How I Organize My Coupons

Once you start accumulating a nice stash of coupons, you’ll quickly find you need to come up with some method of organization. There are all sorts of ways to go about this and the most important thing is that you do what works for you.

If you use more than a few coupons each week, you’ll likely quickly outgrow the little coupon organizers many stores sell and need something more substantial. My solution has to use the Coupon Box Method that my mom used. She originally got the idea from her friend, Renee — who introduced us to using coupons in the first place. (Thanks, Renee, we owe a lot to you!)

For those of you who have asked, here’s what it looks like and how it works:

The coupons are stored in categorical envelopes. The individual envelopes were made by using small letter envelopes (No. 6 3/4 – 3 5/8 x 6 1/2 in.), cutting the flaps off, and stapling an index card standing up inside.

The envelopes are organized alphabetically with the main categories and then multiple envelopes for each main category. Something like this:

Baby

  • diapers
  • products
  • wipes

Bags

  • containers
  • foil, plastic wrap

And so on.

Here are all the rest of the categories I have in my box (the items in parentheses are each of the separate envelopes):

Baking (mixes, oil/sugar)
Batteries, film
Beverages
Bread
Candy
Canned (meat, soup, vegetables, fruit)
Cereal (envelopes for each brand)
Cleaner (all purpose, bathroom, dish detergent, disinfectant, laundry, furniture polish, floor, glass)
Condiments
Crackers
Dairy (beverage, cheese, sour cream/cream cheese/butter, snacks, yogurt)
Frozen (beverage, bread, ice cream, meat, snacks, vegetables/fruit/potatoes)
Health Food
Hygiene (band-aids, deodorant, face, feminine, hair, lotion, medicine/vitamins, shaving, soap)
Jelly, Peanut Butter
Meat
Mexican
Office Supplies
Paper Products (facial tissue, cups/plates, toilet tissue, towels/napkins)
Pasta
Rice
Salad Dressing
Sauce
Seasonings
Snacks
Syrup
Toothpaste
Toothbrushes

I sometimes put restaurant coupons, other coupons for non-grocery stores, rebate forms, and any receipts I need to hang onto on one side of the box. The front of the box is where I stash coupons which need to be organized into the categories. I stick envelopes for each of the stores I shop at the top of the box.

When I make out my grocery lists for each store, I put the coupons I’ll be using in these envelopes, along with the lists for the store. I always bring a calculator and a pen in my box, too. The size of the container fits into the front of the shopping cart (the child seat section), and if you don’t have a child sitting in there, this works well.

I have yet to figure out how to take three young children to the store without putting a child up front, so my coupon box usually goes in the cart. I just carry the envelope of coupons I’m planning to use at the store along with my grocery list. If I find an unadvertised deal or something I missed on my list, I can quickly search through the coupons in my coupon box and pull the item and stick it into the envelope in my hand.

Before going up to the register, I always double-check to make sure I have all of the coupons together and ready to go, as shopping with young children means I’m sometimes distracted and not as organized as I’d like to be! It’s better to realize you misplaced a coupon before you’ve already checked out!

I usually only take my whole box into the store when I go to Dillon’s, since I often find extra deals and reduced items that I have coupons for which were not advertised in the sale flier. At Walgreens, Target, Walmart or the health food store, I just pull out the envelope in the front of the box which is for that store and head in. If I find some special deal that I know I have coupons for, I can always run back out to the car and get them.

This method works well for me and, after using it for ten years, I’m pretty stuck in my ways. However, it’s not for everyone. And since I’m all about doing what works for you, next Wednesday, we’ll be talking about a variety of organizational methods for coupons — the binder method, whole insert method and more. I’m confident you’ll find something which works well for you!

In the mean time, I’d love to hear what method you use for organizing your coupons. Is it working well for you? If you have blogged about it, leave the link in the comments — I just might use your link in my post next week!

FOR MORE COUPONS, search our comprehensive Coupon Database for manufacturer coupons, printable coupons, eCoupons, and more!

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Comments

  1. Andrea Vaughn says

    I am so glad that you posted this today!! I was at the grocery store with my two young ones when the baby tossed all my coupons on the floor. I was thinking to myself…there has to be a better way!! I am going to try the box. Thank you!!

  2. mar says

    I do the folder system,only clipp what I need or might use if there’s a great deal. Saves on clipping all the time …I have so many from inserts ,magazines ,online etc. It can get over whelming, I like you system Crystal, great idea……

  3. Charity says

    So funny that you posted this! I just switched to the box method this week after reading an archive post on your site on how you organized your coupons. I have used the binder in the past and couldn’t stand having to flop it out on the buggy to flip through for a coupon. It was so big and clunky! I love how the box fits perfectly in the child seat of the buggy. I used my box at the stores for the first time this week and I LOVE it!! I will never go back to the binder days again!

  4. Charity says

    Oh yeah, and I organize my coupons within the envelopes alphabetically and then by experation date. I love this system!

  5. jessica says

    I used to use the binder method, however the BOX is so much easier. Another thing I did was take a pen and paper and a couple minutes. I went into my most loved grocery store (the one i frequent the most) and jotted down the aisle categories. Now my coupons are in order by aisle which has made it sooooo much EASIER, as I walked down each aisle The coupons are right there no need to search by category!!!!

  6. Mae says

    I converted from the binder to the box as well. My box is similar to yours except I use larger letter size envelopes and place them horizontally in the box. To support the envelopes and keep them from falling, I use the box that the envelopes came in (I got the At the Office brand from Walmart 150ct envelopes) which fits nicely horizontally in the container. I place this towards the back. I have a 60 ct envelope box from Top Flight brand that I use in front where I place all my envelopes for coupons I’ll use at CVS, Walgreens, Target, etc. for that week. Finally, on the left side of the box there is room for my 100 ct envelope box which are for the smaller envelopes 6 3/4×3 5/8 x 6 1/2″. I keep my pen, calculator, scissors in this box. To label all the envelopes I use Post-it tabs and position them on the back of each envelope. The system has been working great for me!

  7. Tina says

    I love all the ideas! I use 2 accordion folders for my store coupons (one for food/cleaning items and 1 for only drug store items – shampoo, makeup, deodorant – since I buy most of those items at Walgreens) and have a smaller, separate one for my restaurant/department store coupons. I keep the restaurant/department store one in my purse at all times since I sometimes run unplanned errands at lunch or we decide to eat out at lunch unexpectedly and I hate going somewhere knowing I had a coupon and didn’t get to use it. I cut all the coupons in the sunday papers and only put what I use or think I might try in my organizers and then I put the rest in zip lock bags sorted by food and non food. If I see a product I remember seeing a coupon for I know where to look for it. At the end of the month I send what I haven’t used, plus any expired coupons, to groups that send them to our troops overseas. This way nothing is wasted.

  8. says

    So 1st let me just say…Thanks! I love your free updates! I put all my coups in the order in which I get them at my Favorite grocery store. I now have it memorized in that order so it’s easy to find at other stores. Then I put my list on a piece of foamboard with a clip. I slide my list in and out of each section that I am shopping in so I don’t have to go rummaging. I made a fabric coupon holder that buttons on the cart, b/c I still have a little one in the front. The box was too enticing. I used to love to grocery shop, but now with 2 busy and bored kids, I am in and out in as little time as possible.

  9. Deborah says

    For those that use the “envelope” method…
    I am a merchandiser and one of my stores is Dollar General. I service the greeting cards. The week after each holiday, all the seasonal cards are counted and destroyed, leaving LOTS of envelopes. I like greeting card envelopes because of their large size and not to mention their pretty colors (lol). If you ask the merchandiser at your local store, I bet they would be willing to give you the extra envelopes. They just get thrown away and have no value to the store.
    Just a thought…

  10. Kelly says

    Hi Crystal,

    Questions for you…
    1. How may newspapers do you buy per week? And of those how many do you actually keep cut and in your coupon box? (i.e. do you only cut some or do you cut and keep all the coupons in each insert?

    The reason that I ask is because I have toyed with the idea of trying out the coupon box several times, but I worry that since I cut and keep all my insert coupons I will not have enough space in a coupon box. Currently I am using a binder, but it does get pretty heavy.