If there’s one thing I’ve learned over my years of couponing, it’s this—there’s no one "right" couponing organization system for every person. And truthfully, I’ve changed my personal organizing system several times over the years, and I’ll likely switch it again in the future.
Couponing itself continues to change as each year passes, and with those changes come more ideas and opportunities to try out new systems. If you’re still on the hunt for an organization system that really “fits” you, you may find what you’re seeking in one of these five popular systems!
1. The binder system
When Joanie and Heather cofounded KCL, and up until quite recently, they were both using the binder system to keep their coupons organized. It’s a proven organization system that really works.
- How to start your coupon binder: https://thekrazycouponlady.com/2010/09/24/how-to-start-your-coupon-binder-this-ones-for-you-kathie-lee/ (scroll all the way to the bottom to see Heather's how-to video).
- The binder system lets you get as detailed as you want/need to get.
- The binder system allows you to customize your system (i.e., you can organize by dates, categories, or other ways).
- The binder system is easy to learn and update.
- The binder system is materials-intensive (sheet protectors, dividers, new binders, etc.).
- The binder system can be time-consuming—especially if you get very detailed.
- The binder system is neither lightweight nor particularly portable (particularly if you don't like to pre-clip your coupons before heading to the store).
2. The file box system
The file box system is Heather and Joanie's current reigning favorite coupon organizational system. The file box system is also a proven system that really works.
- How to start your coupon file box: https://thekrazycouponlady.com/tips/couponing/kcl-dropping-coupon-binder-new-file-box-method/
- The file box system is incredibly easy and quick to use for inserts, printed coupons, and other coupon types.
- The file box system doesn't require you to get all your coupons organized on the front end.
- The file box system doesn't require you to carry a heavy, bulky storage container into the grocery store with you (you can even use a smaller expandable file box for your store coupons if you want).
- The file box system can be counterproductive if you tend to procrastinate, since you don't have to do all your organizing when you file your coupon inserts.
- If you like to have ALL of your coupons with you at the store "just in case" or because you don't have time to clip in advance, the file box system probably isn't the best choice for you.
- It isn't as easy with this method to remember to remove all the expired coupons.
3. The digital system
With the digital system, you’re pretty much restricting your couponing activities to using coupons you can "clip" electronically to redeem online and/or in-store.
- If your local stores offer digital loyalty/rewards cards that sync with a website or apps, you can easily "clip" and load coupons digitally to redeem in store.
- No paper to organize or recycle.
- You always have your coupons with you wherever you are.
- You may miss out on significant savings available through other types of popular coupons, such as printable coupons and newspaper inserts.
- Unless you’re sure you can redeem coupons while offline, you may run into troubles if your phone service goes down.
- You’re not likely to save as much by opting for a digital-only coupon organization system.
4. The envelope system
This system is not unlike Dave Ramsey's cash envelope system. Here, instead of investing in a full-on binder or file box, you simply use envelopes (plastic baggies, plastic page protectors, or whatever works for you) to store your coupons for the week.
- Once your coupons are clipped, sorted, and stashed—you’re done until it’s time to shop!
- This system is small, compact, and lightweight—you can tuck the whole thing in your purse or a recyclable shopping bag.
- If you’re brand-new to couponing, this is a very non-intimidating organization system to use to start with.
- You may in time find it difficult to deal with coupons for different stores without having lots of bags or envelopes to juggle around.
- You won't have any of your other coupons with you in case you run into an unexpected chance to save.
- You’ll be recycling a lot of paper and plastic!
5. The spreadsheet system
Finally, one popular system for newbie couponers in particular is to list out all of your coupons on a spreadsheet.
- Absolutely every coupon you have in your stash is listed out on one page, including coupons that are close to or at their expiration dates.
- It’s easy to learn the art of couponing because this system is so detailed.
- Since all your organizational work happens up front, you can just head to the store whenever you need to shop.
- This is perhaps the most time-intensive organization system in terms of preparation time.
- You can end up doing double work because you also have to organize a binder, file box, envelopes, or some place to store the coupons themselves.
- Managing a detailed spreadsheet can be challenging unless you’re at a computer.