Saturday, April 30, 2011

Coupon Organization-My Binder Revealed

When I first began using coupons, my now 21 year old son was just 6 months old. Back then, my organization tools were envelopes and a pen. I simply used 12 envelopes with a Month written on each. I would take my clipped coupons and file them according to when they would expire. That worked for a while, but it was grossly inefficient. Back then, I did not have the internet at my disposal. I had only my store's weekly ad to refer to in order to try to maximize those coupons. Needless to say, I didn't score great deals very often, and couponing eventually fell to the way-side.

When I decided to re-incorporate coupons into my shopping routine, it became immediately apparent that I would need to be better organized.  I turned to the internet, and soon found several options for organization.


Some use a coupon box system, some only file by insert and clip coupons as needed, and some use a binder method.

The binder method, itself, can be organized in several different ways.

Some use a category filing system. In doing so, they file their coupons in their binder according to categories that suit their needs. They make a list and then use corresponding tabs in their binder to match up their filing. Categories can include: Dairy, Pasta, Baking, etc.

Some use an Aisle filing system. In order to do so, one needs to choose the one store that they most frequent. Then, file coupons according to those Aisles. There is some debate as to how that organization method can be utilized at other stores, and thus, many use the category filing system.

After some consideration, I felt that the binder method would best suit my needs. I initially put my binder together 4 years ago.  I use the later organization method mentioned. I file by Aisle.

I do so because I do frequent one particular grocery store and no matter where else I may be shopping, I know where in my binder coupons for items would be. It was a method that I started with, and I've stuck with it.

My binder got a make over this week because the store I frequent did a renovation. In doing so, they moved some things around. I welcomed this change and realized that it was the perfect time to re-do my binder.

When putting together my binder, I collected the following items:

  • A Five-Star Three Ring Binder.
What I love about this binder is that it zips closed. It has several features, such as zippered pockets, two filing areas, a pocket for my calculator, and a place to hold my pens, highlighter, and scissors.

By opening the flap on the front of the binder, a filing pocket is revealed. In this area, I file my weekly sales ads. I take them with me where ever I go. Even though Wal Mart does not require a competitor's ad to price match, I like to have them on hand.

Here is a shot of my front zipper areas. I keep my store cards, and what I consider, unusual coupons (like coupons for children's  toys, or clothing, magazines, and battery coupons) in the top zipper area. My pens and scissors have their own space, and the pocket has a velcro tab-perfect for storing my calculator.
The rest of the binder is the nuts-and-bolts of my organization. I simply use tabbed dividers to designate the store's aisles.

This is what my tabbed dividers looked like, prior to my binder make-over:
I simply wrote the aisle number on the divider and included what items would be found in that aisle. Go ahead and say it, I did-UGLY! Not to mention that I completely misspelled Aisle.

This is what my binder dividers now look like:
By using some left over scrapbook paper scraps, my computer and printer, I redid my dividers. I covered the old divider with scrapbook paper, and trimmed to fit. Then I simply printed out the aisle information and affixed it to the divider.

This is what my first divider looks like now:
The added scrapbook paper made my dividers a little more rigid than they had been, so they are easier to flip when I'm using my binder-an added bonus.

The nitty-gritty of filing comes into play between the dividers. While some binder organizers opt for baseball card inserts, I chose 3 1/2 X 5 inch photo album inserts. There are three pockets per page, but I find that my coupons fit better in these, and my coupons are easier to both add to, and remove from my binder.
As you can see, I have designated each tab for the corresponding coupons. (Yes, the lightbulb tab has a baby item in it's slot, I've since corrected that mis-file.) 

My next mission is to redo each pocket's designation, because I want them to be prettier too...some day, some day!

When I get my coupons, I clip them and file them according to my aisle organization method.

When I'm getting ready for a shopping trip, I simply flip to the corresponding aisle where my coupons are filed, and pull them.
But, Where do they go from there?

I found that by utilizing binder pockets, I save myself a lot of hassle.

Binder pockets are basically large envelopes. They have a small velcro circle tab, and are hole-punched so that they can be added to your binder.

The Binder Pockets I purchased are made by Encore, and I got them at my local Dollar Store. I've had them for 4 years, so I find that they have been worth my dollar investment. They look like this in the package:

And in my binder they look like this:
I have three of them. One designated for Kroger, one designated for WalMart and one designated for "other" stores.

They come into play once my coupons have been pulled from their aisle.

I place them into the binder pocket, along with my store shopping list. This way, I do not have to flip through my binder as I go through each aisle. At the store, I simply pull my shopping list, which includes items to purchase, and the number of coupons I have for that item. If I am required to purchase 2 or 3 of an item, that is also notated.

This method of shopping has proven to keep me on track. Many times, I get in the store, get what I intended to get, and I get right back out. The less time I spend in the store looking for things, the shorter my trip, the less money I spend. The longer I am there, I inevitably spend more money.

Yes, I do bring my binder for shopping, and that's because if I happen to find a deal that is not on my list, I can pull the coupons as I shop, and place them into the binder pocket. Nothing worse than having to make two trips to a store because you didn't come prepared with your coupons!
In the binder pockets, all my pulled coupons are kept safe and sound, and don't fall out of my binder because the pocket closes. I LOVE them!

So, there you have it. My coupon binder revealed. I prefer to invest the time up front, and clip, sort, and file my coupons.You may choose this, or another way.

Use the internet to research coupon organization methods and see if you can find one that's right for you. You may find that you need to tweak a method to best suit you.

Tomorrow is May 1st. A new month, and new coupons are on the way. It's the perfect time to start getting organized!
I encourage you to try an organization method ASAP. I have found that because I am organized, I have stuck with couponing. I just know that you will too!


Sher. said...

Very informative post. I need to get into couponing so my family can start cutting cost/saving some money. Do you watch Extreme Couponing on TLC? I aspire for the level of saving on that show!

Mandy said...

Your binder is way more organized than mine and I love it! I may redo mine now :)

Ya Ya Couponz said...

I totally watch Extreme Couponing. I aspire to be "them" some day. LOL
I don't do too terribly either. I'm hooked on finding the FREE deals and am building my stockpile from those items. YOU CAN do it!

Chrystal Mahan said...

I still have "binder" on my to-do list. It keeps growing. For every three things I put on, I only cross one off. hahah