Wednesday, March 10, 2010

My coupon organization system

I've been asked a few times about my coupon organization system, so I've decided to share with you how I keep myself organized. Of course, taking photos of a coupon binder is a little bit tricky (especially with all those shiny pages) so you'll have to forgive me for less than stellar photos. This method may or may not work well for you, every couponer has a different way of doing things- and that's just fine. It's great to experiment and find the system that you need. It took me over a year (and a TON of methods) to make the switch to a binder, and another 4+ months to really settle on the categories I needed for this to be effective. Now that I have my system in place, it's super easy to use and maintain.

Here's the binder itself, not the prettiest thing ever but I purchased it when back-to-school items were on clearance for $1. My choices were blue, hot pink, or a strange shade of green.
I like to keep store policies tucked in the front flap so they're easy to access if I need them. I also keep stamps handy (for coupon trades) and miscellaneous items (like my VS rewards cards) in the small pocket on the left. Sometimes I put store ads right here (in front of the coupon pages) so I can stay organized, especially on super busy weeks.

To the right, I have a baseball card protector sheet that I use for Register Rewards/Catalinas- that way I'm sure to use them before they expire. I sometimes tuck other things into this page as well (like a spare QFC loyalty card belonging to my mom, a FREE undie q from VS, or soon to expire coupons I want to use).
Page 2 of the binder is also super important. This is where I store my FREE item coupons. I'd hate to see any of these expire so they stay up front. Behind the FREE coupons I sometimes tuck in coupons that I can't pin down a category for (like $1 off any Campbell's/V8/Pepperidge Farm product).
Then come the tabbed categories. Here's what I use:
  • Produce: For produce coupons. Also includes deli items (from the deli section- like fancy cheeses, dips, and whatnot) and bread coupons
  • Pantry: This is a big category. If it's a baking item, dried or canned goods, breakfast food, tuna, sauces, or spices- you'll find it in here.
  • Snack- salty: Chips, nuts, popcorn, etc.
  • Snack- sweet: Candy, cookies, etc.
  • Beverages: Juice, coffee (in any form), water, etc. The only thing not included in this section is milk.
  • Frozen- anything you'd find in the freezer section of the store is here.
  • Cold- Meat, cheese, yogurt, eggs, etc. If it's kept in a refrigerated section, I put the coupon for it here.
  • Baby- Diapers, toddler/infant friendly meds, bath products, etc.
  • Misc- If it doesn't fit into another category and is a coupon I think I'll want to use, it goes in here. I used to have better organization- but did so many drugstore deals in the beginning that I'm pretty well stocked on these kinds of items.

Once you get into each category, I like to keep all like coupons on the same page. For example, here's my rice/pasta page:Pictured below is a page from my beverage section. It's supposed to be coffee, but I see some non-coffee items included (that'll teach me to take photos without double checking my pages!). Sometimes coupons are just too big for baseball card sheets, so I keep these photo sheets at the back of each section. I found mine at a thrift store for $0.25.Coupon confession time: I don't clip everything. I used to do this, but it can be hard to keep up with. Of course, if you're just starting out- I would recommend clipping or keeping everything. Now I use a simple "if this coupon made a product free, would I buy it?" test to decide. This helps keep me from getting overwhelmed both with finding time to clip my coupons and having more than I can keep track of.

Another thing I do to save my time (and sanity) is tuck whole P&G inserts into the back of my binder- I NEVER clip these right away. I sometimes make a list of what's included on a post-it and stick it to the front. Frequently, the majority of these coupons expire at the end of the month- so not clipping them saves me a lot of time, and if I need one- I know exactly where to find it. At the end of the month, I double check and clip anything with a longer expiration date for my misc. section before tossing whatever is left.


  1. I just recently got serious about couponing and I have set up a binder in a very similar fashion! I also don't clip everything, but use the "if it were free, would I get it" question as well. I keep a small pair of scissors in my binder in case I need to clip a coupon on the fly while out shopping.

  2. Thanks for posting this! I'm seriously considering trying this method. I really like the idea of not clipping P&G inserts and only saving the ones I'm likely to use. I clipped 15 inserts on Monday and it took forever. It is definitely the worst part of couponing for me. Does each coupon have it's own spot or do you stack one's that are similar, ie. rice? It seems like there might be a space issue. But if you are only filing the Q's you are likely to use, that problem might not arise.

  3. I do stack the like ones. I can easily fit about 10-15 of any coupon into any one slot (more if they go into the photo slots). I'll be posting more detailed photos of my clipping and whatnot- so feel free to fire away with any questions and I'll try to anwser everything.

  4. I love the idea of carrying the P&G ads. You are right, the do all expire at once. Thanks for that tip.