October 5, 2009

How to create a coupon binder

Most hard-core couponers opt for the binder organizational method for these reasons because it allows for lots of coupons, it’s easy to flip through and find coupons, the materials to set it up are relatively inexpensive and it’s portable.

You can start with a smaller binder and work your way up. As a full-time, crazy couponer I have a three-inch binder. I opted for a hard plastic binder that I thought would hold up to a lot of wear and tear. I bought the binder at Office Max, using coupons from my MaxPerks account.

Use baseball card pages (check Amazon: Ultra Pro 9-Pocket Trading Card Pages – Platinum Series 100 Pages) or 100 BCW 9-Pocket Plastic Sheets to store your coupons. If you go to a specialty baseball card shop you will find different styles of pages, some with three sleeves/pockets per page or four per page (you’ll pay more for these special pages). You can also use photo pages and or sheet protectors.

Get a few sets of strong plastic dividers. The paper ones will rip in no time. I have separated my coupon book into categories, based on the layout of the store. You can break it into whatever categories work best for you.

These are the categories I use:

  • Free – for all those FREE coupons that you want to use before they expire!
  • Produce – Fruits, veggies and things found in the produce section (croutons, refrigerated salad dressings, tofu, etc.)
  • Condiments & Sauces – Pickles, mustard, peanut butter etc.
  • Beverages – Anything you can drink!
  • Packaged and Canned Goods – Most of the stuff that is in the center aisles of a grocery store. Soups, dry pastas, tuna, canned veggies, crackers, rice, bread products, etc.
  • Baking – Anything found in the baking aisle, including spices, parchment paper, brownie/cake mixes, etc.
  • Cereal & Breakfast – Cereals, oatmeal, pancake mix, syrup,
  • Snacks & Candy – Snack foods such as pretzels, popcorn, chips, gum, candy, etc.
  • Dairy – All things found in the dairy section – cheese, milk, sour cream, yogurt, and things like eggs, refrigerated cookie dough, etc.
  • Meats – All meat products
  • Frozen – All products in the frozen food aisle, including frozen entrees, desserts, etc.
  • Cosmetics – Make-up and cosmetics products
  • Oral Care – Toothbrushes, mouth wash, dental floss, etc.
  • Personal Care – This is a big category for coupons – hygiene products, eye drops, deodorant, face wash, body wash, lotions, shampoo/conditioner, hair stylers, etc.
  • Cleaning – All cleaning products and fragrance products (such as Glade candles, etc.)
  • Paper Goods – Napkins, toilet paper, paper towels, ziploc bags, tin foil, plastic wrap, etc.
  • Medicine – All medicines, first aid items, vitamins, etc.
  • Baby & Kids – Diapers, wipes, kid’s foods, etc.
  • Pets – All things pets
  • Office & Misc. – Office supply coupons and other items that you don’t have categories for.

Pick the categories for the products you use and set it up in a way that works for you.

Then you clip your coupons and insert them into the categories! You will need to fold most coupons before putting them into the little pockets. I try to always leave the expiration date visible so I can easily pull them out when they are expired. Go through your binder at the beginning of each month to pull the expired coupons.

I like this method because I have it in a big bag and flip through it without taking it out in the store (kind of like a little filing cabinet). I carry this bag, my purse and usually my toddler, into the store. I know it sounds crazy, but I think it’s not as crazy as paying full price!!!

MAKE SURE AND PUT YOUR CONTACT INFORMATION ON YOUR BINDER. I always recommend a name and phone number written with a permanent marker on your coupon binder. You’d be amazed how easy it is to forget it in your cart or leave it on a shelf. Unfortunately I’ve heard a lot of sad stories when these haven’t been returned or recovered. I treat mine just as I would my purse – I don’t leave it unattended and I always double-check that I have it when I leave the store.

There is no right way, just your way. The easiest it is for you to maintain and use, the more likely you will be to use it and save money!

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