So you have decided to use coupons to save money, and you have collected a whole bunch to get started… trouble is how do you organize all of these squares, and strips of paper and cardboard that make up your coupon supply? How do you know when one is out of date, or goes only with a particular store? throwing them all into a big envelope can quickly become a mess if you don’ have a good system. What you need, is to get in a bind!
To get organized with our coupons, I choose to use the “binder method.” I have used other systems such as a “wallet-like” coupon organizer but find the binder to be very useful not only for my coupons but for organizing my other items also, which I will mention later in this post.
The coupon binder that I use is a “zip up” binder that you can find at Walmart seatgeek promo code . I recommend the “zip-up” simply because it will keep all your coupons in their place! I have learned this from experience the hard way! If you accidentally tip your binder upside down and it’s not zipped… the coupons will fall out! You almost want to cry when this happens (and it will only happen once then you’ll remember, like me! It takes so long to organize them and in a split second all that time and organization… gone!
I buy these binders when they go on sale/clearance. The best time to buy is during the “school supplies sale” or after school has begun and they clearance all the binders, paper etc. I paid $7 for my binder. I then fill it with clear, plastic, card holder pages. They are the same type of pages you would use to collect baseball cards. You can find them at any craft store such as Hobby Lobby or Michael’s, or your local hobby store. If you buy them at either of these places, do not forget to clip the coupon from the Sunday paper (they usually have a 40 % off coupon).
I bought the 9 pocket page that comes in a count of 30 pages. That’s 270 pockets you have to use for storing all your coupons! They retail for about $7 and with the 40% off coupon it will bring it down to $4.50 including tax.
After you have purchased your binder and the pocket pages you are ready to organize your coupons! I have seen a couple of ways to utilize your binder. If you prefer, you can simply insert 1 coupon in each pocket. This is for those who do not want to have to “recall” all the coupons that are in the pages. You can simply “flip through” and find what you are looking for. You will need multiple pages for to do it this way as well as a binder that can hold a large amount of pages. You would probably need at least a 1.5-2″ binder or expandable one which is my favorite.
Now, you have the coupons, binder and pages…now what? You need labels! I actually went through my store and wrote down all the different categories in each aisle. This way, my shopping becomes a bit easier and faster because my coupon categories line up with the aisles as I shop. I then came home and printed these categories on sticky labels that I attached to the bottom of each pocket page.
You can purchase these printable sticky labels at any office supply store such as Office Max or Office Depot. These are printed on Avery 5267 labels (White easy peel return address labels 1/2″ x 1 3/4″). You can even get a template to print your coupon labels at my site!
Now it is time to go through each coupon and categorize them and place in the appropriate page. The coupons come in all sizes, some of which will not fit in the page. For those, I fold them in half with the picture of the item facing forward so it’s easy to tell what it is for. I do have multiple coupons in each of my pocket pages. Since I organize the coupons it’s easier for me to “recall” what I have when I’m in the store. I may spot an item on sale and remember “oh, I have a coupon for that!” That’s why it’s a good idea to look at your coupons carefully as you place them in your binder so you know what you have.
It is also a good idea to make sure you place your coupon in the category that you will know where to find it! For example: Ritz crackers…I have a category for crackers and also for chips. They are “similar” but if I place it in the “wrong category” I may miss the chance to save on that item. Sometimes, you will get a “random coupon” for something you don’t normally see. For example, I clipped a coupon for a Brita Filter. Since I don’t have a particular category for that I place it in the empty pocket pages in the back of my binder. For these random type coupons I will only place 1 in each pocket so I can see it clearly. In other cases such as cereal, I will use two pockets because there are so many and you don’t want to over stuff the pockets (they can rip!). I usually can fit about 10 folded coupons in a pocket safely.
I never throw out coupons! You never know when you may need that particular item. I have learned this from many experiences myself! I would be clipping away and think to myself that I will never use that and in the trash it goes. Inevitably, I will see that 1 item on sale for such a good deal (and would be an even better deal if I had that coupon!). Remember, even if you won’t use it, you can always find someone who can. Especially on those non-perishable items… put in your “donate” pile and be a blessing to someone too!
Each month, I like to go through my coupon pages and clean them out. I make sure my coupons are in the correct category. Sometimes, especially if I’m in a hurry, I will shove them back in a pocket and not always the correct one!
One more thing… I mentioned that the zip up binder is great for other things too. I like to carry a calculator, pen, paper and large clips in my binder also. There are multiple pockets and places to put these items so you have everything you would need right in your binder, with you at all times! You may wonder why I have large clips? I can open my binder up and place on the shopping cart. With the large clip I can attach my shopping list to the left side of my binder so it’s easily visible. I also have a smaller clip that I use to “clip” together the coupons that I will actually be using. As I shop, if I find the item I’m looking for with the coupon, I will pull the coupon out of the pocket and clip it to the side of the binder so I won’t forget to use it!