Monday, July 16, 2012

Organizing Your Coupons in a Binder

I've been an active couponer for years, but my coupon system has never been very spectacular.  

I found some photo albums at the Dollar Tree a couple years ago and have been using them to organize my coupons since.  Half the pages are so torn that they don't even hold coupons anymore.

I was missing out on a lot of good deals because I wasn't able to find the coupons I needed because of my horrible organization system.  I decided it was time for something new.

Enter the idea of creating a coupon binder!

I started out with the following items:

TOPS Cardinal XtraValue D-Ring Binder, 3 Inch, Black, (XV632)

I know I have a lot of coupons, so I bought the 100 page pack of baseball card holders.  If you're just starting out at couponing, you might want to buy a smaller pack to make sure this is a system that will work for you.

After all my items arrived from Amazon, I sat down to work on my binder.  It took me an entire Sunday afternoon, so I recommend you set aside a good bit of uninterrupted time.

In the front of the binder, I put all my free coupons.  I want them to be in the very front so that they're the first thing I see when I open up the binder.  With my old system, I would often forget about the free coupons and they would expire.  That was horrible because that's free products that I'm wasting!

After my free coupons, I start with all the other coupons I have.

I sat down and went through my photo album organization system to see what kind of categories I should use.  I came up with the following list:

Frozen Foods
Refrigerated Foods
Box/Canned Foods
Baking Supplies
Air Fresheners/Candles
Paper Products
Facial Care
Soaps/Body Wash
Oral Hygiene
Hair Care Products
Feminine Care Products
Shaving Products
Cold/Allergy Medicine
Pain Relievers
First Air Products
Pet Food
Pet Treats
Cat Litter

I ended up using exactly 4 sets up dividers.

I like the organization system of food items first and then non-food items.  Some people would prefer to go by the aisles in their grocery store, but since I shop at multiple stores, this system doesn't work for me.

Under each category, I then organize the coupon into a pocket by brand.  So for "Dairy", I have pockets that are dedicated to coupons for Silk, Blue Diamond Almond Milk, Kraft Cheese, Sargento Cheese, etc.  That way I can immediately go to that pocket when I need a coupon for a specific brand.  I'm still trying to decide whether I want to label each individual pocket or not.  That might be a change I make in a later version of my binder.

Some coupons don't fit perfectly in the baseball card holders, so they have to be folded.  I make sure to fold them so that I can see the expiration date when glancing through my binder.

After all the coupon categories, I have folders.  Each folder is labeled for a different store I shop at (Publix, CVS/Walgreens, Target, Walmart, Other).  In those folders, I keep the current weekly store ad.  After I make my shopping list for the week, I also keep that and the coupons I'll be using in the folder.  Then, the folder goes with me to the store.

This system has definitely made my couponing life a lot easier and organized.  I can find the coupon I need quickly and I'm able to save more money for our family.

How do you organize your coupons?

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