Let’s talk about organizing our coupons, GASP!

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how to organize your coupons
Organization hasn’t always been my strong point.  I consider myself more of a “big picture” person, so the idea of having hundreds if not thousands of coupons floating around in my purse or on my counter was not something that I was looking forward to when I first started couponing on a higher level.

I realized very early on that carrying all of my coupons in a small expanding envelope in my purse was not going to work.  I think that I tried pretty much every method of organizing my coupons until I finally realized that the binder method was the best and most practical for new couponers.

This method works really well when you first start couponing because it puts all of the coupons in individual categories which makes it super easy to find the coupons that you need.   I have pocket dividers in the front of my binder with the store’s that I regularly shop at (Publix is first of course) and I put the weekly flyer for each store in that pocket for easy reference.  My coupons are then organized by department based upon the layout of my Publix Store:  Health & Beauty, Dairy & Cold, Canned & Boxed, Snacks & Drinks and Household.  This keeps everything very tidy and easy to access.

case it binder 2

As you are building your initial stockpile of the things that your family uses and needs, it is important that you have your coupons easily accessible.
Building a really good stockpile takes anywhere from six to twelve weeks depending on how frequently you shop and if you are getting in on all of the deals as they come up. 
You will find that during this “Building” phase, your binder will grow really really fast, almost bursting at the seams as you are clipping, printing and grabbing every coupon that you see.  This can get overwhelming, but rest assured, it won’t always be this way if you just stick with it.
Eventually what happens, is that you build up a good supply of the items that your family needs and uses, and you begin ONLY purchasing the deals that are necessary to fill in the holes in your pantry.  This is when you really start to notice that you are saving the most money at the register.  Since your pantry is full, the only items that you will need to buy are those items that you family has used that you need to replenish or those items that you intend to donate to your church / food pantry or give to others in need.  This is a great point to be at and trust me, it does not take very long to get there if you focus on building your stockpile in the early stages of couponing.
Once you reach this point, you will realize that you don’t need to carry every single coupon with you at all times, because you don’t need many of the items even if it is a great deal since your pantry is already fully stocked!  This will happen with pasta, cereal, snacks, toothpaste, toothbrushes, deodorant, body wash and other items.

This is the time to move to the “Insert Method” of organizing your coupons.  Usually people move to this method when they are getting multiple coupon inserts each week.  When you do that, it is WAY too time consuming to sit and clip every single coupon and put them in your binder.  Also, your binder gets entirely too big when you put that many coupons in it each week.  I do know of people that just increase the size of their binder, but in my opinion, this method is much easier.

 

Insert Method

You will begin by creating envelopes or file folders for each week’s inserts.  For example, since there were two inserts in the 1/23 paper, you would have two different folders or envelopes for that week.  They would be labeled 1/23 RedPlum & 1/23 SmartSource  (or abbreviate RP and SS).  If you order your inserts online like I do, they come in a Priority envelope already, so I just write the date on the outside of the envelope and they are already neat and tidy!

Once you have them neatly placed in an envelope or file folder, now its time to decide how you would like to store these.  There are many options to consider depending on space and decor.  I have a small file cabinet next to my chair that I thought would be wonderful (and it was) but personally I prefer to buy square baskets with lids or square ottomans when I see them on clearance for under $5.00, they work perfect and you can’t tell what is inside them!!

coupon box method
Note that there are dividers for each week inserts labeled for easy access
I try to keep things as simple as possible and prefer to try to use something that looks like it belongs in the house so that I don’t have a bunch of plastic containers stacked up. 
I have a large basket with a lid that fits file folders in perfectly and I have several different foot ottomans that I find every now and then on clearance for around $5.00 that I use as well.  These come in all different colors so watch for them!  Target has these in their  home decor area and clearance out the old print when bringing in new prints:
storage ottoman

Looks like a regular foot ottoman, but inside are my mailing envelopes neatly lined up by date for easy access.  No need to buy file folders or envelopes!(I date the mailing envelope and just stack them right in the ottoman and cover!)

 
Make sure that you DATE the outside of the insert so you can just flip to it and know what the date is instead of having to  read the tiny print on the side of the insert.
white space
With the insert method, there is still a need for a small binder to keep your peelies, blinkies, tearpad and printable coupons in.  If there is a coupon in that week’s inserts for an item that I KNOW that I would want to buy a bunch of if I found it free or really cheap, I will cut every one of the coupons that I want and put them in my binder.  Otherwise, I just wait until I do the coupon match-ups for that weeks deals, go to the folder or envelope for the week and insert that I reference, and clip the coupons right before going to the store!  If the item is out of stock and I have to get a rain check, I put the coupons that I have clipped into my binder where they belong and put the rain check in the pocket of that particular store (such as Publix).
The insert method can be used instead of the binder method for all coupon inserts if you don’t want to clip coupons at all until you need them.  The problem with that is that you wont have your coupons when you find a deal or go right to them for items that you are planning to buy that are not on sale that week.  Your savings will be less in those cases, but the time that you normally spent clipping is eliminated completely.  You have to decide which works for you.
 white space
COUPON BOX (cutting) METHOD:

I recently moved to the “Coupon Box” method of organization.  Each week, I gather my inserts and lay each page out stacking like pages on top of one another, so there will be SIX of each page in each pile.   I then STAPLE each coupon (still on the sheets), I have stapled the in the middle of each coupon but find it easier to staple closer to the top of each coupon.  Then I simply CLIP each set out while they are all stapled together.

What I will end up with are stacks of six of the exact same coupons already stapled together.

Once they are clipped, I will simply plop it right into the box behind the category that it goes.  Simple! They wont slip away from each other or shimmy and fold and will look neat and tidy.  This eliminates several steps if you are using the binder method currently.  Here is a photo of what it looks like set up as I am putting a batch of coupons in their place.

 

coupon box keeper

 

The system above is called the MY COUPON KEEPER SYSTEM.  If you are interested in purchasing a My Coupon Keeper system you have a couple of options, the regular and the deluxe, you can check them both out by clicking here.

 

 

Here are some additional organizational options from our readers:

COMBO SYSTEMS – Filing / Binder / Accordion

Many people find that using just ONE organization system isn’t enough to keep things under control.   The solution to that is to use a combination of several systems.    You can file inserts by date, keep a binder for printables, blinkies, tearpads and other miscellaneous coupons then use a small purse accordion file for the coupons you will use in that trip!!

combo system

 

FILING CABINET or FILING CART

I am always jealous when someone has a really snazzy filing cabinet or cart and keeps it neat and orderly like these!  Most of the time their inserts are filed by date and type in hanging folders and they clip the coupons as they go when a deal pops up!!

 

filing cart

MOST SIMPLE SYSTEM

This system is so easy that you simply can’t go wrong.   Valerie separates her coupons by the deals she will be doing then keeps them in separate color coded zipper pouches by STORE!  Although that might not work for those of you with a zillion coupons, this is a really neat, clean and efficient way to carry your coupons for specific deals at specific stores!

simple method


I hope some of these tips will help those of you struggling with keeping your coupons organized or brings you to the next level on handling all of those awesome coupons that we get!!  It is so much fun to get in on the deals and even more fun when you reduce the work that it takes to deal with your coupons!! 

Make sure you check in on our facebook fan page or our facebook chat page to say hi and hang out with all of your coupon freak friends!  We are having a blast over there!

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