I have been keeping a coupon binder for about 18 months now. I honestly go through spurts where I use it hot and heavy for a while and then taper off for a while. I must admit that I am not a very dedicated couponer. However, when I AM using my binder, I save considerable amounts of money. I have had several inquiries in the past about my coupon binder, so here goes.
What you need:
1- 3 inch ring zip around binder
1 pack baseball card organizers
1 pack organizing tabs (large set....alphabetical or set that goes into the 20's)
Notes about supplies: I bought a cute purple zip around binder from CaseIt that has a long carrying strap. If you plan to carry your coupon binder with you, this is ideal. I got the alphabetized organizers so that I knew I would have enough tabs. I bought baseball card organizers in a huge pack so that I would have extras if something happened to the ones I initally used.
Ok. Now that you have what you need, we can get started.
Go ahead and open up your binder rings and start loading your baseball card organizers. About every other to every three baseball card sheets, put in a dividing tab. Continue this until you have all of your tab dividers loaded and a sufficient amount of baseball card organizers.
Now, you will label your index for your divider tabs. You can customize this in any way you like, but here are the labels for mine:
Paper Goods/Food Storage
That list seems to be the easiest for me to keep organized. This is the third list I have been through...the first two failed miserably. Just write in pencil and adjust your list as needed.
Once you have your index labeled, you can start adding coupons. I find that the baseball card organizers are a great size for most coupons. For coupons that are ridiculously huge, I fold them so that the product name and expiration date are visible. If I have multiple coupons for the same product or multiple copies of the same coupon, I try to store them in the same pouch to save space.
Once you have your coupons in, it looks something like this.
Obviously turned to the condiments section. Sorry for all of the extra junk in the picture. This was taken before I knew it would end up on a blog. Extras in the picture are as follows: top center, my laptop; top right, my daughter's dance dvd; bottom center, my belly which was pregnant at the time with my youngest daughter...lol
If you purchased the CaseIt binder, you have a pocket in the front inside as well as a zipper pocket on the outside.
In my inside pocket, I keep a freebie coupon pouch that my mother in law got me from who knows where. It is really adorable with pink and white zebra stripes. I have it divided by store name. I typically do not carry my entire binder with me. I typically make a list and put my coupons into my smaller pouch to bring with me. Some couponers would tell you to carry your entire binder in case there is a sale...I like to avoid the strange looks.
In my outside pocket, I keep a pen and a sharp pair of scissors. This just ensures that everything I need is all in one spot instead of having to go searching for the scissors when I get ready to clip and organize coupons.
I recommend only clipping out coupons on items that you actually normally use. This keeps me from spending money on something that we may not actually utilize just to say I "saved" money. Don't fall into the trap of spending to save.
Unless you are just super ambitious and want to compare coupons to sales every week on your own, I recommend linking up with a website where someone has done the hard work for you. My personal favorite is southernsavers.com. She seriously does all of the hard work for you. She matches up the coupons to in store sales and offers. Also, she often posts special deals and offers. Most common stores are listed here. The ones that aren't will be your local mom n pop places.
Don't feel like you have to run around all over town to get the best deal. Walmart ad matches as do many other stores. Just save the sale papers from the store that your best deals are at and have them ad match....and then use your coupons on top of that to get the absolute best deal right where you already shop.
DO NOT become a shelf clearer. The goal of couponing is not to end up on a television show. It is to save money for your family. If you absolutely NEED ten or more of an item, give the store a courtesy call so that they can have it ready for you instead of you clearing the shelves.
Don't be shy. Share and trade your coupons with neighbors, friends, relatives, whomever. If people around you know you are couponing, they are more than willing to hang onto inserts for you or trade out with you when you have both clipped everything you need.
That's it. That's my coupon binder. The most important thing is to periodically set aside time to go through and clear out any coupons that may have expired, moving the ones closest to expiry to the front of each pouch.
Do you have a coupon binder? Do something different than me? Want to share your own couponing tips? Let me know about it!