Coupons / Starting Fresh in 2012 with Couponing

Starting Fresh with Couponing: Organization is KEY!

Hopefully by now, you have all read the very first post in our Starting Fresh with Couponing Series.  If not, head over here and read it.  It will give you more insight to how much time it takes to coupon, if it is really worth it, and what kinds of returns you can see with couponing!

Now, on to the 2nd post in the series.  It is all about Organization!  It really makes all the difference in the world.  If you aren’t organized, couponing will seem overwhelming.  Not to mention how frustrating it is when you can’t find a coupon.

3 Ways to Organize Your Coupons

Organization Method #1: Coupon Binders.  This is what I use and find to work the absolute best for me.

One of the misconceptions is that in order to do the coupon binder method is that you have to have some huge hefty binder.  But, you only need a coupon binder big enough to carry the amount of coupons you cut.  You might see others with huge binders, but they probably cut all of the coupons or close to it.  For example, my binder is 4 inches!!!  But, I also cut pretty much all of the coupons so I can find unadvertised deals in the store for all of you when I post.  So I’m one of those exceptions. ;)  Most of you will probably only need a 2 inch binder… which isn’t as bulky.

For the Binder Method, you will cut out your coupons each week and put them into baseball card protector sleeves.  These are 9 slot holders that you can then organize into categories.  I have come up with my own categories of what works best for me.  And, I have even put together FREE Coupon Binder Category pages you can all download and print out for your own binders!!  Feel free to only use the categories that you want, even though there are a ton to print out and use.  Or, add your own with the blank category pages.  It will give you an idea of what categories to separate your coupons into.

To give you more insight into how your Coupon Binder should look and how to organize it, you can watch this Video I did on Organization below.  (If you can’t see the video in your RSS Feed or Emails, you can watch it here.)

 

Organization Method #2:  Accordian Folder Method

Some people only like to cut a few coupons.  So, they grab one of those accordian file folders and put a few coupons into slots to take with them to the store.  I personally find this method too messy for me as I have too many coupons to keep track of.  But, if you are only using a handful of coupons, it could work for you.

Organization Method #3: File Cabinet Method

If you are one of those people who want to do as little cutting as possible, or just want the least amount of hassle, this is the way for you!

Whenever you get the coupon inserts from the Sunday Paper, just write in Black Marker the date of the Sunday paper you got it from. (It is also on the binding of the insert, but seeing it in big, bold writing on the front helps save some time.) Then, store them away in a file folder, cabinet or something similar.  Then, when I post the deals, I ALWAYS give you a date.  So, if I say “Use the $1.00/1 coupon from the 12/3 SS”, you know that you can go to your 12/3 Smart Source Insert and cut out just the coupon you need.  The only negative to this method is that you don’t always have your coupons on you when you are at the store.  So, if you happen to find something on clearance, you won’t have your coupons to grab the deal.

Another part of this method is that since you aren’t cutting all of your coupons at once, you will have to go through the Grocery Matchups that I do and cut out individual coupons before you can hop in the car and get to the store.  This takes time.  And some might argue it takes more time because you are searching different inserts for particular coupons.  But again, do whatever method works best for you!!

How to Cut Efficiently

I mentioned before that I can cut all 5 copies of my coupon inserts usually within 45 minutes.  And, then it takes about 20 more minutes to put them in my coupon binder.  So, let me share with you how I get it done so fast.

Once you have the coupon inserts from the Newspaper, I take my 5 copies of 1 insert and lay them all by each other.  I take the same exact page from all 5 inserts and lay them on top of each other.  So that way, I am only cutting one time, but cutting 5 of the same coupon!  Then, depending on what the coupon is… Dairy, Breakfast item, Meat… I put it into its own category pile.

Once I am completely done cutting out all of my inserts the way I explained above, I have a bunch of piles of coupons.  All are in their own category pile.  Now, I pull out my coupon binder and take each pile and put them in their assigned category. When putting in your coupons, fold all copies of the same coupon together.  I like to fold it so the picture and the expiration date are showing.  And, if you get really tricky, you can usually have the picture on the front side and the expiration date on the back.  (It makes for easier pulling out of expired coupons once a month. We will talk about that in our NEXT Starting Fresh with Couponing post!)

Phew… ok. That is how I cut and put them into my binder. And I have found that is what works best for me.  But PLEASE know that everyone is different and you might find a way that works better for you!  Once you find it, your coupon organization will flow effortlessly and be a ton easier!

What Do I Need to Have for the Binder Method??

Here are the items that you will want to grab for the Binder Method:

  • 3 Ring Zippered Binder:  Zippered is KEY!  That way your coupons can’t fall out if the binder gets dropped or your kids get ahold of it.  Nothing worse than having to re-organize your coupons.
  • 9 Slot Baseball Card Inserts:  How many you need will depend on how many coupons you plan to cut.  These are actually found next to the Baseball Cards at places like Target.  However, many of you will notice those are actually at the front of the store by the registers.  So ask an employee where they are if you can’t find them.  I’ve also found these at places like Office Depot and Staples too!
  • Category Tabs (You will need as many as you have Categories so you can find your sections quickly in-store)
  • Category Pages for your Binder:  Feel free to print out the ones I made for all of you here!
  • Extras:  Some people like to have calculators, or scissors in their binders.  Many coupon binders will already have zippered compartments you can put those extras into.

What Do I Do with my Printable Coupons?

That is a really good question!  I know that a lot of times we print out coupons but aren’t 100% sure if we are going to use them.  So, what I personally do is keep all of my papers of printable coupons at the very front of my binder.  Then, since I have scissors inside my binder, I can cut that ONE coupon if I decide to use it at the store.  I find that cutting all of the printable coupons is a waste of my own time because I don’t end up using all of them.  So, only cutting the ones I end up needing in-store saves me the most time.

So, now that you have read more about Coupon Organization and watched the Binder Method Video, it has helped you decide which one you think will work the best for you.  Go with that one and try it out.  If you find it isn’t working perfectly, then keep tweeking it until it does work.  Remember, we are all different and all work different ways.  So it is normal and natural for us to all do our organization differently.  As long as it works for you, you should be on the way to using coupons and saving some money!

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54 Comments

  1. Thanks Melea! I really need a refresher course and some motivation to keep going. This really helped!

    Reply
  2. Thank you so much Melea. I really did not know where to start so I really appreciate you doing this blog on getting coupon organized. I have tried couponing before and the bottom of your purse is no way to go about it. I would either forget I had the coupon or it would wind up all tore up just sitting at the bottom of my purse until I thought to clean it out, lol. Looking forward to the next blog in the series.

    Reply
  3. I have found baseball card sleeves at the dollar store! I wish I would have found them two years ago when I started couponing, but others can benefit from such a great deal!

    Reply
    • I wish to show my affection for your kidedheartenn-ss giving support to persons that absolutely need assistance with your niche. Your personal dedication to passing the message throughout became exceedingly invaluable and has surely allowed some individuals like me to reach their ambitions. Your amazing valuable report entails a lot a person like me and far more to my colleagues. With thanks; from everyone of us.

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    • juni 7, 2012  4:36 am Howdy! Do you use Twitter? I’d like to follow you if that would be okay. I’m absolutely enjoying your blog and look forward to new posts.

      Reply
  4. I just have a question on the subscription of the newspapers. how many do you suggest? Is there a cheaper way to subscribe then the price on the online subscription? It shows $2.04 a copy. thanks! so excited to try this!

    Reply
    • Lori, If you can, I would do one copy per person in your household. Remember, the more copies of the coupon you have, the more you can stock up when things go on sale. There is a Subscription Deal for Utah Readers I have for you guys under the Newspaper Tab. It will give you Smiths Gift Cards with your subscriptions. So maybe check that out. 🙂

      Reply
    • I suggest going to your local dollar store on Sunday mornings. I get 4 papers a week, and I only spend $4.24
      Take that weekly investment, and then look at the potential savings in the papers… you’ve made your money back just buy looking at the values of less than a dozen coupons.

      🙂

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      • Finding this post. It’s just a big piece of luck for me.

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      • This is way more helpful than anything else I’ve looked at.

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  5. Thank you so much. I really enjoy seeing different ways to do couponing. I do not have much time. As I have a full time job. But love to save money. Your way seems best. Thank you for the list will be very useful.

    Reply
  6. I use a soft sided square lunch bag with a shoulder strap so its like a second purse and aphabeticly organize mine by brand works great so far and thank you for all your great deals I check your site a few times each day.

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  7. I use a hybrid between all 3 methods! I should mention I “small scale” coupon using only 2 copies of the paper.
    I have a binder with pocket style folders- one for each insert, one for restaurant coupons and one for printables. When I get inserts, I put the date on the front and file it in my folder. Since I use blogs for most matchups, it works great to go through, cut what I need for a trip, put it in an envelope (labeled with the specific store) in the front of my binder and take the whole thing with me. I used to clip them all, but I never used the ones I thought I would, so clipping when necessary is a time saver for me!
    If I find an unadvertised or clearence deal, I use my phone to search a coupon database for any matching coupons. My phone is an invaluable resource for this alone! Not to mention, I check deals on my phone when I make an unexpected trip to the store.
    Thanks for this series and for all your hard work!

    Reply
    • Is there an app on your phone that we can download for searching the coupon database?

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  8. I made my own coupon sleeves by sewing 4 or so straight stitches through the plastic sheet protectors with a piece of cardstock in them. I had a bunch of both lying around so this cost me nothing! Then I could do varying sizes (since the 9-pocket sleeves are really small). My favorite size has 8 pockets (2 columns and 4 rows), but I also have sheets with just three or four big pockets. Another plus of this method is that with the cardstock in the sheet protectors, it doubles the number of coupons I can get in each sheet since I can put coupons in the front and the back.

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    • What a great idea! 🙂

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  9. I have been couponing for a little less than a year I was able to get up enough stock to make it through the holidays without spending tons of money on food, however it has been kinda hard getting back into it so thank you for the refresher i have been getting more excited about it and re-energized. FYI- I also use the binder method and was able to find my baseball card holders at the dollar store. I really did not want to add a lot more pages to my binder so i cut card stock to fit the spaces and now am able to use the front and back of my pages it also made it so that i wasn’t getting confused seeing other coupons on different pages after the one i was trying to concentrate on. Thankyou for all your help and information it makes it a ton easier for all of us that follow you!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  10. I have seen your video on the slice. Where did you get it from? Seems like it would help clipping go faster!

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    • I bought the slice off Amazon when I saw the movie. It seemed really great, but I actually spend more time if I use it rather than scissors. I found that it won’t quite cute through all 5 of my coupon layers so I have to do it at least twice. My opinion, of course 🙂 Hope that helps! PS: I do like using my slice for other things though.

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  11. Thanks so much for teaching everyone all this stuff! I have been wanting to learn how to do couponing the right way for a long time but it seems like most people that are good at it don’t really want to teach you how to do it! You are awesome!

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  12. My daughter got me on your site when we were looking to get tickets to the Breaking Dawn premier (thanks for that, btw! I have saved a lot of money with you through the holidays, and since you are willing to start from the beginning for newbies I am gearing up to do couponing for the first time. I have a question regarding the coupons that are online ie printable. I have been able to use quite a number of the coupons you have suggested at the store from by pulling them up on my cell phone. (I already mentioned I am new to this, right…haha ) So my question is do I need to print this coupons ahead of time, or would I be able to just save and bookmark them on my phone and use them when/if the chance arises? Thanks again!

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  13. My question is about what to do with store coupons? I have been thinking of making a section for each store and then in the “main” section using the arrow post it’s to tell me if a store coupon matches it and what store. I try to be organized, it’s addicting! However, I don’t subscribe to the newspapers, I have people who don’t use theirs give them to me. I also go to the local paper recycle bin and get them out of there. So it takes me longer to cut and sort. It seems I am always behind with my couponing, but I have literally saved thousands and donated so much! Thank you for all your hard work! Any suggestions on the store coupons and how to organize them would be great!

    Reply
    • Regina, I use the binder method and I put an extra baseball sleeve page into each section of my binder. I use this page ONLY for store coupons. That way, my store coupons are still arranged by section and I don’t have to search through my categories while I’m at the store to see if there’s a matching manufacturer’s coupon.
      Another way I’ve arranged them before is to put the manufacturer and store coupon in the same slot in my binder; I fold them so at a glance I can see that I have 2 coupons for the same item. This is great if you only have one store coupon to match up with a manufacturer coupon, it gets difficult to keep track of if there’s more than one store that has the same coupon.
      I’ve also thought about using color-coordinated dry-erase markers to mark on the sheet protector over the manufacturer coupons to know if I have a coordinating store coupon (i.e. color a red dot on the protector so I know I have a Target coupon for that item, yellow for Smith’s, etc.). I haven’t tried this yet cause I’m not sure if the dry-erase markers will rub off with me flipping the pages all the time.
      I hope this all makes sense and I hope it helps! Good luck.

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  14. I’m new to couponing.Thank you for showing us

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  15. I Am totally addicted to couponing. I find that the sleeves for currency works best for me ,there is only 4 slots but they are big enough so that you don’t have to fold the larger coupons and can put 2 or 3 of the smaller ones in one slot.

    Reply
  16. i have one question i live in north carolina and have looked at a few of the local papers and havent been able to find one that does a sunday only subscription is there a national paper that has the sunday only subscription or is there another option

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    • You might have to try to find a paper that will do a Weekend only?? They might do a Fri, Sat, Sun edition.

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  17. I have a question. My husband has been doing the coupons and does the file method. We use grocerysmarts.com a lot to see what is on sale and what uses a coupon. I am going to be taking over the couponing in the family, and would like to use the binder method. Is there a way that I could separate the coupons by coupon book (ie smart sourse/p&g) in the binder, as well as in category, or would that be way to complicated for a newbie.

    Reply
    • It sounds pretty complicated. But if you can figure out a way to make it work, give it a try and let me know!!

      Reply

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