One of the most confusing things for those new at couponing is figuring out what to do with all of the coupons you clip. It is not very efficient to leave them all jumbled in a box or a Ziploc bag, because it is hard to find what you want. One of the most popular ways of organizing your coupons is to keep them in a binder.
When I first decided to make a coupon binder, I looked all of my coupons in a pile, then at my newly purchased zipper binder, and then back to my coupons…I had no idea where to start. If you have done this head swivel or are about to do it, read on. Here I will outline step by step how to get those coupons off of the floor, out of the bag, and into a neatly organized binder.
1. The first thing you need to do is choose a binder. I suggest a zipper one, so that when your binder gets picked up upside down by your toddler (or even you) you don’t lose all of your coupons. Amazon sells some great binders at great prices, I ordered mine from there. My favorite is a pink (everything I own has to be pink!) 5 star zipper binder. It arrived quickly and didn’t break the bank.
2. Next, you need inserts. I suggest getting mostly baseball card holders, at least 2 or maybe 3 packs, where there are 9 pockets per page. A pack each of the six pocket holders and one of the 3 slot currency holders should do you just fine. These can be ordered on Amazon as well, and you can often find them in a variety pack with some of each kind. Also, get tab dividers. This will making finding things in your binder much easier when you are in a store and find a great clearance deal.
3. So now you have your pretty zipper binder, and your clear inserts. Gather some masking tape, a permanent marker, and some scissors and you are ready to go.
4. Now, comes the hard part. You have to somehow sort that humongous stack of coupons. Or, if you are lucky and decided to organize before too long, your stack is not that large. If you stack is large, red on. If it is small, you can probably skip the next few steps and begin sorting as you fill your notebook.
For Large Stacks of Coupons to be Sorted
1. The easiest way to sort your coupons into manageable categories is to think about how most stores are laid out. The baking items are usually all in one isle. Dry foods like pasta and soup are often in an isle together. Ethnic food has its own section. You have to choose categories that make sense to you, but here are the ones I used to get you going:
b. Baking items including cooking oil
c. Dry foods: pasta, peanut butter, boxed dinners, ethnic foods, anything dry that did not go into another category.
d. Canned foods. Soup, canned fruits and veggies, canned meats (including tuna pouches)
e. Drinks. Juice boxes, soda, coffee, energy drinks, if it was a drink it went here.
f. Breakfast foods. This included fruit snacks and granola bars since they are in the same isle.
g. Refrigerated foods. Butter, sour cream, lunchables, anything cold but not frozen
h. Frozen foods. Like above, but frozen.
i. Cleaning products
k. Teeth products
l. Hair products
m. Body soap/shaving
o. Feminine hygiene
2. As you can see, this is a long list. But if you can do this, filling your book will be much, much easier. If you need to do this over multiple sessions, use paperclips or envelopes to keep your categories organized.
Now that you either have your coupons sorted or just a small pile in front of you, whip out those items I listed above: Your binder, tape, scissors, inserts, and a marker. As you are deciding the layout of your binder you can consider a few things: What are the layouts of the store you shop at the most? If you only shop a few stores, this will work for you. If you shop at many stores, you might want to organize your binder into common categories. For instance, breakfast is usually in the same isle. Shampoo, deodorant, and toothpaste are usually in the same part of the store. If you start with the dry foods, move into refrigerated and then frozen, you have a good flow going. You then can organize your detergents, cleaning supplies, and such together. Put personal care in another section and you have covered nearly all of it.
1. Take your masking tape and run it in strips along the bottom of each row. This way, you can write what is in each pouch, but as your binder changes and grows you can just remove the tape and put new tape down instead of throwing the whole sheet away.
2. Pick up your first category. Condiments are a good place to start because they are usually at one end of a store. Sort your little pile of condiments and choose how many pockets you will need to separate them into reasonable smaller categories. You can stick Mayo and mustard together, pickles and relish in another, salad dressing in another - maybe two - slots. Write the categories on the tape, fill the slots, and move on to the next stack of coupons.
3. Use your tab dividers to separate larger categories to make things easy to find.
The best thing about using a binder is that if you decide later that your organization is not right, you can move them around as much as you need. I will take a few hours to complete this, maybe even more if you have toddlers hanging on your legs wanting lunch, but once you are done you will have an easier time of couponing! Just don’t forget to file your new coupons each week, if you get too far behind you risk having to go through this all over again. Also, at the beginning of each month go through your binder and take out expired coupons. Don’t throw them away though! They can be donated to military overseas that can use them for up to six months past the expiration date!
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Peggy on October 11, 2016:
I put a stiff piece of paper in each plastic pocket...then you can use both sides of page... doubles your filing space.
Jamie on August 04, 2015:
Run tape along what bottom of where????
Colleen Fowler (author) from Mildenhall, England on May 10, 2012:
I agree with you TToombs08, getting everything organized is by far the most difficult! The second being staying organized. I too was shocked at the pre-made binders cost; I briefly considered this until I looked at the price tag and said, "I can do this myself much cheaper!"
Terrye Toombs from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map. on May 10, 2012:
For me, trying to figure out how to organize my coupons was THE hardest part of getting started. I was shocked at how much some of the professional couponers were charging for their "just add coupons" binders. I wish I had read this before I made my own, it would have been SO much easier. Fantastic hub, very easy to follow and oh so helpful! Voting up!