Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Crazy Couponing Part 4: What to Do With Clipped Coupons

If you're just joining us, you may want to read up on the first few Crazy Couponing posts before you continue:

You have a few different options for what you can do with your clipped coupons. If you just clip a few right before going to the store, you can stick them in an envelope and then use them at the store. However, once you begin couponing, you'll find that you clip coupons you may not use right away, you'll find coupons on items or in the store that you'll want to save or you may clip coupons that you hope to use and need a method to organize them. The two most popular methods used are the binder method and the envelope method. 

The Binder Method
The binder method is very popular with people who are very visual. It involves purchasing a large binder and filling it with clear plastic baseball type holder sleeves. It is then divided up into a number of categories such as Dairy, Bread, Cleaning etc. When coupons are clipped, they are filed in like groups under the category they fall under. They can also be organized by date so you use the ones that expire first. Personally, this method seems a little too time-consuming for me although I haven't actually tried it. If you'd like to see a post from someone who uses a coupon binder, you can check out the following post at Utah Deal Diva.

The Envelope Method
My coupon box
This is the method that I use and it works for me. I have a plastic box that I purchased at Wal-Mart. Inside, I have my envelope system arranged in alphabetical order. My envelopes are labeled with labels that work for me. I based it on a system I saw online and modified it to use words that I'll remember when I want to look up an item. I also have an envelope for each store I use coupons at.

When I am going to make a trip to City Market, I put all the coupons I am planning on using in the City Market envelope. When I am actually in the store, I look at the item I am planning on buying with a coupon. If the store deal matches up with the information I found online and my coupon works with it (it's the right size or whatever), I will then put the item in my grocery cart and move the coupon from the City Market envelope to a "Will Use" envelope. By the time I am ready to check-out, I have an envelope with coupons in it that match items that are actually in my cart. My City-Market envelope usually still has coupons that I chose not to use for one reason or another. I might leave them in that envelope for next time or refile them under the category envelope they belong in. 

I always keep scissors inside
I also try to always bring my coupon box into the store with me. If I come across an item on clearance or on sale that I know I have a coupon for but wasn't expecting to purchase, I can then go to the envelope it is in and use it to get that item for a great price. If I had just brought the coupons I expected to use, I could still buy that item on sale but it wouldn't be as great of a deal. 

I am pretty slow about cleaning out expired coupons. Every few months I sit down and clean out my whole box. Typically though, if I'm looking for a yogurt coupon, I'll pull out my yogurt envelope and pull out all the coupons in it. I'll then discard the expired coupons to the back of my box, select a current coupon and refile the rest. This keeps my coupon box fairly organized and up-to-date. 

When you're actually in the store and beginning to use coupons, you'll find it's a lot to juggle. I would definitely recommend trying to coupon shop without children if at all possible. Try going in the evenings when your spouse is home and the kids are in bed. It's MUCh easier than trying to learn how to coupon and dealing with the chaos that shopping with kids can be. 

For those of you interested in trying the envelope method, here's a basic list to get you started. Remember to modify it in a way that works for you. Add/delete categories you need or won't use. I’ve used many categories on this list and added other categories as needed. Make it your own and use terminology that you’ll be able to remember when you go to file/find a coupon.

Baking (mixes, oil/sugar, syrup)

Batteries, film
Canned (meat, soup, vegetables, fruit)
Cereal (envelopes for each brand)
Cleaner (all purpose, bathroom, dish detergent, disinfectant, laundry, furniture polish, floor, glass)
Dairy (beverage, cheese, sour cream/cream cheese/butter, snacks,)
Dairy (Yogurt)
Diapers (baby related items)
Frozen (beverage, bread, ice cream, meat, snacks, vegetables/fruit/potatoes)
Hygiene (band-aids, deodorant, face, feminine, hair, lotion, medicine/vitamins, shaving, soap)
Jelly, Peanut Butter
Office Supplies
Paper Products (facial tissue, cups/plates, toilet tissue, towels/napkins)
Pasta & Pasta Sauce
 Salad Dressing
Sauce (pasta, BBQ)
Scented Products (Glade, Febreze)

This post will wrap up my official coupon series. Hopefully, it's enough to get your feet wet. I will continue posting couponing tips under the Crazy Coupon category so please look to learn more about couponing in the coming days and weeks. If you start couponing and have questions or run into problems that I can help with, please feel free to email me at and I will either write you back directly or post a response on Simply Thrifty. 



  1. Just read all of your couponing posts, Megan and I love it.....because it is basically the SAME thing I do. I am excited about swagbucks, though and a couple of the tabs under coupon mom that I have not used before! Instead of a box, I use a picture album because I can just bring it with me and flip through, but it is organized in much the same way. My huge question, though in the world are you saving 50-75%? My BEST is 36% but usually it is about 25%. I do all the same things you do. What am I missing??? I would love to keep getting better and better!!!!

  2. Becky,

    Do you get multiple copies of the paper? I really stock up on items we use at their lowest prices with multiple copies of the paper. This way, I don't often have to buy those items again before they reach really low prices. I then try to plan meals out of what I have in the freezer/cupboards. I sometimes have to purchase and item or two to make a recipe but I usually have 90% of my ingredients on-hand. I also buy only the fruit and veggies that are on sale. Tomatoes are probably the only produce I buy whether or not it's on sale. Most everything else, I ONLY purchase the sale items. For the most part, if it's not on sale, I don't buy it unless it's something we really really need.