How to Save Money » Coupons

How to Organize Your Coupons

When you start collecting coupons, it can be overwhelming. Those tiny slips of paper can clutter up your home fast and if they aren’t organized properly, it’s likely that you will miss out on some fantastic savings at the store.

By making a plan to organize your coupons when you receive them, you will be better able to find any coupon you need when you’re out shopping.

5 Ways to Make Coupon Organizing Easier

Organizing your coupons is one of the biggest challenges for coupon users (especially extreme couponers with large coupon collections), making sure that your coupons are always organized is an important task.

If your coupons aren’t organized, you won’t be able to find certain coupons when you need them, which can result in lost savings.

Unfortunately, unless you have a good system, coupon organizing can be a challenge.

Following are 5 ways to make coupon organizing easier.

1. Clip & file your coupons right away

When you get new coupons (mail-out coupons, magazine coupons, printable coupons, tear pad coupons), make sure that you clip (if necessary) and file them right away.

If you can’t clip and file your coupons immediately, for whatever reason, put them aside in a small basket. File them the next time you have a few minutes to spare.

Whatever you do, don’t let your coupon pile grow longer than one week. If you wait longer than that to organize your coupons, the process will likely seem daunting.

2. Don’t clip every single coupon

If you’re positive that you won’t use a particular coupon, there’s no sense in wasting your time by clipping it.

I do suggest keeping all coupons (so you can still use them if a great sale comes along, or you can trade those coupons with others), but you don’t have to actually clip them and you don’t have to keep them with your “regular” coupons (the ones you do plan to use).

3. Use a coupon binder

Although it may seem kind of crazy at first (it’s not often you see someone shopping with a gigantic binder!), but organizing your coupons in a coupon binder is a fantastic way to keep them organized.

It does take a bit of time to set up, but coming from someone who’s been using a coupon binder for years now, I promise you that it is time very well spent.

4. Use a file box for coupon inserts

Clipping coupons from coupon inserts is one of my least favourite things to do. You usually have to rip out all of the pages to get to the coupons, and the coupons are never all the same size.

An easy way to organize coupon inserts is to use a file box. Organize this box with by insert name and date, with divider tabs.

For example:

  • Redplum: October 3, 2012
  • Redplum: November 5, 2012
  • SmartSource: October 15, 2012
  • SmartSource: October 29, 2012

When we do our weekly coupon match-ups, if you’re matching a sale item to a coupon from a coupon insert, we will tell you which insert had that coupon. Then, you can simply go to your file box and search for the name and date of that insert to get the coupon(s) that you need.

This is so much easier than clipping all of the coupons in the insert, but not actually using them all.

5. Remove expired coupons regularly

To keep your coupons organized all the time, make sure you are always removing expired coupons from your stash. I recommend going through your coupons at least once per month and discarding all coupons that are no longer valid.

Save yourself the embarrassment of trying to use an expired coupon at the store by always checking for, and getting rid of, expired coupons.

How to Organize Your Coupons

How to Organize Your Coupons

Envelopes

Coupon Envelopes

For a beginner, I would definitely suggest using envelopes to organize your coupons. Just write the categories (food, pets, health, beauty, etc.) on them and stuff your coupons inside.

You will probably need to swap out your envelopes for new ones every so often because they can easily get torn when you cart them and your coupons around with you each time you go shopping.

Accordion File

Coupon Accordian File

This is another great coupon organization system for beginners. These small accordion files have tabs for you to use to separate your coupons, making finding what you need very easy. Just clip your coupons and put them in their respective categories.

You will often find these organizing tools at many dollar stores and they are usually of good quality. However, if you can’t seem to find any at your local dollar store, many big box stores such as Walmart will carry these as well (though, they may be a bit bigger – and more expensive).

Coupon Binder

Coupon Binder

Coupon binders are great for more advanced couponers/extreme couponers. Simply purchase a large binder, some divider tabs and trading card protector sheets and put them all together.

Divide your coupons by category, date or alphabetically with your divider tabs and place your coupons in the protector sheets and then into the binder.

It’s also a good idea to carry a pair of scissors, a pen & pencil and a calculator with you when you shop. Click here for my tutorial on creating a coupon binder.

How to Sort Your Coupons

Alphabetically: Set up your divider tabs or envelopes from A-Z and file your coupons away. If you have a good idea of all the coupons you currently have, this may be a good system for you.

By Expiry Date: Check the expiry dates on all of your coupons. Write down the dates on your divider tabs or envelopes and sort your coupons this way. This is a great system for ensuring you use up your coupons before they expire.

By Category: Sorting by category is the easiest, especially if you have a lot of coupons and can’t always remember each and every one that you have. The most common categories are: health, beauty, pets, baby/kids, food, household, and miscellaneous. You could always go more in-depth and do something like this: food – cereal, food – meat, food – fruits & vegetables, beauty – makeup, beauty – hair care, etc.

Once you’ve created your categories, put your coupons into the categories that they belong to.

Note: Make sure that you go through your coupons and weed out the expired ones at least once every month. This makes the task less overwhelming, and also prevents embarrassment at the store if you try to use an expired coupon.

Do I really have to carry my coupons with me everywhere I go?

I do suggest bringing your coupons with you if you think it’s possible that you may end up in a store that accepts them. A good tip is to keep your coupons in your purse or car so that if you do make that unexpected trip, your coupons are right there and you won’t miss out on a good deal (if you come across one).

Some people suggest only carrying the coupons you plan on using when you go shopping. This idea is fine and dandy, but I suggest carrying all of your coupons in case of unexpected deals. Many stores have items on sale that are not advertised in their flyers. You can also find clearance racks at most stores and you would miss out on those deals if you didn’t have all of your coupons with you.

Your Coupon Organization System

Once you find a coupon organization system that works for you, stay on top if it. The longer you wait to organize your coupons, the more challenging it will be to find what you want, when you need it.

When new coupons come in, try to file them right away. If this is not possible, set aside a bit of time once every week to clip and file your coupons. If you wait any longer than that, it’s possible that you will have an abundance of coupons to organize and could get overwhelmed.

To avoid frustration, missing out on great deals and the time-consuming task of organizing hundreds of coupons at one time, make sure your system is easy. The more challenging it is for you to organize your coupons, the more likely you are to put off doing it.

How do you organize your coupons?

Comments

  1. marg

    I use a binder too during shopping and put it in a recyclable bag so that it does not get swipped. Those are valuable! Nice binder, Cassie!

  2. Rebecca Moffatt

    I need so advice on when to purchase inserts for my coupon binder, I live in Georgetown Ontario not sure what I should use to hold my coupons in the binder.

    Thanks

  3. Cassie Howard

    Rebecca: I use baseball card holders that I found at Walmart.

  4. Julie

    I use a small 6″ x 4″ photo album, it started purely because that’s what I had in the house when I needed to organise my coupons, but it works really well. I keep a handwritten list at the front of each plastic wallet which shows the category and a list of the coupons I have, along with value and expiry dates

  5. Tara

    I spent a couple of hours and created an excel spreadsheet. Worth the work. When the flyers (and coupon match ups!) come out, I can easily and quickly see what I have. My column headings are product, amount (of coupon), expiry date, amount, coupon code and “sp” for “strictly prohibited”. I print it out once a week both by “product” which gives me everything alphabetically, and once by “expiry” so I know what’s coming up. I am surprised I haven’t read about anyone else doing this as it is so time efficient once the list is up and running. Entering new coupons literally takes seconds. It’s the filing them in my binders that takes the time! lol.. Anyhoo, that’s my system.

    • Cassie Howard

      Sounds quick and painless!

      • Tara

        WOW that’s means alot coming from you! It is quick and painless. I look forward to handing the kids off to hubby on Wed and Friday nights (that’s when our papers come) and going thru all. It makes it so easy. Thanks again for everything! BTW – I scored 2 zippered binders from Value Village last week for $3 a piece!! I went back again for a piece of a Halloween costume and there were more!

        • Cassie Howard

          Great idea on getting zippered binders from a thrift store. I didn’t even think of that!

    • judy

      would you be interested in sharing your excel sheet – not sure how to set one up

      • Tara

        You bet Judy. Give me your email address and i’ll shoot you over a copy!

        • Tara

          Judy – if you are on FB, I am Tara Kliewer Wildman. You can message me there

        • Marlo

          Hi Tara,
          I was wondering if I could get A copy of your handy spreadsheet too. I’m not very Excel Savy and i’m new to the couponing game. so anything that would help would be great. if you can send it to me, my email is [email protected].

          thanks

  6. Auryanna Jobidon

    i found a coupon holder at the dollar tree store and that’s what i have been using to carry my coupons in hope that helps

  7. Bonnie

    I found a coupon organizer at Walmart, and it organizes alphabetically. I’m just wondering if you should organize by product name or by product type. So, should I organize by “laundry” or by “Arm & Hammer” or “Detergent” or some other way. I realize I could do whatever works for me, but perhaps someone has some advice. I’m thinking by the product’s name (ex: Arm & Hammer)but if you have a lot of coupons, I worry I won’t remember what I have when I see something on sale…

    • Cassie Howard

      In my opinion, category is best, because there will be times when you don’t have coupons for a lot of the brands and that is wasted space.

    • bina

      In Walmart where exactly you can find coupon organizer. Walmart in Toronto does not have baseball card holder or any coupon organizer. Kindly please tell me which aisle is the best place to look for this organizers. Thanks.

  8. Veronica Newman

    Hi Cassie,
    Thanks for the helpful information. Went from being a big time couponer, to a moderate couponer. I must say it was hard not to clip every coupon I came across, but you waste time clipping those you will not use. I now use a standard coupon file with about 12 slots. Works for me because I sort by expiration date. Every month I just toss the whole month. No worries about ever using an expired coupon.

    • Cassie Howard

      I have also scaled back a bit with my couponing, so I completely understand. With 2 young kids, I barely have time to sleep, let alone clip coupons for hours like I used to!

  9. Sukhi

    As a beginner couponer, who is becoming more experienced, I started with ziploc bags (as I found the envelopes do rip). I label my ziploc bags according to food, pet, home, etc.

    I’m working my way up to a more advanced filing system.

  10. Ardith

    I make my grocery list on an envelope and put the coupons inside.

  11. Jo

    I used to use a binder and now use an accordion file which isn’t perfect but works for me. If I have a shopping trip planned out I have a category for use today.

  12. Catherine

    What about glowgirl coupon organizers? Love mine!

    • Cassie Howard

      They are awesome!

  13. Laney4

    I bought a strong pencil case at the dollar store with a bright colour so it is easier to find in my purse (after years of using envelopes and many years of actual coupon holders, each of which disintegrated easily). Inside I placed homemade dividers made of thin cardboard (from cereal boxes) the entire length of the pencil case, complete with pop-up tabs (just making the top part “higher”) where I placed titles (cleaning, condiments, health, snacks, etc.) done with my label maker. (The trick was to find a pencil case long enough for the majority of my coupons.) This has worked well for several years now. I enjoy the zipper rather than cutting my fingers on the envelopes left open, and I never did enjoy continually doing up/undoing the coupon holders every single time I went in them. Coupons do not fall out either.

  14. Nectaria

    Card Cubby!!! Their amazing! It’s a must for coupon holders!

  15. Susan

    I use a top-loading photo album that used to hold 4×6 photos. There are 52 pages that hold coupons on both sides. I have attached index tabs along the outer edges of the pages which identify dairy, meat/deli, etc., and you can leave as many or as few pages in between the index tabs as you need for each category. Small enough to keep in my purse permanently and lots of room (104 pgs.) for coupons to have their own page. I’ve had lots of compliments.

    • Cassie Howard

      That is a fabulous idea!

  16. Gina

    Some GREAT ideas, thank you everyone. Mine are in envelopes right now, but looking into a different system. Great ideas

  17. Mandy

    I keep my coupons in a coupon holder organizer. It’s a fabric “bag” with separators for each type of coupon. I find it much easier to carry around than a binder. I also keep a section in it for gift cards, receipts and reward cards. It really helps to have all my shopping items in the same easy to carry bag.

  18. Linda

    I am having issues trying to download online coupons to print. I have windows 8.1 and it keeps saying I need to download Java, which I have done about 30 times now and still won’t work. I download from desktop like one website instructed me to do and still can’t download, any one else having problems with this?

  19. Laney4

    I use a zippered pencil case with recipe index cards as alphabetical dividers by item (i.e., desserts, dairy, frozen, snacks). It stays in my purse at all times and, yes, I go through it monthly to weed out expired coupons (and to remind myself of what’s in there).
    I DO cut out the coupons of no interest to me, as I share them with friends (and they share theirs with me). Leftover coupons go to my friend’s church, where they are all scooped up.

  20. Josie

    I was wondering if someone could send me a copies of there excel sheet so I can have one to look at when I try to make my own 🙂 my email is [email protected] thanks

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked*