Organizing Your Coupons: Binder Method – Frugal Novice

Organizing Your Coupons: Binder Method

I mentioned in my last grocery shopping post that I was planning on putting a binder together for organizing my coupons. Well, after reading several sites about it I got too impatient to wait and went out to pick up what I needed.

‘ve used a small accordion coupon holder in the past, but ended up wasting over $50 in coupons throughout the past couple of years by forgetting about some and missing the expiration dates. This system will remedy that!

First, here’s a list of all of the supplies I needed:

• Zippered binder with pockets – see photo below

• Divider pages

• Scissors

• Calculator

• Plastic sheets to hold baseball cards (Brian was putting the kids’ fall/winter clothes away in the attic and found a ton with his old baseball card collection. One note – if you do have to buy these, I could NOT find them at our Target. By the time I went to WalMart I already knew we had some, so I didn’t check to see if they had them there, although I’ve heard that they do.)

• Plastic 4×6 photo sheets

• Sharpie & Pen

Alright, on to the project. First, I got out my trusty, adorable, zippered binder. Another thing I really like about this, besides its cuteness, is the zippered mesh pocket on the front cover. This will be a perfect place to stick coupons I know ahead of time I’ll be using on a shopping trip for optimal visibility.

And my currently meager collection of coupons (which will hopefully grow pretty quickly!):

Then I started thinking about categories for my coupons. I read that the key is to not over-generalize categories. If you do, you’ll a) have too many coupons stuffed in one category, and b) will have to search for coupons within the category, which takes away the convenience the binder is supposed to provide. So, I looked at a few lists for reference and then adjusted to fit our life. Here are the categories I came up with (17 total):

• Meat/Dairy   • Soups/Canned Goods    • Baking    • Cereal/Breakfast    • Frozen Foods    • Breads/Pasta/Rice    • Snacks    • Desserts    • Beverages    • Medicines    • Toiletries    • Cleaning Items/Household Supplies    • Sauces/Spices/Condiments    • Restaurants    • Store Specific (Bed Bath & Beyond, etc.)    • Infant/Kids’ Items    • Other (I felt compelled to have this just in case I couldn’t find a spot for something – I wouldn’t want a coupon to feel left out!)

Once I decided on my categories, I started labeling the dividers:

And worked until I had them all finished:

Then I placed the dividers in the binder, including two of the baseball card sheets between each divider as a starting point.

I made a reference sheet listing all my categories in order and secured that to the front divider. Until I get really familiar with it, this will help me remember where each category is, making it easier to flip right to the right one.

Last but not least, I placed my coupons in the sleeves. I tried to make the product name and expiration date easily visible for each coupon.

When I got to the Restaurant category, I had a few that were too large for the baseball card sleeves. This is where the 4×6 photo sleeves come into play – the larger coupons fit perfectly here.

Note: I spent $21 in total to make my binder, but that’s with “splurging” on one at the store for $10. If you go thrifting at all (and I LOVE to, you never know what treasures you’re going to find!) you can very easily find a Trapper Keeper at a thrift store for $2-$3. Search eBay or local garage sales for the baseball card sleeves if you don’t want to buy them new. By the way, I made it my priority to cover the cost of the binder quickly, and saved more than $21 in the next two grocery trips that made up the cost.

So, there’s my handy dandy coupon organizer for you! I’m pretty excited about trying it out on my next trip, and working on building my coupon stash to fill the pages. Now I just need a price book and I can get started on my way to extreme couponing!

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  • Amanda March 16, 2010 at 1:38 pm

    What a great idea! I always forget about coupons I have and they end up expiring! I definitely need to do this!

  • Emily March 16, 2010 at 8:30 pm

    found you from MBC.
    Love the coupon binder post, great binder. Much better than what I had envisioned in my head!
    .-= Emily´s last blog ..Does your town get a good grade in Recycling 101? =-.

  • MommyB March 17, 2010 at 8:05 am

    This is a great idea. I need to do something, my technique just isn’t working. I keep forgetting to use the coupons I have.
    .-= MommyB´s last blog ..Custom Made for Kids Review and Giveaway =-.

  • Charla March 17, 2010 at 11:21 am

    Coupon binder looks great. I like your step-by-step explanation and pictures!
    .-= Charla´s last blog ..Organic Foods at Jason’s Deli =-.

  • Brittney March 18, 2010 at 6:43 pm

    I did the binder method fo a while. It was useful, but I have amassed so many coupons it just really isn’t practical for me. I did get many compliments as well as strange looks from it!
    Right now I have 2 photo boxes (on sale at michaels for $1.66 each! woot)
    one for food, one for non food. I have about 10 categories in each, and subcategories in envelopes beyond that. So far this method has made things much easier for sorting and finding… the only downfall is its cumbersom to take them to the store. However, this limits my impulse buying, and I haven’t noticed a big loss in savings.
    I take any coupons I might possibly use with me in small case, and what I don’t use I file when I get home. Saves loads of time!
    .-= Brittney´s last blog ..My son is waking up all night =-.

  • Tami March 20, 2010 at 11:44 am

    I love the idea of storing the coupons where more are visible at a glance, than if stored in a small envelope!
    .-= Tami´s last blog ..Kaleidoscope: Seeing God’s Wit and Wisdom in a Whole New Light =-.

  • Menu Plan Monday ~ March 22nd March 22, 2010 at 8:11 am

    […] Speaking of grocery shopping two menu planning helper links this week center around saving money on groceries.  Danielle at Transforming Home talks about how she saved $1500.00 at the grocery store and The Frugal Novice shares how she created a coupon binder to organize her coupons. […]

  • Stacey March 22, 2010 at 10:17 am

    This is a great idea. Thanks for taking the time to explain it step by step.
    .-= Stacey´s last blog ..If you ever want to know…. =-.

  • Marjorie March 22, 2010 at 10:54 am

    This is exactly the way I have mine set up and it works great. I always take it with me when I go shopping. Another thing I’ve learned is to try to keep in the car when I’m not filing coupons. I can’t begin to count how many times I’ve gone to the store and thought “I have a coupon for that… at home!”.
    .-= Marjorie´s last blog ..Menu Plan Monday – 3/22/2010 =-.

  • Christi March 22, 2010 at 11:00 am

    Marjorie, that’s a great idea! I’ll have to start keeping my binder in the car too.

  • donetta March 22, 2010 at 1:51 pm

    Good show! that was wonderfully done. Great post. Come by for a visit sometime.
    .-= donetta´s last blog ..Meal Plan Monday =-.

  • DriftSeed March 23, 2010 at 9:12 pm

    I do something similar, but will incorporate your ideas into mine to improve efficiency.

    I include my meal plan and recipes in my book when I shop.

    • Christi March 23, 2010 at 9:50 pm

      That’s a great idea! That would keep everything centrally located. I’ll have to add that to my binder on my next shopping trip.

  • Saturday Stumbles | .:The Frugal Frontier:. March 27, 2010 at 1:13 pm

    […] Binder Tutorial @ The Frugal Novice — Some day I’ll actually make one of these.  I guess I need to start using coupons […]

  • Kathy @ House of Hills March 27, 2010 at 1:32 pm

    I just started using a binder and LOVE it! I had two people stop me and ask about it while at Walmart the other day.

  • Janet March 28, 2010 at 8:37 am

    I can’t wait to make one for myself, and I will be making at least two of these as gifts to a frugal daughter and a frugal friend. I’ll give them a package of blank labels in case they want to change what I have written on the tabs.

    • Christi March 28, 2010 at 9:13 am

      Great idea, Janet! I hadn’t thought about doing one for a gift, but I can think of several people that would be good for. I hope you, your daughter, and your friend enjoy them as much as I’m enjoying mine!

  • Menu Plan Monday ~ March 22nd « The Biz Insider News Pages March 31, 2010 at 3:44 pm

    […] Speaking of grocery shopping two menu planning helper links this week center around saving money on groceries.  Danielle at Transforming Home talks about how she saved $1500.00 at the grocery store and The Frugal Novice shares how she created a coupon binder to organize her coupons. […]

  • Laura @ Laura Williams' Musings April 1, 2010 at 8:13 am

    So thrilled to see others using the method I created to organize coupons back in 90’s and shared using the username of LWMSAVON on! I hope you enjoy the method and save oodles of money.

    Happy Couponing!

    Laura Williams
    Creator of the Coupon Binder Method
    .-= Laura @ Laura Williams’ Musings´s last blog ..Homestead Blessings Sale Ends April 1st! Save 45% on the 9 DVD set or 25% off 3-DVD sets! =-.

    • Christi April 1, 2010 at 8:39 am

      Wow, that’s great Laura! I hadn’t known where the idea originated. I really love using the binder!

  • » Blog Archive » Binder Method for Organizing Coupons May 14, 2010 at 9:50 pm

    […] That wasn’t the most efficient way, though.   The Frugal Novice tells about using the binder method for storing coupons which is a very efficient method.  Christi shows detailed instructions with […]

  • Kitchen Canisters  October 14, 2010 at 2:05 am

    i like to wear cotton and wool winter clothes, they are the best in my opinion:~,

  • Paula @ Frosted Fingers February 5, 2011 at 2:21 pm

    I think I might give this a try to go along with my normal couponing… if I ever start up again!

  • Ann April 8, 2011 at 5:14 am

    I love your binder, but wonder? How much will you have to save to break even on the cost of the binder, photo sleeves, and tabs? I’m guessing the materials were a bit pricey.

    • Christi April 8, 2011 at 7:26 am

      I spent $21 in total, but that’s because I “splurged” on a nicer binder, which was $10. I made up the cost of that in about two weeks of couponing.

    • Jonex February 8, 2012 at 9:05 am

      I have the same binder although mine’s in red and black!! Rite aid! I paid 03 cents

      • Christi February 8, 2012 at 9:08 am

        That’s awesome!! I love finding a good bargain like that!

  • Ruthie May 12, 2011 at 5:49 pm

    I found a pre-made coupon binder – they have a full binder system already put together with a bunch of sleeves and nice dividers. They have now added a shoulder strap which is really nice too! It came ready for me to just clip my coupons and begin saving.

  • Ervin Hopfer January 11, 2012 at 8:51 pm

    Woah! I’m really loving the template/theme of this blog. It’s simple, yet effective. A lot of times it’s difficult to get that “perfect balance” between usability and visual appeal. I must say you’ve done a awesome job with this. Also, the blog loads super quick for me on Internet explorer. Superb Blog!

  • Nicola Williams January 17, 2012 at 8:42 am

    i am trying to find out where to get the dividers for my coupons. I have the Binder already.

    • Christi January 17, 2012 at 1:03 pm

      Are you talking about the little clear sheets with pockets? We had some on hand from my husband’s baseball card collection, but I’ve heard stores like Academy or other sporting good stores carry those. You might also check Hobby Lobby or Michael’s.

      If you mean the actual dividers, I think I just got mine at WalMart but you could find them at any office supply store, probably! Hope that helps :)

  • Rebecca Peters December 10, 2013 at 2:25 pm

    I need a binder. Right now Im using a cork board and tacking them to it. I always forget to bring them with me tho! lol I could keep a binder in my diaper bag!