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How I Organize My Coupons

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

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

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

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

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

Baby

  • diapers
  • products
  • wipes

Bags

  • containers
  • foil, plastic wrap

And so on.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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149 Comments

  • Jenna says:

    I did coupons this same way for 20 years and then I got talked into the coupon binder. I have been using it now for 2 years I have to say Crystal, that the box is much better. The binder cost me almost $100 to get started and I find I don’t keep it as organized as I did the box because it seem to take more time to get the coupons in those tiny slots and out of those tiny slots so I end up putting all the coupons in front on the binder in envelopes and waiting to be organized and then I really don’t know where all my coupons are. Now all of that being said I use to save on average about $15.00 most at the store when I used the box now I save at least $45.00 so am I really disorganized with the binder or did I learn better skills in the last few years, or are manuf. competing more with the coupons? Everyone has to decide for themselves but I have to say the box is better than the book. I also like the fact that when my kids were younger the baggers use to take and put my coupon box on the top of one of the brown paper bags with my groceries this made it easier for me to get out of the store with four young kids. I have also heard of several woman having the binder stolen, and bad luck for them they also had gift cards in the binder so they lost a ton of money, because in today’s economy people are looking to steal the binders.

    • Chelsea says:

      @Jenna,

      I too started out with the box (mostly because I already had all the supplies on hand) but got lured into trying the binder. It cost me about $20 to get started, and I stayed with it for almost a year even though I hated it, because I wanted to justify my expense! Haha. But recently I went back to the box and am soooo much happier! I too got tired of all the time it took to cut the coupons a certain way so they’d fit, then having to stuff each one in a little slot took for-e-ever. I’m staying with the box. You cut, stuff, and that’s it!

      The main reason I switched to the binder is because I thought I’d have a better view of my coupons while in the store. While you do have a great view, I find that with two toddlers in the cart, I don’t have the time anyway to peruse through my box while in store. Most of the time, I only bring in the coupons I’ve pre-selected anyway because anything more is such a hassle. I do miss a deal here and there, and at times I wish I had my coupon box with me. But its not worth the hassle of controlling the kids while trying to find one single coupon, and if I really want that item I make a mental note for next trip. Usually I forget about it anyway!

  • Elisa says:

    I don’t have a set method yet, but I am trying this out: I usually get about 5 papers (usually pay for them with Register Rewards). I go through the inserts and cut the ones I know I will use or will likely use (I have a paper cutter, which works well) and file those in a little box, categorized like yours is, although not as detailed :). Then I date the inserts and file them by month and also separate the RP and SS. I will put printed coupons in the box as well. If I get to the store and find an unadvertised deal that I don’t have the coupons for, I get it anyway and as long as I get back to the store within a week or so, they will honor the coupon for me with the receipt (Meijer and Kroger — I have really nice ones :). It’s not ideal, so I am thinking of going to an entire box method like you described, but I just don’t enjoy clipping ALL the coupons when I know I won’t use a lot of them.

  • Susan says:

    I use an old “Crown Ministries” envelope system snap-closure expandable binder that’s about the size of a large index card. I have my categories marked, but am limited in how many categories will fit in there. But, being single, I have quite a few less needs to use coupons for.

    When I shop at my particular stores, I plan ahead of time and pull out the coupons I plan to use and put them at the front of my little binder. But, having the rest of my coupons with me, I can always check if I come across a deal in the store. I’ve been couponing now for about a year and so far this seems to be working for me quite well.

  • Dawn says:

    I have to somewhat agree with Jenna, I am fairly new to couponing (about 8 months now) and I have been using the binder for about 5 months now. I dislike very much the tiny baseball card slots, having to fold the coupons to fit, etc. This is awfully time consuming work. So I too end up putting them in the front pockets until I find the time to organize them. I get so behind that I actually just start putting the entire insert in the back pockets with dates on them…what a mess. I never know what I have, etc. I sometimes find coupons after the purchase…while looking for another coupon and just want to kick myself for not figuring out a better way. I’m thinking a trip to the dollar store is happening later on today for a box of envelopes/index cards and a storage box, thats what…maybe $5?!?! Thank you for this post, it was a God send for me since my job has been cut from 40 to 20 hours per week…we need any savings we can get!

    • michelle says:

      dawn,
      i use the binder method and it works well for me. for the coupons that are to big to fit in the baseball card slots i use the photo pages! you can get them with 3 slots in a page or 2 slots. and when i dont have to time to put them all away since i have 5 little ones i keep a folder at teh front of each section so i can put the clipped coupons in their section at least if i dont get the chance to put them away! i hope that helps you some!

  • Nicole Z. says:

    I started using Crystal’s box method about nine months ago. It is awesome! And…I didn’t have to pay anything for the shoe box, index cards and canvas tote bag that I used to make my “kit”. I always include a pen and calculator in my bag as well. I do pull out my coupons ahead of time for each particular store run and place them in this super long coin purse thing that I got on clearance from Target, of course! But, it’s so nice to have all of my other coupons with me and organized in case I find a super-hot unadvertised deal.
    Keep up the great work, Crystal! Your website is both uplifting and helpful to those of us who are frugally-challenged. :0)

  • Julie says:

    I HATE cutting coupons, so I put mine in a 3 ring binder. When I get my insert, I just write the date on the front, & 3 hole punch the whole thing, put it in my binder, & voila! I then clip my coupons that I need when I need them. I was worried about ruining some coupons, but that hasn’t happened yet. I take the whole thing right into the store as I often find deals, and wish I had my coupons along if I don’t. I have http://couponsdealsandmore.com/2010-and-2009-coupon-insert-coupons/ bookmarked in my phone, (along with your page!) and when I want to see if I have a particular coupon, I just pull that up and search for the product. If I have a coupon for it, it will be in that database. This is the best system for me as I am an extremely disorganized person and everything for me has to be easy, easy easy! 🙂

    Thanks!

    • Emily says:

      @Julie,
      You really don’t accidentally punch a hole in any coupons with your 3 hole puncher? I think your system is a GREAT idea, but I’d be so worried I’d put a hole in a good coupon.

  • I use a coupon binder – I blogged about it 1.5 years ago but it’s still basically the same, except I don’t get as many inserts anymore 🙂

    http://paulsbride.blogspot.com/2008/08/coupons.html

  • Elizabeth Horton says:

    I can’t see two of the pictures in this post. Is anyone else having that problem?

  • ksenia says:

    Do you clip ALL the coupons that come in weekly inserts? I find this the absolute worst part about couponing. If I only cut out the ones I think I would use, and then a freebie comes around, I have to look through a stack of half-way cut up inserts (again) and find the coupon of interest. I find that I look through those inserts way too often, which takes way too long. But cutting and organizing EVERY coupon also doesn’t make sense. Any suggestions?

    • Julie says:

      @ksenia,
      I had the same problem…I hated clipping coupons I didn’t end up using, and not being able to find the coupons I wanted that I didn’t clip. My solution, (which I noted above,) is a 3 ring binder where I just 3 hole punch each insert and put it in the binder. I can then take the whole binder to the store and if I find something that’s a good deal but I didn’t already clip the coupon, I can clip the coupon then. I’ve never ruined a coupon, (to this point,) by 3 hole punching my inserts.

      Good luck!

  • stephanie says:

    I used the box method for YEARS. After all the bloggin I read, I decided to try the binder method. I have been using that for about 4 months. HORRIBLE!!! Yes, it is easier to take into the store, but I feel so disorganized. With my box method, I actually used old Diaper wipes containers, which are the perfect size for the coupons, snapped shut, economical, etc. I had 2: groceries & drug stores. I need to find the time, but I’m switching back to the box method. It just isn’t for me.

  • Rose says:

    I am a binder-girl and I love it! I had used a coupon envelope/organizer (actually, I had 2 of them) for years and years, then I graduated to my binder. It took some work to put it together, but it’s awesome now!

    Although I haven’t ever used a box, I can just see my kids bumping it over or dumping it out or it getting spilled somehow and I’d have to start over. That happened more than once with my little organizers. But with my binder, it zips up and the coupons are tightly held in their sleeves – I guess that’s partly why I chose it. Even if it gets knocked off the cart or the kids push it off the shelf, everything doesn’t fall out or get all mixed up. Anywho, that’s my 2 cents worth. But what’s important is to find what works for *you*.

    So… I just wrote a post about my binder method a couple of weeks ago (http://www.adventuresinsavings.com/2010/04/adventures-in-organizing-coupons-my.html) and then I listed my categories (http://www.adventuresinsavings.com/2010/04/my-coupon-categories-i-warn-yousome-of.html).

    • jessica says:

      Me too, i like the binder, but any tips on having it take less time to put together? I have been doing it for about a year. I usually spend one day a week cleaning it out (at nap time), then one day cutting (i put them in envelopes) and done nap time putting them into the binder. As you I am usually three nap times to get this done, which is a ton when you also have to organize your shops etc. Plus Sometime i just have a million things to do during nap and I get behind. Any suggestions would be great 🙂

  • Toni :O) says:

    I use a recipe/index card box and then I created tabs at the top with all my different categories. It’s about a 4×6 size card sized box which fits into my bags fine and also the front of my shopping cart (minus kids). Works great and I’ve been using it for about 17 years or so. When I do my monthly Target shopping, I go through all my coupons against my list, mark my list with a *c* if I have a coupon and then place it in the front of my box. Once I’m at the store, I move all the coupons to my lid and then as I shop, they get put into the front of my box so I have accounted for all my items and coupons for those items. Works wonders and is HIGHLY organized. It was even listed in our local paper when I was featured in our paper back in 2005 for being our local Coupon Queen. Pretty cool and works for me. Good luck to all you fellow couponers…it’s AWESOME to save money! As I always say, “Better in our pockets rather than someone else’s!” :O)

    • Kellie says:

      @Toni :O),
      I also use a 4×6 box with index cards dividing the categories (not quite as detailed as Crystal’s categories, though!). I do the same thing as you – putting the ones I plan on using in the lid or the very back of the box, and then moving them into the front as I put the item in my cart. Very easy and organized – at least it seems to be for me!

    • Patti says:

      @Toni :O), I also use index card boxes – two of them: one for food, one for non-food items. I use catagories that make sense to me (not as detailed as yours, Crystal) and carry these boxes in a tote bag that has a pocket on the side for my scissors, pen,etc. I keep sale flyers, esp. those with coupons for restaurants, etc. in the tote, too. This tote goes with me everywhere so I can always grab it to go shopping. I like your idea of using the envelopes in front for the different stores, Crystal. I usually have mine clipped to my grocery list and they can often disappear. I also cut all coupons and try to share the ones I don’t need.

  • Lynn in MD says:

    Basically, I use the whole insert method.

    My husband bought me a cart from IKEA with wheels.

    The top drawer (no divider) holds all my inserts – labeled by date. The next drawer has dividers in it. I store clipped coupons in there by category. The next drawer down also has dividers – mainly I organize Catalina coupons for the various stores I shop at in those. The bottom drawer is recycling. I empty that when it gets filled up.

    I generally only clip the coupons I need for deals – with the following exceptions.

    I have a smaller coupon organizer that I keep coupons for Target deals in. I also use plastic sandwich bags to keep coupons for Walgreens/RR and individual grocery stores in (for that week’s deals). I also have a small binder for CVS deals & my ECBs. I guess this is sounding quite complicated… but basically I used to clip and organize everything but that got to be too much. So now I just clip what I think I’ll need in the near future and then hang on to the rest of the inserts and then just clip as needed for the weekly deals.

  • Angela says:

    I couponed for years using a regular coupon organizer, but switched to the binder method about a year ago. (I spent about $25 to put my binder together.) I absolutely love it! When I get my coupon inserts, I cut out only what I think I will probably use and organize those coupons in my baseball card slots under my own categories. My inserts then go in a stack so that I can locate a coupon that I might need later. When I am getting ready for a shopping trip, I can easily find the coupons that I need in my binder. I put them together in a ziplock bag with my shopping list. I carry my binder with me and put it on the bottom of the cart just in case. If I find an unadvertised deal, I can quickly turn to that section in my binder and find what I need. The binder method only took me about 2 weeks to get used to, and now I am hooked! One thing that helps me to go faster is to place my coupons in the baseball card holders so that the top sticks out just a bit. I can then grab them quickly. I think some people have difficulties because they try to fold their coupons so neatly that they will fit completely in the slots. My goal is to be able to find a coupon and snatch it out quickly and efficiently. Time is money, too, especially with a large family and numerous responsibilities.

  • Courtney says:

    I’ve tried a few different organizational methods, but the one that has stood the test of time is a plastic envelope-style 10″ x 5 1/2″ accordion file that I found at Walmart for $3. An enormous amount of coupons will fit in it, yet it remains slim enough that I can carry it in my purse.

    I can see the benefits of a coupon box, but I’m not crazy about the idea of lugging a box around the store 🙂

    I don’t save entire inserts and only cut out coupons for products that I know we will use. Once a week, I sort through all my coupons – that way, it’s fresh in my mind which coupons I have, and I can pull out the ones that are getting close to expiration.

  • Stefanie says:

    I work at a hotel so I get many inserts of coupons. (And I have friends that come by at the end of the day on Sundays to get some too 😀 ) I started with the binder, but it got way to big to hold it all. So I switched to a shoe box with those plastic ABC index dividers. I sort all coupons alphabetically by product and keep a spreadsheet of what I have on the computer. It’s easy to update and add to, when I need to go shopping I print off an updated list and keep an eye on things on the list!

  • Wendy says:

    I use the Coupon Magic Organizer and love it!!!! It helps me stay much more organized than anything else I have tried.

  • Laura L says:

    I am a binder baby thru and thru! I LOVE my binder! I hated having to go thru it all any other way. I’d get so frustrated. I use a variety of sizes of pages so I don’t have to fold. I paperclip or staple them together and they stay put great!

    I will say this — I bought a “Case-it” binder. It’s not even 3 months old and falling apart. It’s lost 2 zippers and is fraying on the trim.

  • marney says:

    The wallet-size coupon organizers work for me. Right now my coupons are organized between two of them using pretty much the same catagories that Crystal uses – except instead of BABY I have PETS. 🙂 I’m thinking of expanding to a third organizer though because I’m finding that I need to breakdown some of the catagories. I plan my shopping trip ahead of time and pull out the coupons I will use and put them in a seperate envelope along w/ my shopping list, but the organizers are small enough to fit in my purse so I bring them too. Interesting, but I don’t think I’ve seen anyone using a box or binder on my shopping trips. I do clip coupons but only for the product catagories I will use – I just settle myself in front of the TV and cut away! My only complaint is weeding out the expired ones monthly which I find too tedious…

  • I use a combo method. I clip all the coupons for products that I buy regularly or that I think will want to by because it will be a good deal and I file it in a small expandable file folder that was meant to file checks. I also keep any coupons that come in the mail, and any peelies or blinkies or otherwise “loose” coupons in there. This is what I bring with me to stores in addition to the coupons I have already pulled for my shopping trip. But I also file all of my inserts by date in a large expandable file, so that if I see a deal listed some where I can go back and clip the coupons I need. This is especially useful for deals on products I that I would not normally buy but might turn out to be a money maker because they are free after ECB or RR! And it saves me time because I do not have to clip everything.

    • Emily says:

      @Jenny @ thriftyjenny.com, I do almost exactly the same thing, and it works well for me. My only complaint is that my small coupon organizer that holds the ones I’ve clipped (I keep in my purse) doesn’t have enough dividers. I’ve been meaning to get a new one.

    • Caroline says:

      @Jenny @ thriftyjenny.com, I do a very similar method as well. I’m still using my old small coupon organizer that fits in my purse and is about to fall apart. It holds coupons I’ve printed and cut out from the internet as well as blinkies, etc. My expandable file folder binder is where I put each week’s inserts. I write a list of what’s in the insert, in order so I can find it more quickly. I file all SS together, all RP together and all P&G together so know where to look for specific coupons. When I’m planning my grocery list, I use different websites to find the coupons and cut them while I’m watching tv or something. Coupons for that store go in their own envelope with the grocery list. Works really well when I know I’m going three places and I don’t want to get the coupons mixed up. I still take the big binder into stores with me in case I find a good deal. For the most part I have a good sense of where that coupon might be and since my lists are in order, I can scan them pretty quickly. There’s a little zipper pocket in which I keep a pair of scissors and a pen. I use my phone calculator when I need one. A woman saw me going through the binder at the grocery store last night and commented on how high-tech I seemed. Then she asked if having that helps me remember to use the coupons! I wouldn’t have that if I wasn’t serious about using coupons!

  • Julie Parker says:

    I use a box like this as well and it works just fine. I do have a smaller plastic envelope that I keep in my purse with coupons I plan to use at a certain store, but I also take my box with me just in case I run into unexpected clearance or deals. I do get ashamed of my big box at times, but I get over it and carry on with my shopping.

  • Kelly says:

    I use the same method. I store post-it notes, pen and small scissors. I love it and it keeps me organized. I store each section of coupons by expiration date so filing and removal of old coupons is a snap.

  • Amy says:

    For those who keep their coupons organized by category, how do you stay on top of which ones are about to expire?

  • I use the file folder method. It saves me from clipping each coupon and I can keep the inserts nice and neat. It is easy for me to use a coupon database to search for a specific coupon I am looking for. When I head into a store, I bring a single envelope with my “deals” in it and leave the rest in the car. If I see a fantastic clearance section, I simply return to my car, grab the coupon and I am set. I posted about it here

    http://stylishsavinginthecapitaldistrict.blogspot.com/2010/04/new-to-coupons-series-post-2.html

  • Emily says:

    I actually just blogged about my method yesterday : http://themodernsaver.blogspot.com/2010/05/organizing-your-coupons.html

    I don’t get a ton of inserts so the smaller coupon organizers are still working for me. I have two of them though. I thought I wanted to upgrade to the binder but after reading these comments I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t like it. I think I might switch to Crystal’s box method instead. Sounds like I would like it much better.

  • Kara says:

    I started out sorting my coupons my expiration date. That was a mess. I then went to the accordian file method, that worked until I found a paper that carries the coupon inserts. I have since switched to the binder method. I like it, for me it is very organized, it does take a bit to the coupons in the slots.
    It goes in my car at the beginning of the week and unless I print out a bunch of coupons, it stays there (just in case I have to make a run to the store).
    I have little notebook that I write down my list for the month (I try to go month to month). I will then go through my binder and pull the items that I have coupons for, highlight (I have differen colors for different stores) it and put it in the book.

    ****Heads up: Family Dollar has a new coupon book coming out next Wednesday****

  • Lynette says:

    I use a combination of the binder/whole insert method. I put the whole inserts into sheet protectors in my binder. Then I go to one of the preview sites and print the list of coupons that were in the inserts that day. I put the coupon list at the front of the sheet protector so I can always find what I need. That way I don’t have to clip every coupon but if there is a deal I want to do it doesn’t take to long to find my coupons. I find that in a lot of stores the cell phone reception is weak which makes it take forever to search databases on my phone.

  • Maria says:

    I tried the binder but it took too much time and I never had it updated so I switched to an old check filer I had from when I first began freelancing. The check file is double the size (in length) of the coupon file I had before and works well for me. I can easily fit those coupons I get in the mail that are oversized without folding them and taking up more room than necessary.

  • Leslie says:

    I would love to see a picture of the inside of your box!

  • Melinda M says:

    I have done both the box (first) and the binder (second) and I ended up going back to the box. I pretty much do it as you do. As I cut, I put coupons in front of the envelope in which they belong. Then I file and pull out expired coupons. I leave the flaps so that if the box drops and the lid pops off, I’m less likely to lose my coupons. http://mindymcintx.blogspot.com/2009/10/before-i-start-let-me-say-that-there.html

  • Danielle says:

    I’m getting ready to convert to the binder! Right now, I do an envelope system for the stores I shop at. I keep all the weekly store flyers and their envelopes in a flexible binder that I bought on clearance at Target that has these plastic pages with double pockets. I also have two small accordian organizers that I keep in my purse that houses the coupons I am likely to use. I keep the rest of my inserts whole and binder clipped together for future deals.

    However, I just purchased 100 sheets of 6 pocket 8-1/2 x 11 sleeves (made for 3.5″ floppy disks) for $21 shipped and I plan to use those in combination with the 9 pocket baseball card sheets in a 3-ring binder. I haven’t exactly figured out how it’s going to be organized yet though.

  • AmyLauren says:

    I’m a closet couponer, hehe.

    Basically, I have a desk drawer at work with file folders, so I use those to hold the inserts (I have one folder per month and write the date on my inserts. I usually buy a paper and my parents give me their coupons).

    When I find deals I like, I make a list of what I need, clip those coupons, paper clip it together, and put it in this coupon wallet I got from Dollar Tree for $1. I have a section in that wallet for the stores I go to: Target, CVS, HT, and other sections and sections to keep whatever random coupons I might find and a section for CVS extra care bucks.

    When I go inside the store, I never take all the coupons- just the paper clipped ones. And they’re usually stuffed into my hoodie pocket so I don’t look like a couponer, haha. But I’m only 24, no kids, and I guess maybe I’m a bit self conscious and still want to look ‘cool’ 🙂

  • Kimberly says:

    My method is….YOUR METHOD! Your envelope box saved my life. While I don’t do it exactly how you do, and my box is actually an old baby wipes box, it has completely changed my couponing ways. THANKS!

  • Christina says:

    I have used The Couponizer for about 4.5 years now. It worked well until about a year ago – that’s when I started buying multiple papers. It just doesn’t hold multiple papers’ worth of coupons, and I don’t want to clip them all. So, I clip the ones I know I’ll use (from every copy of the inserts) and I clip one copy of the coupons I think I’ll use. They go in The Couponizer. All the other inserts get marked with the date and filed into a bin like Crystal’s. Except, since I’m filing whole inserts, I have a letter-size hanging-holder bin. I have a hanging folder with each month, and inside that month there is one manilla letter-sized folder labeled with the Sunday date, and the inserts from that Sunday are in that folder.

    When I go shopping, I pull my list and paperclip the coupons that match up with my list. Then I take The Couponizer along for any unadvertised deals.

  • Robbfamily7 says:

    I use the binder method. I really like it. It only cost me about $15. I like that I can see all of the coupons I have at a glance just by turning the page. My kids can’t “accidentally” dump it out. The binder I have has accordian-style storage in the very front which works perfect for storing the inserts if I want to, or holding that weeks store flyers. I also have two clear plastic pencil bags in the front, one for coupons I plan to use, and the other for items I have purchased. That way when I get to the front of the store all of the coupons are in one place. It does have some drawbacks to it. I agree that having to make the coupons fit into the small slots can be a pain and somewhat time consuming, especially if you are a perfectionist. But, that’s the only drawback for me, and I have learned to not be so picky when it comes to making them fit. As long as I can see the price, item and expiration date I don’t worry so much about them being perfectly cut out. Also, I save loads of time cleaning out the expired ones since all I have to do is flip the page and pull. I did use a little bag type coupon organizer before (very similar to the box, only a small bag like that snaps onto the cart) and I found it to be a pain to have to remove each section of coupons everytime I wanted to look for an item or clean them out. And my kids knocked it over more then once, scattering the coupons inside.

    I agree that everyone must find what works for them. If you don’t like one method, try another.

  • Lisa says:

    I find that the small cancelled check accordian file I got at Wal-mart works just fine for me. I have it set up by month so that I don’t let coupons expire before I use them. I have learned pretty quickly that it’s useless to use coupons just because I don’t want to let them expire if the items aren’t something we really need, I’ve learned over time what constitutes a “need” coupon for me and which ones are the “would likes”, this way I am sure to use the needs and if it’s not in the budget that week I’ll leave the would likes ( if they are about to expire) on the store shelf with the item for someone else to use. Each week when my sale flyers come in the mail I go through them carefully and mark all the sale items I want to take advantage of then spend time searching online coupon sites for any coupons that will match up with items I marked in the flyers. When I first started I printed tons of coupons that I didn’t use before expiration. With printer ink being so expensive I quickly decided that was not a good idea, I conserve the paper too, if I only print out one coupon I flip the printed page upside down so I can print another single coupon on the bottom below my previous printed one. Once I have all my flyers and general good deals figured out I make my menu for the week working around some of the sale items I plan to take advantage of if possible. Next I make a list for all the ingredients I need for the menus and then I go through my coupons again in order to take advantage of any items I need for cooking that don’t happen to be on sale. When the Sunday paper comes I cut out ALL the coupons keeping the ones I want in my organizer, the rest I take to church to be placed in small categorized boxes for other saving conscious moms like myself. I make at least two piles of coupons, one for Wal-mart and one for Publix and I bulldog clip them with my list in the front of my organizer, before I push my cart into the register line I make sure that I used all the coupons I intended to. My small coupon organizer goes everywhere with me in case I find a deal I missed or was not advertised.

  • April W says:

    I’m new at this coupon thing but I am getting a hang of it. I use the coupon box method! It works great for me. Also I have a list of every coupon I have in an excel spreadsheet. My area always gets different coupons and I would be so excited about a great deal and then I look and I can’t find that coupon. So in my spreadsheet I know what coupons I have, how much I save, how many I have to buy, and the expiration date and if it at a certain store. All I have to do is use the find command and look for a certain coupon. It has worked great for me so far. I love to save money it so much fun. I use my lunch hour and half to enter my coupons in my excel. I work a full time job so it is possible for everyone to do this.

  • I use a modified whole insert method and keep a small 3×5 size coupon envelope with me divided into the stores I shop and a few other categories. I describe my method here:
    http://aspiritedmind.com/2009/09/new-coupon-strategy/

  • Sylvia says:

    I use a binder & accordion method. After a few different variations, I found a daytimer binder that zipped & had a large front pocket for my accordion file (free w/ my Staples Rewards). Inside, I have vinyl slash folders which allow me to separate out my planned shopping trips (coupons I think I need in the front, store-specific coupons in the back) I also throw in my restaurant coupons in the binder. The accordion file holds all my grocery, baby & household good coupons that are not store specific. Since I only cut the coupons for the things I think I’m going to get & swap with my mom for her inserts, I can carry all my coupons in a rather compact method.

  • Ugh…I’ve tried in all in the past year an a half! I did a post not to long ago about how and what I’ve used in my world of couponing. I ended up clipping out each week items I knew we would regularly purchase or could get for free (found that with experience you learn the sale cycles). I file everything else by week in a file folder bucket. It’s easy to go back in with the dates and insert info to pull anything I need.

  • melanie says:

    I use a very similar method with a little bit different style…
    http://www.dearlydomestic.com/index.php?name=Works4Me&col=0

  • Brandy says:

    I have been through every single coupon organizational method known to man and truth be told there are positives and negatives to all of them.

    I started with the binder but constantly found myself getting behind on clipping coupons to file in the baseball card slots. Plus, I never take all of my coupons in the store with me. I try to simplify my life as much as possible so 1)I’m never looking for unadvertised deals 2)Too stressful to lug things around with 3 small kids in tow 3)I like going in with my list and coupons and knowing exactly what I will be paying.

    Then I switched to a box method a little different from Crystal’s. Instead of categories I labeled the sections A-Z and filed the coupons according to product name. Example: Cheerios would go in the C section, Eggo in the E’s, etc. Again, though, a lot of clipping didn’t get done when it should have.

    So, I then switched to the whole insert method filing by insert name and date. I tore apart the inserts and stacked like pages together and stapled them so that when I needed to clip a coupon I could clip all of the copies I had at once. I would put each insert into its own file folder labeling it with SS 4/13. Then I’d staple a master list of the coupons in that insert to the front of the file folder. (I’d print the list from a site that has the regional newspaper variations and I’d print the one from my newspaper.) The list was helpful because then I could check very quickly (without having the thumb through the insert) to see if I even had that coupon. It also listed expiration dates, so when the last coupon to expire had passed it was easy to just get rid of the whole insert without having to look at individual coupons. Once I clipped the coupons from the insert I just crossed that coupon off the list so I’d know that it wasn’t in there any more. But, alas, I must get bored easily because I’ve switched back to the binder method except this time I ONLY CLIP what I know for a fact I’d buy. I don’t even save coupons for things I’d like to have if it happens to come on sale. I’ve learned that those things rarely do come on sale so it’s not worth my time or space to clip and save them. And when it does happen I just think to myself “too bad, so sad.” Or as my 6 yr. old daughter would say “you get what you get and you don’t pitch a fit.” (get is pronounced git in southern slang…so it rhymes then!) Plus, no matter what I never want to take all of my coupons in the store with me. With all 3 methods I always only took my list and stack of coupons. Hope this helps someone trying to figure out what to do.

  • Karen Rucker says:

    I had the binder for about a year and I liked some aspects and hated others. It took time to organize and keep organized. Also, it was heavy. Lots of extra weight from all the plastic pages. But, it was easy to use once in the store and the coupons didn’t fall out.

    Then I realized that I’d already built up a nice stockpile of the things we regularly used. I didn’t need to shop for as many non-perishables because I had a ton of free ones at home already. I didn’t need to hit every deal. So I streamlined.

    I got two of the small purse sized plastic accordian folders and set one up for drug store items and the other up for grocery store items. I saved the front pocket for coupons I plan to use that week and organized the other pockets by the layout of the store (freezer section, dairy section, coffee aisle, etc.) That way as I walk through the store, I don’t have to search hard for the coupon I need.

    I only clip the coupons for items I regularly use or would like to try. I don’t buy multiple papers and mostly just print internet coupons when I see a matchup between a sale and a coupon. For me, having fewer coupons means I’m more likely to use them because it seems less overwhelming.

  • Tiffany says:

    I use a box and envelopes, too. I find it very easy to find what I’m looking for and if I happen to find something on clearance I can quickly find it in my box (unless my toddler gets a hold of the box in the store and decides to organize it herself -that’s only happened once! LOL)

  • I basically do exactly what Crystal does. I used to use an accordian file but with all the printables, I had too many coupons to fit into it.

    I use a rubbermaid shoe box size box and use cut-down envelopes which I have labeled by category. I keep a pair of scissors, paperclips, post-its, a pen and empty junk mail envelopes in there and it’s my entire grocery shopping list making kit.

    I do not take my box anywhere with me because it’s too unweildy and I’m a Klutz. I’d likely spill the entire thing or forget it at the store!

  • Annaliese says:

    I used to use the binder system 100%, but it is far too time consuming to clip all the coupons & put them in the binder. Plus I was always frustrated with how many coupons I spent time clipping that I never used!

    Now I have a combo method. I have a spreadsheet where I list all the coupons that come out each week- I get multiple copies of different papers, so they don’t always have the same coupons. This way it lets me know what paper the coupon came from, what insert, the product, amount, date it came out & date it expires.

    I clip only the ones I KNOW I will use or a few other high value “would like to use” coupons each week. Those go in my binder. The inserts go into hanging folders in a file cabinet right next to my desk. Then over the weeks I match my spreadsheet with my weekly list.

    Any “extra” coupons I get (printed, mail, peelies, blinkies, etc) also go in my binder.

    Before I go shopping I have a very detailed list with product, price, store coupons, manf. coupons, final price, etc. (I usually write this list on the leftover 3rd or 2/3rd paper left from printing 1-2 coupons per page). This folds over nicely and I put the coupons inside and paperclip the whole thing. I stick all those “store lists” in an envelope that goes in my planner. My binder does go in the car and into stores that I usually find clearance items or unadvertised sales that I’ll need the coupons.

    I’m still in the process of finding what works best for me, but eventually I’ll get there! 🙂

  • Andrea says:

    I use a cooler bag cuz I think it’s lighter. It was an inital desperate attempt to pack my coupons into something (was going to throw them into a plastic bag until I saw the cooler bag on the floor). Worked well for me since then. I call it my ‘ugly’ handbag but no one seems to realised it’s worth a lot of money because of the coupons inside! 🙂 And I use snack bags to sort my coupons. Wanted to head out also for the envelops but I hate paper cuts. So snack bags it was. I pretty chanced on my organising method by accident but now I’m so fast cutting up the coupons and slotting them into my bag and whippng them out in the store.

  • Liz says:

    I bought two coupon organizers from Hannah Coupons. Not to advertise here…but I found that this system works best for me. My first organizer has food items / the second one all non-food items. This helps as I do all the grocery shopping at one store and most of my non-food items at CVS. I sort each section by expiration date. I know it takes some extra time but it makes it easier to see what coupons are expiring that month. I also put all the “good” coupons at the front of each organizer to make sure I use them before they expire. I would only recommend this system for couponers that do not get multiple inserts. If you have lots of coupons, Crystal’s method works best.

  • Kelley says:

    I use an old recipe box as well. I’ve just printed the categories on tabs and stuck them on index cards…..works for me!

  • Chris says:

    Excuse me for being nit-picky, but, is this another series? Or is this part of the 31 days to Cheaper Food Budget? And can we have the next installment of either that or Saving to Buy a Home, soon, please?

    This is a reminder that you promised you’d try to tie up loose ends before starting another ball of yarn, that’s all. I think you forgot. It might have been the coffee 🙂

  • LindaB says:

    I don’t like lugging a box or big binder into a store. I like to be as inconspicious as possible to avoid distractions while I shop. So I do most of my work at home. Before leaving the house I get as organized as possible. I don’t clip my coupons until I see the ads. I clearly mark the date on each insert. Then keep like inserts together (SS RP P&G) by using binder clips. I store the inserts in a portable hanging file holder I found at Walmart for about $8.00. I got hanging files at Staples for about $4.00 (There is storage area on top for scissors, clips, pencils, calculators etc…) I pull the inserts and clip coupons as I need them. Then they go into an accordian file along with my list and file by ‘store’ because I may go to 4-5 stores (Publix, Walgreens, CVS, Walmart, Winn Dixie) in one day to get the best weekly deals. Any loose coupons I have are in a binder filed by category meat/produce/dry grocery/health beauty/snacks sweet/snacks salty/beverage/dairy/paper goods. Use 4×6 top load photo inserts or CD inserts along with baseball card for varied coupon sizes to avoid the frustration of getting them in and out. I leave all this stuff in my trunk with my reusable bags unless I am getting my list together! That way it is in the garage when I need it and with me if I find a bargain
    Hint: If you see a bargain jot it down and what isle it’s on on the back of your store list so you can check for Q’s before leaving the parking lot.

  • Elizabeth says:

    I use the Grocery Game to organize all of my coupon-related shopping, and I use her method. I have a large (letter sized) accordian binder that holds 13 weeks of coupons. Each week I slip that week’s inserts into them. Takes 5 seconds. Then, when it is time to put together my grocery list, I look on the Grocery Game to see what is on sale that week and all the coupons are identified (e.g. RP 4/25). I then search on that week’s sheet for all the RB 4/25, pull out that section, and clip everything out of that insert at once. Takes about 5-10 minutes to construct my list and clip. If I need things that aren’t on the list, she also has a coupon search function, so if I need, say, pasta, I search for it and then it tells me what pasta coupons have been published and where they are. So I never clip a coupon until I am ready to use it. It totally works for me, but these kinds of systems seem to be highly personal, so I say do whatever works for you.

    • shannon says:

      @Elizabeth, Does it cost to use the grocery game. I think I saw her featured on a tv program about a year ago. Coincidentally, that is what started me on my frugal adventures.

  • caroline says:

    I love the binder/baseball card holder method. It is time consuming, but not too bad if you do some every night. I consider it my part time job. I have been saving about $400/month for our family of eight.
    Having many little ones around here I can’t risk a bucket/box getting dumped. And it would.

    I would say the best part about the binder method is having a mental image of all the coupons I own. I can easily match things up on a discount rack or a surprise sale because I have actually seen all these coupons(through the baseball card holders). I also can easily see the exp. dates. I am certain to have them showing either in front or back when I put them in.

    I have accepted that this is going to take work and commitment on my part. The Lord has been so good to us in His provision. The least I can do is put a little effort forth.

  • Julie says:

    I’m with Caroline! I used the box method and when my oldest, 7, would carry it sometimes it would get spilled and we had to redo it all. She felt awful! My kids (8,5,3,2,1) are always helping and wanting to help. So I switched to the binder. I like it alot! I just need to be more organized.

  • Toni says:

    I have tried so many different organizers – finally I found something that worked AND was convenient! I now have the small size (for non food items – easier to take to CVS and what-not) and a mega size (for food products.) I love them! I have even ordered them as gifts to my friends.
    http://cheapomcfrugalpants.blogspot.com/2010/02/tackle-it-tuesday-coupon-organizing.html

  • Rebecca says:

    I have a fairly new method (well to me anyways) for filing coupons. My husband is such a sweetheart, look at what he bought me to file my coupons in. I am not sure what to call it, any ideas? http://tinyurl.com/2facsev

    • Emily says:

      @Rebecca, I do a similar thing, but my thing that holds my whole inserts looks like a big ol black suitcase. Yours that your husband bought you is SOOOOO cute. I love it.

  • I use the binder method. I also keep scissors, a pen and calculator in my binder. I pull the coupons I need before going to the store but carry the binder in with me to the grocery store just in case I find another deal.
    I’m like you and leave the binder in the car when shopping CVS and WAGS. It’s easier to run back to the car than to carry it around with 2 kids. I have a picure of mine in the FAQ’s section but not a seperate post.
    http://www.thecouponchallenge.com/2010/02/getting-started-part-1-faqs.html

  • fairydust says:

    I’m still trying to figure out my optimal method. For years until just recently, I used a little coupon wallet with dividers that I’d seen advertised in one of the many coupon inserts. It worked okay with the pre-printed category tabs for awhile, but then I found myself creating new tabs for the stores I frequent. That worked okay until I accidentally misfiled a coupon then forgot about it and missed a deal in a different store. And eventually, I pretty much destroyed the wallet and the tabs and accumulated enough coupons that I was overflowing into an envelope. That was really annoying 🙂

    So now I’ve bitten the bullet and set up a coupon binder. I don’t dislike it because I’m not used to it enough yet to know how useful it’s going to be. So far, I don’t really like flipping through pages in the stores, even though I tried to set it up to be pretty aisle specific for the grocery where I shop most often. I also find that I still have an envelope that I use for CVS and Rite Aid, keeping what’s in the binder for the grocery store and Walmart. Again, not a perfect system at all. I have a feeling I’ll be tweaking for awhile 🙂

  • Wow that is a great organization method! Right now I am doing the binder method, and it is working ok but not great. I always love to see how other people do it!

  • Janet says:

    I would love to use the box method as you do Crystal. I did this before and if you have time to clip them it’s great. However, since I work part-time and homeschool all five children, I don’t have that time anymore. I nearly quit couponing because I was getting so far behind and having to dig through a lot of inserts each week just to find those coupons I needed.

    So, I started filing them by date in file folders in banker’s boxes nearly a year ago. I got those folders and boxes free on one of those Office Max perks deals you posted! Now, I can get the coupon matchups listed by several kind bloggers for my stores easily and only clip the ones I use. I put online printables, blinkies, catalinas, etc. in a small envelope I keep for each store. I do miss those clearance deal finds, but can look up coupons on one of the data bases if I need a specific one. It’s what works for me!

  • Donna says:

    Too funny, I just started a 3 part post on how I organize mine. I use to use a rubbermaid container like you do, but disaster struck one too many times of the lid falling off….so now a I use a mini toolbox..it has a hinged lid and a handle 🙂 YOu can see it in part one of my 3 part post here
    http://helpfulhomemaker.blogspot.com/2010/05/how-to-organize-coupons-in-pinch-part-1.html

  • Jennifer says:

    I, too, use a box for my coupons. Mine came from e-bay and I really like it. It sits about five inches tall and the lid has a clasp, so I never worry about them falling out. I tried organizing by category, but my brain doesn’t work that way, so they are all alphabetical by brand, I have A-Z tabs, then specific brands I always use behind that (Betty Crocker, Bic, etc). If I have a coupon I don’t have a specific tab for, I just put it behind the letter. I find it works well for me. One tip I found recently that has started saving me a BOATLOAD of time is for multiple inserts, put like pages together and then staple the 4-5 coupons together (not through the barcode) and then you can cut them all out at once instead of cutting each coupon separately!

  • Junnetta says:

    Wow, I think my systems works really well for me. I purchased a make-up bag at Target a clear one ($8.99). Made tabs with Index tabs and Card Stock paper. It has a handle and zips up and has enough room for a pen and calculator. They have smaller sizes available for the begginer ( My friend just bought one of the smaller ones because her coupons just would not fit in the accordian anymore.) This works really well when you have a little helper carry your coupons. Here is a picture of one that looks like mine but I only bought the larger size not the set. Measurements are Length: 8.5 “; Width: 4.25 “; Depth: 6.0 ” http://www.target.com/Contents-Basic-Black-Train-Piece/dp/B002R08YDG/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&searchView=grid3&qid=1273169760&frombrowse=0&fromGsearch=true&node=1038576%7C1287991011&keywords=basics%20case&searchSize=90&id=Contents%20Basic%20Black%20Train%20Piece&searchBinNameList=purchasing_channel%2Csubjectbin%2Ctarget_com_age%2Ctarget_com_gender-bin%2Ctarget_com_character-bin%2Cprice%2Ctarget_com_primary_color-bin%2Ctarget_com_size-bin%2Ctarget_com_brand-bin&searchNodeID=1038576%7C1287991011&searchRank=price&sr=1-2&field_subjectbin=1042004&searchPage=1

  • T says:

    Coupon bag method:(which looks like a medium purse)

    *Put a store flier in childs seat, then your coupon bag on one side, then your envelopes from the purse on the other side. The flier creates a little table that keeps your stuff from slipping through!

    Envelopes for each aisle/sections of grocery store.
    With paper divider in envelope if a subcategory is needed.

    For example:
    Dairy(main envelope)
    -Behind that a slip of paper(divider) marked “yogurt” in that same envelope

    Hope this makes sense! Very similar to the box method Crystal has, but instead of carrying around a box you carry around a medium cloth purse!

  • All you hard-core couponers are going to consider this anathema, but here’s what I do:

    I pretty much only use coupons for when Harris Teeter triples or super-doubles, so except for a choice few items/brands that we always use and need, my coupons are organized by value. Now when it’s triples week, I don’t have to dig through all my coupons to find the ones that work (for some reason, my inserts almost never match up to those posted about online). I also separate out the coupons that are for a single item from those that are for multiple items as the single-item coupons are really worth more.

    The ones that I keep up front are baby items, toothbrush/paste, sour cream, eggs, and a few others.

    I also don’t bother sorting into expiration date order very often – usually just when we have a long trip in the car (or there’s a triples or super-doubles event). I’ve got my sorted coupons in an expandable organizer and the ones that have only been sorted by value in large manilla envelopes. The next time HT super-doubles, I just have to sort the $1-1.99 ones and go from there!

    I also don’t clip items that we definitely will not use (like hair coloring or dog food/treats) unless it’s a free item (I’ve got a free can of dog food to pick up that I can donate to a food bank).

    Do I miss out on lots of free/cheap stuff this way? Absolutely. But I was driving myself nutty trying to keep up with those.

  • I graduated to the coupon binder method 3 years ago. I did the envelope mentod as well, but got tried flipping through coupons trying to find the one I was looking for. I love the binder and everything is very easy for me to find.

  • Audrie says:

    In enter all of my coupons and their information into a spread sheet that has various information on each coupon (If you can type fast it just takes seconds per coupon). Any duplicates don’t need to be entered.

    Then apply a filter to them and you can search by brand name, type, category, exp. date, etc. I use the binder method with this so I can take my coupons every store I go to. You never know when an unexpected price cut will come your way.

  • Jamie says:

    I am using a small binder. I used scrapbook paper and an old organizer I loved figuring if it made me happy I’d use it. Now I know coupons make me happy all by themselves. But I still love my pretty binder… Sometimes just wish it was a little bigger.
    http://iamtotallythatmom.blogspot.com/2010/02/couponing.html

  • Katie says:

    That’s almost exactly like my box! I just use an old diaper wipes container, but the envelopes are exactly the same. Love this method! So much easier than anything else I’ve ever tried.

  • I’ve tried many methods, but what is working for me in this stage of life is Coupon (DIS)Organization! It is possible to be disorganized and still save A LOT of money each week on groceries (I spend an average of $55/week for my family of 6).
    I posted about it here:
    http://momforhim.blogspot.com/2010/02/coupon-disorganization.html

  • trisha says:

    I have a box too. I categorize mine also, even some subcategories (Canned: soup/veggie/etc.). There’s a certain grocery store I go to about once a month to do the vast majority of our shopping and I have them in order by how the aisles are….first is produce aisle, then condiments, juice, jelly and pbj aisle, then soup, mexican, tuna aisle, then canned veggies/fruit, etc. It’s just easier for me to have them in order to the aisles so I’m not going back and forth. I find the other stores typically have the same stuff in their aisles too (baking aisle, pasta aisle). It works really well for me to have them in order like this.

    I do have a section for individual stores so that I can have those coupons for that particular store I’m planning on using ready, then I can just grab that section or take the whole box in.

  • Hmmm… first comment didn’t go through.

    I’m from the save the whole insert camp, but I do cut out many as well.

    Here’s what I do:
    http://gbsavers.blogspot.com/2008/02/coupons.html

  • kelli says:

    I use the Stylin’ Binder!

    http://stylinbinders.blogspot.com/

    With baseball cards and full page inserts.

  • Shawna says:

    I used to cut all the coupons I anticipated using and carried a small coupon organizer into the stores. But then I realized I was missing out on loads of other great deals by discarding the coupons I thought I would never use. Now I keep the entire insert intact and write the date on the front and file it into an accordian type filing system. I never do my weekly grocery shopping without referring to an online store ad/coupon matchup site first. I print out my list and matchup all my coupons to the store ad at home. The particular site I use makes it very easy by matching the item on sale to the all the available coupons for that particular item by giving the the coupon flier(Red Plum, Smart Source, etc.) and date the coupon flyer came out. I cut only the coupons I need, then file the flyer back into place. I then take the list, store ad and all my cut coupons to the store. I’ve found this to be the easiest way for me to really stock up and try out new products that I would have probably thought twice about at rock bottom prices. It has also allowed me pick up free items that I may not use, but can be donated to a charity.

  • claire says:

    I do the same thing you do, only I tuck the envelop flap down into the envelop so its sturdier 🙂

  • Melissa says:

    CAREFUL with that box — I have a few of them, and find that when carrying it, the top sometimes comes off, dropping the box and SPILLING the contents! You’d hate for that to happen and have to re-organize all the coupons.

    Another tip: take a bag clip with you to the store and “clip” an envelope to the cart. When you’re using a coupon, put that coupon into the envelope and replace the clip.

  • jessica says:

    ok i use the binder, yes it is somewhat time consuming but i put it in a cute purse no one know i have it, and have the coupons in the store…i cant tell you how much i have saved this way. I also put the store policies in the back so i have them. I just need to find a way to cut corners, any suggestions?

    I also have a mini according file folder i label with the stores i shop at for store coupons and another for my actual trip.

    I have a big letter sized according file folder for my “other” coupons. I have it labeled with fast foods including pizza, resturants, house, car and retail stores (a few tabs for clothing, toys etc) that i keep in my car. I also put the ads in here.

  • Joy says:

    I’ve tried several methods over the years. Boxes worked for a while, but I accidentally dropped it a couple of times and let me tell you that was a huge mess and it had to be totally re organized.
    I’m currently using the binder method. I know it takes a while to stuff but it really helps me visually to see the coupons and I use and find more that way.
    In my box method I would skip over coupons sometimes because they were stuck to another one or something weird.
    I also alphabetize my binder by product name not by category. Although I do have a separate section for Kraft, Pillsbury, mouth products, medicine and cereal. I also have a separate section for Kroger and Target since those are two store I frequent. Also another good idea is to put your phone # in your binder or box in case you get distracted and leave it at the store. I’ve done that too and gotten a phone call.

  • Joy says:

    Oops here is my link I did no my blog a while back.

    http://joyintheburbs.blogspot.com/2009/04/abcs-of-coupons.html

  • I tried the envelope method and it didn’t work for me. I find it much easier to just put everything in alphabetical order then I can go straight to exactly what I need. I make my list before I go and match my coupons to it (after checking websites for the ones I don’t have). But I also take the ones that I would use if the item were on sale, but not advertised, & nearing expiration. When I print off my grocery list, I also add these coupons to the bottom that I plan on using. That way I don’t have to stand there and go through a bunch of coupons looking for one in particular. Has been working quite well as I have been saving in excess of 40% on each of my grocery orders lately. For me, that is INCREDIBLE!!! I thoroughly enjoy your blog and have learned a lot from your posts.

  • Lauren says:

    Great article! My system is almost identical to yours except that instead of a box I have a 12×11 plastic zipper pouch that has 12 dividers in it. I’ve divided the tabbed dividers up alphabetically. I categorize my coupons in envelopes just like you & stick them behind the appropriate alphabetical tab. I have envelopes for each store I shop at & those are stored in the back of the zipper pouch.

    I used to do the binder method, but got tired of carrying something so big. The size of the zipper pouch is just perfect for me ~ I can toss it into my canvas shopping bag, or just carry it like a clutch under my arm.

    Happy Couponing!

  • Curious what people’s strategies are for purging unused/expired coupons from your binder. Any ideas?

    By the way, I do use coupons as well – definitely an advocate.

    • @The Wise Squirrel,

      For me I go through my binder once a week page by page and pull out any expired coupons. I do this right before I put the new coupons in. I also use ms. A’s coupon organizers so I can see the expiration dates at a quick glance. I’m not sure how it would work easily if you used the baseball card holders. My understanding is you have to fold a lot of coupons with the baseball holders that might make it difficult.

  • I love your box idea. I recently did a post about my system: http://savingsformoms.blogspot.com/2008/07/organizing-your-coupons.html
    I have used cancelled check file type folders in the past, but I now use a binder and I love it. It fits on the top of the grocery cart and I can see everything in a category at once. I live in an area that triples regularly so I use the color dot sticker on the outside of my baseball card insert sleeve to mark the best coupon deal. This helps me float up and down the aisles turning the pages and grabbing what I need, so I get in and out. It also keeps me from pulling coupons out and then having to re-file them.
    I also keep full inserts in a expandable file in the trunk of my car organized in date order. I only clip a coupon if I’m sure I’ll use it. The others I hold on to but keep them in the insert so I can go back and clip it if I need to. I find rarely do I dig one out and it saves me time by not clipping coupons I may never use.

  • CC says:

    I love my whole insert method. I use hanging file folders and organize by insert date.

  • I use the binder method for about a year now. I started with the small files but having to pull everything out to see what’s in there just doesn’t work for me. I love the binder I have everything sorted by categories so I can flip and quickly see if I have a coupon and what it will bring my price too. I don’t use the baseball card holders that is just too much folding and organizing of each little coupon too much. I purchased MS. A’s coupon organizer inserts. Yes I paid for them but its 100% worth every penny. The are flat sheets with 5 strips across to put your coupons behind. Then you don’t have to cut them out perfectly and fold them to fit them in there. I love it. If you want to see pictures got to LivingTheDomesticLife.com and click coupons where to start/what you need to know just below the total. I love that I can get all my coupons in where they go fast! I usually pull out any coupons I plan to use before my shopping trip and put those in a front pouch and if I am not going to use one I put it in another pouch until I get home and can put it where it belongs. I really thing the organizer makes all the difference. My binder zips so I don’t have to worry about it falling over and coupons spilling. That’s one big problem I could see with a box plus I think it would be much bulkier. My binder fits when open across the baby seat in the front of the cart. I just rest it there for easy flipping and keep my list on what ever page I’m on!

  • Carrie says:

    I tried the envelopes first, and am now doing the binder. I can’t keep up!! I am getting multiple inserts, and just can’t stay on top of it! I have a bag full of coupons to be filed / organized, yikes!

    Another thing I have a problem with- how do you fold them so that they show the product / expiration date in the small baseball holder??

    I’m not complaining, I’ve saved SO MUCH! and am greatful! I am willing to do the work, but with a full time job and toddler – I can’t find the time!!

  • cybergal5184 says:

    The box is nice but where do you put those enormous Bed Bath and Beyond coupon.

  • Erika says:

    In Alaska we only get about 1/3 the coupons as the Lower 48 (if we’re lucky), so I tend to do the whole insert method. I only get one paper a week (unless the P&G insert is awesome or there’s a coupon in the paper that I KNOW I will definitely use more than one of), so I just date the inserts and throw them into a box after I clip any coupons for items I KNOW I will use (Pull-Ups coupons, Darigold milk, etc). As I need them to do the weekly deals or to flip through to see if I have a coupon that the Lower 48 got, I just pull them out of the box and look through them as needed.

    I have an accordian style coupon organizer I got free from 4Imprint years ago and I use that to keep coupons that my mom sends me clipped, Catalina coupons, etc. I use the front of the acordian file to hold coupons for products that I would like to try, have rebates attached to them, or are coupons I know I’ll use and then I wait for a sale to match them up with (or use them period in some cases if I can’t find a sale just because I need and/or want the item). I then go through the weekly ads and just take coupons (usually from the front file folder on the coupon organizer) and put the coupons into different “store” envelopes. I then just use the elastic on the outside of the coupon organizer to hold the envelopes down and so everything is in one place. As I get to the store I am currently shopping at, I pull the envelope I need off the front of the organizer and I make sure I also have my list with me as well. This really has seemed to help me keep track the best of what coupons I’m using when. On average I save about 50% of my shopping bill per store I go to when I “coupon shop” so I’d say that the system is indeed working for me :).

    Really, anymore, I use internet printed coupons so much (since we get so few of the printed) and my stockpile is healthy enough that I usually end up shopping at one store and sometimes two, both about five minutes away from where I live. I just replenish my stockpile as I find awesome sales and so forth.

    When I first started out couponing though, I went with the box method for a while and then tried switching to the binder method (which did help me to create a nice stockpile don’t get me wrong). Neither one worked great for me, I have to say…they worked but I didn’t love either system. With two kids under 2 and both of them busy…I quickly learned to streamline. I like my “use coupons on items I need” system I have now and just stick with it :). I’m glad I’ve gotten to the point in using coupons where I’m at the “slow and steady” point and don’t need to hectically run around to all the stores every week. It has reduced a lot of stress in my couponing.

    And I’ve cut my grocery budget by 2/3 with coupons, so I’m definitely going to keep it up.

  • Ellen says:

    I use the box method for food stuffs, and I was using the binder method for toiletries, paper, cleaning & misc (ie lightbulbs, pens, etc). I’m contemplating using a second box for those items since I prefer the box method. The binder just doesn’t seem to work for me. The only thing is…my boxes are big & the thought of lugging around 2 boxes in the store is a little embarrassing.

  • Kelly Hess says:

    I use a similar style but I use a baby wipe container and then I use envelopes for my stores, check out my post:
    http://spendless2savemore.blogspot.com/2010/05/my-coupon-organization-method.html

  • Amanda says:

    I love using my binder. I just find it easiest to carry and use. 🙂

  • Sharee says:

    This article was perfect timing for me. I’m planning on starting into coupon shopping and wondered how to organize all of them. I appreciated the comments about the binder vs box. Thanks!

  • Jill says:

    My friend took a photo album- made tabs for different sections such as cerea;, bread and then on the lines next to the slots where the coupons would go she seperated it out into kellogs, general mills ect. I have tried the binder and have struggled with keeping it organized and having to cut the coupon so neately, I was missing out on good deals. I then tried the box system but the envelopes would never stay up and then I could not find what I was looking for. I think using a photo album is great. My album starts out with a section for CVS, Walgreens, Rite aid and then has a section for freebies and then goes into sections. It is so easy to use. I then have a folder where I put coupons I have printed off the internet. I find I am so much more oganized this way.

  • Lisa says:

    I used the accordian style holder for a while but quickly outgrew it. I recently updated to the binder, which I love. Yes, it is a lot of work to keep it organized but it’s much faster for me to flip through and find exaclty what I need. Here’s the like to my blog post about it!
    http://love2shopandsave.blogspot.com/2010/04/coupon-binder.html

  • I use a combination method. I have a coupon box which I use for printables, coupons from the mail, and tearpad coupons. Then use the whole insert system in a binder. I have a coupon bag that fits my coupon box and the binder in perfectly. If I find a clearance item or unadvertised deal, then I pull up my coupon database on my phone to search for a coupon.
    My Coupon Box
    http://givemeneither.com/my-new-coupon-organizer-a-coupon-box/
    Whole Insert System
    http://givemeneither.com/coupon-organization-coupon-database-unclipped-inserts/

  • Bridget says:

    I use the same method you do, Crystal (maybe that’s because I learned to coupon from your blog! :0)). But I’ve been wondering lately: do you or your readers organize your coupons within the envelopes in any way? Right now I put them in order of expiration date. The advantage is that I can just pull out the expired ones, since they’re right up front. On the other hand, getting my coupons filed every week takes FOREVER! I’m starting to think I’m overdoing it…

  • Sandy Treece says:

    curious, does anyone have a spreadsheet that they use to keep track of what items they have on hand? i am looking for something to track quantities of grocery items and personal care items. Since I am couponing and rebating I am getting disorganized in knowing what and how much of each item I have. Any help would be appreciated.

  • Courtney says:

    my method is pretty simple, I dont cut out any coupons unless I need them for that week. I keep all of my inserts together and label the front of each one the date I recieved it. That way when I need for example a coupon in SS 5/2 then I know to pull out smartsource (SS) May 2 and I flip through until I find the one I needed! It has been working great for me. I cut out all the coupons before and it takes FOREVER and I just dont have the time or patience to do so.

  • Andrea Vaughn says:

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

  • mar says:

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

  • Cathie says:

    This is EXACTLY the same way I do mine!

  • Here’s how I organize mine. I blogged about it too!
    http://www.thefrugalhomeschoolingmom.com/2009/11/couponing-101-how-to-cut-and-organize.html

    My coupon folder is way too stuffed. I may try out your box idea!!!

  • Charity says:

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

  • Charity says:

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

  • jessica says:

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

  • Mae says:

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

  • Mandy says:

    I totally love my binder. Yes, it’s bulkier than my old box system, but I was absolutely sick of sifting through envelopes in the store when I would run across a deal that I hadn’t spotted in my circular when I was planning my shopping trip. Here is how I do things:

    http://mandybking.blogspot.com/2010/01/long-awaited-how-do-you-organize-your.html

    P.S. The 2 inch binders from Staples are a little pricier, but it has held up amazingly!!!

  • Tina says:

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

  • Vanessa says:

    I too am a fan of the box system! I have it pretty well organized now, and it has made shopping so much easier for me, and my savings have been going up. I wrote all about I organize my coupons at http://www.dreambodymom.com/2010/05/01/how-i-organize-my-coupons-simple-box-method/

  • Olivia says:

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

  • Deborah says:

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

  • Kelly says:

    Hi Crystal,

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

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

  • Deborah says:

    Where do you get the cute box. Thanks.

  • Deborah says:

    Where did you get your box. Thanks.

  • This is really inspiring. I’ve been wanting to coupon more for years, but my biggest hurdle has been access to coupons. Any tips for getting coupons to my house?! (we live in Canada)

    Katelynn, hampersandhiccups.com

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