How to organize grocery coupons using a coupon binder
How to set up a coupon binder
Whether you are just starting to try saving money by using coupons or if you have been using coupons for a long time, chances are that you would like a more organized system for your coupons.
I have been using this system for over a year now, and I like it as my way of keeping my grocery coupons as well as restaurant and fast food coupons organized. After all, you can't save money if you can't find the coupon and you can't find it quickly!
In this page, I'll share with you some advantages I've found from having a coupon binder as a way of keeping coupons organized.
How to set up a coupon binder
Coupon Binder Organizing System
A coupon organizer, and using your coupons right can mean up to $7,000 a year in savings!
Crazy Coupon Chicks
Why I love my coupon binder!
I used to think the women carrying their grocery store coupons inside baseball card inserts in huge zippered binders were certifiably weird. Now I am one of them and proud of it! Feel free to think me weird as I save $20, $40, $50 or more on each grocery trip because I can find my coupons to be able to use them. Go on up to the cashier without your coupons and pay full price. Yeah, YOU'RE the sane one. lol
Not only does my coupon binder save me money because I can find the right coupon when I need it, what are some other reasons I love my coupon binder?
By putting a new coupon for the same product behind the older coupon, I can be sure I use the coupons by expiration date (this also helps me know whether I better hurry up and use a coupon or if I have time to wait) Some coupons will have different expiration dates, but otherwise the design of the coupon looks exactly the same. By always putting the new coupon BEHIND the older ones, I use them in order.
Stacking coupons is easier, because I am able to spot coupons for like items with much more ease. I put the coupons that I can stack side by side inside the clear inserts in my binder so I won't miss an opportunity to use both the Manufacturer AND the Store Coupon on the same item. This is called COUPON STACKING. More on Coupon Stacking here.
The binder I use for my coupons is made by Case-It. It has 2 of the 3-ring binder sections inside it. I use the first section for mostly food and the second section for anything non-edible. It works pretty well that way for me. The sectional pieces inside have Velcro and zippered closure pockets. One is great for my scissors, so I never have to look for them. My coupon binder is like an office on the go.
I liked it so much that I now use a Case-It binder for my bill organizing book. I keep envelopes, stamps, scissors, etc in that, along with divider pockets that hold my bills. (It is handy to be able to go through and look through past bills). I keep invoices on hand for a year for reference. You'd be amazed how many times it is handy to have that information.
The Case-It Binders
Keep in mind you will also need the baseball card inserts. You can order them too from Amazon, or you can find them at places like Target and Walmart. Personally, I think it makes a lot of sense to order it all at once so when you get it you will have everything you need all together so you can start getting your coupons organized more quickly and start saving money right off the bat!
Yes, you could, but a wonderful thing about the Case-It zippered binder is that it ZIPS! It zips all the way around, which is important if you can visualize dropping the coupon binder (it happens more than I'd like to admit) -- and the Case-It binder has a handle too!
It is really worth it, if you are going to do it, to do it the best way you can the first time. You'll save time and money in the long run.
3-M Adhesive Index Tabs
These stick on 3M tabs are great to attach to your coupon sleeves/baseball card pages. You can color code by what type of product, and you can write on the tabs. I like them because they make it really easy to reorganize sections of the binder.
Categories For Your Coupon Binder
Does your mind go blank when you try to think of the categories? Mine too! An alphabetized basic list is helpful, so here you go! Just write these (edit them for length) on your repositionable tabs with a Sharpie marker. You may think of other categories that are specific to your family. Perhaps "Baby Needs" or "Diapers." The great thing about this system is that it's so changeable. Make it yours. Make it the way it works with your brain, or you can organize it by the layout of your store. But be careful, if you go too far with trying to make it "perfect," you may just give up. This should not become a lot of work for you. The quicker you can organize it and get going, the quicker you can start saving money. So don't fuss at yourself if it's not perfect.
- Baking Supplies
- Cakes & Desserts
- Candy & Cookies
- Cleaners & Household
- Coffee & Tea
- Frozen Foods
- Ice Cream
- Jelly/Peanut Butter
- Pet Foods/Needs
- Salad Dressing/Condiments
- Sauces & Seasonings
My Coupon Binder System
I now use a zip around binder with baseball card inserts to organize my coupons.
It is very convenient. The clear sleeves allow me to see the coupon. If it's too large for the whole coupon to show in the pocket of the baseball card sleeve, I fold the coupon so that I can see the expiration date and what the product is.
Sometimes the manufacturers will issue new coupons with a new expiration date that looks just like the older coupons I have. In that case, I put the new coupon behind the old coupon. Because of this, I never miss using a coupon I want to use before it expires.
You can get the baseball card binder insert sleeves at many discount stores for less than $5. The zip-around binder usually runs about $9-$15.
Coupon Binder Organizing System
A coupon user shows how she uses a binder system to organize all her coupons. She uses baseball card sleeves to store the coupons and be able to see them at a glance.
She is using a zipper type binder - which would be the most convenient if you want to take it in the store with you. If you don't think you will take the binder to the store with you, then a regular inexpensive binder would do. Some people take the only the coupons they intend to use in with them, and leave the binder in their car (just in case) while they shop.
I usually sort out and decide what coupons I will use before I go to the store, but everyone has their own system.
A SIMPLE TIP
If this is too much or intimidating to you
The problem with not coming up with a sort system of some kind for your coupons is that you will spend too much time searching. But maybe the binder system is too involved for you. That's okay. Here is a tip that can get you going quickly without a binder.
You can use a zippered pouch, like a pencil case. You can buy these pretty cheap at office supply stores, or even your grocery store or dollar store might have them. I put the coupons for things I usually and definitely would buy in this pouch. That way it's always with me in my purse.
Keep coupons that are for items you only might use somewhere else. These coupons could go in your binder when and if you get around to setting one up. But in the meantime, you can just use a little zippered pouch to start saving money right away. I put the coupons for the things I plan to get on my next trip, or coupons that are about to expire but are for things I definitely want, near the front of the pouch, so they are easy to access the next time I'm in the store.
Baseball Card Pocket Sleeves - Sports card collector sleeves fit into a 3-ring binder
A lot of people use these baseball card binder storage sleeves to organize their coupons. These are the things normally used for storing collectible baseball cards. There are advantages...you can more easily view several coupons at a glance, easy to organize.
The 3rd one below has top loading pockets that are the right size for people who collect paper money. So that size would be especially nice for the longer coupons. It would provide a lot of flexibility to have both the smaller baseball-card-sized pockets and the larger paper money sized pockets.
Question About Coupon Binder and Expiration Dates
Here is the question I get asked most often about my coupon binder:
"Doesn't it take a long time to pull out the expired coupons?"
Actually, I think it's quicker than my old coupon system. I flip through 40 or so plastic baseball card 3-ring binder sleeves in much less time than it took me to look through each and every coupon.
The reason it's quicker is that the closest expiration date of each coupon is going to be at the top. For example, if I have a coupon for Raisin Bran that expires 9/30, and I get another coupon for the same product that expires 10/30, the later date is stuck in the pocket behind the closer date. It's very simple to just remember to file the coupons with later dates behind the close-to-expiration coupons.
It's not hard to pull the coupons in and out of the pockets. I thought some of them would stick -- but no problem so far!
I'm telling you, you just need to do this. Initially, there is an investment of time, but once it's set up, it takes less time.
Zippered Pouch for Coupons
Angie of the Yahoo Group the Coupon Train recommends a zippered "pencil pouch" to go in your binder. The pouch will give you a handy place to put the coupons that you've decided you will use for that grocery shopping trip. As you shop, you place the coupons in the pouch, then when you get to the checkout, you'll have them all in a safe and handy place!
You may also want to carry a small calculator, a pen, and even a pair of children's scissors in your zippered storage pouch.
Categories for your coupon organizer
My coupon binder is divided with food in the front, and non-food in the back. Then in each section, I have everything alphabetized by the type of item, ie: Bread, Butter & Oils, Soups. Some couponers find it easier to completely organize the binder alphabetically by brand name rather than type of food.
I think that perhaps alphabetically by food type is best for those like myself who will buy various brands and are not so brand-loyal. if you are extremely loyal to only one brand in particular items, then alphabetical by brand name could work best for you.
No matter what system you decide to use, you will probably need a listing of categories to sort your coupons so you can find them more easily. Here are some links to pages with the categories or subcategories figured out for you.
- Sample of Categories
Here's a Sample of Categories for Your Homemade Coupon Organizer
- Free Coupon Binder Printables, Coupon Organization Video + More
Collin of Hip2Save has a few printables to help you organize your coupon binder, as well as a useful video and links to several stores' coupon policies so you can print those out and add to your coupon book.
How to purge the old coupons from your coupon binder
Even though I have been couponing for quite some time now, even I found several good tips/ideas from this video and immediately realized it would be a great addition to this page. It does seem daunting to go through the whole binder, but once you get going and stay focused, it's actually quicker than flipping through hundreds of coupons one at a time.
Innovative Coupon Organizer Ideas
Some people find that a very inexpensive CD holder/case works great for coupons. The kind that have a zipper or a Velcro strap to close them up seem to work best. You can put your coupons in the clear sleeves and be able to see your coupons easily.
Homemade Coupon Holder for the Ultra Frugal
I have one of those small plastic coupon sorters, but it's a bit bulky for my purse.
I like to keep the coupons I am most likely to use with me, and I noticed that just a regular envelope was great to keep in my purse for the coupons, problem was that the envelope would wear out.
A few months ago, I took a regular #10 envelope, and tucked the flap inside it. I then covered the entire envelope with clear package tape - essentially plastic-coating it.
I then took a few 3x5 cards to create categories.
Update: This started falling apart after about 3 weeks.