Once you have collected some coupons, you need to find a way to organize and store them. This is a personal process and there is no one “right” answer. You have to find an organization system that works for you.
System #1: File By Insert Method.
With this method, you will collect your insert (or inserts) each week. Label them with the recent date. And then put the insert in a file folder with the corresponding date on the top. Repeat this process again following weeks – assigning each set of inserts a new file folder. I have a hanging file folder that I keep all my inserts in, but you can easily put them in a file cabinet or just in a pile on a shelf.
Pros of this method:1. No cutting till you need the coupon. Because my grocery matchups include the date and insert in the description (5/23 SS – which would be the SmartSource insert from May 23), you can clip as you need them. 2. This organization system takes little time. File and you are done. 3. Keeps your budget in-line because you won’t be tempted to buy something just because you have a coupon.
Cons of this method:1. Missing out on great savings of unadvertised sales or clearance (especially at Target) because all your coupons are at home. 2. Having to store coupons at home. 3. Missing out on limited time printables because you only clip what you need.
System #2: Clip All Method.
With this method you will cut all the coupons from the Sunday inserts, and store them in either an accordion folder, recipe/shoe box, or coupon binder. Each storage unit will have categories for the clipped coupons. Coupon binders are probably the most elaborate of these storage units. The are three-ring binders with clear baseball card holders that house all your coupons for easy access and viewing.
Pros of this method: 1. Never missing out on unadvertised sale or clearance because all you coupons are with you. 2. If you are visual, it is easier to remember what coupons you have on hand vs. digging through to find a specific coupon. 3. Little temptation. If you are trying to keep certain food out of your house, it is easier when you don’t have a coupon for the item on hand.
Cons of this method: 1. Time. It takes time to cut, sort, and organize your coupons. 2. If you only clip the coupons you think you will use, you may miss out on advertised deal for a new item. 3. You may spend more than your budget because you are finding great unadvertised deals that you can’t let go by.
System #3: Hybrid of Both Systems.
This is my current method. I still file all my inserts by date, but I also have a small coupon binder that is filled with one-off coupons, printables, and coupons for items that our family uses on a regular basis. So it is trying to manage the best of both worlds.
Pros of this method: 1. In some ways, you do get the best of both worlds. It takes less time that the Clip All Method, but you find great unadvertised deals for products you frequently buy.
Cons of this method: 2. In some ways, it is the worst of both worlds. It takes more time than the File By Insert Method, and you still miss out on unadvertised deals because most of your coupons are at home.
In the end – you need to find a system that works for you. I always advise to start out with the File By Insert Method and see if you even like couponing before you invest the time or money in the other systems. As you get your footing with couponing, you’ll start to find out what works for you and make appropriate changes.