I love the idea of couponing. Those little bits of paper are like finding free money, provided you can get a good deal on the item. In the past I’ve used various methods of keeping track of my coupons, none which worked perfectly.
- The first method was to clip the coupons and throw them in a file. That didn’t work for obvious reasons.
- The second method was to make a coupon binder, organized by type of product. My first coupon binder had two flaws.
- The first is that it wasn’t a zipper binder. I found out the hard way that when you drop a regular binder full of coupons, coupons fly everywhere.
- The second problem was that I’d get a coupon like “$1 off any L’Oreal product.” The problem is that L’Oreal makes makeup, shampoo, and various other products. So where do I file the coupon?
- The third method that I tried and failed was just keeping the coupons inserts intact, and then using a service like the Grocery Game to tell me where to look for the coupon I needed. The problem with that method is if I saw a great deal while out shopping, I would have no idea where to find the coupon.
So this week I reorganized the coupon binder, using a method I found at A Full Cup. I think I’ve finally found a system that will work well.
My New Coupon Binder
1. Use a Zipper Binder
The first thing to notice about this binder is that it is a zipper binder. If I drop it, the coupons will stay in the binder! Very important when you have kids or are klutzy like me.
2. Have Space for Accessories
On the front of the binder is a pocket big enough to contain a pen, a small calculator, and my scissors. It’s important to keep these items with your binder. The pen and calculator come in handy when shopping, and keeping a special scissors with your binder will ensure the kids don’t run off with your scissors!
3. First Page: A Three Pockets Organizer
The first page of my coupon binder contains three pockets:
- “This Week” – As I make my shopping list each week, I place the coupons I plan on using in the “This Week” pocket.
- “Refile” – As I do my shopping, if an item is out of stock, I put the coupon in the “Refile” section.
- “Checkout” – If I find the item and put it in my basket, I put the coupon in the “Checkout” section.
The “Refile” section is also handy, if you find pull out coupons in the supermarket aisles. Pull a couple (NOT all of them!), and put them in the “Refile” pocket, so you can use them another day.
4. Second Page: Store Loyalty Cards
The second page of my coupon binder contains my store loyalty cards. I hate having to dig through my purse for them. Now I can see them all at a glance.
You can use 9-pocket page protector for baseball cards like the one shown below for both the store loyalty cards and coupon pages (see below). I also have a few 4×6 photo pages in my binder, to hold really big coupons.
5. Coupon Pages from A-Z
My coupon binder is organized in alphabetical order by manufacturer. Remember my problem with the L’Oreal coupons? I now have a page dedicated to L’Oreal. If I find a sale on L’Oreal products, whether it be hair, makeup, or something else, I know where to look for the coupon. In the “L” section.
6. The Back Pocket
Finally, I have a pocket in the back of my binder to hold current ads. I always like to reference ads when I’m shopping, to make sure I’m buying the right sized items.
You really can save a lot of money by using coupons, but you have to be organized to get the most bang for your buck. If I know exactly how my coupons are organized, and I take my coupon binder wherever I go, I will always be prepared for the unexpected clearance sale that will result in getting something I need for free!
Do you use coupons? How do you organize them?
Photos from Amazon.com
Question? Where did you purchase your binder? What brand is it? I’m looking for one and would love to know where to get one. Thanks.
I’m not sure what brand it is, but I got it at Walmart.
I love this! Thank you! I never would’ve thought to organize my store loyalty cards this way. One question though… Does it bother you that it is so large? The one thing I like about my not-so-organized accordion file is that I can toss it in my purse.
So thrilled to see others using the method I created to organize coupons back in 90’s and shared using the username of LWMSAVON on Mycoupons.com! I hope you enjoy the method and save oodles of money.
Thanks for coming up with the method! I found out about it on afullcup.com, and it’s been working well for me for over a year now! It really is effective!
I used to post at A full cup. My binder post used to be up there but I think the new owners removed it. I now post at http://www.weusecoupons.com/ under the username of Foggy. Come check the site out if you get a chance.
You are so gracious! That’s why I love ya! Thanks for this great post. Glad to have found it. You have perfected the coupon notebook for 2010.
Walmart currently has zip up binders on sale for $3.00 with one “pocket”. If you go down the aisle where the scissors are, they have a zip up pouch that goes into the 3 rings perfectly along with $0.97 scissors. Just purchased mine today!! :) They do have zip up binders with pockets but its $8.00. I wasn’t willing to pay that much to have pockets. :)
Good tips! Organization is key when it comes to maximizing coupons . . .
Listening to your Frugal Kitchen Tips podcast. Here’s one I do: I buy the extra-large container of plain lowfat yogurt and a jar of jam and mix them in a cup-sized plastic container. About a tbsp of jam. I buy the low sugar jam because I try to limit sugar for my husband and myself. The low sugar also has no high fructose corn syrup, which I try to avoid as it unhealthy. So that makes it a little less frugal, but more healthy.
Lynnae, that comment was directed at Meg, not you. you ROCK!
Anonymous, I didn’t mean to imply that the way others are doing things is wrong, now was I being judgemental of those who use coupons. I was just answering the question “Do you use coupons?” and explaining why. Like I said, I have nothing against coupons per se. I can see how they help others and I think that’s great. But based on my shopping habits, location, etc., they just aren’t a big part of my shopping experience. Now, why is that a problem?
I have a coupon binder. I have it set up as categories and I use photo sheets.
I will say that I’ve modified how I clip my coupons. I used to just clip all the coupons there were to clip and either use them to buy stuff I didn’t need or let them expire. I’ve since only clipped the coupons I’m really sure I’ll use – or get around to using. It works a lot better for me.
I’ll be sure to check out Cup and see if I can glean anything else from the ladies (and gents) over there :)
OK. There have been lots of questions as to what kind of binder I have. Mine is a 2″ regular school binder that I picked up at Walmart, so it should be fairly easy to find.
And here’s the link (I hope) to the thread at A Full Cup on coupon binders. I kind of used a bit of advice from everyone and added my own ideas as well. If the link doesn’t work, you may have to be registered at A Full Cup first. It’s free. Coupon Binders at A Full Cup
I LOVE your coupon binder. I have so many coupons in mine I can barely zip it. Of course I haven’t been through it since the end of the month. I think I need two binders now. Good Luck!
This is great. I have been starting to collect coupons but as you said the file folder really doesn’t work. I think I can invest a few dollars to save many more in the future. Thanks for the post.
I love the binder idea… except for alphabetizing. I generally only remember coupons by category, not by specific name. So, my coupon holder is set up by categories.
It’s actually a belated Christmas present from my mom. She found a zip-up bag, probably at a thrift store. She typed up some categories and taped them on to some manila cards that had tabs. Voila!
Eventually, though, I may have to expand to a binder. It would make things easier, since it’s sometimes hard to rummage around inside a zipper-bag.
I’ve got a coupon organizer that I got from my cousin’s grandmother – so it is pretty old, but sturdy. It’s an accordion fold style, and I pretty much stick to the pre-labeled sections. It’s just small enough that I can keep it in my purse all the time, but big enough to hold all my coupons (although, some of the longer ones get folded in half). I am starting to think that I am going to need a seperate one for “drug” items, because I have more coupons in that category than all the others put together!
I would love the link to the Full Cup binder info. I can’t seem to find it? Help! Love your binder and I would love to “copy” you! I even love the color! Thanks for such a great blog.
I really like this! How big is your binder, it was a little hard to tell. Is it full-sized?
The first page of your coupon binder is a great idea! I use the same concept, but I don’t have neat little pockets to put them in.
My coupon binder is not zipped (and I need a zipped one) and it is arranged by type of product, not alphabetical by manufacturer. And I use big pockets instead of the 9 pocket sheets. I find those are too small to fit my coupons in.
Wow, I guess the rest of us are doing everything wrong…….
@Anyonymous – I totally didn’t mean the post to come off as everyone who doesn’t organize their coupons this way is doing something wrong! This is what works for me. If you have a different system that works for you, keep using it!
Where did you get the organizer itself? did you make it?
Wow! Would you come to my house and set this up? I struggle all the time with my coupons and this is really great – thanks for the inspiration. What would you like for dinner when you come to do this? :-)
Your binder makes me a bit jealous! I recently switched to a binder system and love it, but your little extras are a great idea. Love the pockets and the page for your loyalty cards. I found business card pages at my office supply store, but they are a little small for some coupons. Baseball card pages would be better. I’ll keep an eye out for those. Thanks for sharing!
I have avoided using coupons much because I normally loss most of them through disorganization. Hopefully now I might start organizing more…and saving more. :)
I don’t have anything against coupons, but I rarely use them. Here’s why:
1. Coupons only help you when you’re buying stuff and I don’t buy a lot of stuff. I don’t use moisturizer/lotion, or fabric softener, or need a lot of office or cleaning supplies. Cleaning supplies for me are mostly old socks or microfiber clothes, baking soda, and vinegar.
2. Most items I do buy don’t come with coupons: fresh produce from local farms, generic items, and items from bulk bins.
3. I’m rather picky about a lot of things I use, even if I’m not picky about the brand per se. For example, I could get all the toothpaste and deodorant I wanted for free or near to it, but I really like using tooth powder and crystal deodorant. Those things might have coupons every now and then, but I’m not too worried since they last so long (the crystal deodorant might last me years by the looks of it — so I’m not stockpiling it!).
4. The stores I go to don’t double coupons and rarely have sales. I may drop by Sam’s for some fresh berries and POM cheap-as-we-can-stand toilet paper, but for the most part I stay away from big chain stores like Target, Walmart, etc. and most of my shopping is at a locally-owned grocery store. On the plus side, they have great quality food at great prices.
5. I don’t get a lot of coupons. I don’t get the paper because I think it’s a waste of paper and my money when I can get the news online (though I understand how some people enjoy reading the paper in print). The stores I go to don’t really have store coupons or circulars. Plus, I’ve also been trying very hard to get less junk mail, including coupons from companies like ValPak.
6. I don’t need the extra temptation to shop (and let’s remember why companies distribute coupons in the first place!). So, I’m not going out of my way to look for coupons for things that I’m not going to buy.
Of course, if a coupon for something I do buy lands in my lap, I’ll use it. And I am a big fan of sites like RetailMeNot.com for online purchases.
you sound very happy that you don’t use coupons, but why waste your time telling us you don’t, you must have lots of time to your hands. GOod luck on your shopping experiences…
@Laura – totally agree with you!
Wow … you’re my hero. :) I have a coupon organizer, but it’s a frustrating little thing. I’m frequently fumbling and having a difficult time keeping things sorted and together. I LOVE this binder. Thanks so much for sharing.
Oh, I like your system! Thanks for sharing it!