One of the most important steps in learning to coupon is figuring out how to organize your coupons. Learn how in Lesson 3 of our Couponing 101 series.
There are several schools of thought on the best way 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 how to organize your coupons and then you have the decision of what organization system is best for YOU.
How to Organize Your Coupons
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, which is no longer available. 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.
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Another very popular method of coupon 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 more details on how to create a coupon binder, visit Queen Bee Coupons.
If you don’t want to deal with cutting coupons you might not use, another option 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 Hip2Save 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?
See the rest of our Couponing 101 posts HERE!
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. 🙂
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!
Great ideas! I’m blog hopping and found yours! Am now following! Would love for you to check out my blog and follow back!!
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 ..
So with the method you use, do you mark the date they expire or the date you received them or both?
Jinxy and Me says
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.
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.
i saw the post above on manufacture coupon if u print them a store will take them at the register right?
Yes, you just give them to the cashier.
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!
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?
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
I really would love to start couponing but I’m just having a hard time getting the hang of it.im a full time homemaker & have 2 toddlers that go to school & I want to start because I have free time I guess you can say. how do I start? please HELP!!
Katherine Johnson says
I would like to share how I organize my coupons. First I have to get the Thursday & Sunday paper because that’s where the coupon inserts are. Note: Holidays do not have inserts in Sunday paper. I pay 50 cents a week. Next, I ask neighbors and friends if I can have their inserts if they don’t use them. Some people actually “dumpster dive” to get more. The recycling bins at my apartment is low enough that I can reach in if I see coupons. Ok, the physical way I organize. #1 Only cut coupons that you will actually use (or try if its free) #2 I use a marker and write the expiration date in the lower area of the coupon so that I can see it easily. #3 I use a 5 x 7 Index box (Walmart/ Office Supply store) them use the index cards this way: buy both white and colored cards. #4 Use the colored cards to divide the types of coupons (example: Frozen, Pets, etc…) Then I use the white cards to bread down the actual items: cut off the bottom 2 lines off the card which will cause the card to sit lower that the full size color ones. So lets say under frozen you could make one for PIZZA, ICE CREAM, and things like that that you buy. Daisy could be: MILK, YOGURT, BUTTER, EGGS, Then when shopping keep the box on the seat where kids would sit and open you box and leave it there for easy access. as the cards get broken in they are easier to flip through. *Finally, when you find a coupon you can use, flip to the back of the cards and place it there. Lastly don’t forget to give to the cashier. NOW, HERE IS A WAY TO ACTUALLY SAVE WHAT YOU SAVED! Once you go home, figure out what you saved and put that amount in a jar or something. and watch how much you are now setting aside for some special purpose.
Thanks for sharing your tips Katherine!!
Katherine Johnson says
OOPS, FORGOT TO SAY TO ALPHABETIZE THE WHITE CARDS IN EACH CATEGORY, FOR EXAMPLE: IN DAIRY CATEGORY: BUTTER,,, CHEESE, EGGS, MILK, YOGURT…..You get the idea. THIS REALLY MAKES IT EASIER TO FIND YOUR COUPONS!