Anyways... I want to share with you my method of coupon organization and then give you some additional ideas that might work for you.
At first, when I was just a casual couponer, I would go through the weekly newspaper inserts and just clip coupons I thought I might need and file the clipped coupons in my handy dandy coupon organizer notebook that I bought at Walmart- see pictures.
As you can see it had little pockets for different coupon categories such as: baking, beverages, breakfast, canned goods, cleaning, dairy, frozen, meats, paper products, pasta, personal care, etc.
Pros: Very portable. I was able to slip the little organizer in my purse to take with me to the grocery store.
Cons: Clipping coupons is very time consuming. Because I only clipped coupons I thought I would need I often threw out coupons that I later wished I had. Plus there is no way this little organizer could have held all my coupons once I became a hard core coupon addict.
Once I became a hard core couponer my method of coupon organization changed:
As many of you know my true couponing addiction began with "The Grocery Game." This service matches weekly store savings (Kroger and Walgreens in our area) with manufacturer coupons to help gamers purchase products at "rock bottom prices." The game references coupons by type of insert (RedPlum, Smart Source, Proctor and Gamble, etc) and date (date the insert was in the newspaper) Therefore, I revamped my coupon organizational system to help me better locate the appropriate coupons when the game suggested I use them. I did this by implementing a coupon file box in which I would file coupons by date and insert type. Even though, these days, my weekly deal hunts extend way beyond "The Grocery Game," I still find that this method works great for me.
I knew I would be storing my coupon container on an open shelf in one of our main living areas so I chose to spend a little more money on my container to make it blend in with our decor. I started out with just one file box and then within 2 months of collecting coupons I went back to The Container Store to purchase my second box. I could easily go for a third, but I don't have room for another so I just try to do better about throwing out expired coupons and inserts. If your coupon container is not going to be "on display" you could use a cheaper filing box or plastic filing container. (The more it will hold the better, if you ask me)
Inside my coupon box I have hanging files that are labeled by date. Inside each hanging file I have folders labeled "SS," "RP," and "PG" for SmartSource, RedPlum, and Proctor and Gamble. Every week when I get my collection of newspapers all I have to do is pull out all the coupon inserts and place them in their appropriate file folder and I'm done. This takes seconds verses the hours it might take me to clip all of the coupons. Often I don't even take the time to look in the inserts until a coupon is referenced on one of the many couponing sites I watch. I keep all inserts filed for at least 4 months (by then most coupons are expired).
For my printable coupons I have file folders labeled: "Food," Self-Care," "Cleaning," and "Medicines." When I print off a coupon I file it in one of these folders. Because the printables are often not referenced on the couponing sites I make it a habit to go through each of these files once a week before I head out to the grocery store. I also store my Kroger Mailer coupons, Catalinas, and unused coupons (coupons I thought I would use at the grocery store and then didn't and now I have no idea what file they came from) in this section. I also have a hanging file for Restaurants, Clothing, Home Improvement, and Walgreens (this is where I store my EasySaver catalog)
- Time Saver! Don't have to take all Sunday afternoon clipping and filing individual coupons
- I can easily find coupons when "The Grocery Game" or other couponing sites reference them by date.
- Saves all coupons. Who would have ever thought I would buy "Bald Head Cream" but last year when this was going to be a money maker at Walgreens I was sure glad I hadn't thrown out this coupon!
- Sometimes hard to find coupons if it is not referenced by one of the coupon sites. For example, if we are out of soap and soap is not on sale this week the couponing sites are not going to reference soap so now I have to go digging though all my files until I find a soap coupon.
- Not very portable. Depends on the filing box you use, I guess, but there is no way I could take my coupon boxes with me when I shop. This means I might miss out on special deals that were not necessarily advertised on any of the couponing sites. For example, lets say "our" Kroger has placed Ragu Tomato Sauce on the clearance aisle (Did you know there was a clearance aisle? There is, it is over near the razors and self-checkout aisles), I know that I have a coupon for this tomatoe sauce but because this sale was just true at our Kroger I didn't know to bring this coupon. Soooo if I want to take advantage of this sale I will have to go home dig through all my coupons until I find the Ragu one. Does that make sense?