Knowing how to organize coupons is crucial to saving the most money, and time, at the grocery store. While there are many coupon organizer products on the market ready to buy, making your own coupon organizer will ensure that you have a system that works for you.
How to Organize Coupons
There are many different ideas about how to organize coupons. I started out with a small accordion-style coupon organizer, but I quickly realized what a pain in the neck it was to shuffle through the different sections every time I wanted to pull out a coupon or glance through the coupons I had on hand. I even remember one time when my baby managed to grab hold of my coupon organizer and toss it out of the shopping cart, distributing my coupons across the floor.
I was intrigued when one of my blogging friends show how to organize coupons with a coupon organizer binder. I had never seen or heard of such a system before, but I soon created a similar coupon organizer for myself and found it to be a much easier and more logical way to organize coupons.
In the approximately two years that I’ve been using a coupon organizer binder, I’ve learned a lot about what works and what doesn’t. I invested quite a bit of money in my latest iteration, but it works better than ever.
If you need to make a new coupon organizer, late summer and early fall is the perfect time to do so; you can take advantage of great deals on back-to-school supplies. Here I will walk you through what I have learned over the years about how to organize coupons and I’ll show you how I created my brand new coupon organizer binder.
Start with a durable binder
Skip right over those inexpensive plastic-covered cardboard binders and splurge on something that will hold up. My first binder was pretty to look at, but it wasn’t long before the plastic started ripping at the seams and the whole thing fell apart.
My second binder, from Staples, had a reinforced rubber spine, durable plastic cover, and a clear window into which I could slip a picture my son drew for me. It held up very well, but it still wasn’t perfect.
For my current coupon organizer, I decided to use this pretty fabric-covered Mead Five Star zipper binder. The spine is curved, so it’s comfortable to carry under my arm, and the plastic won’t rip apart.
A zippered binder makes a perfect coupon organizer
I consider myself to be a rather casual couponer, in that I don’t buy stacks of newspapers and I only print coupons if I’m sure I’ll use them. So for me, a 1 to 1 1/2 inch binder works perfectly fine as a coupon organizer.
Essential Coupon Organizer Features
At first I steered away from zippered binders because they seemed too big and fussy, but now I really appreciate the zipper. It keeps my coupons and papers secure just in case I drop my binder, or pick it up the wrong way. No more chasing after flying coupons!
I really like having a zippered compartment on the front of my binder. I plan my shopping trips in advance and like to pull out the coupons I plan to use before I head to the store. The compartment on the front is a perfect spot to keep these coupons, and it’s transparent so I can see what’s inside.
The interior contains an accordion file with three compartments where I like to store a small notebook and any large paper print-outs (like Groupons or other daily deals). There is also another zippered compartment and spots for three writing implements.
Accordion compartments in a coupon organizer are great for larger coupons and grocery lists
Your coupon organizer should have storage for writing tools and extras like scissors and a calculator
Coupon Organizer Accessories
There are a few must-haves that I always carry in my coupon organizer:
Storing writing tools and other must-haves in your coupon organizer will make deal shopping easier.
Pen, Pencil and Highlighter – I use these to write and cross off my lists, or highlight items in the store flyer
Scissors – a small pair is good to have on hand in case you need to clip something in the store. Sometimes I pick up a flyer as I walk into the store and find a coupon or two that I want to use. Other times I have newspaper inserts that I haven’t had time to clip yet.
Calculator – I know, most people have fancy cellphones that do the job just fine, but I tend to forget to charge mine. I also find the calculator on my Blackberry a little inconvenient to use. You can get a basic calculator for $1.00. As an added bonus, it’s a great way to keep young kids occupied–my son thinks it scans barcodes, takes pictures and makes phone calls.
Notebook – I have a stenographers notebook that I use to make grocery lists and meal plans. I like that it’s divided into columns so I can have two separate lists on the same page.
If your binder doesn’t have specific places for the extras, just purchase an inexpensive zipper pocket that attaches to the rings.
Coupon Organizer Pages and Dividers
Many people use baseball card pages for their coupon binders, and really they work just fine. You can find them at office supply stores or at department stores. In my local Walmart they can be found near one of the registers where trading cards are sold.
I decided to take things a little bit further and invest in different types of pages that would streamline the chore of organizing coupons. I grew to hate sorting my coupons in my old coupon organizer because most of them wouldn’t fit into the pockets without folding. That not only took extra time, but I couldn’t see my coupons at a glance.
Coupon organizer pages in different sizes will make sorting coupons quicker and easier
Here’s what I bought this time (with links to Amazon.com, where I ordered mine):
Business card sheets – The horizontal pockets open on top and are just the right size for most coupons
3.5×5 card sheets – These are ideal for slightly larger coupons
Currency sheets – The absolute perfect solution for printable coupons and full-width newspaper insert coupons! The horizontal pockets open at the top and your largest coupons will fit without folding
I purchased one set of each and found all of these sheets were of high quality and are very durable. I distributed the different sheet types between the various sections of my coupon organizer. This was definitely a much pricier solution than regular baseball card sheets, but it is so much more convenient for me that I felt it was a good investment. Besides, the money I spent was recouped in the savings on just one shopping trip.
I also purchased a set of twelve divider tabs, which allowed me more sections and better organization than my previous binder provided. The sections in my coupon organizer roughly mirror the aisles in the grocery store I use most, as well as the order in which I tend to shop.
Don’t feel embarrassed to use your coupon binder!
Back when I started using a coupon organizer binder, I didn’t know anyone else who had one. At first I felt a little bit self-conscious, silly and dorky, but those feelings were quickly erased by numerous compliments from complete strangers who admired my organizational skills.
I soon realized that shopping and saving money had become so much easier with a proper coupon organizer that I didn’t care what people thought, anyway. Now, no doubt thanks to Extreme Couponing, I’m seeing coupon binders all over the place.
There really isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution for how to organize coupons, but I hope I’ve given you a few ideas that will help make couponing easier for you!
Next time you go shopping, make a mental note of your habits, and then decide if any tweaks to your coupon organizer system can streamline the process even more.
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