There are several things to consider when choosing an organization method that will work for your style of couponing. It also depends on how experienced you are, how much time you’re willing to invest, and what your stockpile looks like.
When you’re just starting out and you don’t have a stockpile, your goal is to build that sucker the fastest way possible. I’ll discuss the 3 most popular methods of coupon organization, but you can always adapt your own method.
Coupon Box Method:
For newbies, I recommend the clip-and-file method. Get a tub (Walmart sells them for around $2.50) with a secure lid. You don’t want to drop it and have all of your coupons go flying… I’ve done that before and I was a sobbing mess sitting on the floor picking them all up! (Great visual, I know… lol). Get a box of envelopes, some index cards and your stapler. Fold the flap of the envelope inside, stick in the index card and staple it inside. You can stagger the index cards (3 across in a standard #10 envelope) to make the categories easier to see. Write the category on the top of the index card and file away!
I’ve found that clipping and filing every week is very time consuming, but if you’re in the store and see a clearance deal, you can snag it up since you have your coupons with you in an easy to find system. One other draw-back is having to weed through the expired coupons every month. That can take hours, but if you feel more comfortable clipping, this would work very well for you.
Here is a categories list I recommend:
If you prefer a clip-and-file binder method, get some currency holders. You can label them with tabs if you wish. I always filed by category, I’d forget if I filed Kraft Mayo under “K” or “M”… something to consider. This method can work well, but I’ve found that the internet pritables are too large to fit in baseball card slots, meaning you either have to fold them, or file them in a different part of the binder. The currency holders work perfectly because they are large enough to fit a dollar bill. If you’d like to try this method, I’d get a zippered binder (Walmart has their base version for under $10). It would look something like this:
Whole Insert Method:
Once you get a decent stockpile going, or if you get tired of clipping and filing you can switch to the whole insert method, my current and personal favorite method. I take the entire insert from that week and put it in a sheet protector in my binder. I write the date on the front with a sharpie and that’s it! I do flip through the inserts every Sunday to see if there are any killer coupons that need to be clipped immediately. 😉
I have a section of my binder that I put all un-cut IP’s. There’s a section for Home Mailers, Peelies, Blinkies and other “good” coupons. In the back, I have 4 folders for store-specific coupons, where I put the catalinas, store coupons and the store coupon policy. In my Dillons folder, I also keep a current print-out of the eCoupons loaded to my plus card. I’ll show you several different pictures of my personal organizer.
The newest inserts go at the front, I keep about 2 months worth of inserts in the binder. I take the oldest out and put them in a shoe box when it gets too big. There is a tiny pair of scissors in the velcro pocket, and the sharpie is where the pens would normally go.
The Internet Printables are in their own section. The Home Mailers, Peelies, Blinkies, Hangtags etc are in the pocket.
Store Specific are in the back. Target is on top, then Dillons, Homeland and Walgreens:
And finally, in the back I have Mail-In-Rebate forms I have printed. I always like to keep all of my receipts in a separate box, so if a rebate pops up, and I’ve purchased the items recently, I have the receipt ready to go and I don’t have to purchase the item/s again.
I do not carry the entire binder with me when I go shopping, I usually leave it in my car so that it’s accessible at all times. (I have separation anxiety… LOL). I have plastic envelopes that I keep in my purse with the coupons that I know I am going to use at a certain store. That way, when I go shopping, I can fly as low under the radar as possible. Not that I don’t want to look like that crazy coupon lady, I just like to be incognito. And… I hate lugging that thing around. Here is one of the plastic envelopes (purchased at Office Max):
*It’s a good idea for any method to have store-specific categories.
Do you have any suggestions, questions or pictures of your organizer? Please share!