I never used to organize coupons because I simply didn't get that many, and I was single and it just didn’t seem to be worth my time. I completely gave up on couponing for a while.
Jump forward to now… I’m spending and saving for a family of four. Those coupons certainly add up to some great savings. I have gotten to the point that I feel quite upset if I didn’t get to use a coupon that I could have. It’s like losing a dollar here and a dollar there. And I wouldn’t purposely toss money into the garbage!
So, the question is how to organize coupons you’ve been collecting and trying to use without letting them expire?
There are so many ways to organize coupons, and no one way is the "right" way. It's what works best for you. It depends on your time, how many coupons you typically have, how involved you want to be in this, how much you want to save money and just how organized you want to be. Even within each suggestion below, you can do each one a million different ways!
Here are some ways I've found to organize coupons:
Three Ring Binder
Some people like to use a 3-ring binder filled with clear pocketed sheets that usually hold baseball cards to organize coupons. You then make or buy dividers and label them with various sections as you want (Dairy, baby needs, canned goods, etc.) You could put one coupon per slot, or all coupons of the same product per slot, or put them in so you can see a coupon from the front and back of each page. Unless you sort your coupons into the binder by the aisles of your grocery store, and only shop at the one store, it could be difficult finding coupons while you shop. I suggest you take out and organize coupons for your shopping trip and put those in the order of the aisles in the store. Take the binder with you just in case you see something in the store that you know you have a coupon for in the binder still.
I have not tried this method, yet. I personally feel a little strange standing in the grocery store with a huge binder of coupons. However, I’ve read many wonderful comments about how great this works and how easy it is to see your coupons. This may be something worth a try. Another alternative to this I’ve read about was to use a zip up CD holder case. Perhaps that’s a little more sleek and portable for some of us!
You can organize coupons in a file box as big or small as you want, depending on how many coupons you generally have. You could get a 4" x 6" recipe box that holds index cards. Or you can use another type of box such as a shoe box or plastic bin or pretty woven basket. You can be as basic or as fancy as you want. I only wish I had enough coupons to fill a shoe box though! But I know some people do. Once you’ve decided on a box, you can purchase or make dividers and label them to your needs. File the coupons behind the dividers with coupons expiring first toward the front of the section. Again, I wouldn’t carry this box into the store. Instead I would pull out the coupons I intend to use on my shopping trip, sort them via the aisles of my store and leave the rest in the car. But that’s just a personal choice. Be sure to purge your coupons regularly, at least once a month or you’ll become over run with expired coupons making it harder to find the valid ones.
A quick and inexpensive way to organize coupons is to put them into envelopes. Get together several envelopes, one for each category of coupons you determine. File the various coupons into its properly categorized envelope. You could even combine this envelope method with the above file box method to keep them in. Remove the coupons you intend to use at your shopping trip, sort them in order of your path through your store, and put them in a single envelope that you take into the store with you.
You can buy accordion folders of various materials and sizes to organize coupons. You will want to determine what works best for you and the number of coupons you typically have on hand. Label the built in tabs to coordinate with categories that work for you. File the coupons in their prospective categories in the file folder. Put the ones ready to expire near the front of its section. Take out the coupons you plan to use on your shopping trip and you can bring this portable folder with you to the store just in case you might need a coupon from it.
Other Tools In Your Coupon Organizer
You may want to make sure you have room for an envelope, slot, file or whatever for coupons that need to be filed. That’s for coupons you’ve collected but still have to put in their proper spots.
A small pair of scissors is great to have on hand as well if you need to clip some coupons while away from home.
Another important item you may want to bring to the grocery store is a small calculator. Some stores now calculate for you the price per unit, but some still don’t! So when you’re trying to determine which item is the better deal, having the calculator on hand will make it much easier.
Heading to the Grocery Store
Definitely bring the coupons you intend to use based on your shopping list and sales flyers, etc. Take out the coupons you're going to need. Put them in order of your shopping route through the store. On your shopping list, put a little (c) next to the item to remind you that you have a coupon for it. I also put a little (s) next to an item to know if it's on sale as well. You really want to buy items when they are on sale AND you have a coupon for them! I would recommend bringing the rest of your coupons if they're portable in case you see something you know you have a coupon for.
Check out this page for more
grocery shopping tips.
There are many ways these days in which to collect coupons and fill up your stash!
Sunday Paper – Get a discounted rate for the Sunday paper. Also, if you know there are great coupons in a paper, pick up some extra copies of the paper to get additional coupons.
Magazines – Be sure to look for ads in magazines for coupons.
Manufacturers websites – Sign up with company’s websites to receive their newsletters and they will typically send out coupons for products as well.
Coupon dispensers in the store - Don’t just walk past them! Take a coupon or two if you know you will use them, even if not today, but before they expire. The best time is when the product is also on sale.
Print coupons from websites online - There are several websites that dispense coupons for the taking, or rather, the printing. They are free to join and you get many different kinds of manufacturer coupons for various products. One of my favorites is Coupons.com. But there are many more out there.
Online coupon swapping - There are lots of money saving groups out there that you can become a member of, and they offer coupon swapping, or coupon trains. This is a great way to get coupons you want and will use, and to give away the coupons you have but won’t use. You’re getting what you want, and you’re also helping out other people as well.
Organizing your coupons is not only a time saver but a money saver. I hope you find some great coupons and that you’re able to organize your coupons in a way that you get the most out of them! Happy shopping!