I first started clipping coupons back when I was a broke college student. My coupon organization consisted of me throwing whatever coupons I had into my purse and heading to the store.
I’ve tried several coupon organizers since those early days, and I’ve definitely figured out what works and what doesn’t. When you’re able to find your coupons and use them on the things you need BEFORE those coupons expire, you know you’ve found a good solution.
Check out these three ways to organize coupons and see if you can’t find a coupon organization system that works for you.
Three ways to organize coupons
Use a binder.
Find a 3-ring binder (a zippered binder with a strap is nice), and purchase trading card protector pages. Clip all the coupons you find and place them, according to category, in the card protectors. Then organize the protectors in your binder by type of product, alphabetically, or whatever method makes the most sense to you.
While this method is the most expensive and time-consuming for organizing your coupons, it makes it extremely easy to find the coupons you want and to pitch the expired ones. A large binder may be cumbersome to carry around in the store, but it’s worth its weight in gold when you discover great clearance sales on a store aisle endcap.
Save the coupon inserts.
The coupon insert method of organizing coupons was developed by Stephanie Nelson, a.k.a The Coupon Mom, and is used by thousands of couponers everywhere. Each week, you write the date on the coupon insert(s) from your Sunday newspaper and file them by week or month. Before you make your shopping trip, you search the coupon database to find the coupons for the items on your shopping list, then head to your inserts and clip only the coupons you need.
The beauty of this method is that you only clip the coupons you’re going to use and it is useful for sticking to your list. But it can be frustrating to find a really great clearance sale and discover that the coupon that would make it an even better deal is in a file folder back at home. This method is simple, though, and it doesn’t take much time at all, which is its greatest appeal.
Use a coupon organizer or envelopes.
Use a coupon organizer, a small expanding file holder, or even envelopes to organize your coupons. Simply clip the coupons you are most likely to use and organize them by product category or alphabetically. You run the risk of missing out on some great deals, and it does take some work to clip them and maintain, but it makes grabbing your coupons and heading out the door a cinch.
How I organize my coupons
I actually use a combination of methods when it comes to organizing my coupons. I clip the coupons that I know I am most likely to use (i.e. my family lives on General Mills cereals, so I always clip those) and put them in my coupon organizer. Then I file away the rest of the inserts so that when a great deal comes along, I’ll be able to hunt down the coupon using the coupon database.
This combo method has served me well, because it usually means that I’ll have the coupons I need with me (not at home 30 miles away) when I spot a good unadvertised sale. Of course, I still have to reign in my stockpiling tendencies sometimes!
Of course, the best method of coupon organization is the one that works for you.