coupon organization: my coupon binder

Oct 27

ooooooooo-kay, my friends. finally, i can share with you…..my beloved coupon binder…..
here it is….in all its glory…..

humph. maybe not as exciting as one would think?

well, this little (who am i kidding – BIG) binder means so much to me. it’s saved me SOOOO much time and my family SOOOO much money. and now i would like to share my system with you so that you can do the same.

over the years, i’ve seen many versions of a coupon binder. i like them all and i love to see how others organize their coupons. personally, i like to keep mine simple.

let’s start with the binder itself. i love, love, love this binder. it’s a Mead Five Star 3-ring binder. the binder zips closed, which means if coupons happen to fall loose inside, they are still safe. i bought this one at Walgreens – on sale and with register rewards i had saved up for the purchase! i think it was around $15 on sale.

there are 2 sides to my binder……

on the right is where i keep all of my clipped coupons. that section is divided into categories.

{if anyone wants a list of my categories, i am happy to share. the categories morph over time depending on what i have more of. like right now, my household section is overflowing. i have a zillion coupons for cleaning supplies, candles, etc that are all under one “household” category. i’ll separate those soon.}

i used simple white dividers purchased from Staples….

and then i used a label maker to create each of the categories….

when you look inside each divided category, you will see these plastic dividers….

these are SO great for coupon organization! these are intended for the hobby of sport card collections – like baseball cards. it’s a 9-pocket clear page protector. sometimes these can be costly, but i found a great vendor on eBay and purchased a big box of 100 pages. the product i have is called Ultra-Pro Platinum Series and they have held up very well. have not had any tears.

on the left side of the binder there is a mesh zippered pocket. i have found this pocket to be great for holding gift cards and a pen/pencil…..

below the mesh pocket is another velco pocket. this would be great for a small calculator. but i use it to put my coupons in while i’m shopping. on the rare occasion that i’m able to slowly browse the aisles at the market and see if i have a coupon to match up with a great deal, i slip my coupons into this pocket….and when i get to check-out, there they are. in one neat little stack…..

behind the mesh pocket and small velcro pocket is yet another area…..

it’s set up like an accordian file. this has been the best little spot to stash things like my store coupons, michael’s ads, walgreens ads, random clothing coupons, etc…..

here is how i separate those…..

you can see my categories and how i’ve separated them into clear plastic folders….things like Groupon certificates, clothing coupons, target coupons, etc….

and again, i have them all labeled….so it’s simple to find them….

i found these great little plastic folders at Staples….

in the past, i’ve joked about my label maker being an extra appendage…but this little gem of an electronic is such a lifesaver. i like to keep my labels clean and simple….

alright, so now that you know what my coupon binder looks like….let’s take a look at how i stay on top of the weekly organization of my coupons.

uh-oh…..you’re cringing. you heard me say “weekly coupon organization”.

don’t run away just yet.

this mommy keeps it so simple that anyone can do this! really! yes, you CAN do this! and sometimes i go a couple weeks in between organizing my binder. just depends on if i’m in the mood. i have found the best time to do this is when my kids are in bed and i can vege out watching law & order or something fun.

if you have a big surface to spread out, that’s great….and you’ll also need a pair of scissors…

where did i get all of those coupons?

good question!

i receive coupons from a number of sources. i get them in the Sunday newspaper (on the left) or through the ads you receive in your mailbox once a week (on the right)….

i find them in magazines….

i print them from the internet….on sites like coupons.com, smartsource.com, or even target.com….

they come in my mailbox from specific companies….like babies r us, target or my local grocery store…

i receive them at the register during checkout. when the cashier hands you your receipt with a few coupons that came out of this awesome little box next to the register? those coupons are called catalinas

because i have a rewards card with my local grocery store, i also receive loyalty coupons…and many times the coupon book they send me has FREE coupons for items i purchase all the time…..

so you can see that in addition to all of the small coupons that i clip from the Sunday paper, there can be quite a bit of other coupons, mailers and flyers to sort through…..

not to mention any ads i may hold onto for the week….

and the Walgreens monthly coupon booklets….

i could never remember what i had coupons for when they were in a big jumbled pile like that. honestly, i would forget about them and never use them. what is the point of having these moneysavers if you can’t find them??

so i gathered them all up and sorted them into those great little clear folders i showed you above. that has helped SO much! and everything is in ONE neat little spot – my binder.
another tip regarding these catalinas we just talked about….

keep a close watch on what is next to the expiration date….see that long thin red line with something written in white?…..

look at these 2 catalinas i received at Target. notice here this one says “target coupon”. that means if you had a regular manufacturer coupon for Aquafresh Infant Oral Care items, you could stack both of those coupons together to save even more…..

notice this one says “manufacturer coupon”…..there is a difference. and if you can pay attention to those little things, you can stack your coupons to save more money…..

and don’t forget….catalinas are good where you received them. you saw those above had the Target logo on them….those are redeemable at Target only. however, there may be stores in your area that accept competitor coupons. i’ve never gone as far as to research who else would accept those in my area….but i’m sure there is someone blogging out there who could tell you! 🙂

moving along, on a night when i clipped all of the coupons i wanted to keep….here is what my stack looked like….

i separate them into the designated categories…..

and then put them into the 9-pocket pages or the clear folders.

another tip: if i have time, as i add coupons to the binder, i scan each page to see if i have any expired coupons to be tossed. i’m saving myself time by putting coupons away and purging expired coupons at the same time. as you can see here below…on this clean-up i had quite a few to toss out….

is your head spinning?
i hope not!!!
now that you’ve seen my coupon binder….how do i put together my shopping lists in order to save money? that is soon to come with part 2 of this coupon binder series. stay tuned!

comments +

  1. sumike says:

    You must have read my mind because just the other day I was thinking of asking you about your couponing process and here I have some insight! I'd love to know more about your catagories and am so excited to hear about how you compile your shopping lists because that's where I have the hardest time. This is awesome! Thanks for teaching us! 🙂

  2. Kelley says:

    This is my first project from your blog. I gotta find a good binder! Wish me luck!

  3. Gwen says:

    Thanks for sharing your time and process! I have a coupon binder, but I need a zippered one like yours! I haven't been able to find one. I'll have to look at Walgreens!

    If you know anyone in the military stationed overseas, they can use coupons there six months after the expiration date!

    • hi gwen! i finally figured out how to get a reply to comment option on the blog – so i am sorry to just now be replying to you!

      did you end up getting a zippered binder? also, i have heard about shipping expired coupons to the military, but didn't know how to or an address. do you know anything more about that? if we find out, i can post it on the blog! 🙂

  4. I've just started couponing about a month ago and I like your idea of the zippered binder and the the extra pockets that are store specific. I dropped my big ole binder in CVS the other day and coupons went flying every which way! TFS!

    • omg, tiffany – that is one of my worst nightmares!!! i'm so sorry your binder dropped! yes, the zippered binder is a great solution for keeping everything contained. it's a bit more $$ than a regular binder, but worth your sanity and peace of mind. 🙂

      the individual store file pockets have worked out reeeeeally well. the other day my husband asked if we had pizza coupons and all i had to say is "look in the restaurant pocket of my coupon binder". wah-lah, there was the coupon. so much better than digging, getting frustrated, giving up and then spending more money.

      thank you so much for stopping by and taking the time to comment. it means so much!

  5. You did a GREAT job with this! One thing I hate organizing is coupons. Thanks for the detailed tutorial. I have a brand new linky party on my blog, Organizing Homelife, and I would love for you to link up this post! http://www.organizinghomelife.com/archives/2768

    • thank you so much, ginny! i appreciate your comment. i know, coupons are tough to organize and require upkeep, which is a big turn off for some people. i really try to keep the process as simple and easy as possible. thanks again!

  6. Carla says:

    I love your binder system! I am going to find one of my own! In addition to couponing for my family, I also mail all unwanted coupons and expired coupons to the military overseas. I can mail coupons up to 4 months expired, and they can use them up to 6 months expired. Lots of families over there are use to having two incomes, but civilian jobs overseas are not as easy to find as they are stateside, so they are forced to live on one income. These coupons really help them out. I hope that everyone reading this blog will consider sending coupons overseas. The group that I work with has a facebook page, ECOM, or you can email me @ c.vandevender71@gmail.com for more info.

    • hi carla! thank you so much for the sweet comment! yes, i would love to get more info about donating the coupons to our military overseas. i had already heard about donating expired coupons but never had a contact in order to mail them. i will e-mail you soon for more info!

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