Coupon Organization: File/Binder Hybrid Method

A few weeks ago, I posted about coupon organizing. I mentioned different ways to organize your coupons and asked how you organized. Well reader Kelly W. shared with me her way of organizing and I just had to see it.

From Kelly W.

I have tried at least three different methods and found this one to work best for me.

I purchased (using points of course) from Staples two 5″ binders and a couple of boxes of 8.5×11 sheet protectors. Each Sunday night I separate all the coupons and match up pages from multiple copies then file the whole page without clipping into the sheet protectors. The binders are kept by insert date.

Then when I see a match up on a site I just flip easily to that date and through the insert to find all my copies in one place. The sheet protectors allow for fast easy flip through.

I started out by filing by date but found it a pain to look through the insert for each coupon as the pages slide all over – (the answer to that – sheet protectors)

Then since I didn’t like that method I began clipping all the coupons and using the baseball card holders and sorting by category – WAY!!! to time consuming and boring!


Went back to filing by date in binders with the sheet protectors and works perfect for me! I use little sticky tags to label each week so that I can easily find the date and the right insert.

If there is a coupon I know for sure I will use (high dollar or kids love it) I will clip them and keep them in a separate smaller binder which uses the baseball card holders and also put the home mailers and rebates in that one. That way I am sure to remember to use them.

I use two large books because I am lazy about purging and only do it once a month or when I run out of space for new coupons.  I just keep rotating through the books so while the end of the book may have March the beginning might be June and I just keep working through them,  otherwise you have to move all the sheet protector pages each time you purge which for me is just a waste of time.  Also if you have six copies of  a page they are all in the same sheet protector and ready to clip at anytime.

I searched high and low for filing methods and never have seen anyone do it this way but for me it is just so much easier than all the others I have tried.

If you have questions for Kelly, leave them in the comments. I am impressed, I must say!

If you are wondering how Kelly finds a coupon, she uses the coupon database!


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  • http://Ftm Rosa Vasquez

    I am New at this . I have 3 mo. Of coupons in front of me & it can be over while mean ! I all ready clipped my coupons & found very time consuming . Sunday I will start your method thanks !!

  • tara

    Thank you for sharing this! I love to coupon but I struggle keeping up with the cutting! I will definitely switch to this method!!

  • Tina

    Kelly,
    How do you organize your single coupons? Do you put these in your binder in the protector sheets?

    Thanks

  • Erin

    Rachel, wow! I’ve been wanting to start my own coupon database but I have about 5 months of coupons to catch up on. I think it would be great to have though. Thank you everyone for your advise. I love this Hybrid method. Erin from savingindy.com

  • Lisa Layton

    Thank you for sharing your way of keeping your coupons. That is the most coupons I have ever seen in one place in your binders. So amazing. Thanks for your blog 2 and helping me understand couponing. Have a safe and happy Weekend ahead. Lisa:)

  • Rachel

    I recently switched over to a method exactly like this and I couldn’t be happier! I used to do just the files, but I never knew exactly where to find a coupon, or even really which coupons I had, if I was in the store and found something on clearance or on an unexpected sale. My solution was my own coupon database that I created in Microsoft Excel.

    When I put each page into its page protector, I write a page number on it on the front. Then, I put each coupon from each insert into my Excel spreadsheet, along with which insert it was in and the page number. I have the expiration dates in a separate column so that I can easily sort by those and purge the expired coupons from my database. I also keep track of how many of each coupon I have, so a coupon inventory of sorts. (So my columns are number of coupon, insert type/date, page number, coupon description, then expiration date.) Then, I print off that spreadsheet and keep it in the front of my binder, with the coupons sorted alphabetically, so I can always easily look up and locate a coupon if I should need it. (I get a little over zealous with organization sometimes.)

    The whole database took an obscene number of hours to compile at first since I started it with about two months’ worth of coupons that needed to be catalogued, even though I started by copying and pasting the coupon list from Sunday Coupon Preview. However, keeping up with it now is MUCH easier and I love always know exactly which coupons I have. I’ve even started including the IP coupons in my database, just to make sure I don’t look over them if I go hunting for a coupon!

    • Crystal

      I have this same exact method. An organized list of coupons that I personally have in front of me at the store while I’m doing some pre-shopping esp on the clearance isle is nice instead of flipping through all kinds of hidden coupons (with the traditional file method) or having wasted all the time to clip coupons that never even get used (with the binder method). This is perfect for me.

  • http://www.acrystalgarden.com Kelly W

    No – I don’t carry them with me. I find I can plan my trips well at home using all the online resources and I have found I don’t feel like I miss out on any sales because of not having it.

    I think to carry a binder you would have to do the baseball card method, clip out all and file by category.

    Kelly

  • http://www.acrystalgarden.com Kelly W

    Charlotte,
    Great idea for having separate binders for each! There would be less to flip to when pulling for your grocery order.

    Sherrie,
    Yes all of the same coupon will be in the same sheet protector.

  • http://www.acrystalgarden.com Kelly W

    “i was thinking about trying this, but i think my binder would be too big since the ss i get from 3 different sources and coupons are organized on different pages. does anyone have solution for that? i might try it for the rp”

    Hi Amy,

    I also get SS from two different sources and the coupon pages don’t generally match up. I will file the big SS first (Baltimore Sun) and then cut the little one (Wilm. News Journal) up matching up the coupons to slide into the right protectors. If I am running short on time I will only pick out the coupons I think I will use and file the whole remaining insert into its own sheet so I still have it just in case there is something in there I should want.
    Sorting the smaller one into the right sheets does take time but for sure not as much as clipping them all out.

    Kelly

  • http://www.acrystalgarden.com Kelly W

    “I take my Q holder in every store with me,”

    Hi Irene,

    You are absolutely right! I would not recommend this method for someone who wants to take their binder to the store. I create my entire list from home in Excel with the help of blogs like Shannon’s and HCW. I stick to the list and just bring home any coupons I don’t use.

    Kelly

  • http://www.acrystalgarden.com Kelly W

    “One question… when there are coupons on both sides of the page how do you organize that?”

    Hi Katherine,

    If there are coupons on both sides of the page I just insert 1 into that sheet protector (or how ever many copies I have of that one). The coupons will then show on the front and back.

    If I have a bunch of pages that only have coupons on one side I just match them up back to back so the coupons show both on the front and back of the sheet protector. This helps save space.

    Kelly

  • http://www.acrystalgarden.com Kelly W

    Hi Bonnie,

    I don’t file them back where they belong but if you look to the left of the two big binders there is a white small one. That one holds baseball card holders in which I will put those types of coupons in.

    I also put IP’s in there along with rebates and mailers. Since this book remains relatively small I will flip through it once in awhile to remind myself what is in there.

    Kelly

  • http://www.thesupersavermom.blogspot.com myranda

    Charlotte,
    Do you carry these binders with you on every shopping trip?

  • sherrie

    I’d also like to ask Kelly how she transports this – do you take it everywhere, leave it in the car, etc? Thanks – this idea is awesome!

    • Shannon

      @sherrie,

      lol Sherrie, I use the file method and I do not carry it with me.. I am wondering if Kelly does.

  • sherrie

    wow – this is the only feasible method i have seen other than what i already do. I dont know how people have time for the baseball card holder method. That is enormously time consuming. I file my coupons by date, and then any other coupons I print or have cut out of inserts I file in a small shoebox by category with sturdy separators. I’d love to find another solution, but cutting and sorting everything would be like a 6 hr shift at work!! Any chance we can see more pics – you do put all of one page of an insert into one sheet protector, right? (making sure I understood that part)

  • Trisha

    I organize my coupons the same way. I feel it is the easiest and fastest way to find what I need.

  • http://triaddeals.blogspot.com Charlotte

    I also do this system, however I have 3 binders. 1 binder for SS, 1 binder for RP, and 1 binder for P&G. This way it is super easy to pull the binder and flip directly to the date I’m looking for!!

    • Mel

      @Charlotte,

      Wow, I really like that idea!!! I’m finding as I go along, clipping every single coupon is time consuming…and i’m beginning to not like it =(

  • http://triaddeals.blogspot.com Charlotte

    Amy, sometimes I get the SS from other sources as well. My solution is: i take the inserts apart and put like pages together (usually there are pages that do match up) then I clip the ones that are different and staple them to the others that do match up. That way when you go to clip them they are already stapled and you don’t have to waste your time by clipping 5 or 6 inserts separately. I hope that helps!

  • Pingback: Coupon Organization | A Frugal Chick

  • AKelly

    This is genius!! I have been mulling over how to organize mine for home storage as well as what I need to help with in-store shopping. I’ve been thinking about combining the same inserts but couldn’t figure out how. This is so perfect. The best thing this would help me with is when my kids dump my inserts and pages from I-don’t-know-which inserts get mixed. Oooh, I’m gonna have to do this method. Thanks so much for sharing!!

  • amy

    i was thinking about trying this, but i think my binder would be too big since the ss i get from 3 different sources and coupons are organized on different pages. does anyone have solution for that? i might try it for the rp.

  • Amy R

    (i should have mentioned that i use this for storing inserts i have already clipped. I NEVER throw them away until they are expired — i carry my binder w/ clipped coupons everywhere)

  • Amy R

    I also found, for us that are less organized, that the plastic zip covers that sheet sets come in (the one i use is king size, not sure about smaller ones) are perfect size. I have file folders in there and they are divided by month.

  • Lauren

    i think i need to switch to this. i am so far behind in clipping and organizing!

  • Irene

    Sounds like a great method for her. I would not be able to do that because I take my Q holder in every store with me, no matter what. I am not that organized to clip before I go. I feel naked if I go in a store without my coupons. I clip them all and file them by category. They are a mess right now, as I only get a chance to purge once a month or so, but I’ve got some time off school now to clean them up.

  • Tonya F.

    My coupons are a MESS right now, I am looking forward to organizing them this way. Makes SO much sense, Thank you for sharing!

  • Jillian

    All I have to say is….Wow!

  • trish

    I do it this way, also, and I LOVE this system. It is so easy. I can’t imagine sitting around clipping coupons! Whenever I pull a coupon, I write on the back the date and insert it came out of so I can easily put it back if I don’t use it.

    It doesn’t matter if there are coupons on both sides because you only do one page per sheet protector not 2.

  • Katherine

    I love this! Looks like a great way to organize. One question… when there are coupons on both sides of the page how do you organize that?

    Thanks for sharing your tip! I might have to try this :)

  • Jennifer

    I need to try this!!!

  • Bonnie

    I might have to try this – I keep getting so far behind in clipping/filing using my current method (baseball card holders).

    Kelly, what do you do if you clip coupons and then the item is out of stock or something when you go to use it? Do you try and put it back in the correct page protector? This happens a lot for me because I usually can’t get out until later in the week when everything’s already been picked over.

  • http://www.acrystalgarden.com Kelly W

    Shannon – You came up with a good name for it! :)

  • Kari

    I love it!!!!!!