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See I told you, this would help!

Coupon Abbreviations
  • SC = Store Coupon
  • MC = Manufacturer Coupon
  • SS = Smart Source
  • RP = Red Plum
  • PG = Proctor and Gamble
Coupon Terms
  • WYB = When You Buy
  • B1G1 = Buy One Get One Free
  • .75/1 = 75 cents off one item
  • .75/3 = 75 cents off three items
  • EXP = Expiration Date

Going Nuts? I can help you understand coupon terms and abbreviations

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Extreme Couponer 101- Organizing Coupons

Organizing Coupons

This topic could be a small book (there are probably people that have actually written and published some…).

I’m going to cover a few ways that most use to organize coupons and then tell you what I currently use.

Canceled Check file: it looks like a small accordion with usually 13 pockets.  I have never known a single person that used it as a canceled check file, but that is what they call it. The best way to set these up is to leave the front pocket empty and as you plan your trip, you put the coupons there that you will use that trip, then in the remaining pockets label the tabs on them according to the areas that you use the most.  When I used this system my tabs/sections were: Baby, Canned/Boxed Goods, Cereals, Desserts/Baking, Snacks/Drinks, Other food, Toiletries, Drugs, Paper goods, Cleaning products, Refrigerated, and lastly Frozen foods.

Pros: Simple system to get started and it does help you stay organized.  It works well if you clip only a few coupons each week, or if want something small to take with you in your purse.

Cons: If you cut all the coupons out of the paper or get multiple inserts this system doesn’t provide enough ways to organize and separate out coupons so you end up with large sections that you are searching through to find a particular coupon.

Three Ring Binder: this system is for the truly serious and devoted.  I have never tried this method but I envy it a little. You need a 1.5 inch or larger 3 ring binder, baseball card organizing pages, and section divider tabs.  You place your coupons individually (put doubles behind it) in the baseball card slots so that you are able to see every coupon, and then use your tabs to organize them into sections.  Here you are not limited by 12 sections so you can go crazy with tabs if you like.  Look below for my tab labels.  You can even get a little zipper bag (sold to hold pencils) to put in the front to hold your coupons for that trip.

Pros: This system is fast, you have no stack to pull out in a store and search through.  It also fits nicely in the top area of your grocery cart.  It just sounds so wonderful doesn’t it??  It sounds so nice that people have actually made them for you and market them to people at $30 bucks each!! (I’m not providing a link because I will not help you waste money, you can put this together for under $10 dollars)

Cons:  It isn’t going to fit in your purse.  Well it wouldn’t fit in mine anyway.  The main reason that I have not gone to this though is that I have three kids and there is always someone sitting in the upper section of my grocery cart!  That leaves no good place to set the binder while shopping, and handing it to a 3 year old to hold doesn’t sound like a wise idea.  Had I gotten into couponing before kids though this would have been my system.  If only I had known what I could save back then…

Ziploc Bag System: this is for the unorganized at heart really.  You need lots of sandwich bags and 1 gallon sized bag.  Label your smaller bags by section, then close up all little bags and keep them in the big bag.  You can have lots of sections or just a few, whatever works for you.  To me this sounds like it would work best with under 10 sections.

Pros: Quick, Easy, and requires no special shopping to get started.  This will also hold every coupon you can throw at it without a problem.

Cons: The idea of searching through all those Ziploc bags standing in the middle of an isle with screaming twins stops me from ever trying this system.  This also will not fit easily into your purse.

Index Card File: puts a few concepts from each of these together (this is what I currently use).  Get a small index file box (3×5 card size) and a package of index file tabs.  You can have as many tabs as you like, look below for my tabs.  Leave the area in front of the first tab empty to hold your coupons for that trip. 

Pros:  The box closes and fits in my purse without a problem.  It gives me the size of the canceled check file with the ultimate organizing ability of the three ring binder.

Cons:  As I mentioned in my last extreme post, this fills up and is maxed out eventually.  It does not expand, so if you cut all coupons and get multiple inserts it gets a little tight eventually.

Here is an idea of groupings that gets more organized than the above 12:

Baby, Drugs, Breads, Cereals, Snacks, Meat, Canned/Boxed goods, Condiments/Seasoning, Desserts/Baking goods, Other Food, Frozen, Refrigerated, Cooking Helpers (Ziploc bags, aluminum foil etc.), Paper Goods, Cleaning Goods, Other Household (bug spray etc.), Store Specific (Store coupons, CVS ECB’s etc.), Body Care (soap, razors, deodorant etc.), Tooth care, Hair Care, Facial/Makeup

What method do you use to organize coupons, have one that I should add to the list?

    • lois

      i use a three ring binder to do my couponing i also use picture pages(4/6) tabs that i list in my own order it cost a little bit but i’m able to see the coupons. I take it into the store with me there are 80 pages in my book this way each coupon has a sepreate place.My childern laugh at mom last week was 199.53 in free items. We live on a limited income so ever dime really helps by the way i love your site

    • Hannah

      Jenny, thanks for the info! I’m currently outgrowing my cancelled check file and looking for a new way to store/organize my coupons. I think I’m going to copycat your index card file idea. I’ve told everyone I know about your site. Our goal this year is to spend less than $400/month on groceries and always save more than we spend. So far, so good! Thank you for all that you do on this site!!!

    • Lorie

      I am new to couponing – went to a coupon class at my sister-in-law’s church almost 2 weeks ago and in less than 2 weeks am definitely hooked!! I am using the binder method. I will add a little more though – my binder zips closed and has a shoulder strap like a purse, so it is very easy to carry into the store along with my purse. It also has an accordian file on the inside cover with tabs that I label by store – I put store circulars in these as well as the Walgreens Easy Savers books and the CVS monthly ECB book. There is also a mesh zippered pocket for my calculator, pens and envelopes. Its a great system!!