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?