Apr 122011How To Tuesday: Extreme Couponing (Part 2)

Topic: How To Organize Coupons

If you’re just joining us, I started a How To Tuesday series to help you learn how to achieve Extreme Couponing status. You’ll learn how to coupon shop step-by-step and take your regular couponing to Extreme Couponing. If you’re new, be sure you check out our previous week’s features.

This week you may be looking at your coupon inserts wondering what in the world to do with them. Today’s topic covers coupon organization. There are really three main methods of organization with pros and cons to each.

Binder Binder (inside)

:: Whole Insert Filing Method

The first method I will highlight today is Whole Insert Filing. This is my preferred method because it takes the least amount of time. You can read a very detailed account of how I do it but here’s a quick run down.

Take the Sunday Coupon Inserts  each week and write the date in large numbers so it’s easy to read. Then place them in chronological order in an accordion file, file box or just a stack on your desk. Each week when you make your shopping list, you’ll pair up available coupons with the items on your list and only clip the coupons you need.

Disposing of inserts can prove tricky since the coupons inside expire at varying times. You can either write on the cover the date the last coupon expires so you know when to toss. Or, you can just toss inserts after 3 months. You may miss some deals that way but you won’t have stacks of coupons taking over your house. I recycle mine after three months. I keep them for a full three months. That means on April 1, I got rid of December 2010 inserts.

:: The Pros

It’s quick and easy. You are only clipping the coupons you need when you actually need them. Sure I need dishwashing soap, but it might not always be on sale or a better coupon may come next week. So I don’t clip a dishwashing soap coupon until it’s on my list. Then I can choose from the highest value coupon available.

:: The Major Con

You don’t have all your coupons with you. If you spot a killer clearance at the store and know you have $2 coupons at home, you either have to pay more, miss out or make a second trip. For me, I prefer not to sacrifice my time for a good deal. I will just skip the clearance find. However, I will write it on my list and grab the coupons, in case I need to make a second trip that week or if the item is still on clearance the following week.

I’ve been using this method for over a year and find it best suits my needs, however, you may find one of these other methods a better fit for you.

:: Coupon Binder Method

This second method is one you likely see on the TLC show Extreme Couponing. Not all Coupon Binder people are crazy though. It’s just a method that works well for many people. I personally find it too time consuming but people swear by it and love having their coupons organized.

First, you’ll need to get a binder, tab dividers and some baseball card protector sheets. You can find them in stores or just grab them from Amazon. Use the tab dividers to divide your binder into categories like Frozen Foods, Refrigerated Foods, Hair Care, Baby and more. Each Sunday you clip all the coupons from the Coupon Inserts. and file like coupons in the baseball card sheets in each category. You’ll be able to easily see what coupons you have and they’ll be organized by category.

To get rid of expired coupons, you’ll need to filp through each page and find the expired ones and pull them out.

:: The Pros

You always shop with your binder and therefore have all your coupons will you. If you spot a great clearance find, you can take advantage because you have the $2 coupons with you. Also, if you have multiple coupon inserts or multiples of the same value of coupon, they can all go in the same slot so they are organized by value in addition to category.

:: The Cons

It is very time consuming. Clipping and filing coupons from multiple inserts can take quite a bit of time. Also, flipping through the binder while you organize your shopping trip can also be time consuming.

If you have kids that can wield scissors and would like to clip coupons for you and even file them, then this might be a great method for you. Just add clipping and filing to the chore chart each week. I know others clip and file while they watch TV or do it at weekly family dinners. If you can fit it into your schedule, you might find this method to work well for you.

:: Coupon Wallet Method

This third method is kind of a middle ground of the two already mentioned. You go through the Sunday Coupon insert each week and clip out the coupons that you know you will use. Things like toothpaste, shampoo and food items. Then you file them categorically in  a small wallet file. The cancelled check files you can find at office supply stores work well. Keep the wallet file in your purse so you’re ready to shop anytime. Other take this method a step further and use a box because they have more coupons than will fit in the file.

To get rid of expired coupons, you have to sort through your file one by one and pull the expired coupons. Some people do this weekly and others do it monthly.

:: The Pros

Similar to the pros of the other methods but in a more limited degree. This method takes less time that the Coupon Binder Method because you are only clipping and filing coupons you use. You also have your coupons with you so if you spot a clearance deal, you can take advantage of it.

:: The Cons

It can be time consuming to clip and file coupons. You also may not know which insert they originate from so matching them to your shopping list may be more difficult. You also are only clipping the coupons you need. You might come across a big money maker on a product you’d never heard of. You wouldn’t be able to take advantage because you don’t have the coupons needed.

If you are only buying a few items with coupons, this might be a great method for you.

You can also try a combination of these methods. While I predominantly use the Whole Insert method, I do have a coupon wallet that I put extra coupons in. The ones I print off the internet, ones I get via mail or ones I just don’t end up using on my shopping trip for whatever reason. They all sit in my coupon wallet until I need them.

Experienced Couponers Chime In: Which method to you use? Why do you love it?

Check out the entire How To Tuesday feature to learn how to achieve savings success using coupons.


  1. Great information, thanks for sharing! I am kind of in the middle with my organization. Right now I am using the Wallet method. I like having something smaller to take with me everywhere.

    Keep the great information coming!

  2. My way is sometimes a little confusing, I think for some people, but it has been working for me for a long time. I have two of those small $1 4×6 plastic photo albums (not the cardboard ones that are really rigid), with one for food items and one for non-food items. Within the album I have categories like makeup, bathroom cleaners, pet food, etc. It is big enough to hold all my coupons and still they are small enough to go in my purse when I’m going shopping. Plus there are times where I know I’m just buying food, or just buying personal care items so I’ll just bring the one specific album with me.

    I’ve mentioned this method to others, a couple people think it’s great, some didn’t see how it could work that well. But like with all other methods, it’s about what is comfortable for you. I could never do a binder, it’s just not something I’m comfortable with.

    • This sounds very much like it would work for me. I always have my little ones in tow so having huge binder isn’t an option. I will have to look for these.

  3. I use a binder, but instead of baseball card holders, I use currency holders. My daughter found them on Ebay (http://cgi.ebay.com/50-BCW-DELUXE-CURRENCY-SLEEVES-SEMI-RIDEG-TOP-LOAD-/220767930919?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item3366cb4a27)
    and they fit coupons really well. I don’t have to fold any! I have dividers in my binder for major sections (ie, dairy, frozen, etc. and then use stickers on some of the pages to subdivide, so for dairy, I might have a Pillsbury section for dough items, a page for yogurt, a page for milks and cheeses, etc. I also ONLY clip the coupons for items my family uses and I skip the item if I already have a stockpile. You won’t find 77 bottles of mustard in my house!

  4. @Gina J. the currency holders sound like a great idea, but i am a bit confused with the description. are they a page or are they individual if they are individual, how do you organize them?

  5. Deniece,
    I think these may be the pages @GinaJ was referring to.


    I use a combination of the insert method and the binder method.

    I have a huge 4″ 3-ring zippered binder with page protectors in the back to hold the inserts (one week of 3-4 sets of inserts fits easily in one page protector).

    In the front, I have baseball card holders divided by store section (beauty, canned, dairy, etc.) with 1-2 pages per section. The baseball card holders keep the coupons I find from other sources like magazines and internet coupons organized. I also put the coupons that I’ve clipped from the inserts but was unable to use at the time in them.

    In the middle I have a page of baseball card holders for each of the different stores I frequent to hold loyalty cards and store specific coupons as well as a copy of the store’s coupon policy.

    This method has worked really well for me for almost 2 years of couponing.

  6. I use a filing cabinet and when I go to the store I have a small coupon file it fits in my purse. I put in the needed coupons and that’s how I organize my coupons

  7. Emmelyn J. says:

    (I’m the afformentioned daughter – the organized one in the family). If you’ve seen a baseball card holder – it’s the same concept. They are actually a little bit taller and a little bit narrower than normal binder sleeve inserts, but they still fit in her zipped binder.

    Here is the correct link of the guy I ordered them from: http://cgi.ebay.com/4-Pocket-Currency-Protective-Pages-100-Page-Lot-/220536067064?_trksid=p5197.m7&_trkparms=algo%3DLVI%26itu%3DUCI%26otn%3D1%26po%3DLVI%26ps%3D63%26clkid%3D1253168523418924733

    They have 4 pockets, after a lot of research, I ordered those. The 3 pockets will fit a lot fewer coupons. The 4 pocket fit the height of most coupons perfectly, without wasting space. They are a bit hard to find though!

  8. i use the first method but i bring my acordian folder to the store. i get all deals but dont cut coupons.

  9. Michaela sanders says:

    I would like to start extreme couponing but i do not no were to start. So can someone help me out with it i am just starting or can you send me step by step so that i can get started thank so much extreme couponing fan.