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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
• 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!