How to Organize Coupons: My Coupon System

August 23, 2011

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
~Purse

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
Beverages
Breakfast
Bread
Canned Foods
Condiments/Peanut Butter & Jelly
Cookies/Crackers/Snacks
Meat/Fish
Dairy
Frozen
Bags/Paper Goods
Household/Cleaning Products
Shampoos/Lotions/Body Wash/Soap
Personal Care/Razors/Deodorant
Oral Hygiene
Medicine
Misc.
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!

{ 46 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Tricia @Nightowlmama August 23, 2011 at 12:54 pm

I’ve always used coupons but find that my coupon always expires before i find a great deal to use it on. I love your coupon holder a lot like mine and I organize the same way

have a great day

2 coupongeek August 23, 2011 at 1:02 pm

Thank you for sharing, Tricia! I like to keep it simple so it doesn’t take up too much time and I don’t get overwhelmed.

3 WhatAboutGuys August 23, 2011 at 3:26 pm

How would you configure a coupon carrying system for guys?

4 coupongeek August 23, 2011 at 4:51 pm

You know, I was thinking about that the other day and came up with nothing. I’ll keep thinking about it. Maybe something as simple as a black leather binder. I’ll ask around.

5 coupongeek August 23, 2011 at 5:00 pm
6 Karen Moss August 24, 2011 at 1:13 am

I just read about the link above for the ring binder for coupons. We had a nice leather calendar/daily appointment-type binder by Franklin Covey that had fallen by the wayside and I found some clear plastic top-loading sleeves on clearance at Staples. My bincer is the smaller one — five x eight I think. (These plastic sleeves are like ones for school projects or for a document you want kept protected.) The coupons (large and small) fit into the sleeves and each sleeve hold a lot of coupons. I am able to see coupons from the front and back. The binder has a large pocket inside for misc notes or recipes, small slits (like for credit cards) that I use to slip coupons that I will use, and even a small outside pocket for other misc. There are two pen holders, one on each side. I even put in some extra note pager (a generic Staples brand because the Franklin Covey is very expensive) in the ring binder that I can use for shopping lists or other notes. One drawback is that the inside of the plastic sleeves are slippery and since this is a new approach for me, I want to be careful that I am not picking coupons off the dirty floors of the grocery store. I appreciate seeing the label names to organize the coupon sections because I was struggling with that. Thanks for the helpful suggestions above. Karen

7 Pat August 24, 2011 at 7:35 am

That is a great coupon holder! Can you tell me the size of the cardboard dividers in them? I’ve never seen dividers that sound like they would fit in a 5 x 8 space. Thanks

8 Alison August 24, 2011 at 8:08 am

Thanks for this post! I am getting frustrated with my coupon binder…although it’s great for organization …I hate lugging it around! and since I usually pre-pull the coupons I’m going to use anyway…I hate carrying the binder for the just-in-case it’s on clearance/unadvertized deal items. I am going to order the GlowGirl organizer…it seems perfect! and I lovelove that big chil bag too…might have to order one of those as well!

9 coupongeek August 24, 2011 at 8:35 am

The dividers are around 4×6. I’m not sure if they are custom made or not. I’ve never seen them that size either. They are just the right size to divide the coupons.

10 coupongeek August 24, 2011 at 8:37 am

Thank you so much for sharing what you use to organize coupons, Karen!! I never considered a smaller binder. I guess as I didn’t think sleeves would fit. Very interesting idea.

I had a hard time with labels, too. This is the third time I’ve changed them but I’ve been sticking with them for a long time as they seem to work. I’m sure I’ll have to adapt them again later but so far, so good. :)

Jaycie

11 Pat August 24, 2011 at 8:57 am

Thanks for your post about the size. They do make 4×6 index card guides, they have them in our supply catalog here at work. They come in 1/3 cut and 1/5 cut. I’ll have to check and see if they sell them at Staples or somewhere like that.

12 Elsa August 24, 2011 at 9:28 am

Thanks for the post!!!.. I really enjoy your site. It’s one of the best ones around. I too have had a difficult time figuring out how to organize my coupons…. Will be buying the GlowGirl coupon organizer!!… It’s exactly what I’ve been looking for. I have 3 of the small plastic coupon organizers because it comes with very few dividers and HATE lugging all three around… This organizer is PERFECT!!! :)

13 Elisa August 24, 2011 at 9:37 am

I was excited to see that you use GlowGirl’s coupon organizer. I use the same one and love it! :) Awesome tips!

14 coupongeek August 24, 2011 at 9:43 am

:) She’s great isn’t she?! I’m completely hooked. They last forever but sometimes I buy a new one just to have a new look. LOL.

15 coupongeek August 24, 2011 at 9:45 am

Awww..thank you so much for the compliments, Elsa! I really appreciate it!

I used the plastic ones before, too, and had the same problem. Also the little dividers never seemed to expand enough. They are real loose and free-form so they expand to just what you need.

Hope you end up liking it! :)

Jaycie

16 coupongeek August 24, 2011 at 9:48 am

Oh that’s good to know in case I need a new one! Thanks, Pat!

Jaycie

17 Pam August 25, 2011 at 12:41 pm

Thanks for the GlowGirl recommendation! My problem is expiration dates and I’m trying to find a online site that will help me with that.

18 coupongeek August 27, 2011 at 7:56 am

You’re welcome. I just flip through mine before I put new ones in to see if I have any expired. Otherwise I can’t keep up. I also pull ones that are expiring within the next week and put them in a separate area.

19 Betty Best September 1, 2011 at 4:28 pm

Thank you for all the needed help with organizing my coupons. Do you still keep Redplum and Smartsource flyers in a separate file for future coupons to use? Can we order this Glowgirl organizer? Does my comment enter me into the drawing for a free one?

20 kesha September 1, 2011 at 7:30 pm

I am currently using a binder with baseball card sheets to organize my coupons and would love to try the organizer bag. I grocery shop with a 1 yr old and 3 yr old and the binder is kind of difficult to use. I have had all the sheet fall out before, all I can says is OMG!!!!!!!!!!!

21 Denee October 6, 2011 at 2:59 pm

Thanks so much for the advise it helped me a greaqt deal plus I love the coupon holder thankyou for letting us know where you got your items

22 Blake November 2, 2011 at 10:20 am

I just ordered one of these organizers from Etsy!!! Thanks for your help! I am a newbie :) One question – do you clip the coupons then place into categorized section? Or do you put whole sheets from the inserts into the categories then clips as you need them? Seems like you would have to clip since the inserts are two-sided?

23 coupongeek November 2, 2011 at 1:33 pm

Blake,

Yes, I clip the coupons that I think I’ll use or think I’ll be able to find deals for. I don’t clip them all, though. I cut them out and then put them in the organizer.

Congrats on buying one. I hope you love it like I do!

Jaycie

24 APB News November 6, 2011 at 6:19 pm

I find that keeping an envelope in my purse is sufficient for coupon organization – but I’m still a newbie. I do like that with Kroger I can preload coupons to my shopping card and don’t have to print everything out. Saves me a lot of ink and paper.

Daisy

25 Samantha February 22, 2012 at 7:35 am

I currently use a small expandable file as a coupon organizer. It works just as well as the actual “coupon organizers” but only cost @ $3. It’s definitely not as cute though. :)

26 Raquel May 3, 2012 at 1:43 pm

The binder was working for several months, but with two kids under two and one on the way, I have to streamline and cut back! I sent the link for the organizer to my husband with a hint about Mother’s day. I think this would help me a lot. Thanks so much!

27 coupongeek May 4, 2012 at 8:49 am

LOL, I hope he takes the hint so you can have a nice organizer. It’s all I use now. Love them! :)

28 Shannon September 10, 2012 at 7:44 am

I was wondering if you had tried the wallets made by GlowGirl and whether or not they may be similiar to the Dave Ramsey Envelope System that you currently use to store pulled coupons?

29 coupongeek September 11, 2012 at 12:33 pm

Hi Shannon,

I haven’t tried her wallets yet. Only the coupon organizers and bags. Love both of them!

Blessings,
Jaycie

30 Jennifer March 4, 2013 at 10:49 pm

I really love the idea of the coupon organizer that snaps onto the shopping cart. I ordered one for myself right away! I also had the binder system, and the file system. I eventually got sick of cutting out all my coupons and putting them in the baseball card holders. I did notice a trend of items I used and coupons I didn’t need. I am very excited to try this new method of organizing my coupons. Thank you!

31 coupongeek March 5, 2013 at 2:13 pm

I still use this coupon organizer that I posted. The fabric has held up very well for a long time now. I hope you end up liking them, too!

Jaycie

32 beth March 21, 2013 at 11:54 pm

Does the organizer have snaps that hook to the shopping cart? Looked to me like there is a flap of material that hangs over. Thank you.

33 coupongeek March 22, 2013 at 11:29 am

It has a piece of elastic on the material flap that snaps over a button on the back to kind of hook to the cart.

Hope that helps! :)

Jaycie

34 Stephanie April 2, 2013 at 12:02 pm

Thank you so much for posting! My 13yr old daughter & I are officially addicted to the Extreme Coupon show. We decided to try ourselves. Right now I have them just in envelopes. I just ordered the Glowgirl organizer! So excited! I made my 1st “extreme” coupon purchase the other day. At CVS I bought a bottle of shampoo, 2 bottles of dawn dish detergent & a suave deodorant – and ONLY paid 40cents!!!!! So thank you again for the tips!

35 coupongeek April 5, 2013 at 10:27 am

You’re welcome, Stephanie! I’m so glad that you are able to find ways to make coupons help you find some great deals!

Hoping that you love the Glowgirl Organizer as much as I do!

Blessings,
Jaycie

36 Sammi April 14, 2013 at 9:10 pm

Hey ! I’m very new to this whole thing and its all so confusing…lol but loved the coupon holders by Glowgirl!! Once I get better I’m gonna buy one!

37 Nadine May 5, 2013 at 9:32 am

I love to coupon and I am fairly new to it. I work for a retail company, so I see both sides to the coupon business. The thing that I find frustrating is when couponers are about to redeem a coupon that is lets say for $2.00 off something and the coupon clearly states that Trial size not included , why then does over 50% of our guests try to buy the .97 cent trial size and then get angry with our cashier because we can not accept the coupon. I love to get things for free but I want to do it respectfully and honestly. Couponing is such a great and positive way to save money in our worlds economy. But how do we stop the scammers that are doing it just to make a killing off of the manufacturer ?

38 coupongeek May 6, 2013 at 8:41 am

The ones that use coupons fraudulently makes me sad, too. Thankfully more stores are putting a stop to it. It is sad that they take it out on the cashiers, though.

39 rosie August 28, 2013 at 11:41 am

I have several questions regarding the Glowgirl bags, are the dividers closed at the bottom or is there a change that your coupons can slip into another section? regarding sections for instance Medicines i’m using this one as an example since there is always so many coupons for this section, in order to find the coupon you are looking for do you would need to pull out all the coupons in this section to find the one you need? does this make sense?

40 coupongeek September 4, 2013 at 1:52 pm

I don’t have an issue with the coupons slipping into other sections because of the dividers. They seem to stay in place fairly well.

Yes, if you group all your medicines into one, you would need to flip through all of them. I usually divide out oral care, beauty, personal care, etc. so there are less in that medicinal type category.

Hope you enjoy the bags if you get one!

41 Saray October 18, 2013 at 12:10 pm

Hey What about Guys
I use a 112 pocket cd travel case from Walmart. It has a zipper to keep it closed. I also keep a pencil pouch in there for pen, note paper, scissors, mini clips(to separate coupon bundles for each store trip), my receipts, and any coupons I collect that need to be filed away.
Since it’s not a binder or accordion thing I use hard sticky labels specifically meant to be used as divider labels. This way if a sections grows larger or smaller I can move/replace/change a label. And there’s enough space even when zipped for the circulars I need.

Just a suggestion.

42 coupongeek November 4, 2013 at 11:40 am

Great idea, Saray! Thank you for sharing how you organize coupons!!

43 Denice January 6, 2014 at 4:53 am

If you just put coupons in order by expiration date is an easy way to go and you make sure you dont miss a deal. :)

44 coupongeek January 6, 2014 at 9:40 am

Great tip, Denice!

45 SYLVIA April 14, 2014 at 8:31 am

where can I buy the GlowGirl coupon organizer?

46 coupongeek June 9, 2014 at 2:46 pm

On her etsy site: http://www.etsy.com/shop/glowgirl16?section_id=5923255

I still order from her when I need something new. I love her organizers!

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