Ways To Organize Your Coupons
When you are making the decision of how to organize your coupons you have one big decision to make- to cut or not to cut. Some couponers like myself store all of our coupons in the inserts and don’t cut them until we take them to the store. Others cut their coupons and file them by various methods.
So before we get into those methods we need to decide if you will store by insert or cut.
Step One: There is a very simple test to determine which type of person you are.
Look around you. In YOUR space (not your family’s space but YOUR space) how organized are you? Does the idea of cutting coupons and putting them in an order that organizes them make you excited? Is everything on your desk at a right angle? Would a crooked picture on a wall make you walk across the room to fix it- even if it isn’t your home? Is it easier for you to process information if you can see and touch things? Does the idea of potentially walking by a sale in the store and NOT knowing it’s there make you lay awake at night?
If that is you you need to cut and organize your coupons. You can skip to Step Two.
Do you think cutting coupons sounds incredibly boring? Does the idea of all those little pieces of paper being cut make your head spin? Can you leave your bed unmade and it doesn’t bother you? Is your organizational style more of “organized chaos”? Are you a bit more impulsive and like to do things on a whim?
If that is you, you can feel free to organize by insert. You can skip to Step Four.
Step Two: Picking Your Storage Container
So you have decided it fits your personality best to cut your coupons. That’s great- you like being organized and in control of your environment. Your next step is to choose where you want to store them.
You have a few options (from least popular to most popular):
An Accordion Style Check Organizer– most people grab these from the Target Dollar Spot when they start couponing. The people I have met who still use them after a few months of couponing could fit on one hand. Pros: They like it because it is small and can easily fit in a purse or diaper bag. Cons: It can be frustrating to dig through and you run out of space quickly.
A Recipe Box– the only store I see these in on a regular basis is Michael’s. These are very similar to using the check organizer but it has more room and feels more solid. You can use index cards to separate into the categories you want. Pros: Very sturdy, small and easy to organize. Cons: One tip upside down and all your work is un-done. If it’s not packed tightly coupons tend to slip underneath all the others.
A Brag Book Style Photo Album– these little books can also be found at Michael’s in various sizes. You need a book that has the plastic set up so you slide photos in from the side. This way you would slide your coupons in front the side and not the top. Also I would make sure it has an elastic band around the outside. Pros: Small, fits in purse. Cons: You have multiple coupons inside the slots so it requires a bit more digging through them.
3 Ring Zipper Binder– Honestly most habitual couponers end up with a binder. I highly recommend getting one that zips so you don’t have to worry about things falling out. If you go with this option you will also need something similar to these Coupon Binder Pages ( I personally like this pack and it has good feedback) and something to label those pages like these. You also can generally store scissors and an ink pen inside, as well as a calculator if you prefer not to use your cell phone. Pros: Easy to organize, easy to maintain. Cons: Big and Bulky.
There are other options- some people use envelopes, some people use sandwich bags but these are the most popular. Pick the one that works for you!
Step Three: To Alphabetize or Not Alphabetize?
Inside your containers you are going to have hundreds, if not thousands, of little pieces of paper. They can be organized in a variety of ways.
Alphabetical Order: You can organize your coupon by manufacturer or food name. Campbell’s Soup goes under C. Tide goes under T. Or soup could go under S depending on what you prefer.
By Aisle: If you only grocery shop in one store you can actually file things by the aisle. So that way everything on the aisle in the same place. I don’t generally recommend this because stores can change but some people prefer it.
By Category: Almost everyone who cuts coupons files them by categories. You can check out some of the suggested Coupon Binder Categories but they would also work in a box or accordion file.
You need to do this whatever way is easiest for you!
Step Four: Organize by Filing
To organize by filing you have far fewer decisions to make.
On the side of every coupon insert, on the binding/edge is a date. It is the date that identifies the insert. Find that date and write it on the front. Trust me- go grab one. It’s there. No one ever believes me when I tell them this.
Once you write the date on the front, just drop it in a sheet protector. Then file them by date and you are all finished. It takes about 30 seconds!
By now it has probably occurred to you that by organizing your coupons this way you don’t actually KNOW what coupons are inside the binder. So how do you know where the coupons are?
You have two options:
1. A Coupon Database– it’s like google for coupons. Go ahead- do a search. Look under Source and it will tell you the date and if the insert is a Smart Source (SS), Red Plum (RP), General Mills (GM) or Proctor and Gamble (PG). Then you flip to that date, find the coupon, cut it out and you are ready to go.
2. Check the match ups– use sites like mine to find the best deals at your local store. It will tell you the date and if the insert is a Smart Source (SS), Red Plum (RP), General Mills (GM) or Proctor and Gamble (PG). Then you flip to that date, find the coupon, cut it out and you are ready to go.
Each method has it’s pros and cons. You need to decide which one works for YOU! There is no wrong way to organize your coupons as long as it works for you!