When you first begin couponing you will soon start to worry about how you will organize all these coupons. I will give you some basic info on all the ways to organize coupons and some tips.
Holding on to coupons until a sale comes around is the biggest difference between typical coupon users and smart coupon users. Typical coupon users will use their coupons immediately after they come out in the paper. Smart coupon users will wait until they can combine a sale with their coupons to get the products at rock bottom – or stockup – prices. Because of this, the smart couponer has many, many coupons on hand at one time. You will have to keep these organized or you will go crazy.
Here is an overview of several of those methods:
1. Small Accordion file, Coupon Holder (Envelope Style) Method – This is what casual couponers will generally use. It is small and easily fits in your purse. You will outgrow a small accordion file VERY quickly if you are really starting to get into couponing. In the file it is best to sort them by categories within the accordion file so you can easily locate them. Many couponers use this as a secondary method to carry their coupons while in the store if they don’t want to haul all their coupons around.
2. Binder Method – This is one of the most commonly used methods of organizing used by couponers. You use a 3-Ring Binder and add baseball cardholders, currency holders, or photo holders to hold all the coupons. These are clear pages with several pockets that clip into the 3-Ring Binder. The coupons are typically organized by grocery store aisle, or alphabetically, or by product type, etc. To get a better understanding of how to organize via binder check out this page here: Coupon Binders
3. A shoebox type organizational method – This is where you use a shoebox, photo box, recipe box, baby wipes container, or small rubbermaid container to hold all your coupons. Separate them out into different categories with card stock, or index cards, so you can find them easily. These can hold large volumes of coupons – the bigger the box, the more coupons – but it can be hard to carry with you to a store. Most people use this at home, then an envelope or baggie at the store.
4. The No-clip Method/Insert Filers Method – This is probably the second most common organizational method, especially if you have large volumes of inserts. You will take the whole inserts and file them by date in a milk crate, filing cabinet, filing box, or paper sorter/filer. When a sale comes along, you find the insert date and clip as you need the coupons. This is best when you have large volumes of inserts or you do not want to spend large volumes of time cutting and sorting individual coupons. The downfall is they will not have the coupons on-hand in the stores.
5. Ziploc Baggies/Multiple Envelopes Method – Here you use baggies or envelopes to hold each category of coupon. From there you can drop them in a box, your purse, etc. These take up very little space, yet keeps coupons organized. They may get mangled easily, but work well if you treat them with care.
6. Photo Album Method – A middle step between an accordion file and a binder. They will hold more coupons than an accordion file but is not a huge as a binder, so it’s easier to carry around.
Most couponers use a combination of the above methods. We will typically have a way to store the less commonly used coupons at home and the more commonly used coupons with us. Using 2-3 of the above methods is probably more the norm than using just one. We have to learn to be flexible and find which ways work best for us. You have to balance the time it takes to organize, the difficulty or carrying too many coupons with you, and the risk of missing a deal because you didn’t have a coupon with you. Only you will know what your balancing point is.
For many of the organizational methods about you need to break down the sections of coupons into categories. You can make them as broad or specific as you want. Here is a list of commonly used categories (of varying levels of detail) to help you get started.
• Free Product
• Fresh Foods
• Food misc.
• Prepared Sides & Rice
• Condiments/Salad Dressing
• PB & J
• Salty Snacks
• Granola Bars/Fruit Snacks
• Oral Care
• Soap & Body Wash
• Hair Care
• Shaving & Deodorant
• Personal Care
• Feminine Hygiene
• First Aid
• Dish Washing
• Surface Cleaners
• Dish Washing
• Cleaning Supplies
• Air Fresheners/Candles
• Reynolds Ziploc
• Paper Products
• Store coupons
Obviously this page will not cover all your questions about organizing your coupons. Please don’t hesitate to post any questions, thoughts, ideas, concerns that you may have. I’d love to hear them!