Organizing Coupons: What’s Your System?

Not only do I have a ton of regular grocery coupons, but now I have to add my “baby” coupons to the mix — for diapers, formula, diaper cream, gas drops, infant acetaminophen, baby vitamins and the like. The result? I’m drowning in coupons.

Right now, my only ‘system’ is one I stole from my dad. It involves separating coupons into two piles, food and non-food items, and using a paper clip to secure each stack of money-saving paper. I arrange the coupons by expiration date when I have more than one coupon for a particular product. Then, I put both groups of coupons into a simple white #10 envelope.

Great system, huh?

It works for my father because his grocery shopping lists go something like this: steak, pork chops, canned vegetables and soups, air freshener refills, and butter, butter and more butter. Occasionally, he’ll mix it up with mayonnaise, hot dogs, tuna fish and olives.

Now that I have a ton of Similac checks and coupons (thank you, Similac, for putting coupons in the Sunday newspaper fliers), they get their own I arrange them by expiration date — those closest to expiring stay on top, obviously.

Not only do I clip out coupons for the items we use regularly, I sometimes stock up on coupons for other products that I think might go on sale in the near future, other brands of things we use regularly, or new items. For instance, French’s came out with a new product, Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce, which I tried and loved. (I hate mustard, but like this stuff — go figure.) At my local grocery store, it’s $2.19, and there’s always a $.75 coupon to be found in the Sunday paper. My store doubles coupons, so that $2.19 bottle only costs $.69. I now have 3 bottles sitting in our pantry that don’t expire until the end of the year, giving us plenty of time to use them.

So I now have two sets of envelopes for coupons: baby stuff & grocery items. And the ‘might use in the future’ coupons are all mixed together. I like Land O’Lakes butter, but if there’s a sale on Hotel Bar brand and I have a coupon, guess which one I’ll buy? That’s why I like to clip coupons for competing brands — I’ll use just about anything if I can get it for a good price. Except coffee creamer. I cheated on Coffeemate with International Delights once — ick.

I’d like to get the coupons out of the envelopes so I can view and sort them better. I know there are small accordion coupon organizers you can buy, while some people use binders with clear pages so they can see each coupon separately.

I don’t know which system I’m going to choose, but I have to do something. I’m tired of flipping through stacks of coupons every week! I don’t want anything too time-consuming, but I need to change my ways.

Any suggestions?

7 comments to Organizing Coupons: What’s Your System?

  • I have a 4″x6″ purple plastic accordion file. There’s about 9 or so flaps that I have labeled as: Meds, Bath & Body, Hair & Makeup, Frozen, Beverages, Rain Checks< Store Coupons (these are for those, like, $2 off your next shopping order), Cleaners, Prepared Food and maybe a few other categories. Things like garbage bags would go in cleaners, while toilet paper and tissues go in bath and body. I go through them (or at least try) once per week when I cut out the mfr coupons. I go through the coupons and clp when I'm sitting, watching tv on a Sunday night or whenever I'm not doing anything for a bit. When the Little Miss gets older and you find yourself buying more than say, when it was just you and the Mr., the extra 20 minutes used to save a few bucks is really worth it and the savings really add up!

  • danielle

    my suggestion is to start watching extreme couponing on TLC! : )

  • No system here, just one big stack. I look through them before going to the store to see if I’m going to use any of them.

  • nancy

    I use a clear plastic shoebox, with a hinged lid (which is broken). I used index cards to make dividers and wrote the headings in thick black ink (Sharpie?). The dividers are filed alphabetically, except the one in front is labeled “TODAY”. Some of the heading include: baby, baking, breakfast, cereal, cleaning, coffee and tea are one divider, fish, frozen, hair, laundry, meats, soups, vegetables, sauces and gravies. Behind each divider the products are arranged alphabetically, except for baking and frozen. Baking is subdivided – Betty Crocker, Pillsbury, etc. Frozen is divided into frozen meats, frozen fish, frozen veggies. Every couple months I go through and take out any expired ones; I clip anything that I might use. I also keep a pen, some address labels and a pair of scissors in the box at all times.

  • […] on The Penny Frugalista are centered around what’s going on in my everyday life, such as organizing coupons, dealing with infertility — and, then babies! — and bad customer service […]

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