Thursday, June 17, 2010

Frugality- Organizing Coupons

What is the best way to organize coupons? I see this question come up all the time on the various blogs I follow. So I figure first I'll go through my method, and then share some other methods of organization.

My method
Items Needed: 1 large binder (at least 3"), several dividers (25-30), a ton of page protectors (50-100 based on personal preferences). The following is a description of each divider with what is in that section.
  • The 12 months of the year. I have one divider for each month. Within each month I have several page protectors. I section each week into a page protector. I then either hand write or find a print out of the list of coupons in my paper and place it in front of the page protector. As I use a coupon I cross it off, so I know not to bother to look for it. 
  • Publix Advantage Buy Flyers. I have one page protector for green flyers and one for yellow. 
  • Publix Booklets. This is wear I put any of the booklets found at Publix, such as "Summer Savings"
  • Publix Blinkies, Tearpads, Peelies, Mailers, or Printables. This section houses all other Publix coupons.
  • Competitor's. This section houses all my competitors. I am unfortunate where I live that we don't have very many competitors, so mainly this section contains Target coupons, and occasionally some others.
  • Tearpads, Blinkies, and Peelies- This section houses any manufacturer's coupons generally found at the store. It may also include single page flyers or small booklets of manufacturer's coupons.
  • Online Prints- For this section I cut out my internet prints and organize them by month. I stick them in a page protector for each month. I then write out each coupon with expiration date and put it in the front of each page protector. That way I can add to each month when I print them.
  • Other Coupons- This section houses mostly coupons that I clipped from the weekly ads and might not of used (if the product wasn't in my store, for example), or coupons I clipped from other sources (found in a magazine or newspaper).
  • Home Mailers- These are coupons I receive from requesting samples or joining a company's "club." This mostly houses coupons from baby companies, but also houses most of my free item coupons (coupons a company sends you for a free item to try their product, in hopes you will buy it again in the future and spread the word)
  • MIR- Mail in rebates. This houses forms, receipts, upc's, or anything needed to complete a MIR. 
  • Local Coupons- This is where I keep coupons local to my area. This will be things like auto shops, cleaners, etc.
  • BJ's- Coupons for BJ's wholesale club. 
  • Restaurant- Coupons for places to eat.
  • Previous Year's Newspaper- Most coupons in the inserts expire within a month or a couple of months. This is where I can put those random coupons that happen to last a whole lot longer (which is rare). So that way when I see a deal that says 5/10/09 SS, I'll look in this section.
  • Non-grocery Major Stores- I keep my coupons for Lowe's, Home Depot, Office Max, Bed, Bath and Beyond, Bath and Body Works, JC Penney, etc. here. 
My binder has 2 pockets in both the front and the back. In one of my front pockets I have a guide to my Publix (it shows what the aisles are in the store). I also use a front pocket for coupons I need to sort into my binder. In my back pockets I keep any pieces of paper I can print on the back of or make lists on.

Other Methods-
  • File Method- Similar to my method, but with file folders instead
  • Clipped Method- Clipping all coupons and sorting them either by expiration date or category (frozen, baby, pet, produce, etc.) into a coupon organizer.
  • Combination of Binder/File and Clipped- A mixture of the two where you file the weekly Sunday inserts and booklets and sort all other coupons into a coupon organizer. 
Dealing with the pesky internet prints-
This is a tough one. I choose to clip them and sort them by date as explained above. You could also leave them full sheet and punch holes in the side. The reason internet prints are so hard, is because we tend to print them in hopes of a sale. Internet coupons seem to appear and disappear quickly, so if you don't print them right then, they might not be there when you want them. I prefer to clip them as it is one less step when I want to use them. With the list I put in the front of each page protector I can just look down the list for what coupons I have and can cross them off when I've used them. Having them sorted by expiration month helps me to decide if I should use them on a sale right now or hold off a little longer for a better sale.

Why I use the method I use-
Because I feel like it works well for the deal sites I use. When they say "6/6/10 RP". I can flip to June and find the page protector with the week of 6/6/10 in it. I can than scan my sheet to see if I received the mentioned coupon in my ad. I don't have to spend 15 min going through the pages 3 times to realize I must not have received that coupon. When the site says "Green Advantage Buy," I go to my advantage buy section. When it says tearpad, I can check my tearpad section. Because of the clear page protectors I can also glance through many of mine to catch a coupon match up they might not of seen. The reason I choose a binder over a file system is simple. I can take it with me. I can lay it out on my table to work.

What methods do you use? Please feel free to share with me what method or tricks you use to organize your coupons.

Edit to add pictures.
 These are the dividers (specifically for the newspaper inserts)

My lists of coupons to make searching for coupons a breeze.

Edit: I generally only go to Publix, but if you shop at multiple stores or do the drugstores, you could add a tab specifically for each store's coupons instead of doing a competitor's section. You could also for the sections with individual coupons buy baseball or photo pages and show each coupon individually or organize by category. There's a lot of room for personal preference.


  1. I did not try any method till now. Anyway i am going to try your methods. Thanks for sharing your methods.

  2. I used to not have a method where I just left all my coupon stuff in a big pile, but it made it hard to do and I would find myself at the store and see a good deal and not have my coupons, so this solved my problem.

  3. Great article with plenty of ways to arrange coupons. Would definitely like to try one of them.