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’s 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.
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. You need a 1.5″ or larger 3″ 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. 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.
Cons: It isn’t going to fit in your purse.
Ziploc Bag System
This is for the unorganized at heart. 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 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. 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. Leave the area in front of the first tab empty to hold your coupons for that trip.
Pros: The box closes and fits in a purse without a problem. It gives you the size of the canceled check file with the ultimate organizing ability of the three ring binder.
Cons: 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.