Organizing Your Coupons
To start off, check out my post on Gathering Coupons. This will help you build your coupon stash so you actually have something to organize.
Now, on to becoming a coupon organizing professional! Or at least look like one..
STEP #1: TO CLIP OR NOT TO CLIP?
There are two ways to keep your coupon inserts, completely clipped or intact as full inserts. I’m sure there are some gray areas in the middle, but I will talk about these two to keep it clear.
Clip your coupons. Every. Single. One. This method definitely takes more time in the beginning, but then you are done. Organize by categories (I will talk about that later), so all you have to do when planning for a sale is sit down with your box/binder of coupons and sort quickly for what you want. You time in the beginning pays off in the end.
The second method is to keep your inserts intact and filed by date and type of insert. When you are planning your shopping trip (using one of my handy weekly store match ups), find the coupon, insert and date that you need and clip.
I used to clip every single coupon, but after our second child was born, this definitely took a seat on the back burner. I now file my inserts by month which takes far less time.
If you’re not sure what will work for you, ask others you know who coupon. Or try both methods for a week or so, see what seems to suit your lifestyle the best. Hard to know until you try!
STEP #2: ORGANIZE THOSE COUPONS!
Method #1: File your coupons in an accordion file. I did this when first starting out until it was completely busting at the seams! I loved having it with me at all times, I carried it in my purse so there was no chance of leaving it at home or forgetting it in the car. This is a great way to get started and figure out what categories work for you. You can find these accordion files at office supply stores or basically anywhere (I found some in the dollar section at Target!).
Method #2: File your coupons in a coupon binder. Check out Hip 2 Save’s video here for some great information on how she organizes her binder.
Method #3: File your inserts intact. I file all my inserts by month (Smartsource, Redplum, P&G). Some people separate their folders even further by week or just by insert type. Do what works for you.
My best friend made me the most amazing “coupon box”. It is an adorable recipe box from Martha Stewart (who I have idolized ever since I was planning my wedding). I keep all my printables, home mailer coupons, blinkies, tearpad coupons or other miscellaneous “non-insert” coupons in these boxes.
Here are my categories (in no order whatsoever):
Over time, I have found these are what work for me. I weeded out a few that I just didn’t use and added some that I felt would make searching a little faster. I used to just have one overall “Bath” category, but it took me years to search for a coupon, so I split it up as it shows above. Now when I am looking for a razor coupon, I only have to go through a few and I don’t get frustrated if I can’t find what I am looking for.
Last but not least, when I plan my shopping trips for the week, I separate each group of coupons that I am going to use by store and carry them in this fabulous little 3-pocket envelope that my best friend gave me. This way, I can carry the most important coupons in my purse and have everything organized at my fingertips. You don’t have to have anything fancy, even an old credit card envelope will do. This will seriously save your sanity!
There is a TON of information in this post and I hope some of my ideas (or ideas from other blogs) have helped. If you are going to be a serious couponer, you have to have some kind of organizational system, otherwise you might lose your mind.