Mar 11, 2009

How I Organize My Coupons


“How do you organize your coupons?” I get that question pretty often, so I wanted to share with you guys, step-by-step, what I do with my coupons when I get new coupon inserts or printable coupons.

There are many GREAT ways to organize your coupons, but this is the method that works for me.

1) I lay out all of my inserts from the previous week.

2) I open up all of the inserts to the center (or somewhere around the center)

3) I take the pages that are the same, put them together, and staple ALL of the coupons. Then I lay these pages to the side (so that I’m doing all my stapling at one time and all my cutting at one time).

4) I cut out the coupons that I think I would use. For me, I ask myself, “If I could get this item for free with this coupon, would I?” If the answer is “yes” then I cut out the coupon. I find that there are several items each week that I would not get even if they were free.

5) I then file all of the coupons that I have cut out in my 3-ring coupon binder alphabetically. I know that many couponers file their coupons by category, but my brain doesn’t work like that. I forget which category I put them in or I wonder if I should put it in “hygiene” or “paper products.” I bought a couple of packages of plastic baseball card holders (found at Walmart) to put my coupons in and I love using them!

6) The rest of the pages from the inserts that have coupons that I stapled but didn’t cut out, I file by date. So all of the coupons that I didn’t put in my coupon binder from the March 8th paper will go in the folder “3/8/09.” Why do I do this? There are all kinds of things that you can do with coupons you don’t want. You can trade them at places like Hot Coupon World for coupons that you actually want, you can sell them on Ebay, and you can donate them to military families stationed overseas to use in the Military Commissaries (even expired coupons within 3 months!) Also, there are times that an item that you wouldn’t buy (even if it was free) ends up being a money-maker at CVS or Walgreens.

7) For printable coupons, I try to print out the ones that I think I would use as soon as I see them, punch holes in it with a 3-hole puncher, and file it alphabetically behind the newspaper insert coupons in my 3-ring coupon binder.

There are several other coupon organization options too…

::  Just filing the WHOLE coupons by insert date in file folders.  Then when you see the coupon matchups you can only clip the coupons that you need.

::  Filing the coupons in envelopes or in a binder by category.  LOTS of couponers love this method.  It really just depends on if your brain works better with categories or with alphabetically.

::  Using a coupon filing system like The Couponizer

How do you guys organize your coupons? I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments section!!

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  1. Carissa Stinson says:

    I was doing the first part, stapling all the same ones together. But then I would have to flip thru my whole stack to see which ones I wanted to use. So I think I will go with the notebook, which I tried once before but not the same way as you show. Thanks for sharing this.

  2. This is very helpful, thanks! I just use the accordion style folder by category, but it’s hard to sift thru it all the time. I like the binder idea better.

  3. My Ebay Adventure says:

    Hi Thanks for sharing, I like your idea you use. I may just give that a try 🙂

  4. thanks for sharing your great ideas.

  5. brooke lynn says:

    great ideas! thanks for sharing!!

  6. How do you get multiple coupon inserts of the same kind? Do you buy multiple newspapers? Is there a way to get the inserts only?

  7. I combine it both. I use a 3 inch notebook with baseball card holds for tearpads or coupons I clipped and did not use all of them. When I receive the inserts, I place them into sheet protector staple together filed in the back of my notebook. I keep the last month in there. I have noticed that is where most coupons come from. I place the ones older than month in a file cabinet by date stored in the back of my car. This way I dont have to cut a coupon out till I need it and if I come across a clearance then I can check my list I print weekly from coupon mom to see if I have a coupon. This system works good for me because I work full time and go school part time and I am single mother of 3. Yes, I still have time for couponing but not to cut out and file system. I have tired Love It but I dont have 2 hours a week to do that since I do most of my shopping on the weekends need as much time as possible for the deals.

  8. Great Post! Do you mind if I link back to your post? I would love to share this with my readers.

  9. Rachel @ Surviving The Stores says:


    Not at all! Please feel free to link back anytime! 🙂

  10. Anonymous says:

    hi, i have a different technique, since the binder was getting too much for me, i now “study” the upcoming week’s deal, and gather the coupons needed, and arrange them store wise in a business card roledex (from office depot)..just like a baseball card binder but smaller so it fits in my purse, the big binder is always in my car, in case i need it.

  11. Hi Rachel – Do you organize the coupons by the brand name or by what you normally call it? For example, this week at my grocery store Ball Park Franks are B1G1 and I have a coupon for this – would you file that coupon under H for hot dogs or B for Ball Park Franks? I currently have the expanding file folders to keep all my coupons, but yesterday I was thinking about re-organizing my coupons since I never know where to place coupons for drinks and a few other items…do they belong in the snacks folder or the cold foods…so alphabetizing coupons makes more sense to me!

  12. Rachel @ Surviving The Stores says:

    Hi Dana!

    Great question! I would put it under B for Ball Park Franks. I had the exact same problem when I tried to organize it by category… does this one go in the toiletries category or paper products… does this go in the snacks or frozen food? Organizing it alphabetically has REALLY helped for me.

    You could also put the coupons that you know that you will use for products you already buy in the front of the binder, that way you don’t have to go looking for them.

    Hope that helps!


  13. Awesome thanks! Now, what about coupons that are for brand name products but can only be used at specific stores? I tried using a coupon at CVS yesterday but I wasn’t allowed to because it had the Kmart logo on it even though it was a manufacturer’s coupon – store them in a seperate section for that specific store?

  14. Rachel @ Surviving The Stores says:

    If a coupon has a store logo on it, but it’s really a manufacturer coupon, I personally cut the other store logo off if it is in a place where I can do that. They cashiers CAN take the manuf. coupon, but some of them get freaked out that they will get in trouble with management if they take anything with another store on it. The coupons don’t have to be cut exactly along the dotted lines. As long as it has the bar code, exp. date and redemption policy, you are good.

    If a coupon truly is a store specific coupon, then I would recommend using a couple of baseball card holders to hold only specific store coupons (like one for Target, one for CVS, etc…) to keep them all separate. And then when you bring your binder to the store, you just have to turn to that section and look through it really quick to see if there was a great deal you could snag with the store coupons.

  15. The lady at my CVS said that their store used to accept manufacturer’s coupons with non-CVS logos on them but the CVS corporate office sent a stern warning and they aren’t allowed to accept those coupons anymore. Thanks so much for your help!

  16. I organize alfabetically by brand name. Alka Selzer under A, General Mills food under G, Zycam under Z and so on.

    Then within each letter of the alphabet, I separate the food from the non-food. So I put the food coupons in front of the non-food coupons within each letter.

    It was a big change since I had previously did the category route, but I am so glad I switched.

  17. Thanks so much for your information post, I got you link from “common sense with money” who is doing a post of different coupon organizational methods. I have been a part of AFC and trade coupons every week. I ALWAYS wondered why I would get coupons that have staples in them…now I know THANKS TO YOU!!! 🙂

  18. Great post. Thanks for sharing your ideas. For some crazy reason, I was stapling all of my duplicate coupons together after cutting them. Your way makes more sense. I’ll try it this weekend.
    Thanks again,

  19. I don’t understand about the stapling of coupons. Isn’t this a pain when you want to use them?

    • Hi @Jovin! Personally I find it much easier to have the coupons stapled together than having several of the same coupon loose in the binder. As long as you don’t staple through the bar code, the store does care if the logo of the coupon has a small tear in it. I just tear off however many coupons I need and leave the rest stapled together. It works well for me.

      • MommaDonna says:

        I’m learning so much more about couponing than I ever thought I would. How do you get multiple coupons from Sunday paper inserts? Also, I spend way too much time on the computer searching for specific coupons. Is there an easier, faster way??

        Thanks for the education!

  20. I am a single parent with 3 kids. I have never used coupons before so i really don’t know where to start. I will start slow at first and hopefully get the hang of it. Any feedback, i really would appreciate it.

    Thanks alot,

    The Reed Family

    • Margaret Swann says:

      Dear Ms. Kenya, Hi, Margaret from Mississippi – the above is right just go slow and figure out which way of organizing is right for you. I use the binder method with categories. I put the dividers in the order of my favorite store’s isles to make it easier on me.

  21. Adelaide Wilson says:

    Just to pass on some info that I learned from Wal-Marts website and I have tried it and used it. Wal-Mart takes anyone’s coupons! It’s all part of their new price match guarantee.

  22. Jeanette says:

    I’ve been couponing for about two years now. I’m using the whole insert method. We use “milk crates” purchased at Staples and plain old manilla and file folders. I put the date on the file folders and then the name of the insert on each manilla folder. My only problem was when to pull out the expired ones. I found a site in a google search called Coupon Cleanout ( and its been very helpful in that last respect. I select my state and it shows me what inserts are safe to pull out. Thought I’d pass it along for any other “whole insert” filers.

  23. Thanks ! This really helps! I’m new and it is really overwhelming sometimes!

  24. Mrs. Jones says:

    After reading all the post putting coupons in ABC order seems more easy hum still woundering how to work out the mess i have all over my Queen size bed. lol Thanks for the Info.

  25. I alphabetized mine exactly how I would find the deal online: z-zyrtec, k-kraft macaroni and cheese. I use a three ring binder with baseball card holders, place the earliest to expire in the first row, etc. In front of the binder I have a clear sheet protector labeled “expires SOON”. I also have clear sheet protectors for “restaurants”, “bed bath and beyond”, “clothes/shoes”, and one for each store specific but now that I know Walmart accepts store specific coupons that’s great!

  26. I want to start couponing. The coupon websites want me to download something for printing the coupons. When I get to that point I get a warning that it could hurt my computer?? are this sites safe to download?

  27. I have been couponing for many years..well a couple of decades, and have tried many different ways of organizing the coupons. I found the three ring binder with baseball card and photo pages (for larger coupons) work the best.

    My book is organized by category but not category of product but by store layout. Most stores keep the same items together. For example the Dairy isle contains not just milk but butter, eggs, pillsbury rolls, certain brand of puddings, cottage cheese, sour cream. The lunchmeat area contains cheese, lunch meat, lunchables, hot dogs, bacon and sausage.

    I found by organizing by isle makes shopping easier and quicker.

  28. How do you get multiple inserts? Do you purchase several newspapers? That seems like a huge expense just for a few coupons.

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