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First, understand I only use a coupon on an item IF that allows me to get it cheaper than the generic, or cheaper than at Aldi. Often, when combining coupons with sales, CVS bonus bucks, or Walgreen's rebates, I get items free; such as toothpaste, deodorant and shampoo. But, to take full advantage of this, you usually can not be brand loyal.
Also, remember that often stores such as Dollar Tree and Dollar General also take coupons and also have name brand items at much less. This allows me to get name brand cereal often for $1 a box or sometimes free.
My coupon book goes everywhere with me. My kids and husband will attest to this, we can't leave the house without it! You never know when you may come across an unadvertised special or discounted item that you have coupons for, and you want your coupons with you-not at home.
After having my coupons in folders, envelopes, boxes and coupon holders, I came across keeping them in a 3 ring notebook binder. Inside the binder I have clear plastic photo sheets (the type with pockets that hold pictures).
Each pocket is labeled with a different category, and they are arranged in alphabetical order. I don't like standing in a store searching, so I have lots of categories--so I can find a coupon quicker. I have around 50 pockets. Some of my pockets are labeled as followed: air fresheners, baby, baking goods, batteries, beverages, bread and crackers, candy and gum, canned goods, cereals and breakfast foods, chips, etc. You will want to adjust your categories for your needs.
After my pocket section, I then have a section of my book that has the large plastic page protector sheets. I have around 7 of those. Inside those sheets, I keep the current weekly ad for a store. Each store has its own protector sheets. As I study the ad, I move coupons for the sale items to that pocket for the store I plan to use them in. As I enter the store, I can easily flip to that ad and see those coupons for that visit. So, I have a page for Dollar General, CVW, Walgreen, Price Chopper, HyKlas, HyVee and Office Depot.
For my area, most of these stores are just a couple blocks from each other, so I don't waste a lot of time or fuel going from one to another. Also, I generally do not hit all these stores in a week.
As my coupons expire, I pull them out and pass them on to a military family who can use them. (Most commissaries take expired coupons.)
I generally spend about 90 minutes a week clipping my coupons and organizing them with the sale ads. My time to do this is on Sunday night while the kids are in youth group. We live 30 minutes from church, so I take them and then go to an empty Sunday School classroom and do my coupons. Sometimes a couple other moms join me in doing the same.
If you see an item you can get for free or next to free that you don't use, get it anyway and then donate it. I have given several blood sugar testers to our local food pantry to pass on to someone who could not afford one. They were ones I got free at CVS after rebates and CVS bucks. When you donate them, be sure to ask for a receipt for your taxes for donation purposes.
Also, check your area and join the free frequent shopper programs, such as CVS bonus bucks, Price Chopper frequent shopper and Office Depot work rewards and many more.
By mom-from-missouri from NW Missouri
I love coffee, and great deals while shopping, so I have tons of "frequent buyer" coffee punch cards, coupons, and gift cards. But with all of them just loose in my purse, it was a mess! Worse yet, when I would clean out my purse and leave some of the coupons or gift cards at home, I'd often be at a store and find a great deal, then realize I didn't have the coupon or card with me - it was at home!
To solve this, I took an extra wallet that I had and put my coupons in the bill holder area, and gift cards and coffee punch cards (along with some other important ones) in the credit card area. Now I don't have to worry about running across a sale and not having a coupon or not getting credit for my latest cup of coffee! Finding things in my purse is much easier too!
Occasionally I have forgotten to use my coupons at the checkout only to remember them when I get home. I've started highlighting the items that I have coupons for on my shopping list with bright neon highlighters, that way they constantly jog my memory as I read my grocery list.
By mother of 5 from Canada
We only eat out as a family if we have a coupon to do so. But keeping track of all those dining out coupons can be difficult. I created a coupon file just for this purpose. Using a small check organizer file, I labeled sections with titles such as: fast food, ice cream, pizza, buffet, diners, etc. There is even a section for entertainment (bowling, mini golf, movies). We keep this file in our car along with my grocery coupon file so we remember to use them before their expiration dates.
By Deb from Manchester, PA
This suggestion is about received email coupons for restaurants and grocery stores. To keep better track of which to use up first due to expiration dates, I forward them to my email addy with the name of the restaurant and the expiration date in the subject bar.
When I get a Walgreen's Register Rewards coupon or an CVS store ECB coupon, etc. (ones that are usually high values) and I don't want to miss out on using before they expire, I put a brightly colored yard sale pricing dot on them and put them in my dollar bill slot in my wallet.
When I find a coupon that I'd like to use, I put it with my grocery list that I keep clipped to the refrigerator until I'm ready to head to the store. I remember to use it when it's with my list that I check as I walk through the store to find my groceries.
I purchased a small photo album that holds 3x5 inch photos. I use the clear double sided photo holders to place and organize my coupons so it's easy to thumb through at the store and goes easily in my purse.
I was having a hard time keeping up with my coupons. So a friend of mine bought me a binder for my birthday, and I bought a pack of baseball card holder sleeves and a pack of dividers.
On the rare occasions we eat out, I usually only remember to look for restaurant coupons when we are leaving. Since the coupons were not readily accessible, we failed to take advantage of them and let the coupons expire.
I have a vinyl coupon sorter that is divided into categories (Grocery, Target, etc. and family members names and receipts awaiting reimbursement or rebates) Each time I purchase an item, I place the receipt in the corresponding file.
I shop at various stores. I will paper clip the coupons that I am using at that store to their sales paper, instead of trying to search for them in my file. I just take the sales flyers with me while I am shopping.
Instead of organizing your coupons by item, organize buy the aisle the item is found on. That way when you have a coupon you want to use, you don't have to go looking up and down the store looking for the item.
This tip is for organizing store rainchecks and coupons. I try to get rainchecks each time I visit the grocery store, so I may purchase these out of stock products at my convenience, and maybe I have also found coupons by then.
Everyone likes to save money, especially since a large portion of our earnings go toward bills. There are many ways to cut back and ensure we have a little extra to live off of. Two methods I utilize include couponing and store reward programs.
I keep a coupon organizer in my car just for non-grocery coupons. I have fast food, nice restaurants, clothes, and other misc. stuff. That way when I am out and about, I always have my coupons close at hand, if we decide to stop for a meal or something.
Finding the coupons by categories as they are set up in the little folders one can purchase caused too much fumbling and wasting of time as I was trying to find coupons for items that were on sale. I solved the problem by turning the section dividers around and changing them to alphabetical dividers with a felt-tip pen.
On Sunday night, take out your store fliers from the newspaper to check for sales. Take an envelope and write on the back which products that you want, the size and the price.
I stocked up on hair color and a toilet cleaning system and refills early this year when I had coupons, and they were on sale.
On Sunday, cut out coupons from the paper and file them in a box for 3x5 inch index cards. You can bring this with you each time you go grocery shopping. Then if you see something on clearance, you have a coupon for.
I think it's safe to say that most of us have, at some point or another, purchased an expensive time-keeping system such as a Day Timers. After the year runs out, we often store these on some shelf because we can't bear to part with the investment.
I do not use many coupons. However, the ones I do keep, I kept forgetting when I went to the store. I found a way to help me. I simply tape the coupon on the item in the cupboard.
I use a small tackle box for my coupons. It has a sturdy latch and handle.
Use a basket on or near the door to collect coupons, outgoing mail, and items needed for errands. Then just grab the basket and go - you won't forget anything again!
Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.
I am trying to save money on groceries by using coupons. I know to save coupons from the Sunday paper, but does anyone have any suggestions for other places to look or of any websites that have some?
I'd also like to find more information on the web about knowing when to use coupons and the best ways to keep them organized.
Amy in Texas
The prior advice is excellent; however through the years I've outgrown mine & now have 2 seperate plastic shoeboxes with dividers. One shoebox holds manufacture and store coupons for the grocers; the other holds entertainment coupons (restaurants, mall, recreation). My grocery coupons are set up by the rows of the store that I go to most often. You can save lots of $$$. Good luck. Besides the Sunday paper, ask neighbors who may not use them if you can have them. For your favorite products go to their individual sites for great offers. Hope the info helps.
kc in mesa
I took an old DayRunner I had from when I worked at IBM and used the larger index cards cut on an angle and taped to the dividers to make pockets. It zipps and has a place for all my reward cards, calculator, grocery list etc.
I'm starting to become an avid coupon clipper. I've joined a coupon train and just purchased 150+ coupons on eBay for less than $6.00. Now, I'd love to learn a good, effective way to store/sort them in like a binder or something. Anyone have any ideas/suggestions? I'm just trying to save some money and get the most out of my coupons! Thanks.
By Jaci from Missouri
I found a CD storage case for my coupons. It is about 8" by 12" and has around 24 pockets. I labeled each pocket with an index card inserted into each pocket. I found the CD case at a yard sale for 10 cents. It works well. I also use an accordion style folder for the weekly coupon inserts from the paper. I used several videos on youtube about coupon organizing. Good Luck
I like all the ideas especially the one using the CD holder. Thus far my "system" consists of two recycled envelopes, the size you get a large greeting card in, preferably coloured. I use two envelopes, one for grocery coupons and one for restaurant coupons. I keep them in the door storage slot in my car.
Before I go into the grocery store I check the envelope. That's the time to edit the outdated ones. I may take coupons out and put them in my wallet or I may take the envelope in. I am a shift worker and like to grab a breakfast sandwich on the way home. I always have my coupons with me.
ThriftyFun is one of the longest running frugal living communities on the Internet. These are archives of older discussions.
Here are some common household items you can use to help keep your coupons organized.
Highlight the expiration date with yellow marker.
Alekscat the frugal feline in Richmond,VA
I have any envelope for each month and sort by expiration date. This way I can use them before they expire.
I make my own zipper pouch (fake leather vinyl) for my coupons, I punched two holes, inserted a gromet and used a leather thong so I can slip it over my shoulder if I want to. I do not carry a purse. Determine the size that best works for you! Save the envelopes that you get with bills, seal the flap inside the envelope, and label the type of coupon you put in it. Then put the envelope into your coupon pouch, with the address facing the back. You can use these to section your coupon pouch. You can also reuse some of your incoming mail envelopes too! Add some scotch tape at the top edges for stability, since you will be thumbing through them often. Keep the labeling simple" i.e. Candy, Beverage, Bakery Items, Canned and Jar Items, Frozen Food, Meat & Cold Products, Ice Cream, Miscellaneous and boxed items, Soap and Household items, Paper Goods, Personal Items, and FREE Coupons. Don't worry about expiration dates because you always get new ones. Once a month while watching TV, sort your coupons and discard the expired ones.
Most Important: Be sure to keep your coupon pouch under the front seat of your car (or in your glove box), so you will "always" have the coupons with you. You never know when you might need them!
I use a kangaroo ziploc bag. It hold my coupons in one pouch, frequent shopper cards in another and receipts in another. It is stuck to my fridge with a magnet!
A way I save time and keep from wasting coupons is to scour the grocery ads as soon as they come in. I have a list that I keep with different stores' names listed in different sections (only ones that aren't too far). When I see an item on sale that I use, I go through my coupons and hopefully find one, then paperclip the coupon on the paper under the store's name. I make a grocery run once a week and hit all of the stores close by and save lots of money.
Always leave your clipped coupons in the car. This way you will always have them on hand when you need them, not at home.
I keep my coupons in a coupon divider (small accordion). I label specific foods/areas under their section, dairy, cleaning, pet, etc... When I first cut them out, I write the expiration date with a flair pen on the coupon so I can readily see it when in a hurry. Then I divide and file in specific area in my case, Then in each section, I paper clip the coupons expiring in the current month. I like having the coupons in section, so I don't have to constantly go through the whole batch. I can then take my coupon case to the store, in case something I use often is on sale, I can go ahead and cash it in and get two bargains in one, if I have a coupon for it. I have lost out so many times that this seems to work for the whole family.
By Karen -N.C.
A great tip to help sort through your coupons and compare to the store sales flyer, check out the website, http://www.cutouthunger.org/. Through this web site at no cost, you can browse a listing of your local coupons as well as a local grocery store and see what savings you can find. It really cuts out a lot of time of sorting and comparing.
Buy a coupon organizer and keep coupons organized by product and date. Go through it weekly when you add new coupons so that you can use the ones that will expire soon.
Need a place to put store coupons until you get them separated and filed? Take the bottom cardboard portion from a loaf of Velveeta Cheese, and glue expired coupons until all surfaces are covered on all sides, overlapping them at angles to cover. Use household glue. When thoroughly dried, keep this easy to locate box somewhere in your kitchen. You'll never again have to hunt for where those loose coupons are, it lasts for years and will accommodate even those extra long coupons. Even someone who doesn't read well will recognize this box for what its intended purpose is!
Organize coupons by date in their separate compartments. This will help you keep from missing expiring ones.
I use a baby wipes box with alphabet dividers. I've used the same box for 12 yrs and the lid is just about ready to leave the box. I don't have any more babies so I don't what I will use next. I'm not sure the wipe boxes come with the full lid anymore - I think they just have the cut out center.
Alphabetically file food categories in a small index card size box, using color tabbed dividers. Example/Breads, Beverages, Canned Goods, Dairy. I also store store coupons in back and clean out the expired coupons once every month.
I keep all of my coupons in a folding wallet and have them in alphabetical order as to what type of product they are ex: cereal, condiment, meat, pasta. This way whatever store I go into I have my products in some sort of order for quickness.
I finally found a coupon system that works for me. I put sheet protectors in a 3 ring binder, after clipping open the sealed edges of the protector. I separate these into sections as they are in the grocery store: Produce, canned items, prepared foods, breakfast foods, etc. (Use what works for you). Then I cut out coupons every week and tape them onto the sheet proctors. I can easily see which coupons I have and don't have to flip through them one at a time as they are on an 8 1/2 x 11 inch sheet and I can see many at once. For some reason, I use many, many more coupons this way and often save 50% off of my grocery bill.
If you get the sheets used for baseball cards, you can just fold the coupon and slip it into a pocket - you won't have to tape the coupons to sheet protectors. The baseball card sheets are already hole- punched so you can fit them in a notebook. Then you can use tabbed dividers to separate the sheets into categories. (11/14/2006)
I use a thin photo album for 4 x 6 prints; the ones that hold about 20 prints. I slip the coupons that I want to use into each page as though they were in page protectors. I keep this little album in my purse and can easily flip through it at the store as I shop and find the coupons that I need. Now I don't forget the coupons at home anymore and I can keep coupons of different sizes all organized in one album. (02/20/2008)
I just use regular long envelopes, (like what you mail your bills off in). I've cut off the tops of these, and labeled them alphabetically, I purchased a plastic box about the size of a shoe box, and I keep them in there. I also have sub-categories in some of the letters that have many coupons (I organize by brand name, not category) My subcategories are, Food, Medicine, Beauty, Dog Food, Cleaning. I buy several papers, the coupons I'll make multiple purchases on, I cut out several and file, the other inserts, I just keep whole. (08/15/2008)