How to Organize Coupons: My Coupon System

I shared with you earlier on How to Organize Coupons and the most common Coupon Organizing Methods. In this posting, I’ll be sharing how I arrange my own coupon organizer and what I bring with me to the store to help make things go a little smoother.

I have to start by saying that over time, I’ve tried each of the Coupon Organizing Methods. I started off with the Coupon Binder and quickly became frustrated with trying to fit my coupons into those baseball card sleeves. At the time, I was only able to find the 9 slot sleeves and I found it hard to fit a lot of the coupons in them. I was also getting more into finding printable coupons online and I didn’t like having to fold them over. You can now find various sized sleeves but in the meantime, I’ve downsized how many coupons I use. I also tried the Coupon Insert Method but found myself spending so much time searching for coupons and then my coupons got knocked over and that was the end of that method for me. LOL.

After couponing for a long period of time, you will start to notice which coupons that you clip that you end up using. At the end of each month, I started to take notice which expired coupons I was pulling out of my organizer that I hadn’t used–and also paying attention to which ones I found myself using a lot at the stores. I learned how long it took me through go through food and household items so I knew if I’d need a certain coupon that month, or if I could wait. I also switched my family over to more locally grown foods (or foods from our Organic Garden) and those sold by Organic Companies. Since Organic Coupons are still fairly rare, my coupons have become far less than what I used to keep.

I also started paying attention to items that I could get deals where I could get the items free or cheap after coupons. The stores typically have the same deals around the same time each year and over time, you’ll start to see the trends. I was beginning to see that just when my sensible stockpile would begin to deplete, a new hot sale and coupon would pop-up. This is your ultimate goal–to learn what you need to have on hand up to the next hot sale. It will keep your house from being taken over by an unnecessary stockpile but still keep your budget where it should be.

You see, when it comes to Couponing, the phrase you need to keep reminding yourself is Time (and Space) is Money. Each second you spend clipping a coupon, following blogs, dealing with a crazy stockpile or shopping adds up to lost money and time you could be spending with your families. You want to balance savings with smiles–the smiles that you get to see on your families’ faces when you are with them! While Couponing can be very fun, addicting and a money-saver, you have to be careful that it doesn’t consume or frustrate you.

So over time while I’ve tried all the Coupon Organizing Methods, I always come back to the Coupon Organizer. I like that it’s small, that I can fit it in my purse and that I limit myself of how many coupons I have. Sure, I miss out on some deals but in the end, I save money because I’m not buying unnecessary items that I won’t use. I’ve been asked by several of you on how many papers I get each week and the answer to that is two. We receive our local paper and the Chicago Tribune. I sometimes receive extra coupons from friends/family and on the rare occasion when there are four inserts and a lot of coupons I use in them, I’ll pick up an additional paper. I use a lot of printable coupons; in part because I print a lot to test links before I post things and also because there are a lot of high-value printable coupons these days.

When I go to the store, this is what I bring with me:

~My Coupon Organizer
~Big Chil Bag from Blue Avocado w/ other Reusable Bags and CVS Bag Tags attached
~Dave Ramsey Designer Envelope System-that fits into whatever purse I’m using
~Small Two-Sided Organizer for Pulled Coupons and Shopping List

I’ve tried several Coupon Organizers but I always go back to and have finally stayed with those made by GlowGirl. She sends you the dividers and pre-made labels with them. She has also created the organizer so you can button it over the shopping seat. I have my kids with me most of the time, so I don’t use it that way. She recently added a Mega Large Coupon Organizer that holds a lot more and has a handle for carrying it.

These are the categories that I use in my organizer:
Produce/Deli Area
Baking Products
Canned Foods
Condiments/Peanut Butter & Jelly
Bags/Paper Goods
Household/Cleaning Products
Shampoos/Lotions/Body Wash/Soap
Personal Care/Razors/Deodorant
Oral Hygiene
Pet Foods
Baby Products
Other Retailers
Expiring Soon/Free Products
Using Today

I’ve pretty much figured out how to get everything to fit into those categories. Most of these are included in GlowGirl’s pre-made labels. I used to keep them alphabetized but now I have them arranged by store layout – Produce, Store’s Middle Aisles, Meat, Dairy, Frozen and Non-Food Items. So far, it’s working out well.

I keep my shopping list and coupons for what’s on my list in a little two-sided thing, which is actually Dave Ramsey’s Starter Envelope System with the envelopes pulled out. I keep coupons I plan on using on one side and then pull them out and put them on the other side when I find it in the store. Any coupons left get put back into the coupon organizer after my trip. I typically have the coupons paper-clipped by store if I am making several stops. I highly recommend that you keep your shopping list arranged by store aisles to save time in the stores. This little thing is all I have in my hands when I shop. If I see a clearance item or item that wasn’t on my list that’s on a great deal, I pull out my coupon organizer to find that coupon I need.

I keep any ECBs, RRs or Store Catalinas in the zippered area of my Dave Ramsey Deluxe Envelope System. I also throw any coupons that I find while I shop in the wallet so I can organize them later and they won’t get mixed up in my little two-sided divider. I also keep my receipts in the back compartment until I am done shopping for the day.

Lastly, I carry a Blue Avocado Big Chil Bag that I also stuff a few reusable bags into. I’ve tried so many bags and this one is by far my favorite. I keep my purse and coupon organizer in there until I’m at the checkout when they need it to put in my dairy/frozen items. It has slots all around the outside for holding water bottles, etc. I usually put coupons I find while shopping in one area until I can transfer them into my wallet, and then organizer.

I try to take a minute in between stores on multiple-stop trips so I can put away my receipts, coupons, ECBs/RRs, Catalinas, etc. It’s so easy to lose one of these if you don’t take a minute to safely put them away.

This is just a peek at my coupon organizer, how I keep it organized and what I bring with me to the stores to stay organized. I’d love to hear what you have found that works for you!

Coming Later This Week: A peek into my “Sensible Stockpile” and how to start your own!