31 Weeks to a Better Grocery Budget Video Series: How I Organize My Coupons


This video explains my newly-revamped coupon organization system. You can see my old system here.

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

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Comments

  1. Jan says

    I purchased a coupon wallet. It is about the size of a clutch hand bag with dividers. When not in use, it is in my car but fits nicely in my purse when I go out. I have around 14 categories plus a section in the front deemed expiring. With those, I check them every time I go in a store for unadvertised savings and if the coupon and the price are good then I go for it. I also have a section in the back that as I am pulling them to purchase the item – I have a place to stash them all and then pull out for the cashier. It works for me – no muss no fuss and since I check them once weekly for ones that are expiring. I pretty well know if or if I do not have a coupon for an item.

  2. Sakura says

    I use a combo method of a binder system and filing the whole insert. I think the most important thing is to do what works for you.

  3. Claire says

    I love a binder system & this is how I make it work for me:
    I have a binder with A-Z tabs & basebaseball card holders. In this binder, I only clip & file coupons that I feel are a) staple items or b) I know I can often find a good deal on that we’ll use. Everything is in alphabetical order- for example, in the “B” section, the first page is “baby” then “baking” then “boxed snacks” (I don’t label these specificially, I just know the category in my head & keep them separate by keeping them on different baseball card pages). When I’m filing & a page is filled up, I just throw away any expired coupons in that section & I usually have enough room for all/most of my new coupons- if not, I add another baseball card holder or just paperclip extra coupons to the current holder. This really helps to see all my coupons at a quick glance when I’m in the store shopping for “eggs” for example, I just flip on over to the “egg” page & I can easily see and compare various prices for eggs fairly quickly. After clipping coupons for the week, I write the date of the insert on the front of it & keep all of my coupon inserts in order by date (in case I hear of a deal for an item that I didn’t clip & put in my binder.) If I happen to get more inserts for free, I just file them with my “coupon insert” stash in case I come across a great deal, I easily can find multiple coupons for that item. & that’s about it. When it comes time to go grocery shopping, I check online for deals, pull out/print the coupons that I need & keep them in a baggie to have handy for the store & I’m ready to go. I always take my binder with me for staple items & deals that I may run into:) Perhaps, I’m a little OCD, but this system really helps me to know what I have & to get the best deals on my groceries.

  4. Katie says

    I used the box method when I first started out and it worked for awhile. But I am visual – I need to see it all laid out and switched to a binder. Everything has general store categories, and then, like you, I have subcategories behind some of them (ie, beauty: lotions, body wash/soap, razors/deodorant, shampoo/conditioner) to make it easier to file and find.

    I used to be so cookoo about it that I filed by expiring first to last; but honestly, I don’t have the time to do that. So every week or two, I go through it before I add new ones and put all the expiring ones into an envelope where I list it and expiration date. I send the others to a military base for their use (they can use up to 6 months after expiration in the commissary).

    I keep each store (we have 8 grocers/super-stores within 1 mile) in the back with any store Q’s, ECB’s, store loyalty cards and coupon policy in them. Makes it easier on my purse to not have to carry all the cards around. And all restaurants/non-food stores get filed in a separate 3-ring folder in the front of the binder. The binder stays in the car in my reusable shopping tote so I have it whenever I need it.

  5. Traci says

    I have my own little system that works good for me. It is somewhat similar to yours, Crystal. I have two small-ish coupon accordion folders that I can fit inside my purse. One for food items and one for non-food. Each has several tabs that I have divided into the categories I use most often. So each week when I get my coupons I go through them and cut out the ones that I will most likely use and then sort them into my folders. I will then keep the rest of the insert in case a good deal comes later on. So I always have my main coupons with me wherever I go. Oh, also I try to go through my inserts about once a month to cut out any remaining coupons I may use before they expire and throw out any inserts that are expired. It’s also handy to write the date in big letters on the front cover so it’s easier to find the one I’m looking for.

    Thanks for all you do Crystal! I love your video series and all the deals and articles you provide for us! It really inspires me to stick with it and keep saving money. :)

  6. Katie says

    And I should add that I take my binder with me in the store, but I clip my coupons for each store onto their specific shopping lists. I generally don’t buy much that isn’t on the list; but sometimes there are great deals that weren’t advertised, so having the binder in the basket is helpful. Plus, I also will write prices for staples on the dividers to track increases, etc. so I can plan out better as they are needed. And now, onto my next cup of coffee to wake up ;-)…

  7. Patricia says

    I began “serious” couponing about two years ago, quit for a while, but now back to it again. I started out with a zippered binder and baseball card sleeves, my biggest issue is how time consuming it is to keep it organized. So, I tried Crystal’s system with the box, but it just didn’t work for me, I found myself spending more time in the store searching for the coupons in my box. Now I’m back to my binder…binders, I’ve reorganized and now have two binders, one for food and one for non-food. This was necessary after I dropped my binder and the rings popped open and plastic sleeves scattered all over the floor (luckily this was at home!), the binder was just too full. I have tabs for main categories and then those are sub-divided alphabetically into more detailed categories, however the sub-divisions do not have tabs, I just put a sticker label on the front of that page. Having the categories and sub-divisions alphabetized makes it easier to flip through and find what I need. Personally, I found using either system and keeping it up to date requires a fair amount of time, for the binders I spend more time at home, for the box it required more time in the store. Now if I could just become more efficient at this whole coupon game.

    I do like your mini-expanding folder and wondering where you got it? That looks like a great tool for keeping all the individual store match-up coupons separate, yet together. Currently I’ve been using individual envelopes for each store. They tend to get ragged and I’m always afraid I will drop it and my coupons will go every where.

    It’s kind of funny, even my husband has began using, searching for and printing coupons! ;) Thanks for all your advice, I check your site first when looking through the coupon blogs!

  8. Emily says

    I use a box as well. I have switched back and forth between an empty diaper wipe box and a shoe box. I use a large rubber band around the box so if it falls or gets dropped it stays shut and in place.

    For a shopping trip I make my menu, list and collect all the coupons I will use. I place my coupons in a nylon clear front pencil pouch. I divide them up between 4X6 indext cards as I check the coupons for the correct size and item I place them behind a large piece of cardboard and when I get to the register to check out all I have to do is pull all the coupons out behind the cardboard and I know I have them all. If I don’t use a coupon I just leave it in the front with the index cards. When I get to the store I use the large alligator clips to clip my pencil pouch on the buggy. If my small child isn’t with me the back of the child’s seat is the perfect place for it. If he’s with me I usually cllip it to the side of the cart facing towards the inside incase I should drop any coupons they go in the buggy instead of the floor.

  9. says

    I have a coupon binder with baseball card inserts and I also carry an accordian coupon file with one of each coupon so if i find a good deal I would at least have one of the coupon with me…when I’m not shopping with my binder ( I only take my binder when I’m doing my weekly grocery shopping and couponing.)

  10. Stefanie says

    I put mine in envelopes (alphabetized) in a container, then I have a small notebook with a few pages for each letter and I list all my coupons with expiration dates. Writting it down helps me remember which coupons I may have and it only takes a few seconds to look down the list to see if I have a coupon instead of digging through the envelopes in the middle of the store. :) I tried the binder and it’s too big to lug around for me, bc I’m one of the extreme couponers who have 20 coupons to use on the same type of item! AND I never know when there will be a good markdown or manager’s special I can use a Q with.

  11. Robin says

    This is just the right post at just the right time for me. The more I’m getting into coupons, the more I’m discovering that my old coupon “organizer” is completely inadequate, so I’ve been contemplating changes to it. I’ve gotten to the point where I almost dread trying to use coupons because I can never find what I’m looking for quickly. I’m looking forward to increased efficiency and saving more money after implementing a system like this. Thank-You!!!

  12. Jody says

    Hey Frugal friends! Has anyone ordered a coupon organizer from Etsy before? There are a couple handmade coupon organizer bags on there that are super cute and look like a good solution for me. (I’m not digging the binder idea – I’d like a box). Your advice would be appreciated.

  13. Kimberly says

    I like the mini-expanding file folder shown in the video – where did you get that? Also, the box idea is really good for coupons kept until expiration – where did you get the box? Your videos are very helpful. I’m just beginning to get back into using coupons again. Thanks.

    • says

      I got my recently acquired coupon expanding folders from CVS, though I have found they don’t carry them at every store. They were located with the office supplies. :)

  14. Honey says

    I used to do just the box (have the same one as you), and then it evolved. I went to a bigger box! Then I out grew that (I have a household of 7). So I decided to pull my food coupons from the box and use a binder for them. The main reason is that I love finding items at the grocery that are clearanced and because I can find the coupons very easily, I can get items free or nearly free each week. Yes, it does take a little longer up front to file them, but they are easier to retrieve when needed so it all comes out even:) My non-food coupons have specific sections so they are pretty easy to look through when you need say, lotion or razors. I also have enough room for store coupons, and restaurant, fast food, fun, etc. I also like having the food and non-food seperate because most of the time I use the non-food at drugstores and the food coupons at the grocery so I only have to take either the binder or the box and not both. If I know I am going to buy food at cvs or wags, I just pull the food ones I need. Or if I am going to buy non-food items at the grocery, I just grab the envelope I need. If not for the “manager’s specials” and “scratch and dent” shelves, though, I would probably file inserts (just haven’t been able to bring myself to it since I get many free or super cheap items this way). I think impulse buys might not work for those with smaller families. But for us, these “impulse buys” are part of our bread and butter.

  15. Nicole says

    I live in Mississippi and would love to know if there are any bloggers from my area. We don’t have a lot of the same deals that are posted on this website so I would love to be able to follow a local blogger as well. Anybody know of a blogger from Mississippi?

  16. says

    I have used a binder from day 1 of my using coupons over 2 1/2 years ago. I’m not talking about the “as seen on extreme couponing” double-sided ginormous binder, either. I have a simple, probably 1 1/2 to 2-inch ZIPPERED binder like kids get for school. I got it (and the baseball card holders) at Wal-Mart. I have stick-on tabs to label each “section” stuck on the first clear sheet of each section, and the sections are alphabetized. Makes it super easy to see all the coupons I have, their expiration dates, etc.

    I also have sheet protectors (that I keep in the back) that I can put the printed copies of each store’s coupon policy in and then place that in the front. That came in SO handy when I was trying to price match at Wal-Mart a while back.

    There’s a zipper pocket on the outside, which usually houses my scissors and any unfiled coupons. There are two accordion-type pockets in the inside front of the binder where I can keep whole inserts, store fliers, and printed coupons that haven’t been cut out yet.

    I keep the binder in the van so that any time I’m going in the store (whether a quick trip or full shopping trip) I take it with me “just in case”. I tried the small accordion file system (for about a day) and it just didn’t work for me. I couldn’t see (or find) all of the coupons I had and they all ended up expiring before I could use them. With my binder, I just pull out the coupons as I put the items into my cart, put them in the zipper pocket, and they’re ready to go at checkout.

  17. Dana says

    Where did you get your dividers? I use a similar system and I got little files at Dollar Tree but they do not carry them anymore. Not sure if you covered this at the end of your video (it cut off) or if someone else has asked already.

  18. Rae says

    I use a check-sized file box to do my coupons. I like it a lot more than carrying multiple coupon organizers (I used to have 2 check sized accordion ones plus a small one) and I just have a lot of issues with binder organizers (not discouraging others from doing this, it’s just my personal preferences). I like the box method but mine is falling apart (I need a sturdier one like you have) on the edges because it is the same plastic that the accordion organizers are made out of pretty much and since I use it so often… well yeah. I’ll have to upgrade when it gives out. But for now (well soon) I’ll add some duct tape. I get enough looks with my coupon box as it is I don’t think I’ll get too many more just because it has tape lol :P

  19. Carol says

    I love your blog and frequently post links to it on SparkPeople.

    Just wanted you to know I am really a true fan. I think you are helping alot of people, and will continue to support you. And I am glad your coupon sys works for you . . . but it’s way too complicated for me.

    I clip ALL coupons (except ones I know there is zero % possibility I won’t use, even if the food or item was free) and file alpha by BRAND NAME (because that’s what goes on sale) in a 5×7 plastic box that contains alpha index cards. I do not have subdivisions. This means Colgate and Claussen pickles both live together in the C’s. This means Pampers and Peter Pan are in the P’s. I do put edible in front, nonedible in back, in each alpha section without a divider. I put clipped but not filed, and rainchecks, in the front and back sections of the box.

    I also shop online and make a printable grocery ad online (99% of grocery stores let you make an online grocery list from their weekly circular sales ad that’s online). I print the list on 8.5 x 11 paper, and tri-fold it and place it in the front of the box. Before I go to the store(s), I match clipped coups from the box to the printed store-specific list, place the coups inside of the tri-folded list, and put the list + coups in the front of the box.

    I also add the refrigerator’s grocery list (out of eggs!, etc) onto whichever grocery store’s printed list that I usually buy eggs at.

    The coupon box’s permanent home is in a mesh recycle grocery bag, “my coupon bag”. I also keep a few folded up plastic bags in there. Other than that I do not use the bag for anything else; it’s sole purpose is to hold the coupon box. I never leave the house without the bag on grocery day; and on weeks when “it’s one of THOSE weeks” and everything is crazy, I print out the lists of specials at each store and then keep the mesh coupon bag in the trunk. When I bring it in I hang it on a hook inside the closet.

    Having these specific things in place, and a home for everything, makes managing the coupon process easier.

    I never put coupons in my purse. ALL coupons are REQUIRED to live in a single location; either unclipped in the trash, or, if clipped in the coupon box inside of the mesh grocery bag.

    It is a rule I never enter a grocery store without the mesh bag; I ALWAYS take ALL of my coupons inside of EVERY store. This is because you never know what will be a “this store only” or “discontinued” or “manager’s special” markdown. I remember missing out on Burleson’s honey once. There was a huge bin of it, 75% off. I have never seen that special before or since. It must have been old, but since honey is so simple to warm up it doesn’t matter if it’s crystallized or about to. Burlesons has coupons all the time, and is usually too expensive so I never buy it; in this case I could have had Burleson’s honey for almost free but I didn’t have the coupon bag with me. So now the coupon mesh bag stays on my arm like a second purse, anytime I go into any grocery store.

    One bag, one box, clip ALL coupons, they live in a SINGLE location NEVER in any other place except inside the box, and filing alpha by brand works really really well when you are a frugal shopper like me who matches coupons to this week’s sales. My method also eliminates elaborate filing systems and subdivisions – you have 26 file spaces for A-Z and that’s it. No there is no problem retrieving Claussen instead of Colgate from the C’s – I do it instantly and on-the-spot in stores. No digging in the HBA section of the coupon box to find something, etc.

  20. says

    I use 2 accordian style coupon organizers. 1 is dedicated to food items, the other to non food like shampoo and laundry detergent etc. I have only been using this method for a short period of time, before I had a bunch of envelopes I carried around. So far though it has worked out wonderfully, especially since I can put them into my purse and easily have them on hand. I like your method with putting the coupons into the sections of the stores you know you will use them at, but for me it is not practical because I only shop at 2-3 stores at most. I live in a rural community with a Vons and CVS, all else is a day adventure.
    Thank you so much for your work on this blog, you have revolutionized homemaking and I am becoming a better homemaker because of you!
    God Bless!

  21. Michelle K says

    At this point I use and accordian filer also. I only store those I have clipped and didn’t end up using and printables. I was clipping everythin for awhile but didn’t use many of them. I have a spreadsheet that lists the coupon, expiration, and amount that I number. I then keep them filed according to number. I can easily look at my printed out list that is in ABC order to see what I have in my filer. It has been easy to find my coupons. I keep all my inserts filed by date in a portable file box. I keep for about 12 weeks. I enjoyed reading all teh comments as I am thinking of switching to the binder system and maybe incorporate the database spreadsheet with it? I am a visual person and can remember just where I put things so I am thinking it might work for me. You can see a video of the way I discribed at http://www.practicalsaver.com. (it is under on of the tabs)

  22. Sarah says

    I just want to say thanks for making the video. I’ve been trying to get into couponing but it gets really overwhelming really fast!!! Having your organizational method spelled out like this is extremely helpful!!!

  23. Amy Reynolds says

    One question…You mentioned that you get coupons from recycling bins… Do you mean that on your neighborhood’s recycling day you go through the bins or is there some kind of recycling center near you?