15 Days of Couponing Day 11: Organize Your Coupon Stash

3329590289 33836242b3 o 15 Days of Couponing Day 11: Organize Your Coupon Stash

Day 1: We all have to shop! Why not save money while doing it?
Day 2: The Language of Couponers – Translated!
Day 3: Where Art Thou Coupons?
Day 4: Know Thy Coupon (What does that fine print mean?)
Day 5: When to Use Your Coupons
Day 6: Buy Groceries, Pay for College with Upromise eCoupons
Day 7: eCoupons the Alternate to Clipping
Day 8: Don’t Get Mad, Get a Rain Check
Day 9: Advance Your Couponing Skills with Rebates
Day 10: Stockpiling
Day 11: Organize Your Coupon Stash
Day 12: Surviving the Checkout Lane
Day 13: How to Handle Coupon Rejection

To keep ya’ll here, I’ve read you should use words like “Easy”, “Proven”, “Effective”. Well, there isn’t really one method that is the easiest or proven when it comes to coupon organization. Everyone has their own preferences on what works best for them.

I’ve tried several methods and have my own system. Sometimes it isn’t perfect. Sometimes it isn’t pretty. It is what works for me.

So today I’m going to give you some ideas and maybe it will help you develop your own system on what works for you.

Does this look organized to you?

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No, probably not. This is actually a picture of me working on my “masterpiece” while getting organized for a mega shopping trip. It looks ugly but I assure you there is a method to my madness.

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I use the weekly insert method instead of clipping every single coupon every week. Meaning, I take my Sunday newspaper inserts, use a Sharpie and mark the date of the insert on the front page. This is a really fun project for my 7 year old son since it does involve the sacred Sharpie marker. If you use my weekly deals, you will notice I put the insert date and type in the coupon spot – this is to help those who use the insert method.

I do clip some coupons. I clip coupons I know I will use right away such as “Free” coupons or items we are always buying. I place these in my black coupon organizer which I will tell you about in the next edition of the 15 days of couponing.

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At one time I was then placing them in a 12 pocket file organizer like the one shown to the right. However, I soon realized this was not large enough and it was annoying having to mess with the velcro when I needed an insert quickly.

So now I use these open file organizers. It looks messier but it works better for me as I can fit more inserts and reach them quicker to clip.I still file them by date but I don’t take the time to write it on a label. I just use the front of the insert as a guide.
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Coupon organization is probably one of the biggest frustrations rookies have. I’ve put together a list of the advantages of each method. Use this as a guide to help you decided which method may work best for you. Just as with any other organization system, it does require constant updating to keep it organized or you will have a big mess like this.

Advantages of the Insert Method:

  • You don’t spend hours clipping, sorting, and filing every single coupon every week even the ones you don’t need.
  • Easy to find the coupon you need when you use my store match ups or the Coupon Database.
  • You don’t have to try to guess which category you filed a coupon that good fit into several categories.
  • You don’t “lose” coupons in your stash that state “any” product of a certain brand which could apply to medicine, baby, etc.

Advantages of Clipping each Week:

  • Sometimes you find coupons in your weekly insert that the databases didn’t tell you about or had down for a different week. Sometimes different areas get different coupons at different times.
  • You will have coupons clipped when you find a spectacular clearance deal.
  • Coupons are already clipping for trading, giving away, etc.
  • You spend less time right before your shopping trip pulling coupons our of your coupon binding instead of finding them then clipping them.

People who clip each week usually use a coupon box or a 3 ring binder with plastic sheets to organize their coupons by category. I did that when I first started couponing and I couldn’t keep up with clipping every week and once I even had a child empty out my entire coupon binder by flipping it upside down!

Coupon Pros or Newbies: How do you organize YOUR coupons?

The 15 Days of Couponing will guide you through the art of couponing. It is a skill that you can learn and maximize to the full potential to help your family and help others. So if you are interested in cutting your grocery budget in half or more, read yesterday’s edition and stay tuned for tommorrow’s edition where I will show you my little black coupon binder and how it helps keep me organized before, during, and after shopping!

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comments { 20 Comments }
  • Heather - March 18, 2009 @ 2:01 pm 1
    I’ve been couponing since 11/08 and have used the 3-ring binder method. Although it takes a little time clipping and sorting I find it works better for me in the long run, especially for those marked down and clearanced items I come across while I’m shopping. I sit down once a week and clip, file and organize everthing so that I’m not overwhelmed.
    Thanks for writing this article. It’s very helpful for newbies!

    Heathers last blog post..New Blog Background

  • Bargain Briana - March 18, 2009 @ 2:50 pm 2
    Thanks for sharing all your tips! Loving them!

    Kat – Great post on how you organize your coupons! Looks like you have a great system. Love the idea of filing some items by brand name…that would save more time and I will have to remember that! :)

  • Danielle Miller - March 18, 2009 @ 2:00 pm 3
    I use to sort by category. Waaaay too time consuming. Now I clip every coupon, but similar to you, I file them by date. Since I buy three to five papers each week, I sort the pages to clip five of the same coupon all at once, then paper clip each one together. That way it’s easier to flip through everything in the envelope, and if I need to use something, all five are right there together.
  • Sherry - March 18, 2009 @ 3:36 pm 4
    I used to do the same thing, but found I was missing the coupons for items that I would run across as clearanced or on sale. So I switched over from a coupon box to a binder with baseball card inserts. I spend my time clipping coupons and filing them when we’re watching our favorite shows on TV. That way it doesn’t seem like work and it really doesn’t take that much time!

    Sherrys last blog post..Hen House Deals March 18 – 25

  • Jen - March 18, 2009 @ 4:40 pm 5
    I use a binder too, I started out using some old photo album pages I had laying around, but I wore those out quickly and switched to baseball card insert pages recently and I love them! I also use a few different size pages throughout the binder for oversized coupons. I found that if I don’t clip, I miss a lot of clearance items. And do the same thing as the poster above me, I sort them and make my shopping lists while I’m watching tv.
  • Kris - March 18, 2009 @ 7:06 pm 6
    I clip and then sort my coupons, and I enlist my children to help from time to time. Sometimes I get so far behind on clipping, though. Arg! It is nice when I’m out shopping and I find things on clearance. Plus, it already takes me a long time to get ready to go to the store, so if I had to take time to clip, too, I think I might give up.

    How do you sort Internet printables?

  • Corrie @ "Cents"able Momma - March 18, 2009 @ 10:07 pm 7
    Like you I keep the inserts (but in sheet protectors in a binder) and only clip the free coupons or ones for items we use all the time. I use a Couponizer for all my loose coupons that I collect and store the coupons that I’ll use for each store during the upcoming week in envelopes. I wrote a post with pictures of my methods: http://www.centsablemomma.com/2008/09/how-i-organize-my-coupons.html

    Corrie @ “Cents”able Mommas last blog post..Share the Meaning of Easter with Your Kids

  • Jill W. - March 19, 2009 @ 9:24 am 8
    I tried to keep the inserts for awhile & got so frustrated that I sat down and clipped them all one day-now I keep them on a big flexible wire ring in baggies sorted by category, and in every baggie, the category is sorted by exp. date. I keep my sanity that way, and the 20 baggies on a ring will fit in my (big) purse, too! I then send my expired coupons to the military every other month… I do, however, get an extra set of coupons from my mom (she just doesn’t remember to ever use them, so she gives them to me-lucky me) and I do not clip those because I usually get them a week or 2 later when I see her and that just feels like backtracking!

    Jill W.s last blog post..Mom Most Traveled has some great giveaways going on!

    • kelly - May 15, 2010 @ 12:17 am 8.1
      I would love to send my expired coupons to the military also. Can you share the address of where to send them please? Thanks so much!
  • Sherri - March 19, 2009 @ 2:42 pm 9
    I cut EVERY single coupon…first I staple all the like insert pages together, then make ONE cut for each coupon. I then file them in alphabetical order…A-Z, by BRAND. SO Crest toothpaste would be filed with Carmin tissue…under “C”. Any Post cereal would be filed under “P”, along with Pepperidge farm products….and so on. I find it easy to find what I need, when I need it this way. I carry two sterlite containers-with handles. In each container is A-Z dividers with tabs. So in one container I have A-M and the second one I have N-Z. I carry them EVERYWHERE ….ALWAYS! You never know what you might spot in a clearance section-there is no wasting time going back home to get a coupon or missing out on those deals!

    Sherris last blog post..Brett’s sermon

  • Lorrie - March 19, 2009 @ 5:27 pm 10
    I also file all my coupons alphabetically by Manufacturer. All General Mills together and filed right before all my Gillette items and so forth. I started with one small file box but now have a shoe box of coupons since I buy/obtain 4 newspapers per week. By using this system I save so much time getting my coupons together before I shop and I can glance through my box while at the store very easily. (I hardly ever leave my house without it!!). It does take a bit of time to clip all the coupons and file them but I find I save time and money in the long run. Also, I usually watch a movie with my family on Sunday nights so that is my time for clipping and filing!! It works for me, hope it helps you.
    Thanks for your wonderful website!
  • Ann - March 21, 2009 @ 3:08 pm 11
    OK, I need help! When you are actually at the store buying your stash, how do you know when do you pull out your coupons? At each product when you are picking them out or at the cash register? I seem to spend too much time trying to figure out which coupon to use at the store and end up putting each coupon that I am going to use into my pocket as I pick up the item. Then I am walking up and down the aisles, trying to find the procuts that match the coupons that I have in my hand. Any suggestions? It takes me forever and I get frustrated. Thanks
    • danielle - January 19, 2011 @ 12:37 pm 11.1
      i select the coupons i will be using for the trip and paperclip the multiples together, then i write the total of each on the front coupon, i then put the stacks of coupons in order by aisles at my grocery(baked goods, canned, frozen…),then once i have put the item in cart i slip the coupons into an envelope so that when i reached the register i have the correct amount of coupons for each item and they r ready for the cashier.
  • Lorrie - March 21, 2009 @ 8:01 pm 12
    I go through the ads at home and write down what I want to buy and pull the coupon at that time (ie: Pledge Multi Purpose Spray, 3.99, -2.00 Manf C – 1.00 Target C = $.99 OOP). I place all coupons together in an envelope marked with the store I am going to and clip the ad to it. I also take another empty envelope with me and as I pick up the items in the store I take out the coupons from the first envelope and place it into the second envelope. This helps me to keep the two groups apart and easier to deal with when I get to the checkstand. (I use the envelopes I get from junk mail for my coupon sorting so I am recycling also!) I always keep my coupon box with me and if I see a deal I can quickly go through it to see if I have a coupon for the item.

    I sort my coupons prior to checkout such as all Target coupons together and all manufacturer coupons together, etc. I also make sure I give coupons for free items to the cashier as they check the free item so they don’t have to scan through the receipt to find what the actual cost was, it helps the cashiers out and they are more willing to take my many coupons. I hope this helps. I find this system works well for me and it saves me time at the store and I don’t take as much time during checkout. Happy Couponing!! Lorrie

  • Belinda - October 15, 2009 @ 12:05 pm 13
    I can’t seem to open your link.
  • Lindsey - January 27, 2010 @ 4:29 pm 14
    I use the binder version, but I use page protectors instead of baseball card holders to store the inserts in the binder. They are then organized with divider tabs by type (Smart Source, Red Plum, etc.) and date. I try to plan my shopping trips ahead of time so that I can clip the coupons before I leave. I use a small coupon holder to keep those coupons and the ones for products I use all the time. I keep the binder in the car with me, so sometimes I’ll throw it in the diaper bag when I head into the store. All of my pages for each insert are separated, so it usually is one quick flip through my book if I stumble upon something that’s clearanced. If I didn’t take it in, I’ll make note of the clearanced item and check my binder when I get back out to the car. If it’s a good deal, I’ll go back into the store for it.
  • Lisa - July 25, 2011 @ 9:22 pm 15
    I use the binder method and clip EVERY coupon and LOVE IT!! I tried saving the coupon booklets by date but noticed I was missing out on great sales at the stores because I didn’t have the coupon handy plus all my coupons are all ready to pull when it’s time to go shopping. I found that it actually took me longer to mess with booklets each week by clipping just what I needed. Also it was hard to keep the pages neat after clipping the coupons out, so I decided to try the binder method and love it.
    Now I do something a little different in addition, I usually buy 5-10 Sunday papers, clip all the coupons (normally takes me @20 min) then I enter them to an alphabatized excel spreadsheet (don’t freak out, it really doesn’t take as much time as you’d think)! It usually takes me @ an hour total to clip and enter to spreadsheet. Unfortunately in my area, I could not find a good match up site so I had to do my own match ups. So, by having my alphabatized spreadsheet in front of my binder (sort of like a coupon inventory), it’s much easier to do my match ups plus when I’m in the store and come across a great deal I just have to check my spreadsheet which is right in front of me so I don’t have to go searching in my whole binder to see if I have the coupon. To save time at the store, I will print a shopping list (even tho the prices don’t match), match up the sales to my coupon inventory, however I pull the coupons as I go once I find the item in the store. I used to pull my coupons, clip them together and place them in an envelope but I was finding more times than not, the store did not have the same amount of items as I had coupons. Therefore before I got to the check out lane I had to go through my big stack of coupons and pull out the ones I couldn’t use. This may not bother some people but it was very stressful for me so I prefer to pull them as I go, then I hand the cashier my envelope full of coupons. $$Cha Ching.. Cha Ching$$ … I am averaging nearly 60-65% savings each time!!
    Thanks Briana…. love your site!!
  • Mama2two - October 17, 2011 @ 4:17 pm 16
    Thanks for posting this Briana, I’m a novice and haven’t even gotten to the point of remembering to take my coupons to the store. The organization of the manuf/store and using all the matching lists available has really overwhelmed me. But I’m not giving up thanks to these great suggestions!
  • Renee - October 31, 2011 @ 9:56 pm 17
    Great note for Moms about coupon flipping/tipping! Don’t know that ladies would have thought of that, unless they experienced it – after the fact. Thinking you saved moms a lot of work just by that comment. Thanks so much!