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:
- 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)
Canned (meat, soup, vegetables, fruit)
Cereal (envelopes for each brand)
Cleaner (all purpose, bathroom, dish detergent, disinfectant, laundry, furniture polish, floor, glass)
Dairy (beverage, cheese, sour cream/cream cheese/butter, snacks, yogurt)
Frozen (beverage, bread, ice cream, meat, snacks, vegetables/fruit/potatoes)
Hygiene (band-aids, deodorant, face, feminine, hair, lotion, medicine/vitamins, shaving, soap)
Jelly, Peanut Butter
Paper Products (facial tissue, cups/plates, toilet tissue, towels/napkins)
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!