This post focuses on how to organize your coupons. So far we’ve learned how coupons work, learned the different types of coupons and about what type of couponer we are. Now we will discuss the different ways to organize coupons.
There are several different ways to organize coupons. I learned quickly that my preferred method was a “Coupon Binder” but that’s not your only option. Several companies have put together coupon holders that may work for you. You even go to the Dollar Store and get a holder that organizes your recipes and use it for coupons instead. I started off that way and then moved up to a “Coupon Binder”. To check out more options click this Coupon Organizers link.
When I started using coupons I used an accordion file to file my coupons. I quickly learned that I wasn’t saving the amount of money I should have been. I would go to the grocery store and dig through my coupons. Most of the time I would get so irritated that I wouldn’t use them. I decided to do some research on different organizing methods and came to the conclusion that the “Coupon Binder” system would work best for me. I’ve had a great experience with my coupon binder and want you to have the same experience.
What do you need to make a coupon binder?
- 3 Ring Binder: Preferably one that zips and has a carrying strap. This works best for me because my kids can’t get into it and my coupons can’t fall out (zipper). The carrying strap is extremely beneficial because I am usually carrying one of my kids or something for my kids. It keeps your hands free. Check out these 3 Ring Binder with carrying strap options.
- Baseball Card Sleeves: These are the sheets that you put your baseball cards in to protect them. They usually have 12 pockets per page. These are available at many different store. Check out these Baseball Card Sleeves.
- Page Dividers: You need these so you can create categories for your coupons. Check out these Page Dividers.
- Small Accordion File Folder: This should be small enough to fit in the front pocket inside of your binder. I use mine for store coupons, restaurant coupons and coupons waiting to be filed. Check out these Accordion Files.
- 3 Ring Pencil Pouch: The one I have has holes for the rings in the binder and attaches that way. I use this to hold my pen, calculator, notepad and scissors. Check out these 3 Ring Pencil Pouches.
Once you have all your supplies you can put your binder together. This process can be time consuming (30 min) but once you are set up it is easy to maintain. If you’re using a different organizing method, you’ll need to follow the instructions for “determining your categories” below.
Let’s get started!
- Determine your Coupon Categories: My categories are set up according what makes sense to me. I have them in alphabetical order. I started mine with Breads/Breakfast as my first category than Canned, Cleaning, Dairy, Drinks, Frozen, Hygiene, Meat, etc… Whatever make sense to you. Once you determine your categories write them on the divider tabs.
- Put Baseball Card Sleeves between your dividers: I would put 2 or 3 to start with. You will find yourself adding or removing pages. Keep extra sleeves in your binder at all times. You can place them in the very back of the binder.
- Put Together your Pencil Pouch: I keep a pen, calculator, notepad and scissors in mine at all times. You can put whatever you think you will need in yours.
- Setup your Small Accordion file: I have the categories set up for the stores I shop at most, Staters, Vons, Kmart, CVS, Walgreens, and Rite Aid. These categories are used for store specific coupons or catalina coupons. I shop at many more stores but not as often as these. I have a misc tab for other store coupons that I shop. I have my other tabs labeled as “restaurant coupons” and “rebates”. I use the empty space before the first divider as a temporary hold space for coupons I am using on my shopping trip. I use the space behind the last divider for coupons that are waiting to be filed.
Now that you are all set up you can file your coupons. This can take a little more time than normal because you are just getting started. If you file your coupons weekly it should only take you about 20 minutes or so to file.
How Do I File My Coupons?
Once you cut your coupons sort them into stacks according to your binder categories. Once your stacks are complete pick up one stack and start putting the individual coupons in a baseball pocket. If you have more than one with the exact information put them in the same pocket. If you have the same info but different expiration dates make sure to put the one expiring first in the front of the stack. Sometimes you will need to fold your coupon to fit, just be sure to make the expiration date visible. The nice part of the pockets is you can see the product on one side and the expiration on the other side.
When you are finished filing you’re done! Every week set a designated day and go thru you binder and pull out the expired coupons. You can donate them to an expired coupon project or simply put them in the trash. When you are done removing your expired coupons, file your coupons.
Before I shop, I pull the coupons I know I will be using and put them in the front of the accordion file. You don’t have to do this but when you are shopping with children its helpful . Always take your binder with you in the store, you never know what other deals you may find. I keep mine in the car at all times unless I’m filing.Now it’s your turn. You need to figure out what type of coupon organizing system you will use. Please leave me a comment on this post if you have any questions or comments regarding this post.
The next step is Adding Coupons to Your Coupon Organizer
This is the 4th post in a series. Click this How to use Manufacturer Coupons link to read more posts in this series.