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 coupons 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
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.
- 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
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.
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 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.