Monday, May 24, 2010

A Guide to Coupon Organization

My good friend and reader, Dana, asked me how I organize my coupons.  I'm so excited to share my method with everyone!  I will preface by saying that just because this method works well for me, another method might work better for you.  Therefore, I've included links to some of the blogs I follow so you can read about  their coupon organization methods.

Let's jump in!

1) I use the Binder method.  A dear friend met me at Panera one morning last year when I was desperate to learn about couponing and showed me the binder method and how it works.  I immediately went to Target and purchased the supplies I needed to get started.
You'll need:
1'' (or larger) binder
Baseball card inserts (Target sells packs of 15 for around $5-look for them in the Baseball card section near the front registers)
Sharpie to label the inserts
And of course coupons!

2) Label the inserts with categories in the upper left hand corner and assemble them in the binder.  Start with 1 insert per category.  For categories like "Dairy" "Toiletries" "Paper" "Baby"and a few others, I usually have 3 or more inserts since there are tons of products in those categories and my coupon stockpile has grown.

Here are my categories (yours will vary):
Air (i.e. air freshners, candles, sprays, etc)
Baby (i.e. wipes, diapers, baby food, etc)
Hair care
Household (i.e. lightbulbs, batteries, etc)
Paper (i.e. napkins, TP, papertowels, kleenex, etc)
Plastic (i.e. baggies, tinfoil, plastic wraps, etc)
Retail (i.e. Toysrus, Petsmart, etc)
Soaps (i.e. dish detergent, hand soap, bar soap, etc)
Toiletries (i.e. toothbrushes, toothpaste, floss, razors, mouth wash, etc)

3) Clip only the coupons you'll use or would giveaway if you could get them for FREE and file them in the appropriate inserts.

4)  Label white envelopes with store names to house the coupons you'll use on that week's grocery trip.  (i.e. Kroger, Target, Harris Teeter, Walmart, CVS, Walgreens, Publix, etc).  My binder has a front pocket where I keep any coupons that need to be filed along with that week's store envelope(s) and the current week's circulars in case I need to refer back to them.

5) As you're looking through the weekly grocery store/drug store circulars, pull out the coupons that match the items on sale and put them in the corresponding store envelope with your grocery list.  *When I make my list for each store, I always include the coupon value next to the item so when I'm shopping I won't have to dig through my envelope to find the amount off.  Stores like Publix and Kroger will automatically double any manufacture coupon .50 cents or under at the register.  Harris Teeter doubles any manufacture coupon .99 or under at the register.  So if you have a .50 coupon for Heinz, it's actually $1 off!  *Look at the first 5 numbers of the UPC on the coupon and on the product.  If they're the same, you can use the coupon on that item.  Many times a coupon will specify a certain new product that just came out but if the UPC's match you can use it on any proudct of that brand.  *You can stack one store coupon and one manufacture coupon per item.  I love stacking Target store coupons with manufacture coupons to get sweeter savings!

6) I keep my binder in a large black purse and ALWAYS take it in the store with me along with my store envelopes.  You never know when you might find an unadvertised deal that you can't pass up!  If your binder's with you, you'll be able to go right to your inserts and find the category of the item on sale.

7)  Clean out expired coupons at least once or twice a month so you can stay organized and efficient.  Hold onto the weekly coupon inserts (that include coupons you didn't clip) so you can refer back to them if needed.

8)  To accumulate coupons (so you'll have a nice stash of multiples for stockpiling items), I buy two copies of the Sunday newspaper every week to get the coupon inserts.  We also get a local paper in our driveway once a week that includes Sunday's coupons.  I asked a few neighbors for their copies because I noticed they were throwing the newspapers away.  That's like throwing away cash!
I've also e-mailed companies directly (like Pepperidge Farm, Dannon, Orajel, Clif Bars, Ovaltine, etc) to brag about their products and request coupons.  It works!  In addition, I print online coupons from the below sources:
Target coupons here
Kroger coupons here (digital and printable) *My Kroger does accept expired coupons.

It's also wise to keep a print-out of Store Coupon Policies in your binder.
Harris Teeter's policy
Kroger's policy (Thanks, Mommy Snacks!)
Publix policy (Thanks, Southern Savers!)

Read below for other coupon organizational methods:

Crystal at Money Saving Mom uses the coupon box method.  Go here to read about her method.

Collin over at Hip2Save reveals her couponing method here in a 2 part video series.

Kristen at Couponing to Disney organizes her coupons like this.

Jenny at Southern Savers has some great video tutorials on couponing basics here.

What method works best for you?  Do you have any tips to share?


  1. WOW! I'm headed to the store tonight to get my baseball card inserts! Thank you so much for the info!!

  2. All I can say is you are way more motivated than me when it comes to coupons :) I am the person that would rather pay a few dollars more and save myself a trip to another store! Great job!

  3. Thanks, Allison! It's a FUN challenge and I try not to drive myself crazy driving around from store to store unless I can plan it well ahead of time. :)