Coupon Clipping & Binder Organization

**EDIT (1/12/14): I have created a new & improved printable coupon binder set. It can be purchased in my Etsy shop here.

I am really excited to share my couponing process with all of you today! When I first heard about extreme/crazy couponing I was all for it and determined to get everything for almost free. I even got to the point of doing some dumpster diving in our church parking lot to accumulate a huge coupon collection. After a few 40 hour couponing weeks, I sort of gave up on that crazy coupon dream. However, I couldn’t pass up the free money that was coming to my mailbox every week. So, I have come up with my own brand of couponing that’s perfect for our family and our budget. My goal with this post is to give an outline of how people who want to coupon can do so in a very reasonable and time-effective manner.

To start with, I want to share how I clip coupons in an orderly fashion. It might seem silly, but there is a way to save time while your actually cutting. Of course, you need to go through your newspaper and/or mailers and pull out all of the coupon booklets. Once this is done, simply sit down with your coupons and scissors and get clipping. The only ‘rule’ is that as you cut out each coupon, sort them. Usually I split mine into 4 separate categories: food, household, beauty & around-the-town. This way when you go to put your coupons in the binder they’re already semi-sorted for you.

Now that we have the basics down, I want to talk to you about my coupon binder. You might think having a coupon binder is silly for someone who isn’t an extreme couponer, but I feel it’s really the key to success for anyone who coupons.

You can see my binder’s Table of Contents below {which I have organized according to how my favorite store is laid-out}. Here are the categories:

Bakery & Produce {fruits, vegetables, salad dressing, packaged produce, cakes, etc.}
Meat & Deli {hot dogs, poultry, beef, lunch meat, deli meat, breakfast meats, etc.}
Frozen Goods {vegetables, pizza, pre-packaged meals, chicken, smoothie fruit, ice cream, etc.}
Bread & Grains {bread loaves, buns, rice, lentils, etc.}
Baking {flour, sugar, spices, chocolate chips, sweeteners, baking mixes, etc.}
Beverages {juice, soda, tea bags, k-cups, coffee, etc.}
Ethnic Foods {soy sauce, refried beans, tortillas, sauces, flavoring packets, noodles, etc.}
Canned Goods {vegetables, fruit, beans, sauces, soup, etc.}
Snacks & Candy {bulk candy, chocolate bags, gum, crackers, snack bars, cookies, etc.}
Pantry Items {random assorted pantry items}
Cleaning Products {all-purpose cleaner, laundry & dish soap, cleaning wipes, air freshener, etc.}
Paper Goods {silverware, napkins, plates, paper towels, toilet paper, foil, saran-wrap, tupperware, etc.}
Refrigerated Foods {pillsbury doughs, milk, cheese, yogurt, breakfast juice, coffee creamer, etc.}
Baby Items {bottles, formula, clothes, food, snacks, potty training, diapers, etc.}
Beauty & Pharmacy {makeup, shaving, oral care, hair care, etc.}
Other Household Goods {towels, decor, toys, outdoors, batteries, magazines, etc.}
Around Town {oil changes, restaurants, services, etc.}

There are two great options for in-binder organizing. You can either use baseball card sleeves {buy here}or currency sleeves {buy here}. I personally use baseball sleeves, but I’ve heard that for larger coupons it’s easier to use currency sleeves so you don’t have to fold them.

Before you get into putting away your clipped coupons, you’ll need to go through your binder to remove any expired coupons. It’s best to sort them with the closest expiration date in the front so you can easily pull out the ones that have expired.
*Please note that overseas military families can use coupons up to 6 months after their expiration date! If you’re interested in sending your coupons overseas, click over to the Krazy Coupon Lady for more information.

Since you have already sorted your coupons while clipping, it’ll make this next part easier. I always start with my food items. It’s easiest to take the whole stack and further organize it into the smaller categories. So within ‘food’ I’ll make piles for frozen, refrigerated, meats, etc. Once they’re put into piles you can start placing them into your binder. How you sort them in the sleeves is completely up you. For myself it varies depending on the section I’m working in.

For most of my food sections with a smaller number of coupons, I sort by brand and item. So, all of my frozen vegetables go together but broken down by specific brand or type {such as Steamfresh, store brand, etc.}.

Once I get into the hygiene items {where there tend to be a LOT more coupons available} I organize exclusively by item. By this I mean all of my toothbrushes go into one slot – it’s the same for deodorant, hair color, razors, etc.

When we get to beauty, I believe it’s easiest to organize by brand. That way when your favorite store is having a sale on Revlon products, you can simply take out all of your Revlon coupons in one grab.

Now that all of your coupons are beautifully stored in your binder you can get down to the business of making a shopping list.

I used to go to every store within 5 miles of our house to get the best deals {CVS, Target, Kroger, Marsh, Walgreens, and Sam’s Club were my usual haunts}. Most of the time this doesn’t work for my schedule so unless one of the drugstores is having a great sale, I’ll stick to my one-stop-shop. I must admit, though, drugstores are great places to get deals on toothpaste and dish soap.

Since Meijer {my store of choice} puts out their ad on Thursday, I always clip and sort my coupons on Wednesdays that way I can spend Thursday morning looking over the ad and making my list before shopping in the afternoon. Try to make it to the store within a few days of the ad going that so when there’s a big sale you don’t miss out {I’ve had that happen and it’s no fun}.

I always eyeball the sales ad and select everything I think is a good deal or I have a coupon for. Then I take all of my coupons out that match up with sales. In Pages I type up my list of sales items matched up with the coupons and the final per item price. My meals list is always based off of the sales and coupon list I type up to maximize our savings every week.

When you go to the store ALWAYS bring your full coupon binder in the event that you find a great sale or see some clearance items that match your coupons. However, to maximize your shopping time you should put the coupons from your list into an envelope.

Using this method I have an average weekly shopping bill of approximately $75 {for 2 adults and a toddler}. We also average $40 in savings: both sales and coupon. One day I’ll show you some of the mini-stockpile we have accumulated {I can tell you that as of yesterday we have 20 boxes of Hamburger Helper and 9 bottles of shampoo}.

Thanks for bearing with me for such a long post, but I really hope this has helped you out! Like I said before, coupons are FREE MONEY that come to your doorstep, so it’s silly not to take full advantage.

Do you have any couponing tips to share? Leave a comment!

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Click on the image below to download a table of contents and page dividers for your very own coupon binder!

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Comments

  1. Hi!!! I love love love the dividers and toc!However, when I downloaded and opened the zip, it won’t allow me to print and it won’t open in any other media. Do you by any chance have these in pdf?

  2. Any Carlton says:

    Love! Thanks for sharing your ideas :-)

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