes it easy to find them.

  7. I am a new extreme couponer but about to give up. All I find are manufacture coupons, i have found maybe 10 STORE coupons that I got from the actual grocery STORE and 4 STORE coupons from Sundays paper. I read from other websites or other extreme couponers that I can find STORE coupons on the specific store websites…that is a lie. When I go to print out the coupons there is a picture of the stores logo but at the top it says manufacture coupon. SO where do I really get store coupons from???? I am pregnant and my patience has grown short with going to every website and printing out more manufacture coupons when its the STORE coupons that I need. PLEASE HELP ASAP!

    • Caroline – not every store has their own coupons, but many do. For example, Target is a national store that offers store coupons. Regional supermarkets vary greatly and they may or may not be available in your area.

  8. i saw the post above on manufacture coupon if u print them a store will take them at the register right?

  9. Frugalnurse1 says:

    Hello,
    I am also new to extreme couponing. I have been cutting out coupons for years, but I have never done the extreme kind. I am an extremely frugal person always looking for bargains. I shop at thrift stores too. I was on google and surfing the net when I came to your site. Thanks for the info. I will be upgrading my status soon to the binder. I love to teach so I have no problem with the cutting, filing and organizing. Talk to you soon! :)))

    • Thanks for stopping by! I hope you’ll continue to read – we have great new deal info every day! Have fun organizing your binder!

  10. veronica says:

    I’m totally new to couponing.I need a lot of help on learning how to find coupons use them. I’m at a point in life where saving money is a big deal for me. I’m without a job 3 small kids and my husband the only one working. So if anyone could help me would be great. Is there any groups I could join?

  11. Doris Bolanos says:

    I am a new couponing user and i need help in learning how to use them. I have a friend that get a bundle of coupons
    from a web site. she does pretty good but she hasn’t share her tips with me. I have 4 kids and have no job at this mo
    ment. Any help will be appreciated. Thanks

Add Your Comment

*

Current ye@r *

Great Deals: BOGO Deals at EntirelyPets.com - EntirelyPets