One of the biggest questions that we get is how to organize coupons. There are many different ways, but we’re going to show you how we do it and what works best for us!
The simplest way to organize your coupons is to just keep them in file folders, organized by date, and only cut out the coupons when you need them. Then you can toss the inserts out when the last coupon expires.
Cutting coupons from the Sunday inserts is probably one of the most time-consuming tasks when it comes to couponing! (Other than being at the store itself.) In fact, it can be so monotonous that some people even hire other people to cut their coupons for them! We have some ideas, though, that can help make it go a little more quickly.
First, buy a paper cutter. It goes so much more quickly than using scissors. We use a paper cutter we got off of Amazon (a thoughtful birthday present, haha!), and we haven’t had a single problem with it.
Once you have your coupon insert, the quickest way to cut them is to un-collate them. This means to break them down and put the exact same pages on top of each other. Stack all of the first pages of the insert together, then all of the second pages, etc. Some of these pages are folded together like a book (for example, the first and last pages of the insert are together and fold around the inside pages). Simply unfold them and lay them flat.
After you have all of the pages divided up into the correct piles, you’ll need a way to keep them together so that they won’t slide apart while you are cutting them. Otherwise, you risk them slipping and accidentally cutting off a barcode or expiration date! Stapling the pages together is probably one of the most common ways to keep them together. Many people will staple on the coupons themselves, so that when you go shopping, “like” coupons will be together and not get all mixed up with other coupons. (You can also use paper clips if you don’t want to staple the coupons themselves.) Don’t staple the barcodes! It’s best to staple on the picture of the product. Sometimes the coupons rip slightly as you take them off the staple to give to the cashier.
Now you are ready to cut your coupons! We try to leave a little bit of extra space around the coupon, just in case they are slightly off-centered. If you cut of some of the barcode or the expiration date, stores may not be willing to take them.
Your coupons are now ready to be stored!
To store our coupons, we love this 4 inch, 3 ring binder that we found on Amazon. We’ve tried a few other binders, but anything smaller than a 4 inch was just too small. The fact that it zips closed is great, because we can be pretty clumsy. When we drop this, the coupons don’t go flying out everywhere. It also has a shoulder strap so you can carry it on your shoulder instead of having to put it somewhere in the cart.
Inside of our binder, we use baseball card holders to keep the coupons.
We use tab dividers to divide up the sheets of baseball card holders into different categories. We have about 20 different categories (which we’ll get to in a minute). We like these ones because you can always change out the categories if you need to.
Lastly, we like to use a small coupon organizer like this one for the coupons that we know we’re going to use in the store that day. We’ll explain more about that in a minute.
Now, when it comes to organizing coupons, we have found that it works best to sort by category. Some people sort by insert date, but when you’re in the store and find a great deal for a close-out item, you’ll want to be able to quickly check if their is a coupon for that product. We also like to put the categories order of location in the store of the store we shop at the most. This helps us as we move throughout the store.
We shop the most at King Soopers (which is part of the Kroger family of stores; you can see a list here of all of the Kroger stores). Here are the categories we use, in order from front to back. Yours may differ a bit just depending on how and where you shop.
- Hair Care
- Body Care
- Feminine Products
- Medicine/First Aid
- Cooking/Baking (this is very broad, and you may want to break it down further)
- Paper Products
- Food Storage/Trash
- Misc. Household
We have found that teaming up is the best way to get our coupons clipped and organized. One of us cuts while the other puts the coupons in their correct slots and weeds out any that have expired. However, if you’re doing this solo, then as you cut them, put them into piles of the categories. Then once you’re finished, you can just go through quickly to put them in and take out expired coupons.
When you are ready to go shopping (see Couponing 101 for a sample shopping list), pull out the coupons that you are planning on using. This is where your small coupon holder will come into play.
We like to label the tabs in our small coupon holder by store, and then leave four empty slots for each store. Under each store, we put the following labels: “plan to use,” “give to cashier,” “not today,” and “return to binder.” When you get ready to go to the store, put all of the coupons you are going to use in the “plan to use” category. As you put items into your cart, take out the corresponding coupons (and rain checks, if applicable) and put them in the “give to cashier” category. If the store is all sold out and you are going to get a rain check or use them later, put in the “not today” category. Next time you go back to that store, you can put them back in the “plan to use” category. If the sale isn’t what you thought it was (for whatever reason, it happens more than you’d think!), then you can put the coupons in the “return to binder” category.
This helps so much when you get to the register! All you need to do is pull out everything in the “give to cashier” pocket! You’re not frantically thumbing through coupons, trying to find the ones you wanted to use or counting out to make sure you’re using the right ones. This is also where staples and/or paper clips helps as well.
Hopefully this organization will help you as you put together your coupon binder. We wish you the best of luck in your shopping trips!