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Help me out here! Should I switch my coupon organization system?

Couponclippings

Anyone who has read my blog for more than a few months knows that I’m a big fan of clipping and filing every coupon you think you might use. I got into this habit because I used to shop almost exclusively at Kroger where the deals and mark-downs were plentiful and I was often able to snag unadvertised specials for free or almost free every week thanks to having all my coupons clipped, organized, and handy.

However, as most of you know, our Kroger stores were bought out a few months ago (I’m still agonizing over the loss!) and while I’ve continued on with my clip-and-file-every-coupon system, I’ve noticed I rarely have come upon any unadvertised deals or mark-downs. And I do mean rarely, as in non-existent. Well, I did find one mark-down one time, but I didn’t even have a coupon for it.

In seeking to streamline and be more efficient, I’m seriously considering keeping my inserts whole and just clipping out the coupons I need each week as I plan my shopping trip. This would save me the hassle of having to spend a lot of time clipping and filing; it would also save me the trouble of going through my coupon box for expired coupons every month, too.

But I’m really tossing and turning over breaking tradition and completely revamping my whole coupon organization system as I know it. It’s become so ingrained in me to clip and file all my coupons in my coupon box as I’ve done it this way for going on eight years.

Does it really work to just file the inserts and clip out the coupons you need? Do you find yourself having to pass over a lot of the deals when you’re at the store because you don’t have the needed coupon with you? Can anyone reassure me that I really will not end up spending twice as much at the grocery store if I don’t clip all the coupons? Do you think I’m up to the challenge of a complete revamping of my system? 

Any feedback or thoughts would be much-appreciated.

Note: For those of you who may need a point of reference, here’s my current system and here’s the system I’m considering switching to.

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105 Comments

  • I go through the inserts and clip the things I think I might use, and I file those. I save the remaining inserts in a folder – I keep that folder by my cookbooks. When we go to the store, I don’t take the folder. I suppose you could if you wanted to (but do you really want to be flipping through all that stuff looking for a coupon that might not be there?)

    I don’t see tons of markdowns that I miss because I don’t have the coupon. If it’s a product that I already use, I have the coupons with me anyway…so it would have to be some random thing that I haven’t tried yet anyway. I can remember one time when I missed out on a ‘wisp candle’ thingy. Somehow, I survived! (wink!)

    -Laura

  • Laura says:

    I actually just switched to this within the past two months and I love it! I make my list or use the list from Coupon Mom, do a quick search for coupon locations and then go through my stack.

    I mark on the front of the circulars the date in Sharpie and they’re so easy to keep organized.

    I think you’ll be very happy with this. Considering the very few times you might miss a good deal, it’s soooo worth the extra time you can spend with your family and less time cutting and filing.

    I keep mine in trays like an in/out box so I don’t have to constantly sort through the entire pile. If there are ones I know I’ll use at a particular store often, then I just clip those and keep them in that store’s envelope.

  • Margaret says:

    I tried it for one month and hated it! I missed out on deals and because I keep all my receipts I know I spent more money. I also was not able to pick up great deals to pass along to others because I was planning and clipping around my needs.

    I would suggest trying it for a few weeks and see what you think. Who knows maybe it will work for you. I use Kroger, Albertons and CVS so I like having ALL my coupons!

  • Holle says:

    Oh, Crystal!!
    I JUST (and I mean JUST) finished my nifty coupon organizer box per your suggestion (with the envelopes w/ flaps cut off, index cards with categories, etc.). I tried saving the entire inserts, but I found myself flipping through over and over to find the coupons needed for these great stacking opportunities and such.

    In the three days I’ve been using “your” organization system, I’ve been much more efficient in my searches for specific coupons. No more flipping through those pages! And the box is easier to handle & navigate than a bunch of file folders.

    Maybe I was doing the filing thing wrong with the inserts, but I sure have liked the change I made! Good luck in your decision!

  • I use the file box method where I keep all my inserts dated. I shared about it here:

    http://mommysnacks.blogspot.com/2008/07/snack-time-coupon-organization.html

    I shared in there that I do this because I plan everything to the penny and even if something is at a great bargain, if it will cause me to go over my budget, then I can’t do it (although I’m not perfect). However, one thing I have recently started doing is keeping an envelope with me, along with all my list/store coupons, that are “SMART” coupons – coupons for items that I NEED to get at a discount for stockpiling or really good valued coupons (like those Electrasol coupons). So, my “SMART” envelope contains my Electrasol coupons, wipes (since I have a little one in the “wipes” stage), Powerade, and any coupons I may have purchases through a clipping service. I know that if these items are on sale or found discounted then I’ll want to snatch them up if I can get them at the right price (to me, at least 50-75% off regular price). So far, it’s working for me and makes me feel like I’m still able to shop and find those undiscovered deals!

    And, you won’t spend twice as much if you have your list you stick to and a budget! So, don’t sweat it – it does work!!

  • Tara says:

    I tried keeping the coupon inserts whole when I first started couponing and then would keep them in the car thinking I could just go get them if something caught my eye. After several months those inserts add up and I kept forgetting which coupon was where and then had to go through them all. It was more trouble than I thought.

    I now cut and file all coupons. You never know when you can get something super cheap or free that could benefit a soup kitchen or women’s shelter.

  • Tonya says:

    Crystal,

    I use a filing system with the whole inserts. I tried the whole clipping every coupon thing but with 4 children and countless activities I was not able to keep up with it. I buy about 6 papers a week and just couldn’t do it. I would start clipping them and never finish. Then by that time there is no way I wanted to organize them! I know some gals are wonderful at this but i just wasn’t.

    So, I went and bought a cute file box at Target. When I get my weekly flyers I label a manilla file with the date of the flyer and what flyer it is, RP 6/1, SS 6/1, PG 6/1, etc. It then gets put into the box into monthly hanging files. I of course put the manilla folders in order by date. So, then when I am searching post, blogs and forums for deals I can write them down and then go to my files and cut out the corresponding coupon. I also use The coupon mom for the virtual coupon database if I need to find out what flyer a particular coupon is in. Hope this helps some in you descision! I love your blog by the way! Tonya

  • Trixie says:

    Hello,

    I clip and file all coupons that I have a remote chance of using. It is much easier for me to find a coupon when I need one and to pick up unsuspecting deals at CVS.

    I think I would need to search through the stack of whole inserts to find the ones I need each week. Plus I would be tempted to bring the whole stack to the store so I wouldn’t miss any deals. Sounds like more hassle than clipping.

    As soon as you teach Kathrynn about dates, you are home free! 🙂

    Take Care,

    Trixie

  • Karen in Maryland says:

    I also cut and file most coupons. I do save the inserts just in case I see something on your website, iheartcvs.com, etc., that may be included on an upcoming sale that I haven’t clipped yet. It’s rare that I run across something in the store that I haven’t clipped the coupon for. Whatever works best for you, go for it.

  • Crystal-

    I tried keeping the inserts, but found it harder to find “that” coupon. I went back to clipping only the coupons I know we will use and then filing them. I find it so much easier to go that envelope and get the coupon for ….. I also found that I wasted so much time fliping through the stack of inserts looking for the coupon! Just my two cents worth. Good luck with what ever way you choose.

  • Tiffany says:

    When I first started couponing I clipped them all and filed them by category and within each category I have them filed by exp. date. I got lazy with it and started to just clip the ones that I needed every week. Well, that didn’t work out either because I noticed that I wasn’t saving nearly as much money as I would have had I been filing them like I was the first time. I’ve since went back to my old ways and categorize and file by exp date. That way all the ones that expire you can just take out from the top of your pile. I hope this make sense to you. Good Luck.

  • Marla says:

    I save every insert and keep them in date order (and labeled) in a big file folder. I use couponmom for CVS and for my local grocery stores and I have yet to feel that I missed a deal. Plus couponmom lets you search for types of coupons that you might have – very handy if you make a list before you shop. I don’t have the time nor energy to clip every coupon and I think I’d be less likely to find the ones I need that way.

  • Kelli says:

    I tried the file box and the whole inserts and neither one worked for me. I felt like I was constantly going through both and never finding the end of it. I now use a zippered notebook with baseball card inserts. It keeps everything really organized and easy to find, as well as gives me a secure place to keep my gift cards, store cards, money, scissors, calculator, and more. I don’t clip everything, just things I usually find on sale that I or my family can use. To be honest, I don’t concern myself with buying specifically donating (I don’t buy anything we can’t use). I just give from my stockpile when I have something. This method has worked so great for me. I can put it flat in the shopping cart and flip through to find something (alphabetical). I have saved so much time and money since doing this, and I walk out with less frustration than the other methods. You could do this with just sheet protectors and leave the pages whole with reusable tabs. That way, you don’t have to flip through the inserts, which tend to fall apart, but you also don’t have to cut everything out. Just a thought. Good luck in whatever you do!

    Kelli

  • Tiffany says:

    When I first started couponing I clipped them all and filed them by category and within each category I have them filed by exp. date. I got lazy with it and started to just clip the ones that I needed every week. Well, that didn’t work out either because I noticed that I wasn’t saving nearly as much money as I would have had I been filing them like I was the first time. I’ve since went back to my old ways and categorize and file by exp date. That way all the ones that expire you can just take out from the top of your pile. I hope this make sense to you. Good Luck.

  • Nicole says:

    I clip anything that I use on a regular basis and anything that I would buy if it was a good deal. For me it is helpful to actually cut out the coupons so that I remember what I have. Seeing it as a I clip helps me remember the coupons.

    I just clip the coupons as I am watching the kids in the pool or while I watch TV at night with my husband. For me this is way less time consuming than trying to find every coupon I need on the day that I am shopping. I have a hard enough time trying to get out the door with 4 kids, let alone if I had to search for coupons before I go.

    Keep us posted on what you decide to do!

  • Heather says:

    Make the switch! I did and it is working great for me and saving a lot of time – I file whole inserts. You will still need a coupon file for coupons you receive already clipped. I also go through each insert and clip the coupons I know for sure I will use. The Coupon Database at HCW helps me find coupons in my inserts fairly quickly.

  • Lori says:

    Couldn’t you do a bit of a compromise? Maybe go through and clip the coupons you KNOW you’ll probably use and then keep the inserts for future reference? I’ve considered doing this, but can’t figure out a good storage/sorting method. But then I hate going to a store and not having my bag with me…it’s a bummer indeed when you pass a product that’s a good deal and you know you have a coupon…at home…in your file! Ughh.

  • Colette B says:

    I used to use a similar system to your box, but got a little overwhelmed and thought having to sift through my stacks was taking too long and was too inefficient. I, too, was clipping and filing EVERY coupon. I recently switched to the binder method and LOVE it! I can see everything I have at a quick glance and I KNOW I am saving more money because it is SO convenient to grab a coupon and go. Plus, I know what I have. With the insert filing method, you never know what’s at your finger tips without doing an online search or paying for a service that matches all the deals up for you. My vote is to stick with the box, or switch to a binder.

    Pics of my system are posted on my blog @ http://waymore4wayless.blogspot.com/2008/06/coupon-storage.html

    Good luck!
    Colette

  • When I am couponing, I’m a believer in the “clip what you need, save the inserts for the rest” system. I also use a coupon book – I *hate, hate, hate* flipping through the same stack of coupons over and over again looking for a coupon. (They always seem to be on the bottom of the stack, don’t they!)

    I think you have to realize a couple of things. Unknown deals are ones that you hadn’t counted on finding anyway. Yes, it hurts not to have the coupon with you, but you weren’t necessarily planning on buying that item. Yes, it would save you money if you could get the markdown and the coupon both. But you just can’t plan for everything.

    The other thing to keep in mind is how much is your time worth? If you switch systems, how much time will you save, and what other worthy things could you be doing instead of that? That will more than likely balance out the coupon savings losses.

  • Kristine says:

    I only clip coupons that I think we’ll use. And I actually *gasp* throw the inserts out once I’ve done that.

    I throw all my coupons into one envelope labeled “COUPONS” with a Sharpie.

    If there’s a stellar deal (like the Electrasol coupons) I might buy 6 or 7 papers, but just clip what I need. Most weeks it’s just one paper.

    It’s not the most efficient system, but a lot of stores aren’t convenient for me to get to. So I do the best I can with what I have, and without driving a lot of extra miles.

  • Rachel V. says:

    Another vote for the file box method of storing inserts. I’m sure I do miss a few deals, but the time I save by not clipping and filing every coupon is better spent on other things in my crazy life with full-time job and 2 little kids.

  • Ladyflower says:

    The system I use is pretty much the system you are thinking of switching to. I tried clipping and filing all coupons at first and it was so time comsuming and most of the coupons I never even used. I also had to constantly go through them to throw out the expireds.

    Now I file the entire insert in a three ring binder inside a plastic page protector. I have several binders – one for SS, RP, and P&G. I keep these on a bookshelf by my computer. Before I go shopping I look through the sales ad and use an online coupon database to find and clip the coupons I will need. I do keep an envelope of clipped coupons with me for items that I frequently buy.

    I’ve rarely had to pass up a deal because I didn’t have every coupon with me. I find the time saved with my new system is worth so much more to me.

  • Lea Ann says:

    I use a 3-ring zippered cloth binder. inside left flap has file pockets, which i label for each store i visit (Walgreens, CVS, Kroger, Tom Thumb, Target, etc.) in those i can put each week’s newspaper circular with specials, and an envelope with coupons that are specific to that store (ie Target only coupons) AND i take 3 minutes to scan the circular and pull relevant coupons and put them in that envelope too.
    Then, i use clear plastic 3-hole punched CD sleeves for all the coupons in the binder (each page would hold 2 CDs with a cover flap.) i use divider tabs for big categories (like dairy, meat, frozen, cleaning) and i put labels on each plastic pocket for subcategories under each (like under dairy i have cheese, ice cream, yogurt, butter). i can find everything i need VERY quickly in store. and can whip out coupons for other people in the aisle quickly too. End of each month, i take expired out of each pocket.
    When new coupons come on Sunday, i cut out immediately into two piles: ones i want to keep and file, ones i will pass on to coupon round robin group (which go immediately into a mailing envelope). i have an in-box for “To File in Notebook”, and file little handfuls here and there when i have a minute.
    Notebook is a super organized method for me.

  • Erin Pettingill says:

    Every one who is looking at this website might already be doing this with their coupons but I just thought I would mention it just in case. For an easy quick way to clip your coupons I take my three SS insert that I get on sunday or whatever the insert is and the take the first pages from each of them and stack them on top of each and then take the second page from each insert and stack them together and put them in another pile. I do this with each set of pages so all similar papers are stacked together. That way I can take the page 1 stack of 3 papers and see that there is a coupon that I want and then instead of cutting out each one individually I can stack them all up together and then cut all three with one quick clip. Right after that I just staple the three identical coupons together and then go on to the next stack of page 2 coupons and do the same. This way of clipping goes much faster because you are clipping the similar coupons 3 at a time instead of one at a time and then because you stapled them together you are filing 3 together at the same time and then they are easy to find and you can quickly know how many you have right when you need them instead of digging through your categories to make sure you grabbed all three of the like coupons. This has saved me a ton of time and keeps things a little bit more organized.

    I hope this makes sense and helps at least one person to cut back on clipping time.

    I also have done the box way of clipping coupons and the baseball card holder way I think both ways are alot more efficient than just cutting the inserts when you need them. Good luck!!! Its hard to break old habits, especially if they are working for you.

  • When I first started clipping coupons, I tried it the other way. I wrote the date on the top of the insert and tucked them away in folders.

    I thought I was so smart until I actually started needing the coupons. It was a nightmare. I would go through the inserts until I found the coupons I needed and I would clip. This was all well and good until the next week when I needed something else from one of the inserts I had already clipped from. After a couple of weeks the inserts were a mess…half clipped pages here, quarter clipped pages there. UGH! Scraps of paper everywhere!

    It got to be a huge mess! After only 2 months, I decided to switch to your method. It is a bit of a hassle up front once a week but I think in the end it is easier.

    Also since I get several papers, I have started using a WFMW tip where someone suggested coalating the pages and then clipping the coupons. So now I clip once and get three coupons already stacked together.

    Sorry for the rambling comment!

  • Michele says:

    I clip almost every coupon in the inserts and file them in a 3 ring binder (baseball page inserts). I love this system. It is so easy to find them when I’m in the store and easy to pull out the expired coupons. It does take a few extra minutes on the front end though putting them away.

    We have a lot of good stores here that tend to have clearance items. (My local Harris Teeter has had some great clearance lately and our Super Wal-Mart has some stuff every now and then). I would go crazy flipping through inserts. But, if you don’t have the stores, and you don’t mind missing a deal every now and then, save the time.

  • Crystal,
    I think if you go to NOT clipping out every coupon, you’ll have a lot more TIME on your hands. No searching through each insert for the products you use or might use. Just date each insert and file it away to be used when I see a sale. My weeks budget is basically down to the penny and I only bring the coupons I need with me. There have really only been a couple times I had wished for a coupon when I saw some clearance stuff.
    My system is here: http://tinyurl.com/5b5svq

  • Jenna says:

    I have been clipping and filing since I was 11 years old and I have recently celebrated 46 years. I tried the inserts whole for awhile it does not work it is way more trouble than it is worth!

    I have a box like yours and have had it since I was 11 years old when I turned 40 years old I had calculated in an account for every coin I had saved I put that amount in an account. I had $ 250K that is almost 30 years of savings. So who ever says the nickles and dimes do not add up would be totally wrong. For anyone who is 20 years old. Start saving coupons now if you put ever penny you would have spent in a seperate account when it comes time to retire you will have what you need.

  • Kate says:

    Just this week I tried to not clip them all, and just this week I missed a coupon opportunity because of it!

  • Alexis says:

    I just decided yesterday, as a newish couponer, the file I was using just wasn’t gonna work anymore and I’d be switching to a binder system.

  • Cole & Lia's mom says:

    I just started serious couponing a few months ago, and I’m getting to the point where I’m overwhelmed, so I was hoping that this thread would help. But — gasp! — different people prefer different methods! I’ve been filing whole inserts, but have found some problems with that method. 1) What do I do with all my internet printables? 2) What do I do with the coupons that I cut and then don’t use? I can’t remember where they came from! 3) I’m having trouble finding some coupons that I know I have… where did those Revlon ones go? What insert was that? :-0 So, I guess I’m not much help, but at least it’s reassuring to know that I’m not the only one with this dilemma… Will be watching, Crystal, to see what you decide!
    ~Karen

  • I have a similar system to the one you linked. I pull out all the inserts each week, and search through them for the q’s I might use. If I know for sure I want to use it, I’ll go ahead and clip it. Otherwise I put it in a hanging filing cabinet in files labeled by month. Then I leave it until I need it. For the q’s I’ve clipped or bought multiples of, I have a coupon binder that I use. I took a regular Mead Five Star three inch ring binder and keep them in there inside baseball card pages. I have five dividers which have pockets to hold loose q’s I haven’t filed yet. I have a zipper pouch to hold recent receipts, catalinas, ECB’s, RR’s, etc. I have page protectors in the back that hold my store coupon policies. I use the pockets on the inside of the binder to hold the q’s I think I’m going to use that shopping trip, along with my planned run, and then when I find the item I move the q to the front pocket–that way when I get to the register all I have to do is grab the whole stack–they’re all ready for the cashier. The baseball card pages allow me to see every q I have clipped in a matter of seconds, and they don’t fall out if the binder falls over or the kids are playing around. I know you know the pain and grief it causes when all those carefully arranged coupons are all over the floor in one big mess! Not to mention being able to flip right to the page and see the q you need the second you need it, instead of having to pull it out of a stack in one of those box dividers and search through them until you find the right one. HTH!

  • Heather says:

    Crystle,

    I use the method Marla uses, but use scrapbook supply organizer pages, instead.

    I also had an “aha” moment with the time it was taking me to clip everything. Three weeks ago I’d bought 10 papers, and had spent about an hour clipping the inserts for the first three. My husband came in and jokingly told me that my craft room looked just like I was doing a scrapbook, which made me think — why am I cutting these by hand with scissors and not just using my paper cutter that can cut multiple sheets at once? I stacked the rest of the inserts and was done clipping the remaining 7 inserts in 15 minutes. I now use this for all of my “clipping” and it saves so much time!

    (If you don’t have a paper cutter that can do this, the best deal to get one is when Michael’s or Hobby Lobby has a 50% off a regularly priced item sale….)

  • Erin says:

    Why not store the inserts into a notebook that you can keep in the car? You could even bring this in to the store with you. It make take a few extra seconds to flip through, but I think you start to recognize where certain coupons are.

    I actually only cut out coupons I know I will use, because I found myself starting to buy things I didn’t need. Then I throw out the inserts. I know I do miss a few deals, but then I’m also saving money by not getting them.

  • rachel says:

    I get very overwhelmed by sorting through coupons in a box. I have a 3 ring binder (I think it’s like 3”) and trading card sheet protectors. They are the same size as a sheet protector but there are 9 little pockets on a page. I cut my coupons and file them in the little pockets. As I am filing I just throw out the expired ones. This is soooo helpful because I can just flip to dairy and see all the coupons I have in one glance. I purchased mine at Walmart, though they apparently don’t sell them anymore. The cost was $1.50 for 10 sheets. I think I wound up with about 50 or so sheets. This way I have ALL my coupons and if I find something on clearance I can quick check to see if I have a matching coupon. I have found it to be SUPER helpful

  • What? I can’t believe my eyes- the coupon queen (whose influence has made ME a coupon queen, too), thinking about changing her system? 🙂 I respect you so much, Crystal- you are always looking for the best way to do something, not just stuck on the way you used to do it.

    I do a mixture, that a few people have written about. I clip the coupons I know I’ll use and file the rest by insert. OK, I don’t file them. I stick them in their own drawer. This works pretty well, but I have to say that it can be a bit of a pain to find a coupon when I see a deal here or a website you have referred.

    I haven’t missed out on any deals that I didn’t want to miss out on. I do put my CVS (or whatever store I’m headed out for) coupons in their own envelope before I leave to do my deals for the week, but I take all my coupons with me in case I see a deal I don’t want to miss. This is what is working for me, but it seem impossible to completely take all the ‘hassle’ out of couponing. Of course, the hassle pales in comparison to the rewards.

  • Precious says:

    I have been clipping coupons and using them for 40 years. I have tried every system out there. I fnally found the binder system and have never been more organized. I take it with me everywhere and can see all the coupons so easily and never miss on on deals I find. My binder has room for my shopping lists and store type coupons in the front.

  • Derenda says:

    I have tried many methods of storing coupons. A lot of what method you choose depends on your current season of life. Currently, I am using a combination of the methods.

    I cut the coupons for products that I am likely to use or brands with high probability of being on sale. I store these alphabetically by brand in baseball card holders in a zippered binder (a zipper is a must or all of your coupons will fall out if you accidentally pick it up upside down). Also, all of the blinkies, direct mail, and internet printable coupons are in this section.

    In the front of the binder I have photo album pages that have store coupons and coupons that I am planning on using during my next shopping trip. I have a page for each store, while I shop I take from the “plan to buy” pocket and move to the “hand to the cashier” pocket. I use multiple pockets because my stores are often out of stock, this way I don’t miss handing a coupon to the cashier or give her too many. Each store also has a separate sheet protector page to hold the monthly rebate catalog or store coupons that I am unlikely to use. I save all of my receipts for rebates, coupons to file, a pen, and a pair of scissors. I keep them in a zippered pencil pouch.

    In a separate notebook I store the inserts with the uncut coupons. It is rare for me to get these out, usually only for an unexpected freebie or money maker deal.

    One downside to the baseball card holders is that you have to cut fairly precisely to have the coupons fit in the pockets. My pages have 9 pockets per page. Pages with just slightly larger slots would be ideal (maybe with 6 pockets per page).

    Let us know what you decide!

  • julie says:

    I only clip what we really use or we think we might try (food wise). I do clip all razors, paper goods etc. So my file is very small and actually fits in an accordian style coupon folder from Big Lots. We do alot of co-oping and from scratch cooking. We have no stores that double or do way deep discounts. We will be getting an Aldi here soon. Which I’m excited about checking out!

  • jan says:

    I used to cut every coupon but it is too overwhelming. I have never come across an unadvertised deal- so I just save the whole insert.

  • Melissa says:

    I switched over to filing my coupons as whole inserts a little over a month ago. I think it’s going to be a lot less hassle in the end. But right now I’m trying to juggle two methods because I couldn’t unclip the coupons I already had. I still clip a few to carry with me in a very small binder for a few items that I’m always searching for a good deal on. Do I ever come across a good deal that I could have snagged if I had the coupon with me? Yes, once in a while. But as you said in one of your posts not too long ago, you don’t have to do every deal. If I don’t have the coupon with me, then it’s not something I’m in real need of and I’ll be OK without it.
    It’s not just the not clipping every coupon that I’m enjoying, it’s also not carrying every coupon with me. The size of what ever binder or box that I found big enough to put them all in, got to be so overwhelming. I was a little anxious at first about going shopping without my coupons in tow, but now it’s like a big relief. No more having to be constantly on alert for a bargain. I don’t dread going shopping anymore, and I get to enjoy my husband’s company more because I’m not preoccupied with something else.

  • Tami says:

    Hi, Crystal,

    I have been keeping whole inserts since I started the Grocery Game a few years ago. I had an empty box that held hanging file folders, and it holds several months’ worth of coupons. I currently get 3 papers per week. And I easily have 6 months’ worth of inserts. I use a pen to write the date clearly on the top page of each insert, and then I put the newest inserts on top.

    I buy 2 papers per week, and later in the week, my mom gives me her inserts. So I usually have an insert that has not been demolished, and that will help tonight as I pull coupons for triple coupons at Harris-Teeter this week. (Thanks for the tip!)

    I cannot keep up with clipping coupons each week,and I estimate that I spend about 1.5-2 hrs each Sunday with my coupons and Grocery Game list for the grocery store and Walgreens. I use your site and Hot Coupon World for CVS.

    Have a blessed day! Tami
    http://www.tamifox.com

  • Rebekah says:

    AUGH! Don’t switch! I just switched from the “whole coupon section filed by date” system to your coupon box system last Thursday and I LOVE your system so much better. I hated going through 12 weeks of circulars each time I went to the store. Now, I just make my menu and list then go to the envelope for the items I think will have coupons and viola! It is so frustrating with the whole coupon section system because they have coupons that expire at diffent times within the same section and so you’ll have just a few pages with unexpired coupons left on it and have to keep the outside cover to remember where it was from…. I could go on and on. Your system is soooo much better. Stay strong. Resist the temptation!

  • Nichole says:

    My mom use to cut coupons and I dreaded it! So when I started using coupons and saving money I knew I had to find a better way! I still so GREAT in saving money and I do find that I know my inserts from going thru them to find coupons that I know when I see something on clearanced I am able to find that coupon in the insert. I wouldnt go to clipping coupons for anything. To me thats to much time that I can spend on other things.
    Whatever you do don’t stress about it to much! 😀

  • Angela says:

    Wow! Seems like a nice split bag of feedback. I do a bit of a cross system. My main system is to clip the coupons I know I will use and to file them in broad categories. I just don’t always do this right away. I hang onto my inserts for a couple of weeks, clipping what I need to match ads, but otherwise leaving them whole. I find that after a couple of weeks, there are so many holes that it really is just easier to go through and determine if I would use any of the coupons if the right deal came along. Those that fit, I clip and file. Each week when I am adding new coupons, I scan my coupons in each category and look for any that expire in the coming week. This way, I don’t realize a week too late that I had a great coupon that I could have used. It works for me. I take my file to the store because sometimes there are unadvertised sales or extended markdowns (month long deals not mentioned in the ad weekly) or in the case of Target – the most random things on Clearance (one visit, we got the 6 pk Mott’s Healthy Harvest Applesauce cups for 38 cents each. They are good until December, but they were still on Clearance). It works for me.

  • Kerry says:

    Having all the coupons with you is very handy. If you keep them intact, maybe you could keep them in a folder in the car? I think it’s best to clip them so you have them ready. We have been using card holders in two different three ring binders, one for food, and one for pharmacies. I bring them both into all stores though, just in case. The box system that you use didn’t work well for us. I like to browse through my coupons and see them all, something lacking in not clipping.

  • Eva says:

    I started out just clipping the coupons I needed and finally made my way to clipping a organizing. I shop at several places and just started taking my entire book and have found great deals. Really I think it boils down to whether or not you just shop at Kroger (which sounds like it wouldn’t be worth it) or if you shop elsewhere (maybe making it worth the time).

  • Courtney says:

    I think there are a lot of good ways to really organize your coupons (just reading through the already posted comments gave me new ideas, too). However, I would definitely keep clipping every coupon because there actually are times that you’ll be out and need/want a coupon that you may not have with you. Think about the Walgreens clearance that could could possibly get for free but didn’t know about till you got to the store. You could always go back, but that would take more time than it would take to just keep clipping all of your coupons.

    If you want to feel better about taking the time to keep clipping, think of it like being paid for a job. Count your savings and pretend that’s what you’re being paid for the hour or less it took to clip and file those coupons. That’s a pretty fantastic job!

  • - 50cent says:

    I originally started with the envelopes and small shoe box method, but quickly found it too hard to carry around… I then moved to the binder method with the baseball card pages. I get several inserts so I only clip one set of the coupons for the week and file the rest into pocket folder system by date… that way i can carry the binder with me into the store in case i find any deals, but also when i look up the coupons on this site i can easily go to the folder and pull those ones as well. In the back of the binder I keep a plastic folder that holds the weekly store inserts (target, cvs, etc.) so i can quickly access store specific stuff…

  • MJ says:

    I file by insert. But I’m also worried about missing great deals, so I type a quick list of what’s in each insert when I get it. All I enter is the item and the expiration date. I print these lists and keep them in a binder, which I carry with me when I shop. (I use the front pocket of the binder for the coupons I’ve pulled for my shopping trip.) I store my inserts in a 13 pocket file (9 by 12 size), which I leave in the car when I’m shopping. This does two things for me. First, it keeps me from buying things just because there’s a coupon . . . I really have to consider if it’s a good enough deal to go outside for! Second, it allows me to get those great deals when I do find them. I’m a big fan of filing by insert — I could never stand putting all those coupons into little baseball card sleeves! It drove me crazy!

  • Michelle H. says:

    I tried clipping everything and keeping them filed in baseball card holders in a notebook, but it took an unbelievable amount of time I didn’t have.

    Now I clip only the coupons I use regularly and keep them organized in a large check register. When I finish clipping what I know we’ll use I write the date on the front of the supplements and file them in a box by date, newest at the back.

    Before going shopping I make a list of what I know we need, then check your website for any extra deals for that week. You list exactly what supplement to find the coupon in, so this makes it easy.

    Thanks for creating such a great web site!

  • Heidi says:

    I”m a lot less likely to use a coupon if I haven’t clipped it from the insert. I just simply forget about them and find it takes a lot of time to flip through the inserts.

  • maria says:

    I was clipping my coupons but got really overwhelmed. I just keep them whole until I get the advance sales on the net. They I go through and cut once I know which deals I’m going to get.

    We don’t have aldis or any stores like that where I live and no store doubles or triples coupons so basically its either walmart (which I hate to go to) or cvs,walgreens, riteaid. So there is no much food type deals, but when there are, I just clip as needed.

  • Robyn says:

    Two Words: Coupon-Mom!!
    Keep the inserts and use coupon mom’s system. I have yet to miss a deal!

  • Briana says:

    I did the insert method. I used to clip and I found it took too much of my time. Like my new method much better. You have to find what works for you! Don’t be afraid to try something new.

  • Tinna says:

    I’ve tried both; to me they are both time consuming…

  • Jamie Lyn says:

    I’ve recently decided to do a hybrid method…mostly because I’ve gotten behind on my filing and have had to work with whole inserts for a few weeks, even though this was not “the plan”! I use the baseball card pockets and binder for loose coupons–those I’ve printed or been given already cut, individual coupons found in-store, and those coupons I’ve clipped but didn’t use. Since most of my deals come from forums that match coupons to insert dates anyway, it’s pretty simple to go directly to the appropriate insert to get the coupon I want. It’s all in what you’re getting out of it…since I rarely find great deals outside of those which have been listed in the forums (no Kroger here either!), it isn’t worth the extra time to keep clipping a bunch of coupons I’ll never use.

  • Rebecca says:

    Two months ago, I switched from the box to the notebook with baseball card inserts. I LOVE it!! I clip & file while watching a movie. It’s a piece of cake to see expiration dates and to pull coupons for my shopping trips. Once I invested the time to set up the book, I spend far, far less time maintaining the system.

  • Leslie says:

    I love Leann’s suggestion of stacking duplicate coupon pages together to stack and whack, then staple the like coupons together. I am going to add that to my system this Sunday.

    As far as your dilemma regarding switching systems… After looking at the system of filing entire inserts, I wonder how much saving you would forgo at the store by not having the necessary coupons with you when you need them.

    I used to use a small coupon file, but recently began using the Couponizer. Something about having my coupons in “book” form rather than in “file drawer” form seems to make using them easier. I am always surprised at how many coupons I use for unplanned purchases – you know the kind – the item you forgot to put on your list or the special sale you find at the store. I would miss out on these little savings if I didn’t have the coupons with me.

    When I think of using entire coupon inserts, I think of this funny and true story. This happened this last Sunday. (I think I’ll write a story about this on my blog!)

    My friend and her husband went to Wal Mart, along with their 8yr old twin boys. After continually hearing me talk about how much I save, she decided to stop at the convenience store to buy the Sunday paper, take her scissors along for the ride, and clip the coupons she needed while parked in the Wal Mart parking lot before she went in.

    Well, after arriving at WM, dear hubby flung open the truck door, a huge gust of wind wooshed in, and the coupon inserts and everything she had clipped flew right out into the wally world parking lot! Twins, of course, saw this as an opportunity to run in a parking lot chasing flying bits of paper and quickly jumped out of the truck. As they tracked down every wrinkled crinkled page my friend chased them yelling “Stop! You’re going to get hit by a car!”

    In the end she was thrilled to save $6.50 and not lose $1.50 (the cost of the paper). Moral of the story – CLIP YOUR COUPONS AT HOME!!

    Leslie, aka The Menu Maker Mom
    http://menumakermom.blogspot.com

  • Holly in OK says:

    Here’s my 7 step program. Okay, maybe not 7…
    1. I get 4 or 5 papers and cut like pages all at the same time. If they’re slippery and difficult, I’ll do two or three at a time. But either way, I don’t cut every single coupon one at a time.
    2. All the coupons get sorted quickly into Health, Beauty, Household, Pantry, and Frozen/Fridge stacks.
    3. Each stack is then sorted out, but it should be quick b/c I did all 4 or 5 of each like coupon at once.
    4. I put the coupons in my binder with its trading cards page protectors by subject (health, beauty, cereal, pantry, dairy, etc.), but recently I’ve stopped giving every single coupon its own spot. I now put all Bic coupons in the Bic spot (marked with a Sharpie). That helps a lot with the sorting overkill.
    5. When the circulars come from the stores, I sit down with a Sharpie and circle all sales I like, write down the coupons I have next to the circled item, then pull those coupons.
    6. I write down all my deals on a 3×5 card, one card per store, and then I put the card and the corresponding coupons into a section in my accordion coupon file from the Target dollar section. The very front of the file holds CVS cards, register rewards, cash for doing multiple transactions so I don’t hack the rest of the store off by using my check card, etc. It’s basically my wallet for grocery shopping.
    7. I keep my binder in the car for those unexpected (but uncommon) deals since we, too, have no Kroger. Sob sob.

    Wow, it was 7! To each his own, for sure, but I found that keeping the inserts intact was more work in the long run because I was constantly flipping through them, searching for that one coupon I was just sure I had, never to find it again. I’d rather go to the Cereal page, grab all the Post coupons, and then sort through just those for my Raisin Bran coupon. Also, if I have 5 of them, I don’t have to then cut them out of 5 inserts right then and there. I already have my stack, ready to go.
    But that’s just me. Do what works for you!

  • farmee says:

    I use the couponmom.com system and love it. I have saved a lot of time and money looking at the recommended deals for the stores in my area, using the coupon database and having everything laid out in a printable list. I do keep my online coupons or other clipped coupons in envelopes in a plastic box with a lid. They are filed alphabetically BY envelope and then alphabetically IN the envelope. Any store coupons stay in my indiviual envelopes I use for my lists(pre-printed off couponmom. com and added to as I find non-coupon items I need…produce, milk, etc). Time-saving for me.

  • I clip almost all coupons except ones I know I will never use regardless of a sale or freebie, such as cat food or certain medicines etc. I try very hard to eliminate eat junk food, whether it be pop tarts of fruit snacks so I find by not clipping these coupons I am not tempted to get them if they are a good deal. It keeps me from temptation. By doing this I have clipped less coupons.

    I do wish I could find a way to have all those expireds just hop right out of my box. I dread going through them!

    I also use your filng system. I tried the binder and I really didn’t like it. I like the system you have the best.

  • Julie says:

    I clip everything I have a remote chance of using. The ones I know I’ll use and the ones I’d use if I found the item on deep discount stay in a small box that always comes with me. The ones I’d use only if the item was free or almost free stay in a bigger box filed alphabetically. I also use the big box coupons for trades and coupon trains and the neighbors who occasionally ask, “Do you have a coupon for . . . ?”

  • Mary T says:

    I just had pretty much the same conversation with myself on my blog–should I just keep the inserts? I had blogged on my coupon organizer a few months ago when I finished re-doing it in a binder,

    see: http://pokeberrykitchen.blogspot.com/2008/02/my-coupon-binder-organizer.html

    but I found when I get super busy I don’t get them clipped and filed.

    I ended up using just the inserts this week and gosh–I dunno–it really is alot less work, and I did save over 60% on my couponing. Like you, I see that it will only work if I know in advance which insert I need to look in. Since I use Grocery Game I do know which ones to look in, but –what about those ‘impromptu’ sales? Well–like you I’m not really finding many lately, not enough to rate carrying my binder into stores all the time at any rate. I’m thinking I’ll just try the save the inserts method for a little while and see if I like it. Shame to waste that nice binder though–but there must be some good use for it. Nice Blog you have! Mt

  • Monica says:

    I am new to coupons for the most part but believe cutting what you need as you go is the best way. It saves time and it is easier to keep coupons organized if you haven’t cut them yet. I got these ideas and thoughts from Stephanie Nelson who is amazing at reducing grocery expenses. I thought it was funny to come to your site today and see your coupon post as I made a similar post in my blog yesterday as well!
    I enjoy reading your blog very much and have been inspired so much that I have started a blog of my own!

  • Liz says:

    I have three coupon organizers – one for food which comes in handy for the grocery store; one for non-grocery which I use mainly in CVS/Walmart; and one for items that I don’t think I will use but clip anyway (I file these by expiration dates). It seems to work well for me.

  • Merrilee says:

    Crystal,

    You are such a planner and such an organized person that I think your current system works well for you. The potential downside that I see (that doesn’t seem to be a problem for you) is the possible vulnerability of spilling the box and having to pick up all those carefully clipped and filed slips of paper. I just read through the comments and then quickly re-read your post on how to organize your coupons, and my one question is how to keep the expired ones from clogging up the box.

    How do you keep them up to date? Do you find yourself throwing out lots of unused coupons that have expired? More than the number of coupons you actually use? Do you feel you’re spending too much time clipping coupons? (Do you bring a pair of scissors with you when you shop so you can cut it out right then and there?)

    I don’t need to know the answers, by the way–and I know that was more than one question. Perhaps if you’re not using the coupons but mostly filing them until they expire, you could just keep with your current system, but simply “cut back” on what you cut out. Whatever you don’t cut out, give to your daughter to practice her coupon clipping skills. Or if you feel you simply can’t bear the thought, put the unclipped ones in a 3-ring binder with page protectors and a zipper pouch for scissors, and bring it with you but keep it in your car. Mind you, again, you seem to be such a planner that you know what’s on sale before you get in the car to go to the store!

    Best wishes. I’m just getting myself into the coupon habit, and I’m not very organized, so seeing various ways of doing it is helping me decide what works best for me.

    Merrilee

  • Shannon says:

    I clip the coupons I want to keep and file them in alphabetical order in a plastic 3X5 box. Makes me sound like a geek but at least I can find them quickly!

  • Mandy Atkinson says:

    I have tried both and I prefer to just clip them all and keep them in my 2 little coupon files in my purse. I found that keeping them whole was not good for me. I don’t get to shop without kids and it was too much of a hassle for me to carry my file with my whole inserts in it so I never had them with me and I missed out on a lot of deals that way. So my preference is to just continue clipping them all.

  • kukatie says:

    I use an old photo album with the sticky sheets. This is working well for me. I found a cheap skinny one in a thrift shop.

  • Emily says:

    I live in Leavenworth and our Dillons was spared! There are still some stores in Lawrence also and a ton in Topeka. I was able to get 5 free 20 ct. bottles of Advil yesterday that were priced $2.00 with the $2 off mc and 5 large Skintimate shaving creams for .50 cents each because they were $1.50 and I had 5 .55 cent coupons (doubled to a dollar) plus the 5 dollars off my transaction for a total of $2.50!

  • Maddog says:

    I’d go with the second idea. We had the same problem with coupons before we got Momma’s Coupon Management System. It works almost the same way, but came with really simple detailed instructions on how to make the best use of the coupons and the internet resources. They even sent us free coupons for being one of the first to order. Good luck with your new system. You can view that system at http://www.3princessesmomma.com

  • Mary in Ohio says:

    I clip just about all of them that I think we may use and file them in a three ring binder with baseball card holders sorted in categories. I find this way I am more likely to take it with me and actually use them when they are organized this way. Use whatever way works best for you.

  • karen says:

    I use a system of just clipping what I need. I have a padded zippered binder with an accordian on the front (got it at Target for $10). The accordian files hold my CVS receipts, restaurant coupons, misc money saving info. Inside the zippered binder I removed the ring portion and it holds a dozen or so manilla folders, each with one week’s coupons in it, marked with that week. When I read here a coupon I need referenced by a week and which insert, I can flip to that folder and immediately find it. It works VERY well, and I don’t waste the time of clipping all those Qs PLUS the Qs I need are always where they should be as opposed to lost in my “paper products” section. The only extra step I take is clipping the Qs each week from the inserts that I will use no matter what. For example Cheerios or Huggies. I clip those and keep them in a small 3×5 accordian file in my diaper bag so it’s always with me for when I run into those sales or when doing general shopping.

    I’ve been meaning to do a blog on this as many friends have asked how I organize my Qs. I’ll come back and link here when I get the time to post pics with it.

  • karisa says:

    i do not clip all my coupons and it works for me. i take a sharpie and write the date on the coupon inserts and then i file them by month in one of those plastic portable filing boxes that i keep in the trunk of my car. if there was really a good deal, i could always go back out and get it if i needed to. it works for me. let us know what you decide 🙂

  • Karen says:

    I tried not clipping mine and it was a mess. I use the Grocery Game and print out a list each week, but if I wanted something not on the list I had to keep flipping through all the fliers to find coupons for unadvertised deals. It was much easier to clip and file them in my binder.

  • Sarah says:

    I am considering the same thing. Can we print a list of coupons that were in the inserts for that week, put that list in the front of the sheet protector, and then take the binder with us in case we find something we can’t pass up a deal on? I get a paper, plus 2 more from neighbors. The clipping is getting tiresome. I would also probably clip the things that I know for I will use and file them in a smaller purse sized organizer (certain foods we buy,baby coupons, etc)

  • Rachael says:

    I’ve tried both methods and both have their advantages. However, I am in the process of switching back over to keeping whole inserts. This method just saves so much time (time spend clipping, filing, looking for the coupon, removing expired coupons). I do look thru the insert and clip all coupons that I will difenitly use within two weeks and put in my coupon organizer. Those coupons are for items that are always free or really cheap regardless of sale prices.

    Sometimes I do feel that I miss out on 1 or 2 unadvertised deals a month, but I survived. However, I do make a little note on my grocery list about those deals. That way if I have to run to the store for milk or something unexpected I can grab the coupons and still get my deals. It helps that to drive anywhere I have to pass kroger, gaint eagle, walmart and target so they are never out of the way.

    If you are truely worried about missing a deal I would suggest filing complete inserts and the making a quick master sheet of whats in that insert and keeping it with the files in the car. If you find a deal that is truely out of this world, you can see if you have the coupon and quickly find it and use it.

    Hope you find a organizing systemm that works for your growing family!

  • Crystal:

    I was just contemplating a switch over to your method after using a binder for organizing my coupons. I kind of do a hybrid – clip some (when I have the time) and file them in clear sleeves and keep other inserts intact.

    What’s great about this method is that I can flip through the clear pages and see immediately what coupons I have. But it’s hard to cull the expired ones, and my binder has grown to gargantuan size and is pretty unmanageable.

    I guess the lesson in this is that there isn’t a “perfect” coupon system. I really don’t like having to spend time to clip al the coupons from the week’s paper (this does take time), but I think this will work best for me.

    Because my binder is so bulky, I often leave it at home or in the car and I can’t count the number of times I’ve had to pass up on an unexpected deal because I didn’t have it with me.

    If you do decide to switch, I wouldn’t go to the trouble of filing your old coupons in the new system. I’d just slowly transition to the new system; you’ll be able to reduce the number of coupons in your file box as they expire.

  • Julie Crabb says:

    Just a thought on the coupon issue… I’m sending along a link to a coupon organizer that I have… My mom has had one of these for 15 yrs or more. I remember her having it when we lived overseas in the 80s… never really thought much about it until I got married and decided that I wanted to do coupons… would never do it if I didn’t have this organizer…. I’ve tried to do the numbering of coupon inserts, but found I didn’t like it. I think I missed some deals this way. With this organizer, if I want peanut butter,I look up peanut butter and have all my coupons handy… The organizer sits on top of the fridge when I’m home and in the car with me when I leave…the only complaint I have is that its made to fit in the seat when the baby needs to sit… I have also noticed there is a version IV on Amazon… I only have the version II
    http://www.amazon.com/Deluxe-Coupon-Organizer-II-SHIPPING/dp/B000Z3MGJA/ref=sr_1_13?ie=UTF8&s=home-garden&qid=1216903570&sr=8-13

  • Kerry says:

    Another benefit of having them all clipped is the ability to send them off to military families.

    Also, if you are cutting multiple pages at once, it helps to staple them together first. I staple right on the coupon, then they stay together even after clipping and I can easily tear off one if that is all I need.

  • Iva says:

    I’ve been flipflopping around and I suggest that you use whatever will:

    1- Save you the most time.
    2- Save you the most money.
    3- Works best for you.

    It seems that keeping whole fliers and using CM would be a tremendous time saver.

    I have used the individual-clipped-coupons-in-pocket method. I am now using the general-envelope-method. And after this post, I’m SERIOUSLY thinking about switching the flier-in-the-notebook method.

  • Try it. If you don’t like it, you can always go back.

    SOmething taht would drive me batty, after some (but not all) of the coupons in an insert were cut, would be flipping through holey pages trying to find a specific coupon.

  • Julie says:

    I don’t have the gumption to read all of your comments here…

    I’ve joined The Grocery Game and I love their coupon system. You file them by the date the coupon came out and brand. Such as Red Plum 7/13. I love this system! It’s so easy to find the coupon I need without spending the time clipping them all.

  • Rebekah says:

    You know, I used to do it like you are doing it…cutting and filing. I just don’t have time for it anymore with two little ones under 3. So I decided to file inserts by date and clip as I found deals on the internet that I wanted to get. I was upset because I just knew I would be missing great deals not having my q’s with me as I shopped, but I figured it was just a sacrifice I would have to make until my kids were older or my dh was able to keep them while I shopped. After all, it’s difficult to shop with a toddler and a baby and look for deals and match with q’s anyway! But, wouldn’t you know…what I found was that I’m not really missing much. There are seldom any deals that I see in store that I wish I had brought my q’s for. I see most everything online. And if I do see something, I write it down and go back to pick it up on my next outing. What I am about to do though is to start stapling all my inserts together by sheet, clip them, and then refile them by date. It’s way easier for me to find what I want by date rather than alpha. or category, but it’s been pretty time consuming to clip each one that I want every time I see a sale. Much easier to grab a stack that’s already stapled!

  • Renee Nay says:

    Crystal~

    Before I used your system and it was by far so much simplier then the baseball card, pocket type system. Then as I received more inserts I could not keep up with the never ending pile of clipped, semi-clipped insert/coupons and there was a mount rushmore pile that was too overwelming for me. I knew I had a coupon but searching for it was torture.

    So I started filing the inserts. Thank you Lord for showing me such a streamline, and easier way of couponing!!!

    We already had manilla, and hanging folders because we use tons with our business for our office so I just take a hanging folder make a label on my labeler:
    – Red Plum
    – Smartsource
    – P&G
    – Printables

    Then I take the manilla folders and in pencil (important so you can reuse when inserts with coupons expire)I write on top tab:
    7-13-08 the date which is located in very small print on the edge of the insert. Put the insert(s) in there and put that folder in the coresponding outer hanging folder (ex:red plum) Yay!

    Another tip that has worked for our larger family. When time restrains us and we financially are able I keep a mailla folder with all my free food, and cents off coupons in there. Before I always forgot them at home.

    Hope this helps someone!

    Renee
    Mama to four- 14,5,4,and 2 yrs.

    My website:

    http://www.under-the-weeping-willow.blogspot.com

  • Renee says:

    Crystal~

    I used your system and it was by far so much simplier then the baseball card, pocket type system. Then as I received more inserts I could not keep up with the never ending pile of clipped, semi-clipped insert/coupons and there was a mount rushmore pile that was too overwelming for me. I knew I had a coupon but searching for it was torture.

    So I started filing the inserts. Thank you Lord for showing me such a streamline, and easier way of couponing!!!

    We already had manilla, and hanging folders because we use tons with our business for our office so I just take a hanging folder make a label on my labeler:
    – Red Plum
    – Smartsource
    – P&G
    – Printables

    Then I take the manilla folders and in pencil (important so you can reuse when inserts with coupons expire)I write on top tab:
    7-13-08 the date which is located in very small print on the edge of the insert. Put the insert(s) in there and put that folder in the coresponding outer hanging folder (ex:red plum) Yay!

    Another tip that has worked for our larger family. When time restrains us and we financially are able I keep a mailla folder with all my free food, and cents off coupons in there. Before I always forgot them at home.

    Hope this helps someone!

    Renee
    Mama to four- 14,5,4,and 2 yrs.

    My website:

    http://www.under-the-weeping-willow.blogspot.com

  • Delores says:

    I clip all my coupons, and file them into plastic small photo books that I got with my ECBs. I think they are 4X6. I have two: one for food, one for nonfood. I have written on the photo pages, with Crayola Window Markers, the items: toothpaste/mouthwash, toothbrush/floss, cleaning items, baby items, air fresheners, etc. Then, I just clip and insert. As I am looking for the coupons, which I do on Saturdays since I shop on Sundays, I weed out the expired ones. Then, I take the nonfood book in with me in my purse into the pharmacy stores, and the food one with me into the grocery stores. It is somewhat time consuming in the stores, so don’t use this if you are in a rush! But, I clip them all, file them all, can easily transport them all, and can somewhat quickly get to the coupon I might need. Oh, and I get all the ones I *know* I will need in the stores together on Saturday night, and paperclip them to my list for that store. I also list on the shopping list how many coupons, i.e. 2Q’s, for each item (store and manufacturer).

  • TopazTook says:

    I had been using the clip and file coupons in an organizer system — which took way too much time. Then I started using the keep the inserts and file them, dated, in sheet protectors in a three-ring binder and use to match with the deals posted on MoneySavingMom and on The Grocery Gathering at http://becentsable.blogspot.com. That worked great, and still does, for CVS and Walgreens – but my grocery store deals (Cub) are no longer covered. I was just wishing this weekend that someone would do a database of which coupon was where (because I knew I had a sour cream coupon…somewhere in those inserts). I just signed up for CouponMom: thanks! I hope this will save me so much time! I use the circulars, the blog posts, and my coupons to plan my trips ahead of time. I also keep my binder and coupons in a tote bag with me at the store.

  • MamaWag says:

    I do a hybrid. I have been couponing for 25+ years and have tried every system out there. Started with the little accordian folder, moved up to a tupperware container, then the RefundCents coupon organizer, all sorted by type, then I tried sorting alphabetically. These all worked great when I had everything clipped and filed, but the truth is with 6 kids I often don’t have the time or motivation to clip and file, not to mention cull expireds. I often ended up with a pile of inserts or clipped coupons that did me no good. I also tried the baseball card binder system, I also didn’t like this because of the coupons not fitting and folding and filing them took forever. I tried the inserts in a file system, but that didn’t work for me very well, since I often find clearance items so was missing out on deals.

    What I do now is I have a binder and I have baseball and photo (bigger pockets)organizers in the front. This is where I put my clipped coupons. In the front of these I have a page per regular store. (So my meijer coupons, rainchecks etc. My CVS coupons, ECBs etc for each of my regular stores) Behind those are pages sorted by topic of my clipped coupons like those that come in packages and magazines or when there are only a few unexpired coupons left in an inserts.

    Then I have page protectors with each insert in it. So there might be 3 page protectors a week (SS, P&G and RP) BUT HERE’S THE TRICK to make it work…I print out the alphabetical list of coupons in that insert making sure the date and distributor of the insert is on top,(from Refund Cents, if there is a free source for it online I’d love to know, but I think you are a Refund Cents member, right?)and put it in front of each insert in the page protector. I copy and paste the list into word and make the font an 8 so it all fits onto one page. So if I come across an unadvertised special I just flip through my PPs with the alpha lists and find the PP that has the insert with the coupon I need and then I only have to look through that insert to pull the coupon I need. It takes a minute, but probably less time than it used to take me looking through the topic section of my clipped file looking for a coupon. And as I look through the ads ahead of time, it is easy to find the insert the coupon is in.

    I keep the binder in my car all the time. (So even if I’m running in and don’t take it with me I can go out and grab it (or probably more accurately send a kid after it)). I also have a small purse sized accordian folder that I keep my restaurant coupons, HTF frees, freebie coupons, etc in there. Honestly I’m still figuring out what I want to keep in there and what I want to keep in the binder. I’m still working out the fine tuning, but this is working by far the best for me and saves me hours of time!
    Katie
    PS I’ll try to take pics and put them on the web.

  • Sherri says:

    I used to use a 3-ring binder with plastic photo/baseball card inserts, and it was great- lots of room, and easy to see what I had. The main drawback was that it was big and hard to carry with me all the time, especially when we had another baby and I had to carry him as well. If there could have been a shoulder strap, that would have been perfect.

    Now, I just used a small divided file, which is stuffed full. The thing I like best is that it fits in the diaper bag, so I always have my coupons with me- perfect for an unplanned stop, or just reducing the risk of forgetting it on the way out the door.

    I clip all coupons that I would ever consider using, if the price were right. I do save the rest of the inserts, in case I find a deal posted here for something that I don’t normally buy. So, most of the time, I’m prepared for the unexpected find, or I can come back to the store if it is truly amazing.

    Yes, I do have to weed out expired coupons regularly, but that also helps to remind me of what I have in there, in case it’s been a while since I clipped it.

  • Tami says:

    I tried this and didn’t like it because I missed out on lots of deals. My system is a Trapper Keeper notebook with baseball card holders for each coupon. I love it. I take the whole notebook with me and if there are any clearance items or reductions that I didn’t know about while planning my trip, I have them right there in my notebook. It’s also great because it has a place to hold a small notebook, scissors, and pens and pencils.

  • Renee says:

    Sorry about the double post above. For some odd reason I am still having such a hard time with windows. It only displays half of your posts and I try to reload many times. Then I thought I lost my post then here I see I didn’t, and it was posted twice.

    Computers can be frustrating!

    Renee

  • Margery says:

    I only take an envelope with the coupons I plan to use,……BUT….. if I see something marked WAY down that I KNOW I have a coupon for, I buy it, and save the receipt. At Publix, I just bring the receipt and the coupon back next time, and they give me cash!!

  • Laura says:

    I haven’t read all the comments – but I used to clip every coupon and file it. The I started clipping every coupon and filing them by inserts in envelopes. Now, for over a year I’ve just been saving every insert in a file drawer. Each week gets it’s own hanging file. It’s super easy and super fast and I don’t feel like I miss out on any unadvertised deals (I don’t usually browse the grocery store though – I go in, get what’s on my list and leave). I would TOTALLY recommend trying this method – it saved me tons of time!

  • karen says:

    http://lovethemonkeylife.blogspot.com/2008/07/organizing-my-coupons.html

    Here’s the blog I just did on how I organize my coupons. Basically, I do it by week and I do not clip them all individually. I use a padded zippered binder to keep all of my weekly folders collected and file other couponing fliers and such in the outside accordian files.

  • Cher says:

    Ooooo– the suspense is killing me! Which new system will Crystal choose? I started couponing with the accordian file with each insert whole. I also used an accordian file by category. Right now I use a photo box with the photo dividers. Each divider has a category (I keep it very specific), and the last few dividers are Stores, Restaurants, and CVS. This works for me. I take the whole box into CVS or Wal-Mart.

    I can DEFINITELY understand your frustration with the time requirement though. I have wondered the same thing recently; however, I am very fortunate that my husband sits down every Sunday to cut out each coupon. He says it is his contribution to my “frugaling.”

    I’d love to make it more simple for us, BUT I keep doing it this way because we participate in the OVERSEAS COUPON PROGRAM. They recommend that coupon donations be cut out before mailing. Since hubby already cuts them out each week, it makes our contribution much faster. I consider the time part of our charitable donation to military bases overseas… it’s one way I can thank them for their service and sacrifices.

  • Courtney says:

    I didn’t read all of the comments (97!) so I might be duplicating someone here. 🙂

    I started out clipping and got overwhelmed. So now I keep the inserts whole, with the date written on the front. BUT–I also put every coupon in an Excel spreadsheet. I can organize by brand, expiration date, insert, etc. I keep pre-cut coupons (from stores, mailings, etc.) in a coupon box alphabetical by brand.

    The benefit to the Excel spreadsheet is two-fold: if you have the tech-savvy, you can upload it to your PDA and take it with you to the store. If you don’t have the tech-savvy or a PDA, print out your coupon list and take it into the store with you. Keep your coupons in the car and if you find a great deal go out and grab the coupon (since you know you have it AND which insert it’s in!).

    I delete expired coupons from my Excel sheet and I don’t have to worry about going through any except the pre-cut ones. I enter the coupons into the Excel sheet each time I receive an insert or a pre-cut coupon, and I can cut and paste if I have multiple inserts so I know how many of each coupon I have. This has saved me HOURS of time each week! HTH someone! 🙂

  • Melodie says:

    Wow! So many comments already! I use a combination method between what you used to do and what you are thinking of switching to. I clip and file high value coupons, coupons of staple items in our house, and free-w/-rebate coupons. I keep these in a photo album which I have labeled like many folks binder systems. The album is thick (about a hundred pages) but short and fits in my purse.

    The rest of the coupons stay in the inserts and go in a hanging file that I keep in my living room under a coffee table. I have the inserts arranged by month in files, then each month is separated by type of insert: Smart Source, Red Plum, P&G, etc. Then I file each insert by date after writing the date on it in front.

    I rarely miss deals in our area because of not having a coupon with me. I keep a price book and check deals in store, but haven’t really been wowed by any unadvertised specials enough to miss my coupons. I suppose it is possible that in some regions, that could be a possiblility, but I haven’t been disappointed with the system yet.

    I think the most ideal yet would be if I had internet on my cell phone. Then, if I did notice a deal, I could check couponmom.com to see if a coupon is out there for the item, keep the files in my car, and run out to clip the coupon in the rare occasion that it may be worth it.

    With two children under two and one on the way, I just don’t have the energy to be clipping all those coupons and filing them every week otherwise.

    Hope this helps!

  • Libby says:

    Here is a link to the coupon organizer I have (this one I made for my mom): http://scraphappyutah.blogspot.com/2008/06/completed-coupon-organizer.html
    I clip all coupons I think I will use BUT save the rest from the paper/mail/internet in a file…just in case I find a good deal on something I don’t normally buy. Also for the coupons from the paper I write the date on the booklet in sharpie which makes it easy to find later. With this coupon organizer it is small enough to keep in the car or my purse so it’s always with me. I have a planner but I tend to leave it at home and forget to take it. I made this with scraps of scrapbooking paper and leftover cardstock. I already had the binder rings on hand, so really it didn’t cost me a thing and I love using it. It works for my system. If anyone wants to make one, just let me know. Maybe I can post a tutorial on my blog if enough of you find it useful. 🙂

  • Sheila says:

    I just stumbled apon your site and it’s open my eyes to deals that I never even thought about before. Using a coupon on a clearance item? Stacking coupons? ECB’s and RR’s? Wow, I’m feeling a little overwhelmed by the possiblities. 🙂 Thanks

    Anyway, I used to cut all coupons and keep them in a file system, but I found myself buying stuff I never used. So now I cut only the coupons I am going to use and keep them in a small file folder, that’s always in my purse.
    After stumbling apon couponmom.com I started keeping dated inserts in a file folder. But only five weeks worth. I pretty much realized that if I am going to buy an item, I will do it before the five weeks are up.
    And I do use the Coupon Mom Virtual Coupon Database. I love that it’s searchable and printable.
    I just recently started a Price List Database of all the common items I buy from my favorite stores, and I quickly realize that in order for me to make it an effective tool, I will have to go to the Binder System.
    I am going to take advantage of the back to school sales and pick up the items I need.
    I am going to take my cues from KingdomFirst’s system, but I am also going to add the print out of the coupons from the VCD and my Price Sheet.

  • Lynn says:

    I recommend the Couponizer system. I’ve been using it for years now and have saved a ton of money. Plus I’m very organized, and this system works well for me.

  • isaacsjuarez says:

    To Clip or Not to Clip…

    If you’re really organized with your coupons & don’t like having to go through the inserts EVERY time you need a particular coupon then, I don’t think this will be a good fit for you. On one of these sites, someone mentioned that they were so much more happier with this “clip-as-you-go” method because they weren’t “handling” their coupon three times (1.clip; 2.file; 3.use) & thus, saving them more time for other things. But, my question is this…”HOW many times are they handling that same insert EVERY time they need a coupon?”

    My system is pretty much like yours is with the envelopes (just not in a box)- I have them in 2 – 5″x8″/13 pocket expandable files; one for “FOOD” and one for “NON-FOOD”. Each one is broken down into specific catergories, such as:

    Food Catergories… DAIRY; CANNED; BOXED; BAKING; SNACKS; FROZEN = Entrees/Treats; CONDIMENTS; MISC; etc., and…

    Non-Food Catergories… PAPER GOODS; BABY CARE = Diapers/Wipes (Thank God, I don’t have to use this section anymore!); PETS; PERSONAL HYGEINE = Hair/Body/His/Hers; BEAUTY; MEDICATION; CLEANERS = Surface/Laundry/Air Fresheners; MISC; etc.

    Some of these catergories are broken down into SUB-Catergories and some of the SUBs might be broken down if needed.
    Example:
    Non-Food
    Paper Goods
    1.Wraps/Containers
    a.Baggies/Bowls
    b.Foil/Plastic/Wax
    2.Toliet Paper/Wipes
    3.Plates/Cups/Bowls

    It may seem like a lot at first, but it makes it so much easier to find the coupon you need when you’re in the store & come across some of the “clearance” items or unadvertised specials. I always go through the sale ads & match the coupons to the sales/deals (I circle the item & mark on the paper the coupons I’ll be using … ex: Cpn = $1/2 & $1/1 + B1G1) that I plan to use & then put those coupons in an envelope marked for that store.

    Also, I have a section for B1G1 coupons to keep up with those & try to match them up with another coupon to maximize savings.

    Like you, I’m considering changing my system as well. I’m in the process of switching the expandable file for the binder, but still keep my catergory filing system. I think I might like being able to just flip to the page, see the coupon I need and pull it. I don’t think I’ll use only the trading card pages. But, I’ll add some photo insert pages as well. Like the 4×6 inch photo pages (to keep up with the refunds, store receipts/coupons, RRs, & ECBs in their own section) and 3×2-1/2inch photo pages (6 slots per page) for larger coupons.

    I definitely would never go to the “clip-as-you-go” method.
    My reasons:
    1. Too Disorganized (Coupon dates expiring at different times – holding on to inserts for more than a week. How many times will I be searching through this same insert before I’m finished with it?)
    2. Too Messy (Clipped up inserts cluttering up your system.)
    3. Too Time Consuming (Clip today. Clip on Sunday. Clip on Wednesday. Clip next week. Clip next month! QUESTION TO SELF: “Self, Why didn’t you just clip them all at once and be DONE with it?”)

    I usually clip them all (even the ones I will NEVER use) at once & separate them as I go. The ones I don’t want/need/use I put in a big mailing envelope & put to the side for when I “weed” out the expired ones. Then, these are sent to military families to use –they can still use the expired coupons for up to SIX months.

    Okay, I’m done with the miniblog on “to clip or not to clip”. I wish you luck on finding which one works best for you.

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  • You could try it for awhile and see if it works for you. If not, you could always go back to your old system.

    I tried using CouponMom’s method of keeping the coupon flyers whole and just cutting out the ones I need right away, but I ended up going back to cutting and filing them into my coupon files. I discovered that my 4, 7 and 8 yr olds are actually pretty good at cutting out coupons and they love it, so I let them help. It goes by much faster that way and then I just file them. Just something for you to look forward to, in a few years you’ll have some helpers;-)

    Having the coupons already cut and filed actually saves me time during the week when I’m really busy, I just print out my shopping lists, grab my coupons out of the organizer and go. Spending the time to do it all at once on Sunday is just easier for me. Everyone’s different though, so if you think of an easier way for yourself then give it a try!

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