You might be this person: You’ve used coupons for awhile now. You’ve noticed you definitely save money. And you want to get serious.
Or you might be this person: you’re just starting out, but want to dive in head first. Either way, I have the same advice for you both. Great couponing and saving starts with organization.
First of all, you should know I coupon. And the binder may make you think I’m one of those crazy coupon people on Extreme Coupons (do they still do that show?). But I’m not. I spend maybe- tops- 2 hours a week on coupons and couponing apps. And I save about $2,000 a year. Yep, seriously. But it’s because I’m organized. That’s where a coupon organizing binder comes in.
I felt so self-conscious the first time I walked in the grocery store with it. But I quickly got over it. Because people kept stopping me asking questions about how to use coupons! And how much did I save? And how much time did I spend on it? And I realized I had a wealth of knowledge to share.
Below I’m going to go through my binder section by section with information and how I use it. At the very end, I have a summary with links to every item in my binder so you can easily find exactly what I use.
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• A zipper binder. Here’s a picture of mine. Note the fact it is a zipper binder. I’ve dropped it more than once, and been very glad it was zipped. I’ve also dropped it once when I hadn’t zipped it up. Luckily I only lost about 20 or so out of it…but was still a pain to re-file. Also note the size.
• Accessories. Find a spot (and keep them in the same place) for scissors, pen, pencil, calculator, and highlighter at a minimum. If you have a calculator on your phone, you can skip that. Mine is still in there just because I haven’t gotten around to tossing it.
You can also see the corner of the “Kitsap County” savings book sticking out. It doesn’t really fit anywhere else. And since it’s right in the front, it’s easy to find when I need it.
• Clear inserts with 3 pockets. When you first open my binder, I have retail coupons on the top. I get quite a variety, such as some from Bath & Body Works, Staples, etc. I just keep them in the front, sorted by expiration date.
• Below that is a sleeve that for those that are expiring soon. I- you can do it differently- I have two labeled flaps. One for “expiring soon- might use” and “expiring soon- must use.” The latter is for items that I buy regularly and definitely want to grab one and use the coupon!
• Underneath that you can catch a glimpse of my price comparison chart. I check the local grocery stores for the regular price of items I buy regularly. Not everything…just stuff that I buy often. That way, when I see a sale, I can check and see whether it’s actually a good price…or they’re just featuring the product.
• Binder pocket. I have a poly binder pocket that closes with Velcro. This allows me to clip coupons whenever I have a second. Then I just throw them in here until I’m ready to sort. As I’m busy, this is an excellent way to maximize my time.
• Dividers with pockets. I use dividers with pockets for different stores. Having the pocket/flap on the divider allows me to slip in any extra paperwork or circulars. The stores I shop at are: Commissary, Wal-Mart, Food Lion, Drug Stores, and Misc.
Behind each divider is two clear insert sheets:
- One for specific coupons for those stores.
- And the second is for putting coupons I intend to use that week. I put the ones I intend to use on the bottom. As I’m in the store, and pick up the products, I place them in the top compartment. That way when I get to the checkout, they’re together and I don’t have to pick out ones that I ended up not using.
• I have a special section for SavingStar. I save so much money with them and this program can be used at multiple stores. Hence me placing them in the front of the binder and not behind a certain store. Note the coupons are already pulled out and right there! For example, I’m buying Yoplait yogurt. I have $1 off 5 coupon. And in addition, I scan the items in and snap a photo of the receipt, and SavingStar is going to give me another $1.
• Here is my drug store section. As you can see, I have the circular and my extra CVS bucks in the flap. You can also see the coupon price and savings tracker that I use. It has multiple columns to allows for you to “stack” multiple deals. Below that is another clear plastic insert (with three pockets) for coupons (you can’t see that, but it’s there).
• Clear plastic sleeves with three pockets. And behind everything is my coupons.
Now, sort all your coupons. The first thing to do is pick your categories. Some people use fewer, some more. I personally use:
- Refrigerated/ Cooler
- Cereal & other breakfast
- Soups, stews, & broths
- Boxed, canned, shelved items
- Desserts, including candy
- Paper products (such as toilet paper, paper towels)
- Cleaning & household
- Candles, batteries, ziploc, misc.
- Office Supplies
Once you have your coupons organized, the trick is to make sure you use the ones you want and toss the ones you don’t. I clip coupons once a week and add them to the appropriate section. Coupons are organized by expiration date. After a few weeks, you should get a good idea of what you have.I also go through circulars once a week and look for any great sales. Don’t forget to match up SavingStar and ibotta offers if you can.
Finally, EVERY SINGLE WEEK, I pull out every coupon that is going to expire in the next 14 days. I put them in a separate pile and go through them. Is there anything I absolutely want to buy? (Because I use it often, know I am going to use it soon, etc.). I make sure it gets put on my grocery list and use the coupon. If I’m not sure I’m going to use it, I file it in a separate divider.
Repeat the above steps indefinitely. Watch the savings pile up.
Here are links to absolutely everything (including the binder). They’re linked under item description, but I also left the links unmasked so you can copy and paste into a new browser window if you want.
Zipper binder- https://amzn.to/2LLDqH8
Calculator– https://amzn.to/2wvLTJU or https://amzn.to/2NBBfb4
Clear inserts with three pockets– https://amzn.to/2NDS7xO
Binder pocket with velcro– https://amzn.to/2Psdq60
Dividers with pockets– https://amzn.to/2CazFM3