How I keep track of my coupons is something that a lot of my (female) family members have asked me about over the last couple of months. And all kinds of people in the grocery stores comment on it to me.
I’ve tried multiple ways of organizing my coupons, and the one I’m about to show you was brought to my attention by a friend of mine, Audrey (Asher‘s mom).
It has saved me the most money of any coupon system I’ve tried. It also saves me time (and my sanity) because it’s so convenient. Sound good to you? It’s yours for the taking.
First of all, you’ll need coupons. No duh, right? Well, I just thought I would share that I buy two Sunday papers each weekend at the store (I get the AJC). It usually is a motherload of coupons, and having twice as many coupons is great. It also costs me under $5 for the two newspapers together.
Okay, now that you’ve got your coupons, you will also need:
A (BIG) Three Ring Binder
Page Dividers with Tabs
Plastic photo pages that hold four 4×6 photos each. (You will need a lot of these. Trust me. You’ll have months worth of coupons since you keep them until they expire.)
Scissors for clipping your coupons. (Duh, again.)
How To Assemble
First of all, you need to decide the main categories that you would say your shopping is divided into so you can divvy up your coupons accordingly. This will be different for each person depending on what works for them. Mine are listed below, with pictures.
Once you’ve decided what will make the most sense to you when you go looking for a coupon, you label each tab of each page divider with a category, and you put them all in your 3-ring binder. You should be able to see the title of each category sticking out so you can quickly turn to it.
Then, in between each page divider, you will insert the photo pages. Each 4×6 photo slot is used for a different coupon.
Since I use more than one Sunday paper, I layer the identical pages to cut out the coupons so that I don’t have to do twice as much cutting. After I cut out all the coupons for products I would even consider buying, I go through my binder and insert them into an empty slot in the appropriate category.
Because I will have multiples of all my coupons, I put all coupons for an identical product in one 4×6 slot together. And I make sure that I can see both the expiration date and the amount of money it will save me. Since they are all facing forward, I don’t really pay attention to the backs of pages.
Here are some shots of my coupons according to category:
Shelf Items (foods, etc. that I would find on shelves in the grocery store, as opposed to in the deli, fridge, freezer, pharmacy, etc.). This section has the most coupons for my binder.
Dairy Products…It would appear that I accidentally skipped a photo of this section. But I was going to tell you that I also include Eggs in this section because it’s always near the dairy products. Whatever works for you when it comes to knowing where your coupons are.
Household Items (this covers everything from aluminum foil to trash bags to light bulbs, etc.) This area is medium sized for me.
Meat. Super scant section.
Paper Goods (toilet paper, paper plates, napkins, paper towels, etc.). This section is small for me right now.
Pharmacy (covers everything from medicine to vitamins to bandaids to icy hot). Small/Medium sized for me as of today.
Toiletries (everything from make up to shampoo to lotion to toothpaste, etc.) Pretty big section- might be tied with Shelf actually.
Frozen (frozen foods, pretty self-explanatory). Tiny section. But still, better than meat.
How It Saves You Time
Okay. Remember our image of the Publix flier via Southern Savers from Day 2’s post? Here it is:
You’ll notice that beside each coupon listed, it tells you the place to find said coupon. SS 3/27 means you could find it in the March 27th newspaper’s Smart Source coupons. RP 4/10 means you could find the coupon in the April 10th newspaper’s Red Plum coupons. Follow?
This meant you used to have to keep all the coupons organized by date and for each item you wanted to get a coupon for, you had to go find the date and clip the coupon you needed.
With this new system, dates don’t matter. You don’t need to be told where to find them unless you want to know where to get a coupon online. All of your paper coupons should be filed under their categories, so all you have to do is open to the right category and flip through the pages until you find the coupon you need. So easy!
I will say this though- the best way to stay on top of your couponing is to cut out all your coupons the week that you get them. Go ahead and clip and file them so that you don’t have weeks of coupons piling up. That can be overwhelming and take hours to go through, versus a short while once a week.
As you add your new coupons, look through the ones in your binder to see if any have expired, and go ahead and pull them out and toss them. That will ensure that you don’t get excited to save money only to be disappointed at checkout when your expired coupon is denied, and it will free up space in your binder for new coupons.
How It Saves You Money
With the old system of pulling the coupons as the coupon site told you where to find them, you were losing money in two ways:
1. Southern Savers only tells you where to find coupons for items that are listed in the flier/on sale in stores. So if you have something on your list that isn’t in the store flier that week, you won’t know where to find a coupon for it.
2. You have coupons all kept according to their dates so you can find them, meaning LOTS of coupons at home. You can’t bring them all to the store with you on the off chance that you might need one of them.
With the new system, however, you know exactly where to look for coupons because of your categories. Made your shopping list and have things on it that aren’t in the flier? No problem! Just flip to the category it would be under, and see if you have a coupon for it.
Also, because everything is nicely clipped and filed in your binder, you can toss that sucker in the car with you and take it to the store on your shopping trip.
You go down the aisle and find something on sale that wasn’t listed on the couponing websites you use, or maybe you remember something at the store that you didn’t think of at home, and you haven’t pulled a coupon for it yet. No worries- just flip to the category and browse through the pages to find a coupon that goes with that product.
I have saved SO much more money because I was able to bring the coupons to the store with me. In the last couple of months, it has made shopping with coupons way easier for me than any other system I had tried before.
Try it out, and let me know what you think!