First, there is no right or wrong way to organize coupons. The only right way, is the one that works for you. There are several methods for organizing coupons, but here are the Top 3 that I’ve seen:
(Photo from Super Jenn)
1) Coupon Binder – This is some form of zippered/closed binder that they put “baseball card sleeves” in to hold the coupons. The coupons are “clipped” and folded into the slots of the sleeves so that you can just flip through your coupons page by page. To see how to organize one, Super Jenn has a posting HERE.
(Photo from Money Saving Mom)
2) Coupon Box – This is some form of box where the “clipped” coupons are usually kept in some type of labeled envelope system. If you go with this method, I’d highly advise a box with a secure lid! Usually, when they shop, the box is put in the child seat of the cart for easy access.
3) Coupon Insert Method – This is where the coupon inserts from the Sunday paper are kept intact, and either not clipped or partially clipped, and filed by week. Usually an expandable file folder that has tabs for labeling is used.
I currently use the Coupon Insert Method. Now you may ask, if you don’t clip all the coupons, how can you possible use them? Good question! It’s important to know what coupons are out, so each Sunday, I’ll flip through all my inserts to see what I think I might need. I clip those right away. I then label each insert with that week’s date, so this Sunday’s inserts would be 7/12/09 SS, 7/12/09 RP and/or 7/12/09 P&G, if there was one. I’ll then file them under July. It looks something like this:
The coupons that I clip, I put into a mini-expandable file coupon holder that fits nicely in my purse so I always have the ones I think I’ll need with me. It looks something like this:
Typically blogs will list where you can find the coupon needed for a deal. They say something like, “Use the $1/1 from the 7/12 Smart Source.” I’ll then go to the 7/12Smart Source insert, find the coupon and clip it. It saves me from having to clip out all those coupons, but I still have them handy in case I can get a good deal on something.
The disadvantage to this method is that you don’t have all your coupons with you when you shop. But I look at it this way, while I may miss out on a clearanced item or two; it also prevents me from “impulse shopping” and buying something that’s not on my list. I can always jot down the deal and take a chance at picking it up later in the week if I’m out again.
Now, if you make up your shopping list and you are buying, say Skippy Peanut Butter and Hunt’s Ketchup, you can go to one of the coupon databases out there and see if a coupon exists for those products. My favorite one to use is Coupon Mom. You’ll need to register, but it’s free and easy to use. Just sign-in, choose grocery coupon database and then your state. I always sort it alphabetically. For these items, I’d look for Skippy and Hunt’s. If they are listed, you’ll need to see what insert they are in. For example, the Skippy Peanut Butter says 6/14SS, I’d then go hunt down my Smart Source insert from 6/14 and clip it.
Like I said, there’s no one right way to organize coupons. You may even switch over time. I’ve tried all of them! Personally, I hate cutting out coupons and I have little spare time, so that’s why I stick with the coupon insert method now.
Always keep in mind; coupons are “regional,” meaning some areas/states get some we don’t. So you may see some listed on blogs that aren’t going to be in your inserts.