Thursday, May 26, 2011

Extreme vs. Centsible Couponing: How to organize your coupons

centsible couponing button

This post will help dispel another coupon myth - “I don’t have time to coupon.”  Which I think what they are actually saying with that statement is they don’t have time to sit down and cut out every coupon from the coupon inserts that come out each Sunday.

If I had to cut out every coupon from each Sunday’s paper, I wouldn’t have time to coupon either!!  But I DO coupon and save a lot! 

Here’s how:

I DON’T cut coupons! :)

Well, until I actually get ready to use them, that is! :)

Remember I shared that I get multiple coupon inserts each week and there is NO WAY that I have time, nor do I want to cut each coupon out. 

I use the No-cut or whole insert method”

(or as I like to call it, the "cut it when you need it method!:)


Each Sunday, I browse through the coupon inserts that came out that day and make a mental note of the coupons in it.  If there are any “FREE coupons” or a coupon that I will use regardless of whether the product is on sale, I go ahead and cut them right then (this is probably 1-3 coupons each week.)  Each insert gets rubber banded together by type and date (5/10 SS together, 5/10 RP together, etc.) and labeled with the date on a sticky note stuck on the bottom edge as my “tab.”  (You can find the date on the spine of the coupon insert.)  I fill them by date in a stacker system.

Then, when I print out my shopping list (I will share where I do this in another post), I just pull the insert stack where the coupon is located, cut as many coupons as I want, and file the stack back.  So I am only cutting the coupons that I need, WHEN I need them!  That is why you will see me say here on this blog,  “Use $1.00/1 coupon from 5/15 SS" – meaning you can find the coupon in the May 15th Smartsource insert.

What do I do with the coupons I have now cut out?

The polka dot expandable file is for CVS and the blue file is for grocery stores.  I file cut coupons in these binders.


Not by food type such as dairy, frozen, canned goods; but by store (since I already have my list and know which store I am going to use that coupon at.)


Blinkie coupons, FREE coupons, coupons I find in store, coupons I printed but won’t use this week, etc. get filed in the front pocket or behind the store pockets.

My CVS expandable file sections are divided by:
  • this week’s coupons
  • rainchecks
  • ECB’s (or Extracare Bucks = CVS $)
  • CVS coupons (from the coupon printer)

This is the method I highly recommend!!  It could be organized in hanging file folders, smaller stackers, in a notebook with pocket, or many other ways!

There are also 2 other coupon organizational methods:

“Coupon binder method” 

You cut every coupon from the Sunday paper and file them in baseball card holder sleeves organized by category in a large 3-ring binder. 

The one advantage to this method is that you can take your whole binder to the store with you, so if you found a clearance or unadvertised deal you have the coupon with you (which I would not! :)

But you are going to spend a good amount of time cutting coupons (even if you only get 1-2 inserts) and will probably  end up only actually using less than half of those coupons.

“Expandable file method”

Basically the same method as above.  You cut all your coupons each week and filed them into an expandable file (like the ones I showed above just with more categories and/or pockets.) 

Once again, one advantage is you have all the coupons with you when you are at the store.

One more thing about cutting your coupons before you need them…

Once you make your list or print your list, you would still have to pull the coupons that you need from your binder or file.  With 8-12 weeks of un-expired cut coupons in your binder or file, that is a lot of coupons to sort through to find the one that you are looking for!   I have seen many people in the store with their huge binder across the cart hunting for coupons.  While I have my stack of coupons in hand that I plan to use and nothing else!

Bottom line, you have to do what works best for you. 

If you are happy with the method you currently use, then use it!  If you are just starting out, try one method for a while and see if you like it, if not try another method!

What method do you use and why?

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