How to Organize Your Coupons in Less than 30 Minutes a Week!

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How to Organize your Coupons | The Coupon ProjectIt’s been a while since I’ve talked about the best way to organize your coupons, and on this super rainy Western Washington day, I thought it would be just the topic!

Over the past few years, I’ve tinkered with my own methods for organizing coupons including filing whole inserts and using the binder method. To be honest, there was a period of a few months earlier this year I just could not keep up and the binder system was like a binder of guilt – full of expired coupons and work to be done. I’ve also just filed whole inserts, but I found it often took me more time to go back repeatedly to fish out coupons I needed. I also missed many opportunities for deals because this method was just not portable. I’m now using a simple coupon box method I’d like to share with you today.

Deciding What Coupons Make the Cut

It might surprise you to learn that I don’t cut all my coupons! I used to do this, but found soon on that it was a huge waste of time because I don’t use even half of the coupons that come out in the Sunday inserts! What has made my life so much simpler is to cut only the coupons I think I’ll be most likely to use.

Here are some tips for how I decide which coupons to cut:

  • I cut coupons for products and food my family actually uses. For instance, today I clipped coupons for Brawny paper towels, Softsoap hand soap, Rosarita refried beans, and All Laundry. I skipped the pet and baby-related coupons. 
  • I cut high-value coupons and/or coupons I’m sure there’s to be a deal on. If you’re new to the world of couponing, it might be hard to know what a high-value coupon is or where there might be deals for some of the coupons you’re seeing. This will come with time! Today I clipped a $2.50 Tresemme coupon knowing I can get that product for FREE at Rite Aid this week. I also clipped the Golden Grains pasta coupon because it ends up being FREE at Safeway through tomorrow. {Please note that these deals were good back in September 2013.}
  • I only cut the number of like coupons I can use. Take time to look over the fine print while you’re cutting the coupons – it could save you time! I noticed the Tresemme coupon I clipped today had a limit of two like coupons per person- so I only bothered cutting it out of two inserts, even though I receive four papers each Sunday.
  • I generally don’t bother cutting the P&G insert coupons. The P&G coupons you’ll find in the monthly insert generally all expire at the end of that month. I am also very familiar with the P&G family of brands (Crest, Olay, Swiffer, Pampers, etc.) that are likely to be included in those inserts. Given that, I’m more apt to just go back and clip what I need from those inserts when I need it. The only exceptions would be any super high value coupons I want to make sure I keep in the forefront of my mind or their quarterly insert, where you have more than a month to redeem the coupons.

I try not to labor too long about whether or not to cut a particular coupon. The idea here is to make a quick decision!

Sunday Afternoon (or Monday, or whatever!) Coupon Clipping Routine

Now that I’ve outlined which coupons I cut, I thought I’d share my entire coupon clipping routine.

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Step #1: Sort and group the coupon inserts. As I mentioned, I get four copies of the paper delivered to my door every Sunday (more on that in a minute!). I remove all the inserts from the papers and then I group the like inserts together.

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Step #2: Cut the coupons I am interested in. I usually take a bit more time when I’m cutting the first insert – making sure I’ve not missed any great coupons. I then lay out each coupon on my counter. As I move through the other like inserts, I just stack on top. Now another time saving method if you get more than one insert would be to lay the like insert pages on top of each other so you cut once – and out pops 2, 3, or 4 of the same coupon. This isn’t a bad idea, but just make sure those coupons are lined up perfectly before doing so!

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Step #3: File your coupons in your binder or box. This is the little box I’m currently using to organize my coupons. And it is…little! I decided for the amount of coupons I actually clip I would prefer taking something to the store that’s less obtrusive to haul. I also find it’s a snap to file the coupons in the box because I’m not having to shove them in and out of plastic dividers.

By the way – I got a great deal on my organizer! It’s made by Snapware and was priced at $2.49 at Fred Meyer. I used a $2 off coupon I had, so I paid just $0.49 for it. The alphabetical dividers are just index cards – purchase during the back to school sales for about $0.19. Not bad, huh? (PS – If you’re looking for a similar organizer, this one on Amazon is pretty close to what I purchased.)

Whether or not this is the exact way you file your coupons, I hope I’ve encouraged you with some new ideas today or at least to look at your current system if it’s becoming too cumbersome or not jiving with your style.

If you liked this post, you might also want to check out this post on How to Organize Your Coupons. You might also be interested in this post for organizing your coupons while shopping:

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What other tips do you have for minimizing your time clipping and organizing coupons?

5 thoughts on “How to Organize Your Coupons in Less than 30 Minutes a Week!”

  1. I use a similar method but I have an accordion file from the $1 spot at Target. It fits in my large purse or diaper bag so I always have it with me. I also only clip coupons on products my family uses or high value coupons. You’re right about being able to spot those now–I’ve been couponing since February and I have a good sense of what can be free or nearly free at certain stores with certain coupons.

  2. I’ve been slacking the last few months and just clipping what I know is going on “sale” or the random items you know will be clearanced somewhere. The P&G insert usually stays whole until I need something. I find it odd I can’t remember simple things like to water plants but am able to catalog in my brain every coupon in every insert Sunday after Sunday.

  3. A key time-saver for me is knowing what products often have coupons available. For example, if you’re not terribly brand-loyal, rarely does a week go by during which you cannot get a good deal on shampoo/conditioner, body wash, dental care, feminine hygiene, and/or deodorant. These products are frequently offered for BOGO free/50% or buy-so-many-get-$5-reward sales at CVS, Rite Aid, Walgreens, or Target. Then, there are manufacturer coupons for some of these items in almost every Sunday’s inserts, plus the monthly P&G brand saver, plus the almost always-available printables at coupons.com.

    Bottom line: Once I’m stocked up on these items, I don’t need to keep patrolling closely for coupons/deals on them. I also have the confidence that if I pass up a shampoo coupon this week, there will be more shampoo coupons/deals at least in the next 6-8 weeks that I can take advantage of to replenish my stockpile if necessary.

    So I tend to ignore coupons for stuff I’m stocked up on and that I know will show up again in a few weeks. I spend more time looking at the rarer coupons, like for poultry, produce, olive oil, etc.

  4. I use divider folders to keep all of the inserts by dates. I purchased a 3 ring binder when beginning to coupon for clipping, but I quickly realized my personality would not tolerate clip each coupon. I know use the 3 ring for store coupons and mailed coupons. I use the clear pocket insert for Kroger, target, publix, baby coupons etc. There is also a divider in binder and I put the Internet coupons in there and use a ipad app for tracking those coupons. I have found if I don’t mark the newspaper inserts with a date as soon as I get home….I’m down for the count and it is over. I keep it right beside the door and do it as soon as I walk in.

  5. I use a small accordian style. It is as long as a check book and about an inch fat. I have it labeled by aisles or sections at my local grocery store. I print my coupons on-line as our paper does not usually have inserts. I also have the store coupons in the front pocket. I staple all coupons that match the store coupons so they are ready each weekend when I shop.

    I read store ads on line each Friday night or Saturday morning. I make my list by store with size and price so I can price match the store that is farther away at Walmart. I then match coupons from my organizer with the lists.

    I carry my coupon organizer with me always…one day I made a fellow mom smile when I shared a buy 2 get one free M&M coupon to get the sale M&Ms. You also never know when something will be on clearance or a store special.

    My family evens drops coupons off at my house now, and although they tease me for having them, they do appreciate when I share a deal with them.

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