I know several of you are fairly new to couponing and have been wondering how to organize the new coupons that you are starting to collect. Here are a few of the common coupon organizing methods. Each of them has their own advantages and disadvantages. I’ve tried all of them and I’ll share with you in another posting some pictures of the method that I currently use and how I keep it organized. I’m hoping that you’ll find one that best suits your couponing needs.
Photo Courtesy of Super Jenn
1) Coupon Binder – This is a common method used among couponers that have a LOT of coupons. This is typically a zippered binder that is organized with something similar to Baseball Card Sleeves. Coupons are “clipped” and slid into each of the slots in the sleeves.
Advantages – You are able to carry a lot of coupons with you when you shop. You can easily flip through the pages to find the coupons that you may need. You can also easily pull out expired coupons.
Disadvantages – It takes time and patience to clip and slide the coupons into the sleeves. A lot of binders can end up weighing several pounds and are real bulky for carrying into the stores. The size of these makes it hard to carry with you wherever you may go. Most couponers that use this method will leave these in their vehicles so they can have them with them when they go out. Couponers that have a lot of coupons tend to have more than one binder, often split between food and non-food items.
If you use this method, I cannot stress enough to buy a zippered binder. You’ll know why the first time you drop it! You can typically find the baseball card sleeves at Walmart, in hobby stores or online.
2) Coupon Organizer/Box – This method can be any organizer system that uses dividers for the coupon categories. They can be as simple and inexpensive as an accordion style one that you can typically find in dollar bins to as elaborate as a specially made one that you’ll often find sold online such as Etsy. Some also use a plastic box with a lid for their coupons with dividers they’ve custom made from a thicker material, like card stock.
Advantages – These tend to be small and can usually be slid into a purse/bag and transported anywhere. There are so many varieties that you can often find one to fit your style/fashion tastes. These are typically used by couponers that know their coupon patterns and have a smaller amount of coupons or who pull coupons according to their shopping lists ahead of time. These are especially nice if you make unexpected trips or frequent clearance areas as you’ll have all your coupons with you.
Disadvantages – You’ll need to clip all of your coupons. Some of these aren’t very secure and if dropped, you’ll have a mess. You need to go through tab by tab to find any expired coupons–or coupons that you didn’t pull out when creating your shopping lists. They only hold a small amount of coupons.
3) Coupon Insert Method – This method is where you don’t clip your coupons but file them by date and only clip the coupons when you need them. You label the front cover by date and insert, such as 8/21/11 SS for this last week’s Smart Source Insert. Couponers will use Coupon Databases to see what insert has the coupon needed and then pull them out and clip just what they need.
Advantages – There is minimal coupon clipping involved and you’ll always have coupons for deals you may not have normally clipped the coupons for.
Disadvantages – Drop your filing method and you’ll see one of the biggest disadvantages! Once they are out of order and messed up, it’s next to impossible to reorganize them. They can sometimes take up a lot of storage room. You will never have them on hand when you shop. While this may help prevent impulse buys, it may also make you miss out on some great deals.
If you use this method, I recommend that you take an extra minute and flip through the insert and find the oldest expiration date and write it on the outside of the insert. This will help make it easier to know when you can remove that insert.
Don’t feel that if you start off with one couponing method that you are locked in. I’ve switched back and forth between them all depending on what is going on in my life at the time. Times when I was super busy, I used the Coupon Insert Method. When I was keeping mass amounts of coupons, I used the Coupon Binder Method. And when I learned more about couponing, switched to more Organic and locally bought foods and learned more about what coupons made for great deals, I switched to the Coupon Organizer Method. This is the one I have been using for some time. While the clipping can take some time, I love having it with me wherever I go. I keep it organized and fairly small so it will fit in my purse.
I’m hoping this has helped some of you learn more about How to Organize Coupons! I’d love to hear about what method you are currently using–along with some thoughts on other methods you’ve tried that didn’t work out.
Coming Next: My Coupon/Shopping Organizing System –a detailed look at my coupon organizer and what I bring to the store. Stay tuned!