How To Keep Your Coupons Organized

by Mary on January 18, 2011


How to Keep Your Coupons Organized.

Last week we discussed in our, “Frugal Living Series”,  How To Obtain Coupons.

Now that you know how to obtain a nice collection of coupons, it is very important to come up with a system on how to organize them.  Even the best intentions of being more frugal and saving a lot of money via using coupons will fail if you don’t have a sense of organization.

Webster defines the word, “Organized” as having a formal organization to coordinate and carry out activities.

So, as with any other activity that would soon turn to chaos without an organized plan, so it is with coupons.

How you organize your coupons is a very personal decision, because what works for one person, may or may not be the most enjoyable/efficient way for another. There are two ways that I have found to be successful, that we are going to discuss today.  Both ways can save hours of time each week.

Here is my coupon filing system below.


This is the first coupon filing system I would like to talk about.  It is the way I am currently organizing my coupons,  it is called the file system.

With this system, you pull the coupon inserts out of your Sunday paper, write that current Sunday’s date on a tab folder and file your folders with the most current date first.

I keep around nine months worth of inserts.  Coupon inserts that are older than nine months,  can simply be thumbed through quickly to see if there are any coupons that are still not expired.  You may cut them out if you think you may use them.  Usually by nine months, all your coupons are expired.

In addition, I file my three most current All You Magazines behind my weekly inserts.

If you order coupons from Coupon Clipping Services, be sure to keep the extra coupons you have ordered in dated envelopes with the Sunday dates they came out in, then file those envelopes along with their corresponding, dated, whole inserts.  Keeping everything nice and organized and easily accessible.

I keep a miscellaneous folder for all extra coupons I may obtain through mailers, free samples, blinkies, and peelies.

When it is time to go shopping, all I have to do is print out my store list straight from my own coupon match-ups, and pull all the coupons I will need.  All Coupon Match-ups have their corresponding coupons and the dates they came out in.  Example ~ Use $1/1 coupon from  the 12/26 SmartSource insert.    This step takes very little time to do and in no time I am ready for my next shopping adventure.

The draw back to this system is if I see an unadvertised sale in a store, I will not have my coupons with me.

The most positive thing about this system is you never have to deal with a coupon unless you are going to use it – saving you a lot of time.

The next system is the binder system.  This is the way I used to file my coupons.  This is when you clip all your coupons and file them by categories  in clear – 4 and/or 6 pocket baseball card holders.  The cheapest way I have found to buy these baseball card holders is through Ebay.

Use tabbed dividers to mark your categories keeping it nice and organized.  Categories are a very personal thing as well.  Come up with categories that make sense to you.

You can categorize coupons by store lay out, in alphabetical order, or by type of products.  I personally have found categorizing my coupons by category worked best for me.  Such as Cleaning Items, Dairy, bread, etc.

The binder system is a really good system to have all your coupons with you at all times.  If you enjoy taking advantage of unadvertised sales and clearance sales this is a great system for you.  Not to mention, you are always ready to run out the door to do your shopping with no prep time involved.

The down side to this system is you have to put the time into cutting and filing all your coupons weather you use them or not.  You will also have to keep on top of removing expired coupons.  However, this is all very doable with a little time and effort.

I highly recommend you keep your first name and a way to contact you in the event you lose your binder.  Can you imagine how sad you would be if you lost all your coupons?  I personally,  cannot imagine that.  ;)

Those are just two of the many ways to keep your coupons organized.  You could organized your coupon by categories in small white envelopes or in a shoe box type container.

How you organize your coupons is totally a personal choice. You probably will change the way you organize your coupons throughout your couponing career as I have.  I started with a small plastic box, moving my way to a binder, then to the file system.

The important thing is this:  That your system is working for you.  Once you find the right system for you it will make couponing a positive experience  keeping you organized, as well as saving you tons of  money and time.

The most common question I get from people is, “How long does it take you to use coupons each week?”  Well, my answer to that is about three hours.  Considering most weeks I save around $100 in coupons if not more, I have paid my self well.  Go HERE and take this week for example.  I saved  $185.24 in one week, just on the three major drug store chains.  If I were to divide $185.24 by three hours, I have paid myself $61.75/ Hour.

Where are you going to go and make $61.75/Hour on a small part time job?    Let me suggest, probably no where?  That is not even mentioning you get to keep all the products.

In today’s economy, we need to look at couponing as a fun, paying hobby.

It is a way to bless your home and others.  As I  always say, why not tell your money where to go.

Giveaway Time:

Every week, our  Frugal Living Series articles have a $20 Gift Card (Winner’s choice) attached to it.

The reason for this giveaway is to make sharing fun.  Anyone who answers the below questions and / or who shares anything on this topic in the comments section below will be entered to win a $20 Gift Card.

The giveaway begins now and will end next Wednesday when the new Frugal Living Series article is posted.

Question Time:

1. Which coupon filing system have you found works best for you?

2.   Are there any tips and/or tricks you have found that you would like to share?

3.  How helpful did you find this article.

Have fun!!  I cannot wait to read all your comments.  I loved all the comments last week!

To see more Frugal  Living Series Articles, Go HERE.


{ 211 comments… read them below or add one }

Angie Brown January 18, 2011 at 10:42 pm 1

This is a great article. I started out using a small accordion style coupon “wallet’ for all my coupons. I eventually upgraded to a filing cabinet and file my coupons in much the same way as you do yours.
Thanks for sharing!

Lynne January 18, 2011 at 10:43 pm 2

I use the binder system, it does take a while longer, but I hate going into a store and finding clearance things and not have my coupons with me. I did find this really helpful , thanks. I always like to see how other people keep their coupons.

Thanks for all your great ideas. I really use your emails and fb page a lot.

Rhonda January 18, 2011 at 10:44 pm 3

I have tried a slew of different filing methods. I don’t ‘like’ any of them. Lol. I think I have to agree that your current method, filing whole inserts, is the best for me (ie: lesser of other evils). I will admit to having been ‘proud’ of my binder & my coupons when I had that system. But, it was a nightmare trying to keep it current.

My ’2nd’ most favorite method was keeping clipped q’s in alphabetical order (in a small tackle box, using ABC dividers). I seemed to do better having them in ABC order as opposed to categorical order. Biggest problem there was if my box got bumped & tipped over. Nightmare! ;)

I really like clipped q’s, but lately am not organized enough to go that route. For me, it’s best just to have a few inserts on hand.

Lindsay M January 18, 2011 at 10:45 pm 4

So far i use the file system for my coupons, and it seems to work best for me.
I have that it is beneficial to compare at least 2 different matchup sites for an ad, because they don’t all have the same coupons listed.

Jill January 18, 2011 at 10:46 pm 5

Great info. I definitely need a better system. Time to upgrade to something bigger and better!

Kristy January 18, 2011 at 10:47 pm 6

I really like your organizational ideas! I’ve only been couponing for 6 months, or so, so they all help! My style has been a combination of the two you explained: I put the inserts inside of clear page protectors in chronological order, with an extra one for printables, etc. I then drag this around everywhere, but it’s getting very heavy! I think I’ll move it to a file box and only take what I need out when I need it.

Jessica January 18, 2011 at 10:47 pm 7

I am a single grad student so right now I just use a recipe organizer, but I think I need to upgrade to the binder. I get a lot of gluten free coupons that last longer than normal so those are difficult to keep track of!

Kirstine January 18, 2011 at 10:48 pm 8

1. Currently I am trying to move my coupons to a photo album? Not sure if this is going to be a good way or not. It’s a test for the binder method. I happened to have an unused photo album laying around. Before investing in the binder – figured I would give this a try since it is basically the same idea. I have tried the accordian binder method, that just did not seem to work for me – I am a visual person and constantly found myself spending more time looking for coupons that I thought I had. I like the file method, but when I am looking for a specific coupon, and not sure of the date of it – it is a huge pain looking at each insert – any ideas on finding them faster? I considered making a list of what was in each insert and putting it in front of the file and then crossing them out as I used them or they expired – but that just seemed like a lot of work. Any suggestions greatly appreciated.
2. Looking forward to others tips…
3. This is a great article.. There is always something to be learned.

Teresa January 18, 2011 at 10:50 pm 9

1. Because I feel I am new to coupons I chose to use the binder system I like to feel I have them with me just to be sure.
2. I like the idea of storing the inserts in a file system. I’m interested in a best of both worlds. LoL
3. This article was very helpful. I has reasured me that I am on the right savingtrack! Thanks

Jennifer January 18, 2011 at 10:50 pm 10

Thank you for this post. I have been wanting to start couponing however I was hesitant since I am a fairly organized person. The thought of all of those coupons sitting around were overwhelming to me. Thank you! I am really enjoying your FB posts.

Kelly January 18, 2011 at 10:50 pm 11

I clip all coupons which come in my mail. I then organize them by date (1-9, 10-19,20-31). When I walk into the grocery store I pull out the coupons which will expire first. I actually often purchase using these coupons as a guide which causes our shopping to vary and allowing for variety in our meal plan. The coupons I don’t currently need,which I still have clipped, get laid in front of the product so that someone who needs the product will be able to use the coupon!

Maria January 18, 2011 at 10:51 pm 12

I use the baseball inserts because I have to drive at least 30 min to the store, and only go once a week and hate to miss all the free stuff i would miss if i didnt have my coupons. But to make it even easier, i do have a paper cutter, trust me, it cuts the time in half to cut and file your coupons, then before i head out to the store, i go to your ad matches and mark the best deals, pull my coupons and have them ready with my list, this saves alot of time, and i still have my coupon bag in case i run into a killer deal. Thank you for this article, it helps to see other methods to make couponing easier.

Kelly Ivins January 18, 2011 at 10:52 pm 13

I’m fairly new to couponing, but I have established a binder system. I don’t use the baseball card method. I use pocket folders. This works for me. Each pocket folder has two pockets – one on each side – allowing for two different categories (ex. baking on one side; bread on the other). Besides the open pocket folders, I also have three clear pocket folders that have flaps that close. I can put special store coupons (Target, CVS, etc.) in those. Oh – the binder zips closed.

The binder I use also has an accordian file attached to it allowing for circulars (or whatever) to be saved and brought with me shopping for reference.

I LOVE this Frugal Living blog. It has been a God-send to me (literally!).

Thank you!!!

Debbie January 18, 2011 at 10:53 pm 14

I currently use the binder system. I tried the file system but that forces me to rely on blogs and other sites that will help me organize my coupons in advance. Although I do generally organize my shopping trips in advance, the binder system is handy when it comes to unadvertized sales. Several weeks ago at Walgreens, I got 4 bottles of hair products for 9 cents each because I had a $1.00 Q and the item was marked down to $1.09. Had I used the filing system, I would have had my coupons at home and would have lost out on the sale.

My biggest problems is my binder is HUGE and it can be a bit of a pain to carry around. I did get the binder with a shoulder strap, but sometimes it’s really heavy!

The article was interesting — I always love to read about couponing and other couponing methods. Thanks!

Kim P. January 18, 2011 at 10:55 pm 15

I love the idea of filing the whole insert. What a time saver.

I used to use the binder system, but that never worked well for me. I hated putting the coupons in the little pockets. But I know a lot of people like that method.

A few years ago I bought a coupon file online. The design is similar to a tackle box, but shallower. I have no financial interest in this company, but this is where I bought the Coupon File: http://refundcents.com/subscriptions.asp

jackie dean January 18, 2011 at 10:56 pm 16

I also use a binder, but I have envelopes hooked to the rings, with coupons inside, a running list attached. I use coupons every time I go to a store, with an item I need or will use soon. Target had kleenex on sale a few weeks ago, and I used a few coupons on $1.00 boxes, I ended up getting a few boxes free… Love the coupons, and always trying to get better organized with them. Thanks for the updates..

Ruthann January 18, 2011 at 10:56 pm 17

I found a 4*6 accordian file box at staples. I then get a sheet of baseball card holders and cut them across. I insert coupons in order by date and by catorgory in each pocket. I used my label gun to label each folder pocket by catorgory. At the end of each month I weed out the expired ones and insert new ones. This system has worked nicely for me now for 2 years. It’s small enough to carry every where I go and it’s all in order.

Lynn January 18, 2011 at 11:04 pm 18

Buying multiple papers, stack your alike pages, cut them once and staple them together. Keeps the number of coupons you have for a single item together and if they expire you can toss them all without thumbing thru them individually. I file mine in alphabetical order by brand name then by what they are. Ex…Kraft behind it is a envelope for bbq sauce, then cheese in the next envelope ect.. Happy couponing!

Julie January 18, 2011 at 11:07 pm 19

I tried the binder system but couldn’t deal with it – too much work, too heavy to carry around easily, too hard to find coupons in the store (because my binder would not balance on the top of the cart). I went to a simple file box (that fits in the seat of the buggy) and I sort my coupons by category within it. I paperclilp together like coupons so that when I pull out one for that item I pull them all out and don’t have to keep digging. I clip them together in order of expiration date, so it’s easier to pull out the expired ones as I go.

I find that organizing coupons has to be a constantly evolving thing, and is very personal.

The best bit of advice I can give on finding an organizer is to not just look for “coupon organizers”. Keep your eyes open for things in places you wouldn’t expect. The box I use is actually a Scrapbooking/ Photo memory keeper box.

Bridget Nelson January 18, 2011 at 11:07 pm 20

Thanks for the info! At the moment, I just have stack of coupons sitting on my desk & then I’ll just shove the ones I’m going to use that day in my wallet. I’ve been trying to find a small coupon organizer, but haven’t had much luck lately.

Dana January 18, 2011 at 11:07 pm 21

Does a messy stack on top of the fridge sound familiar to anyone? That is my filing system currently. Needless to say I miss a lot! Your article is very helpful and i will take these tips to heart…hopefully to a new filing system.

Ashley January 18, 2011 at 11:09 pm 22

I started out using the small dollar tree holder. That lasted a few months. Moved up to a large filing box. Now I’m using a binder. I like the box better cause it was quicker to file. I think I’m to the point of not cutting anymore. I just spend so much time cutting and filing. I made a resolution to really use coupons to my advantage this year. I have been tracking my spending so the way I use coupons has changed. I believe I’m finally on the right track. A good tip would be to try some different methods til you figure out what works best. I love reading these articles. Even though I’ve done this for a long time I always like to hear what others are doing. Thanks

Lindsay January 18, 2011 at 11:21 pm 23

I use a binder right now. I like the idea of a folder system. I feel like I’d have to have my own ‘match up’ list so I could find the coupons I need based on my own shopping list. So what do you do? Enter all the coupons into a database? I wonder if that would be less time consuming than just cutting them all out??? Thanks for the ideas! I’m still learning!

carissa January 18, 2011 at 11:21 pm 24

I have a shoe box size plastic bin with various envelopes for certain stores and also a couple expandable wallet coupon holder thingys. then when i get new coupons i put them in the box until i am able to sort them and use them.

Michelle January 18, 2011 at 11:22 pm 25

I use an accordion style folder. It isn’t the wallet sized, it is a larger size. It isn’t the cardboard style, it is a heavy vinyl with sewn edging. I label the tabs by categories, H&B, candy, dairy, can/box goods. I also have my categories in order that correspond with the store I shop most.

I get most my coupons from my sister. She lives in a large city that seems to always get double the amount of inserts of my local paper. I only cut one that I know I will use. I don’t waste my time on something I won’t use.

I go to thecouponclippers.com and look at her tracking calendar to see if the paper is going to have any coupons worth me paying the paper. If there is a good coupon that I would like several of I often go to Ebay to try to find them. I have won several auctions for coupons on Ebay. If you have never bought coupons on Ebay, be sure to read the sellers full description. Watch the expiration dates to be sure you will have enough time to use them once they arrive. Also most sellers offer in groups of 20 of the same coupons. I always do my math to make sure that it is worth it to buy. Don’t forget to check the shipping fees also.

Kristy January 18, 2011 at 11:23 pm 26

I have used an accordian style holder in the past. Now I am using a CD holder (larger slots and more visual) and that is helping a lot but I’m consider doing a little of the filing system soon. Loved all your ideas!!

Penny J. January 18, 2011 at 11:23 pm 27

I also started out with the small accordion style coupon “wallet’ for all my coupons. I actually used two of them. One for food/beverage items and the other for household/cleaning items. When I out grew those, I used a small file box like your’s and filed the inserts by date. I now use the binder system. I have found that it works best for me. It does take longer to get started and maintain but I am always ready to run out the door. I never have to miss a sale with this system and I am very happy with it.

ginny January 18, 2011 at 11:28 pm 28

One thing I’ve learned to do that’s been very helpful to me with the inserts is to write not just the issue date of the insert, but then under that the date of the coupon with the latest date so I know when I can throw away the insert.

Penny J. January 18, 2011 at 11:29 pm 29

To Bridget Nelson: I would be happy to mail you one if you would email me your address. They are not “wallet size” I didn’t mean they were in my previous post. I meant they were “coupon wallets”. Hope that makes sense. Anyway, email me @: pjjames07@yahoo.com if you’d like for me to mail you one. If we get the snow they are calling for on Thur., it may be next week before I can get it in the mail.

Cindi January 18, 2011 at 11:29 pm 30

Hello:

I have found that a good combination of both the filing system and binder method have worked well for me. I have a smaller filler but it fits the inserts neatly. I think the information provided above is great to get people started and really give them an edge.

The best advice i have received is buy in doubles .. meaning coupons and papers or inserts.

Thanks

Cindi

Patty January 18, 2011 at 11:32 pm 31

I am using a binder system and am on 2 binders–one for grocery and one for drug store items. I also use a small photo brag book for my 2 main grocery stores. I am a visual person, so if I don’t see the coupon, I will forget it is there. I like my small photo books, because I can slip in each coupon and have a visual shopping list for the grocery store. When I put the item in my cart, I move the coupon to the front pocket. Works well for me with a large family and large shopping lists. Thanks for making my life sooo much easier!

Shayla D January 18, 2011 at 11:38 pm 32

1. Which coupon filing system have you found works best for you?
I also use the file system
2. Are there any tips and/or tricks you have found that you would like to share?
I have found it is easier to put all the same pages together from each insert so if you are like me and get 6-10 of each insert you can cut the same coupon all at once instead of having find each one in each SS or RP. Sometime it can be hard since sometimes the inserts vary.
3. How helpful did you find this article.
Yes

Ms. Ashley R. January 18, 2011 at 11:40 pm 33

I use the BINDER method. I love my binder. It’s constantly the topic of discussion when I’m out and about doing my shopping. I never leave home without my binder. I keep it up-to-date on Sundays during the commercials of Desperate Housewives. This has been a routine of mine for years now. The money I save with my binder is well worth my time to collect and clip.

christina wise January 18, 2011 at 11:45 pm 34

I am so excited to get back in the swing of things and be able to coupon again. I am still trying to figure out a system that works for me… but I will no worries… Thanks so much for your 2 suggestions…. what size box is the clear one you are using for folders…

melody h January 18, 2011 at 11:48 pm 35

I keep mine in a binder system. I am fairly new to couponing saving over 100.00 a week so learning fast. The only tip I have is that when trying to create a little stockpile, try spending a dollar or less on these items. I started with items that would be free as we had no extra cash to go around. As my hba started to fill up,I found that there was more money freed up every week. I shop 2 days a week, one grocery and the other Drugstore. My husband is so impressed! This article was very helpful in understanding that everyone has a way that works for them. I like the way you organize by date! I am so happy that the Lord showed me your site so I can stay at home with my last two children ( teen and preschooler! Wish I would have known this stuff years ago when my two grown daughters were at home! Thank you so much!

Nicole C. January 19, 2011 at 12:00 am 36

Hi!

I use both methods to a certain extent. I don’t really like clipping coupons as I have 3 very small children. However, I do order coupons that are clipped so those go into my binder. The one’s from the Sunday paper go into my file by date. And my All You magazines go in my binder.

Before when I was clipping coupons I did find it easier to cut several pages at once. And this article was helpful. =)

Jennifer C January 19, 2011 at 12:04 am 37

I’m so unorganized, I’m not sure there is an organizing system to help me!
I started with the accordion wallet thing for clipped and another larger one for inserts. Then I was getting annoyed having to flip through everything to find stuff I needed in store, not to mention all the filing I was doing and not having enough slots for all my coupons and getting sick of riffling through all of them to find the one I needed. So, I’m converting to the binder system, but that is frustrating because you always have to reorganize it for alphabetical purposes. But I don’t think I can do the filing system, because I have to have my Qs with me. I suppose I could haul one of those filing totes w/ me – HA!!! I’m hopeless!!!

My tip is to pick a system you can grow into.

Article was very helpful along w/ all the other tips!

Shary January 19, 2011 at 12:20 am 38

I’ve only been at this for 2 weeks but there is a site that list whole inserts (that you can buy). There is a description for each coupon. I use the “find on this page” to search for what I’m looking for. couponsthingsbydede.com

Deborah January 19, 2011 at 12:30 am 39

Yes, that is a good one. I have that listed under where to buy coupons, and use them all the time.

Alex Summersell January 19, 2011 at 12:38 am 40

I started with the binder system and for a while I stopped couponing all together. The took a lot of time at first. I really didn’t get into using them. Lately, I cleared my binder out and I’m starting again. Watching videos regarding matching coupons and putting together deals on youtube has helped.

My Tip: take two cardboard panels, say 2′by3′ and tape them together so you can fold them like a book. Now print all the categories from your binder on the board. Make sure they are in the same order as your binder. This is your coupon sorting board. As you go through your coupons, put them in neat piles under the category name. When your finished sorting, grab the piles one by one and add them to each section of the binder. This way your not flipping back and forth putting coupons in your binder. When you are finished, fold up your board and slip it under or behind your couch so it isn’t in the way and you will know exactly where it is next week.

Marisol January 19, 2011 at 12:42 am 41

Question Time:

1. Which coupon filing system have you found works best for you?
I use a binder, I just love having my coupons with me where ever I go, so I don’t miss a deal :o )

2. Are there any tips and/or tricks you have found that you would like to share?
I would recommend that you research couponing, nowadays there is so much information out on the web, that you can save yourself a lot of trouble and money buy checking out how others are doing it and catering it to your needs. (Youtube has many couponer’s showing their methods)
*I have also found that for me, it was better to use photo (3X5) sheets for my binder instead of baseball sheet protectors. I have more room for my coupons and they don’t get bent. :o )

3. How helpful did you find this article.
Your articles are ALWAYS beneficial and I am going to look into this filing system. Thank you for your encouragement to all of us, I really do appreciate it!!

jennifer January 19, 2011 at 12:43 am 42

I have just started making couponing a regular part of my shopping so I’m trying out the file system because it seems the easiest to keep up with. This article really helped me understand the systems better. Thank you,

Kelly January 19, 2011 at 12:44 am 43

I am brand new to the whole storing of coupons idea but I know I can save a ton of money keeping some on hand. Not sure what I will try I think the binder is a little too time consuming and I don’t want to lug around a huge binder and a newborn. I will probably put them into category envelopes inside of a file and try to somewhat combine the methods..just take what I need when I go…how do you keep up with what coupons you have when you compare to weekly sales? I don’t have hrs to spend sorting thus why I have been fine just paying full price for everything I need in the past…suggestions?

Renee P January 19, 2011 at 12:45 am 44

I started using a photo book with top loading pages, and worked ok until one day it fell in a store and coupons went flying! I have since switched to the binder method with baseball cardsheets and I am very happy with it, I have no qualms with bringing the heavy book along every where I go, I call my book J.R.- and tell everyone its the child i always dreamed of having, no noise, doesn’t complain about what Im feeding it, no messes to clean, I don’t have to chase it and instead of costing me money he saves me money everyone thinks its hilarious except of course my kids! I do however also keep the file box with the inserts when a sale comes up I clip what I need if theres extra after the shopping trip,they go in the binder with the printables and peelies. I really enjoyed your article.

Katie H January 19, 2011 at 12:48 am 45

I like to use the binder method (I found my inserts at Office Depot – I have the 4 pocket ones as sometimes I get a lot of coupons or have big ones that dont fit in the small. Make sure to wait for a $10/20 or similar coupon to make them really affordable). I do take out the coupons I need for that days shop but always have the binder with me in case I find something unexpected or on sale that I might have a coupon for. Also, I find if I start talking to someone I often have a coupon that I wont use for something they are buying and love to be a “coupon fairy” as my hubby calls me :) I dont really have any tips or tricks as I am still fairly new to this but at the end of each month I do got through all my coupons (usually while watching TV) and take out the expired ones so I can send them to the military – I believe that even though I couldnt/didnt use them, someone else can and it only costs me the price of a stamp or two!!
I loved reading this article as I am always trying to find a new and better way to organise my coupons so THANKS for all your information and hard work!! :)

Michelle January 19, 2011 at 12:58 am 46

Very helpful article! So well-written. Thanks for taking the time to put it together. The idea of putting your name and some kind of contact info in your binder is not something I had ever considered. I would be so upset if I lost my binder.

I’m still fairly new to coupons, so I’m not sure that I’ve found what works best for me. When I first started out I didn’t have the extra money to buy things to keep my coupons organized. We were all out of envelopes, so I used Ziploc sandwich bags with each category written on the bag. I eventually found a zipper pencil bag to keep my coupons in, and this worked for me for awhile. Along the way I found a 3-inch binder and slowly purchased more zipper bags in which to keep store receipts and my scissors.

Recently I just changed over to a zipper binder with baseball card holders. The zipper binders were bought on a BOGO sale and a friend went in with me to help defray the cost for us both. I didn’t realize how many sheets of baseball card holders I would need! But I can see how this system will grow easily and I think I’ll stick with it for awhile.

In addition to the tabbed dividers, I’ve divided my coupons into 4 categories: Food, Cleaning Supplies, Personal Care, and Household Goods. Each of these titles is printed on a sheet of paper and put into a full sheet protector. Under the titles are the subcategories: Baking supplies, cereal, meats, dairy, etc, would be under Food. Each of the subcategories is marked by tabbed dividers. I saved these pages on my computer so I can make changes along the way. I also use the full sheet protectors as an overflow area. Sometimes I get a coupon that I can’t decide where to file, there’s only 1 of its kind, or it’s too big to be cut down to fit and folding it to fit takes up too much space.

My zipper binder has a built-in expanding file, so I keep my coupon policies and store ads in there, but I reserve one pocket for recent coupon inserts. This way if a coupon needs to be used on a deal the same week it comes out, I can find it easily. After the 2nd or 3rd week, I clip the rest of the coupons out and file them. At the same time, I discard my expired coupons. I have tried to create a system with this so that I’m only clipping and filing one set of inserts each week (I also don’t get 5 papers at a time. No couponer’s special here).

I will say no one system will work for everyone. If you’re new and your current coupon organization isn’t working, keep trying until you find what works for you, because there is no wrong way, except to not do it at all!

merle willoughby January 19, 2011 at 1:07 am 47

Great article!!! Good tips I need to start using. I use an accordion style coupon folder.

Deb January 19, 2011 at 1:10 am 48

I use the file system. I keep only three months worth, because I think that the extra effort and frustration is not worth it. I do sometimes cut out high value coupons or those I know I will use (Lipton tea, Smart Balance products) and keep them in my purse all the time. Thanks so much!

Wendy R. January 19, 2011 at 1:40 am 49

I’ve just started using a ‘binder’ type method. I’m not sure I like it. I am used to having all my coupons in a large recipe box file system but my coupons outgrew that! The binder just seems so bulky. I definitely prefer having my coupons in a way that I can use them immediately so the ‘keeping the insert and magazine whole’ system would not work for me. I get WAY too many deals that are not advertised and can’t be planned for ahead of time. There’s got to be a better system… I’m still thinking on that one! LOL Enjoyed your article!!

Deanne Haggerty January 19, 2011 at 2:02 am 50

I love the binder system set up by store layout for the store I use the most. I have a printed copy of what is in all he isles, so if I shop else where I can refer to that when I need to. I typically clip what I feel I will use the most and put the rest in pockets in the binder in case a good deal arises and I would like to go back and get that coupon. I always take my binder, because there is often unadvertised sales. I basically knew everything you said, but it is a good reminder and great info for someone just getting started!

Dottie January 19, 2011 at 2:32 am 51

I use the file method, but I have been filing by insert name rather than date. I think I am going to start filing by date instead, bc it seems much easier, thanks! What do you do with your printed coupons? Ive been thinking about using a binder/accordion file for them. Currently, I have them in a file based on which site I used to print them. It is frustrating to miss a deal, but with a 5 month old, I do not have the time to clip every coupon & I definitely dont have the extra arms to tote around a huge binder!

Thanks for all you do. I love this site!

Frances Kalender January 19, 2011 at 3:03 am 52

Thank you so much for taking the time out to write this very helpful article! I am a baby at couponing :) Geez I haven’t even begun to organize my coupons lol. I did just purchase a binder with the baseball card holders (note to self check e-bay for prices, because I got mine off Amazon and thought they were a little pricey).
What I plan on doing is the binder method. I really wouldn’t like to come across a sale and know I have that coupon, but it’s sitting at home. I plan on having 2 main sections. 1st section will be categorized by stores with the flier inserts. Each part of this section I plan on keeping a list of what is a good deal in each store with what coupon(s) are needed for that sale. For instance Target would have the flier and stapled to the flier would be a list of what I find to be good deals & written next to the deal would be which coupons I needed. Behind Targets flier I would have the card separators with the coupons I needed. I would do this for each store.
In the 2nd section I plan on organizing coupons by detailed categories. For instance … instead of just tabbing personal hygiene I would have tabs marked specifically for woman’s deodorant, men’s deodorant, tooth brushes, tooth paste, floss, etc … I know this seems a bit tedious, but If I come across something it would be so much easier for me to find the coupon if I organize this way. In the back of the binder is where I would keep a section for restaurant and retail store coupons.
I was sitting here thinking about what sort of tip I could offer since I am new at couponing and 1 thing has come to mind that I have not really seen on any other blog postings yet. In addition to keeping a pen, small pad, & calculator in the front of my binder, I am also going to be keeping a magnifying glass too. These eyes of mine can’t see all the little print that the majority of these coupons have, so I am sure the magnifying glass will help a GREAT deal :) … I also think I will use the small tab like post it notes to put on the baseball card dividers to clearly show the exp date of the coupon in that pocket.
All of this might seem fine and dandy now, but we shall see how it all works out when I actually put it all together by next week :)

Thank you again for all your time and help! It is MUCH appreciated!

Samantha K January 19, 2011 at 3:38 am 53

I use a folder right now, needing something new because I am getting more into couponing. So great helpful article! Thanks!

Desiree Torres January 19, 2011 at 5:12 am 54

1. The coupon filing system that works best for m is keeping the inserts together by where they are from (smartsource, redplum etc.) in a file box.

2. One tip is to attach a tab indicating the month of my loose coupons onto a file that hols them so that I can easily find them when I go grocery shopping. This way I never let them expire (unless there is NO sale and that particular item is really expensive.

3. This article was extremely beneficial. I am going to scour ebay for cheap baseball inserts because I really like the binder pic you posted. Plus, one downside of not using a binder is having loose coupons. So, I am looking forward to trying that for a while to change things up a bit! Thanks for posting :)

Kelly D. January 19, 2011 at 7:01 am 55

I use an accordian folder that has a handle- I just carry it like a purse, and it fits in the front of the shopping cart. I have the sections labeled with headings- within the headings, I have envelopes that are labeled with sub-headings. For example- Under snacks, I have chips/nuts, candy/gum,jello/pudding,sugar/sweetener,pies/jelly/peanut butter,granola bars/fruit snacks,cake/brownies,cookies, baking.
I keep envelopes in the front for each store- for coupons and register rewards.Also for today’s coupons- ones I have pulled to use that day.
I check facebook and Emails a few times a day for updates.
At the end of the month, I pull the expired coupons when I am putting the new ones away.
I keep a small pair of scissors, a pen and calculator in the bag also.
I tried the binder system, but was impatient when the coupons wouldn’t fit easily. I use a small notebook to jot down things to look for at each store, when I see a deal mentioned on a blog- then just take it with me in my accordian file.

*~Michelle~* January 19, 2011 at 7:11 am 56

I have one of those accordion style envelops, but I really would rather use that binder…..I am running out of room!

Kim January 19, 2011 at 7:22 am 57

Currently, I use two small accordian files to hold all my coupons. It does take a bit of time to clip them each week.
I find alot of high value coupons in or on packages I have purchased. I have been trying to remember to clip these as well :)
I found the article very informative. The binder system seems like it works really well… I would love a Coupon Clutch.

Thanks again for all your tips!

Deborah January 19, 2011 at 7:24 am 58

With the file method, you are really only handling the coupon one time..when you need it. I suggest that one.

Kirstine January 19, 2011 at 7:54 am 59

Thanks. Will have to check that out.

Janet January 19, 2011 at 8:08 am 60

This was a great article for me. I’m brand new at this, and you explained the pros and cons very well. I’m starting with the file system for now. I don’t want to be discouraged, and all the cutting and organizing looks like it would frustrate me at this point. Thanks for the help.

Simonne Jordan January 19, 2011 at 8:13 am 61

I use the binder system. I use two different grocery stores and I separate my coupons by isle. Thank you for all you do!

Dana January 19, 2011 at 8:23 am 62

I started out using a small pocket holder for my coupons, but now I have switched to a photo box. I use tabs to categorize and put all coupons in envelopes according to expiration dates. You probably can carry the box to the store so you have all your coupons, but usually pull out the ones I need before going to the store. The only downside is that if I do not know the expiration date, I am sifting through envelopes to find the right coupon. I think I may try the binder system so I can see them better. Thanks for the excellent tips!

patti January 19, 2011 at 8:35 am 63

I’m really new to couponing so my organization method right now is just a little coupon wallet type thing. I imagine I’ll change this as I get more into it…I really like the file system and can see myself progressing to that.

Staci D. January 19, 2011 at 8:37 am 64

I use the binder system but may now start using the file system also for weeks that I don’t have the time to sit down and cut and sort. My tip is to try and organize the coupons by aisle. It makes it a lot easier than flipping through trying to find something. Article was very helpful as now i know how to set up the file system :) Thanks for all the info you provide.

sara l January 19, 2011 at 8:48 am 65

Thank you for the informative article!

I keep my coupons in an accordian file, filed by brand name. It’s mostly working for me though the act of filing every week makes me crazy and cranky. :-)

Melissa January 19, 2011 at 8:49 am 66

I use the 3-ring binder system.
Your article was very useful, and I like the way you file all the inserts. What a great idea :)

Jessica M January 19, 2011 at 9:09 am 67

I use a small purse sized coupon folder…I guess you’d call it accordian style with dividers. I labeled the dividers with different coupon categories…grocery, toiletries, pets, paper products, candy, snack foods, beverages, specific store coupons, etc. I only clip/print coupons that I think I will use & file them in my folder. It takes a little time, but I file them by expiration date putting the ones that will expire first in the front. Each week I make my grocery/shopping list & check all ads/match-ups, then pull out the coupons that I plan to use on my shopping trip. I keep those clipped to my list so that I can access them easily while at the stores. I also keep my coupon folder in my purse because occasionally I do forget to pull a coupon or I find a deal at the store that I have a coupon for but didn’t plan to use. I can easily pull the folder out of my purse & it doesn’t take too long to find the coupon that I’m looking for. Once a week or so, I can quickly remove & discard expired coupons because they are all in the front of each divided section. I do also save/clip the coupons that I don’t plan to use…I’d like to take part in or start a coupon train so I keep those extra coupons ready for if/when that happens. My method isn’t the best, but it does work for me. I spend a few hours a week on couponing & we figure that the money saved is equivalent to having a part time job. But I don’t need to leave the house, spend gas money, etc :)

Jennifer January 19, 2011 at 9:16 am 68

I have always used a small wallet size coupon holder for my coupons, but I am thinking of starting the filing system so I can get a little more organized and get all my coupons put away.
This has been very helpful!!

Kimberly A. January 19, 2011 at 9:18 am 69

I love this article I’m new to couponing and had a regular accordion style holder. I want to stockpile so I’m going to start the binder system you suggested! Thanks so much for this site it’s helped me to save $!

Amy Desrosiers January 19, 2011 at 9:21 am 70

I currently use the binder system, and honestly it is consuming me so I’m not sure how much longer I will continue with it. I think I like your file system much better, and I feel it will save me time! Thanks for this article because as mentioned I will probably be converting to the file and envelope system.

Jennifer T January 19, 2011 at 9:56 am 71

I have tried several different ways to organize coupons. I think I have finally found the best way for me. I prefer to have all my coupons clipped, so I usually do that on Sunday evenings. I file my coupons in envelopes based on categories. The envelopes are then filed alphabetically by category in a small box that I can carry and put in the front of the cart. The category is written on the edge of the envelop on the flap, they are then filed with the flap facing me so I am able to thumb through quickly and with them being in alphabetical order it doesn’t take too long. Before I shop I pull all coupons I will need to pair with my list, but I always take my box with me in case I see a great deal!

Heidi Barker January 19, 2011 at 9:59 am 72

I have a set of drawers on wheels next to my desk. I keep whole inserts and file them by month in each drawer. I tend to get 7-10 inserts each week so I need the space. I used to keep a binder, and still do for odds and ends, but the time it took to clip all the coupons was to much and ended up giving up. This works much better. I use the binder system to hold rain checks, gift cards, CVS receipts and loose coupons that I have around.

Tabitha January 19, 2011 at 10:01 am 73

I have always used the binder. I love having it available all the time. My advice with a binder system is to keep it with you all the time. I always find something that I need a coupon for. Your article was helpful because it gives all of us other ideas we can use. Thanks

Andrea Watts January 19, 2011 at 10:20 am 74

I file mine by date. I don’t have to clip every coupon.

Andrea Watts January 19, 2011 at 10:22 am 75

I like to keep files for my printable coupons and label them ie frozen, detergent. That way I don’t have to go through the whole stack to find one that I need that I maybe printed off last week but didn’t need it til now.

Andrea Watts January 19, 2011 at 10:23 am 76

It was very helpful. Full of good tips.

kelly Pitt January 19, 2011 at 10:29 am 77

I have a shoebox with dividers marked with categories. For example, beverage, dairy, etc. I am thinking about going to the binder method. I really enjoyed reading about that method from this article. Thanks so much!

Krupa January 19, 2011 at 10:40 am 78

I just started couponing a few weeks ago. I first started with the binder and baseball card holders. The binder was organized by categories. I liked that system but after the first week of clipping coupons from the Sunday papers I decided I needed another way. So I started the filing system for the Sunday inserts. My plan is to keep using the binder for printed coupons and other coupons that I get from freebies or peelies or samples. I plan on going through the Sunday inserts about every 3-4 months and clipping any coupons that haven’t expired and also filing those in the binder. I also bought photo album inserts because although most coupons fit perfect in the baseball card holders some don’t, like the printed SmartSource ones.

Before going to the store I’ll clip the coupons I need for the deals and put them in an accordion thing that has tabs for each of the stores I go to. I take the binder with me but the only stores I really take it in with me is Walmart, Target, or grocery stores. I like having it in the car incase I do come across a deal.

This article was very helpful. I can’t wait to see how others organize their coupons!

Chrissy January 19, 2011 at 11:22 am 79

I am new to couponing and at this time I have the accordian file siystem.. I clip all my coupons and take them everywhere with me… I am trying new techniques alot as to figure out what works best for me… I also am a visual person and if I cant see it I forget it…I am always reading new things about couponin so as to save me and my husband as much money as posible… Thank you so much for your site as it is the one I visit the most… Thanks for all you do…. Chrissy

Lavenia Kaye January 19, 2011 at 11:29 am 80

1. I just converted to the binder system and have loved it – the plastic purse organizer was way to sloppy.

2. I always mark on the sale paper the what coupons I have – so not to miss any deals.

3, Very helpful – I think I will start saving my unclipped coupons in a file system like yours – in the event I change my mind about a coupon.

Andrea Hamilton January 19, 2011 at 12:06 pm 81

I use a “hybrid” system – combination of the two. When I get the inserts, I clip any that are for products I buy on a regular basis. I am sure to use these coupons, and I want them handy. I store them in the baseball sleeves of my binder. At the back of my binder I have heavy duty page protectors. I only get one Sunday paper, so the one set of inserts goes into a sleeve. I write the date on the insert with a Sharpie. This method is portable, but also saves time by not clipping all coupons.

Marie January 19, 2011 at 12:13 pm 82

I use both methods. I use a shelf like your file and each little space is marked with the date of the inserts. I use a binder with 1 insert cut out of each week just in case there is a clearance deal or something i find thats price cut but wasnt advertised.

I would be interested in what you do with internet printables i find these just stacking up on the desk and its annoying sometimes the high value ones expire (wheres the shock face lol) because i buried them with printables i thought i would use and we all know if you don’t print it than it may not be available. I should just file them in the binder.

i also like the envelope system. basically i take the ad i have say rite aid 1/30 and i take an envelope right rite aid 1/30 and i pull all the coupons i need for that week. getting ads in advance helps save time so that i can be there sunday morning no fooling around :)

Christy W January 19, 2011 at 12:16 pm 83

I use the binder method. I have devided everything up and I know where everything is and can flip right to it. The articles has helped me think about the possiblity of starting a filing system but in all honesty I do not have the room. The only trouble I have is when you get a smaple of something and it somes with a HUGE coupon attached. I have a pocket on the front of my binder that I keep them in and have to remind myself to check.
THANK YOU for telling me to put my name in my binder!! I have not done that and would be mortified if I lost this thing OMG!!!!! So I am putting a label in it right now!

Heather Chandler January 19, 2011 at 12:17 pm 84

I have been using a small accordion folder system. But it is awful! It won’t stay open on it’s own and the coupons slide around and become unorganized. I can’t decide if I should go with what you do or the binder system.
When you have coupons that are store specific, do you just put them in a folder labeled with that Store’s name?
How do you carry your coupons to the store? In an envelope or accordion file?

Anita H January 19, 2011 at 12:17 pm 85

I used to do the binder, but it was so time consuming. I now just file my inserts and have a very small binder for my “extra” coupons. The downside it I don’t always have all of my coupons if I see something on sale that wasn’t listed in the ad.

Michelle January 19, 2011 at 12:20 pm 86

I personally use the couponizer. I usually only have one opportunity to go to the store, so I like to have my coupons with me. I also like to have them by category so I can find them. I used to use a binder system, and file them by date, but had trouble locating them.

Liddy January 19, 2011 at 12:21 pm 87

#1 – I just recently started using the binder system. I haven’t gotten it entirely up and running yet…still trying to fine-tune my categories and keep myself up-to-date on inserting the cut-out coupons into the slots! But I’m going to continue with it till I’ve given it enough time to see if it’ll work well for me.

#2 – I don’t have any tips or tricks…I’m still learning from all you pros! :)

#3 – I found it to be helpful in presenting two good options for successful couponing…something that I’ve begun to actively pursue and want to learn to be good at!

Kathleen January 19, 2011 at 12:27 pm 88

I have used the small coupon holder for my coupons. Then my sister in law showed me the binder method. I just don’t have the time for that one. I am real curious to try the file method. Thanks for the article…..

Amy Hull January 19, 2011 at 12:30 pm 89

I don’t really have a filing system, YET. I’m working towards it and hope to use your information to make it work for me.

Mandy January 19, 2011 at 12:31 pm 90

1.I started out using the binder system and it was too time consuming for me. Now i use the file system and it works great! 2. My only other tip is to have a file for store coupons (by store) and competitors coupons. 3. Great article! One I will share with my friends new to couponing!

Amy Hull January 19, 2011 at 12:31 pm 91

The biggest tip/trick I have right now is BE PATIENT. Waiting for the right sale is always better than just getting it when you have the coupon.

Cheryl Coffey January 19, 2011 at 12:32 pm 92

I clip them all (or have my daughter do it) and have them in a 4×6 file, alphabetized. It fits in my bag and I can quickly check to see if I have a coupon for an unadvertised sale or clearanced item. I also keep the ones I know I am going to use papercliped to the store ad with my list.

Amy Hull January 19, 2011 at 12:33 pm 93

This article was very helpful. As I said before, I’m new at this and trying to get going without some guidance doesn’t sound like fun to me. So, thank you, thank you, thank you!

Jacqui Rapp January 19, 2011 at 12:46 pm 94

I still like the coupon wallet/holder. It keeps me organized and I can take it right into the grocery store with me.

Angela Gelinas January 19, 2011 at 1:06 pm 95

I use both systems, filing and clipping. My clipped coupons are in a small file in the car. In there I keep coupons that come from sources other than the sunday paper as well as ones of things I use often so I have them with me if I catch a sale. The rest of mine are filed by date just like yours. FYI – you can get a file box like you use FREE This week at staples after staple rewards!
On a side note, once lost my coupon box. I knew I had left it in the cart at BJ’s but they said they didn’t have it. I was crushed! I left my contact info in case it turned up and sure enough it wasn’t in the lost and found cause someone thought it was valuable enough to be locked in the cage with the electronics. Oh happy day when I got that back!!!!

Hannah January 19, 2011 at 1:08 pm 96

I just started “couponing” and already had one of those small accordion style coupon holders, so I’m using that right now, but will probably need something bigger at some point! Right now I only clip out coupons for products I actually buy or am interested in….but then sometimes I wish I kept the whole insert just in case!

Annette January 19, 2011 at 1:11 pm 97

I do use the binder system but my binder has 5-6 file folders in the front that I date the coupon packs, until I can clip them, so if I fall behind they are still obtainable.

Jenny Deville January 19, 2011 at 1:18 pm 98

I started years ago with an envelope, then went to a wallet style. Now I am using the binder method. I have the coupons sorted by categories, produce, cleaning supplies, etc…, then have a page up front for store specific coupons and rewards. I also have a binder (same binder) that has room for the weekly ads and a pair of scissors. I clip all coupons and file only the ones I know or think I will use. The rest is separated for the end of the month “clean out” and mailed for the military bases. It takes a while but I usually do it in front of the TV or when I’m up early. I have been reading blogs and following the advice, so I liked this article to see other ideas.

Dawn K January 19, 2011 at 1:30 pm 99

Thanks so much for this article! I am fairly new to couponing so I’m always learning something. From your article, I just learned about the filing system and where to get the baseball card holders. I have been looking for the holders and couldn’t find any. I started by just categorizing all my coupons in 1 envelope. Then I seperated the coupons and put them into seperate envelopes depending on their category. I hated it! It took me forever and it seemed like I would always be looking for something. I learned about the binder and I’m trying that now. I just need some more baseball card holders. For now, I think this will work best for me because I do like getting unadvertised deals when I see them and if I have a coupon with me….it’s better.

Missy_in_WV January 19, 2011 at 1:31 pm 100

I prefer clipped coupons and use an envelope / folder system. The envelopes are by category/area of store, like Frozen/Dairy/Cans/Cereal/Baking/Boxed goods/Household/Personal/Paper goods. All inserts and internet printables that I havent clipped yet (there’s always a bunch cause I’m always running behind) go in a gallon storage bag, along with my scissors and a pen and notepad and i carry all of it into the store with me in a tote bag and don’t carry my purse inside. This tote bag goes with me everywhere – work, son’s sporting events, etc so when I have time, I can work on it. When I pull out coupons to use – I sort them into envelopes by store – CVS, Walmart, Krogers and i always carry the sale ads with me too. I have thought about the binder system, but I’m always running behind getting things clipped, I think it would just drive me crazy.

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