Getting Started: Organizing Coupons

by Katie on August 21, 2008

Now that you have accumulated a nice stash of coupons, you’ll need to determine what system of organization works best for you. There are many different systems available for consumers, but the best system is the one that is most efficient for your lifestyle and personality. Below I’ll outline the most common organizational systems.

If you are just beginning to use coupons, and want a simple system, the envelope system could work well. It is very inexpensive and does not take long to put together. It requires 8-12 blank envelopes and a rubber band. The basic concept entails that the envelopes are labeled according to categories – dairy, frozen goods, personal care items, and so on. Whatever categories you typically hold coupons for would warrant a separate envelope. Certain envelopes can also be designated for specific stores. For instance, all CVS coupons and ECBs could be placed into a CVS specific envelope. Once the coupons are sorted into the appropriate envelopes, slip a rubber band around them, and they are portable enough to stick in your purse or the side pocket of your car to be accessible for the grocery store.

While this is a relatively inexpensive option, there are also certain disadvantages as well. Envelopes are not very sturdy, and tend to tear apart after a short amount of time. It can also be difficult to sort through all of the envelopes while in the middle of a grocery run. Coupons relevant to current sales could easily be missed due to simply overlooking them.

A better take on this idea is the Couponizer, which is a complete coupon sorting and organizing system. This seven piece system, which retails for $19.95, comes with the following components:
  • The Couponizer – an 8″ x 5-1/4″ booklet with 18 grocery coupon pockets, 4 non-grocery coupon pockets, 3 gift card/shopper loyalty sleeves, and shopping pockets
  • Shopping List – a 20 page tear off list pad with cardboard backing
  • The CoupStacker – a pre-sorting mat which is color coded to match the pockets on the Couponizer
  • The CoupTracker – a 15 page spiral bound list pad with cardboard backing
  • “Your Guide to Smart Savings” – an instruction booklet with spending strategies and coupon tips
  • Blunt tip scissors
  • A clear vinyl zippered carrying bag

This system is very compact and an efficient way to not only organize your coupons, but clip and sort them as well. I have a link on the right side of the blog that goes directly to the Couponizer website if you’d like to check out this system.

Another method that tends to be successful entails utilizing either an index card box or a photo storage box. The basic concept is the same for both. Using dividers, coupons can be separated into various categories. The further subdivided these categories are, the more efficient this system will be. For example, if you divide personal care items into a few sections, such as toothpastes/toothbrushes, hair care, make-up, etc. it will be easier to locate the coupons you are looking for once you are in the middle of a grocery store.

The last method takes a bit more time and effort to compile, but it can be efficient, especially if you a very visual person (like me!). The basic premise entails using a binder – either a simple 3-ring binder or a zip-closure binder. Coupons are placed into baseball card sheets. Each baseball card sheet has nine separate pockets on each side, allowing eighteen coupons to fit into one sheet. The coupons can easily be divided by allotting a few sheets per category. In addition, the pockets of the binder can hold weekly ads, corporate coupon policies, scissors, and a calculator.

The advantage to this system is the accessibility of the coupons during a grocery run. If a sale item is found, it is easy to flip the pages of the binder, and find the coupon you are looking for. You are then able to view nine coupons at once, instead of flipping through each coupon one by one. The obvious disadvantage, however, is the size of the binder. While it does fit well into the front section of a shopping cart, it is not always a feasible solution if you have a baby or a toddler riding in that section.

Needless to say, the options for organizing coupons are limitless. There is no right or wrong solution. Whatever system best fits your lifestyle is the system that you are more likely to stick with in the long run. And, after all, that is the purpose of the whole couponing idea!

Do you have a unique couponing system? If so, be sure to share it with us! I’ll be adding more posts to this series in the next few days, discussing the CVS ECB system, Walgreens register rewards, and how to organize a weekly grocery run.

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