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Sunday, January 24, 2010

Coupon Organization: Making it Work for YOU {part 5}

Missed the start of this series? {Part 1} and {Part 2} and {Part 3} and {Part 4}.

You've patiently waited to see what method of organization I'm currently using... I intended to do this series in a period of 10 days. Of course, life is always busier than I expect, and it took me a little long {asking for forgiveness!}.

This method is a combination of the first two I tried {and featured}. Amber, one of our contributors, showed me this fabulous idea last summer, and I finally implemented it a few months ago. I must say - it is working for me!!
  • It has the functionality and portability of the binder, with out spending hours clipping coupons you may or may not use.
  • Incorporates the ease of the filing method, without the frustration of not being able to quickly see what coupons you have while roaming the isles of the store.


So instead of using an expandable file folder that isn't very portable, you can use your favorite binder! (I strongly suggest getting something that you can close shut thanks to velcro, snaps, or zippers!!).

Personally, I am using my super cute "Stylin Binder" bag. I love it because:

2 - It's fabulously portable!
3 - It velcros shut, so I don't have to worry about dropping it and having all the contents fly all over the place!

{You can see all their super cute new fabrics and bags right here!}

NEXT - Purchase some sheet protectors. I remember seeing them advertised super cheap during the back to school sales (like less than $.20 for a pack of 12). Since I missed those sales, I purchased a huge box of 225 at Costco for around $13.00 (If I'm remembering correctly!?). Obviously you won't need that many, so you could split it with several friends, or just buy a smaller pack on sale somewhere. (I bought a big one so I'd have extras to giveaway at our classes!). You'll want enough to get you through about 13 weeks (one sheet protector per set of inserts - 30, give or take a few, should cover it!).

Here is the cool part, not only are you going to put your group of 4, 5, or 6 inserts inside the sheet protector, you are going to give each set a "Cover Page" that lists all the coupons (and their expiration dates) on the front.

It looks a little something like this:

I bold the coupons that I am excited about (you could also use a highlighter). This makes for quick and easy viewing! Now when I'm in the store roaming the isles, and I see something on a great sale, I can quickly scan my cover pages to see if there is a coupon to use! Each page has the coupons listed in alphabetical order and I put the newest ones in the front of my binder. Of course, you'll have to get over the "I'll look stupid standing in the isle clipping coupons" feeling. C'mon girl (or guy)! You're walking out of the store paying 50%-90% less than the dude that's lookin at you funny! Who cares if you're clippin in the isle!

NOW - I know what you're thinking. Who in the world has time to go through each insert, type the details of every coupon, AND alphabetize!?!?! Our fab reader Sophie, a spreadsheet freak, has kindly shared her lists with us! Here are the CURRENT Idaho Coupons Lists by Insert Date
or you can always click up on the menu bar under "ORGANIZATION" and find the link to the CURRENT Idaho Coupons Lists by Insert Date!

Simply print it and stick it inside the sheet protector with that corresponding group of coupons!

What do you think?
Do you want to give it a try?

ps - Not in Idaho? There are a few different places to look for the coupons you received. I'd first check to see if your state forum at PYP has a similar list. If not, you could always go to sites like Sunday Coupon Preview and copy and paste there. Remember that those coupons do vary a little bit too, so you may want to double check!

I'd like to hear what you think of this system!

And yes, I still have one more installment in this series! Email me your current organization system! I'll post the pictures and what you're loving/hating about it! I also took some pictures of Cathy B's homemade coupon holders for you to see her great method!

Are you new to this couponing thing? We've got all the basics laid out for you in our Couponing 101 post! We'll show you where to collect coupons, how to organize them, and how to use them effectively! Join in on all our fun and you can be a fab fruGAL too! You can subscribe to our FREE newsletter and join us on Facebook!

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Missy said...

Wow. I have never heard of or thought of this method. I may just have to give it a try.

Brandy said...

YOu are a lifesaver! I'm so tired of clipping a million coupons that I end up disposing of at expiration date. BUT I didn't like the idea of just keeping the inserts as they were - so I'm SO glad you posted this! It will save me SO much time and effort!

Amber said...

Obviously this is my favorite method BY FAR!

In my binder, I also keep a zippered pencil case for loose coupons I clip for a sale but don't use. I have a sheet of paper in the zippered case too and as I add a coupon, I write it down.

I do the same with a file of internet printables. Because the coupons you choose to print will vary, that is a list you will have to compile and print yourself. Then use that list as your cover sheet for the printables file.

I also skim through the inserts before I file them and remove any of the "junk" pages. Red Plum is notorious for filling their inserts with fluff ads. I mean how many porcelain life-like dolls, full-comfort bras and designer checks does a girl need?

Phil said...

Alright, so you'll take all your inserts and staple the coupons that you want, then you'll slid the stapled insert into the binder section?
Ok, this will make this less daunting. I'm glad I learned this in the beginning before I got set in my ways.

Amber said...

Phil, the stapling demo was for cutting multiple coupons at once. For this method, you don't have to pre-cut AT ALL! That means you take the entire insert, no staples involved, and slide it in the sheet protector. So depending on how many copies of the paper you get, you could have 6 full Smart Source inserts in one sheet protector (with the coupon list as the cover page). Make sense?

Phil said...

Yeah, but it would seem hard for me to clip 5 inserts at once in the aisle. Whereas, if I stapled them, it would make clipping easier on the fly.
I guess I could do either. Unless I'm breaking coupon rules, I don't want to be an orgization outlaw by STAPLING and not cutting! Someone stop me before I do something drastic!

Amber said...

A coupon outlaw. It has a certain ring to it! :0) Staple away. You just have to find a method that works for you and stick to it. I don't staple because I don't like to separate my inserts. But if you try it and it works for you, go for it. As couponers, we get strange looks in the aisles anyway, staples or no!

Meridian Mama said...

Hey, that's the system I started to use after I began couponing last spring! But then baby #2 was born and I haven't gotten back into the swing of things quite yet... :o)

How nice of you to share the cover pages, it will save me some precious time deleting the coupons we didn't get or changing the $ amounts!!!

I also made a notation on top of each cover page as to what is the latest expiration date so that I could then toss the insert when there were no usable coupons...

Tyree said...

I didn't want to do the insert method cause I have a hard time finding the right coupons when I need them but had about given up on my baseball card binder method (I'm so lazy). Love this idea need to give it a shot. I will probably still preclip for what I know I'm getting but use this as backup for unknown sales! :) Thanks for sharing your cool idea.

Cathy said...

So many great ideas to add to this method! Amber, I too have a zippered pencil pouch for loose/unused coupons. I love your idea of a running list! And for having a cover sheet for printables!

Meridian Mama, great idea to add the latest coupons expiration date at the top! I'll start adding that.

Phil, no matter what you do in the isle, people will be in awe seeing you do it! You're a part of a growing minority. I think it's awesome that you're interested in it!

Thanks for all the positive feedback everyone! Keep the ideas/thoughts coming!

Cathyb said...

I also do a combo, but a little bit differently. I really have to "see" my coupons, plus I like to be able to look according to catagory. So I clip the coupons that I think I might use and put them in my binder by catagory (along with clipped internet coupons). The rest of the coupons that I really am not sure about I will staple all like pages together and put them in a manila folder with the date labeled on top. That way if a great sale comes up for one of these coupons I can easily pull the insert; but otherwise I do not have to spend a lot of time clipping and filing extra coupons. I think everybody just has to find a way that works for them.

Fabulessly Frugal said...


I love that idea! I have to "see" my coupon too.
I also can't bear to throw any away, "just in case". I think I might start using your idea, but keep the extra coupons in a clear view page protector like Cathy fab so I can put them in the binder!
I also like to file by category. :)

Janae said...

So does each insert (RP, SS, etc) have their own sheet protector for each week?

I love this idea and am definitely going to implent it. I already order the binder thing...so cute!

Cathy said...

Yep! I put all my 1/24 SS in one sheet protector, and then all my 1/24 RP in one sheet protector and so on...

YAY on the binder! You'll love it!

Amber Red said...

So I totally love this method, but I am always finding that it would take me just as much time to figure out what coupons are in my area. Here in washington we seem to get so many different ones they Id folks. So i have had to submit to the baseball card way. Any suggestions on that?

Cathy said...

Amber, the only suggestion I have would be found in parts 3 & 4. Monica does the binder method and I have a link to her post in part 3. Part 4 shows a quick way to clip. Bummer it won't work for you!

rachel said...

I love your idea for organization, but it seems like Pinching your Pennies stopped updating the "Idaho coupons by insert date." Has the link changed?

Cathy said...

Rachel -

You're right. I don't see them doing it anymore, and it's soo sad! I still am going to search around. Otherwise, I just may have to do it. But I won't have time until we finish some behind the scenes projects we're working on. (Hint: Extreme Makeover!) :)

Marne said...

Actually, PYP still does update the coupon lists. And not just for Idaho either. Don't spend your time doing it when it is already being done! Here is the link:


They do lists for: Arizona, Northern CA, Southern CA, Idaho, Kansas, Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Eastern Washington and Western Washington.

Fabulessly Frugal said...

Thanks Marne! We love that list, but we are using the individual insert lists to help organize our coupons by insert date.

Putting the paper in front of the insert to tell us which coupons are in that insert.

Tricia said...

I love the PYP list for reference to look things up but have been frustrated lately because it doesn't have A LOT of the things I am looking for that I know I have coupons for. Like all General Mills inserts! I was just looking up Yoplait coupons and Dreyers coupons and it doesn't have those listed at all and I've got both from the last month or two. Any ideas why? Which newspaper is the compiler using to do the lists from? Is there anyone that does the Idaho Statesman or Press Tribune (and even these two are different as you pointed out)?

Cathy said...

Tricia -

The lists they have don't include the GM inserts, you're right! We are compiling weekly lists here, which include the GM and the Statesman got coupons that none of the other papers did on 3/7. That list is also on this post:


HomeSpun Threads said...

I do the exact same thing except I found a really cool accordion file at Target but I like this binder thing better I think...I wish I could figure out how to just put the fliers right in without sliding them down into something...I need to go back up and read, but how do you catalog the coupons? Do you type them up or is there a database somewhere that you can download...just curious. THANKS for posting.

HomeSpun Threads said...

PS! I too no longer clip until I need the coupon...which makes it so much easier.

Cathy said...

HomeSpun -

We have a reader that types up the lists on an excel spreadsheet and we put them on his page: http://www.fabulesslyfrugal.com/2010/02/coupon-insert-lists.html

I know one person that, instead of a sheet protector, uses a sturdier version that is cut sort of diagonally, sort of like a pocket. I should have her take pictures and post it! It's easier to take the inserts in and out of and the page with the printed list is right up front, easy to cross things out with out having to take it in and out of a sheet protector.

HomeSpun Threads said...

ooo I have some of those pockets...I use them in school. That's a good idea too! Thanks!