Monday, September 12, 2011

Saying Goodbye To My Binder And Hello To A New Method Of Organization

I had to do it:  I had to part with my coupon binder. 

It had been a good friend, a trusted companion for nearly two years.  We had cheered together in the checkout, we had raced through many a stores together but, sadly, I had not been as loyal a companion as I should have been.  I found myself somewhat frustrated with the time-consuming clipping to fit the small baseball card holders.  And if I missed one week of clipping my inserts, I was doomed. 

And then one week turned into 2 weeks.  And 2 weeks turned into 4 weeks.  And then I had nearly 20 uncut inserts and the start of a very bad headache. 

Please don't misunderstand me, I really did love my binder.  I was terribly proud of it and I was happy to work on it and keep it organized.  But as my schedule changed to accomodate the constant flurry of comotion raising three children, something had to give.  And I realized that perhaps a coupon binder was no longer the best fit for the limited amount of time I was able to put into just clipping and sorting my coupons. 

1- Set Stackable Container by SnapWare
Sold at Target
So I put on my thinking cap.  I asked several coupon enthusiastic friends.  I let Google be my guide.  And I came up with my own system, taking the best of several other ideas and putting them together to create what I think will work best for me right now:  The Coupon Container (I am hoping to start a trend here!)
How I put it together:  starting with a set of stackable, interlocking containers, I was ready to embrace my need for re-organization.  Purchased at my local Target store for less than $9.00 (regularly priced $14.99 for the set, I found one on clearance thanks to a nifty little thing known as "repackaging) I knew I had chosen the right method for me. 

The larger size was just right.  But now, I needed to get the containers organized. I picked up a pack of 36 tabbed folders in the office supply section as well as a box of white, letter envelopes.  

I cut each tabbed divider to fit the box and placed one white envelope between each tabbed divider to help keep coupons in place.  I used my scrapbooking tools to help cut both the dividers to size.  I also cut the flap of each envelop off, making for easy filing and quick retrieval.  Tucked behind my clipped coupons are my price book, and my store savings card wallet.  I keep a seperate wallet for each of my store savings cards and punch cards and it goes with me everywhere. 

I used self-adhesive, A-Z tabs to label my tabbed dividers.  I organize my coupons by brand.  This is something I have done since I married my husband 11 years ago and is how I am most comfortable sorting and filing my coupons.  Please note:  this is not the right way to file coupons; this is simply what works best for me.  

In the bottom part of the two-container system, I will be able to keep my uncut inserts and a plastic, three prong folder with a copy of each store coupon policy.  I also have plenty of space for my weekly store ads, too.  I also keep a zippered pouch with a clear window in the bottom to keep two pens, scissors, a calculator, highlighter and paper clips with me at all times.  

I will still be able to keep the same contents with me as I did in my binder but with a bit more ease for this busy mom. 
I am sure it is going to take a little getting used to but I think I have chosen the right method for me at this time.  And once I have thoroughly cleaned out my binder, I am going to store her safely in her bag and hold onto her when I decide I need her again.  Besides, we have history. 

The finished project:
One container, two sections, three hours to complete!


  1. I will have to read through this again. It sounds interesting, as I too, have some of those "binder challenges." I don't understand the filing system of this. Do you have all your coupons in the containers now? Why do you put them in the white envelopes if they are in folders? For some categories, one envelope would not fit all my coupons.
    Thanks for sharing!

  2. I LOVE THIS!!! I dread having to fight with my binder inserts to get the coupons INTO the plastic sleeves. Fitting coupons to the right size, coupons sliding out etc... But I also know that keeping coupon inserts in date order, well, I don't want to go through everything each week to see what coupons are in each insert. This is perfect. Easy, convenient, less time consuming, but still alphabetically organized or organized by category. Or BOTH! I love it. Going to target to ge me some of those. I have some saved up $5 gift cards from previous purchases to put towards these containers!!!! I have about 2 months of coupons to organize by the HT event coming up! So, THanks for wonderful timing:)

  3. I have had to do the same thing. I have 4 little kids and there was NO way I could keep up with my binder. I use a system very similar to this and it works great. I organize mine by product type and skip the envelopes and just put the Qs between the dividers in my container. I have the benefit of being able to use expired qs so some categories i made into sub categories because fo the number of coupons. Great minds think alike!!! :) Tiffany

  4. I recently switched too! I started using envelopes, but they were bulging, so I don't use that anymore. My "box" is a Tupperware brand photo box and it already has some dividers in it. I did not have the problem about fitting into plastic sleeves since I had created my own system a few years ago using paper clips on manila folders (cut in half and hole punched). That system worked great, but I found that my binder was just too big and did not turn properly. The coupons were easy to get in and out, but did take time. . .but then again so does my system now! But I like to have my coupons clipped and ready to go.

  5. Great idea! I have heard of one other person using this method but never quite understood. Thanks for explaining things! I might just switch myself. :)

  6. I divide my coupons A-Z and sort them by brand name. For example, Cheerios would be found under "G" for General Mills and Kraft Macaroni and Cheese would be found under "K".

    This is the way I have organized my coupons since my husband and I were married and it is what I am most comfortable with. As long as I continue to sort and file my coupons this way, I can adapt to any method of coupon organization.

  7. And thanks for the great feedback ladies! I love hearing how you make your own system work best for you!

  8. This is a good idea, but for me I think I will modify it a bit. I will use file folders cut down to size with the tabs like you have them, then use the same categories as my binder. As for envelopes, I will use them but I want to put envelopes labeled with each month for the expiration dates. My biggest problem is not having the time to clean out my binder when coupons expires. That and I hate the little binder inserts too.


  9. i have a system very similar to this that I use as my "pre binder" filing system, although lately that's as far as they go LOL. I file them by category then use envelopes to seperate by expiration months, but my biggest problem is not knowing what coupons i have when i have them filed like this, so i will still be moving the to my binder, but this is how they sit until i get the time to put them in my binder.....

  10. And My husband laughs at me bc I also keep a clear zippered pencil pouch in my binder that contains a calculator, scissors, pens, highlighters and paper clips. I will have to tell him I am not the only one!!!

  11. So, just to be cut the dividers down to about 3 or 4 inches high? Great idea b/c the binder is difficult! Thanks for sharing.

  12. I recently gave up the binder method also.
    I bought a bunch of 1 inch binders BOGO.
    I got some page protectors and I separated the inserts into like pages.
    I use one binder per week..use dividers inside to separate SS, RP etc... and label the outside with the week of the inset and can easily grab the week I need ..flip thru the pages and pull the cpns I need.
    It has made my life SOooo much easier and I haven't missed my HUGE binder for a minute.
    Now I'm just waiting for the clipped cpns to age out of my new

  13. Ugh.... it's a coupon wallet, just on a larger scale. It'll be way easier to file them, but nowhere near as fast in the store. That was my problem with the wallet- standing there in the store, going through all the coupons behind the divider, looking for the one i wanted. I imagine that trying to fit all the coupons into baseball card sized slots would take forever and be frustrating- that's why i have four different sized pages: baseball card, business card, a four-pocket photo page, and a page protector. My binder is extremely versatile and i can move things around as needed... say if this week i get coupons that go in category X that are bigger than the ones already in that category, i can just grab one of the larger pocket pages and slip it into the category; if i find after a while that this category or that one needs to be further divided, or these two need to be renamed and moved, i can do so in seconds. I loved the neat and tidyness of the tabs in the coupon wallet, but it was nigh-on impossible to categorize things efficiently enough to go quickly and effectively in the store.