Conquering Coupon Clutter (How I Organize Mine)

Psst- Today’s our leaving-Portland travel day (sad face) so we’ll probably be spotty and slow on comments/etc after 1pm EST. We’re sorry for the interruption, but so happy to have gotten the chance to explore Portland. We owe you guys a big post about all the stuff we did/bought/ate! We purchased some local art, crashed an amaaaaazing house, ate bacon on a donut, and John scored not one but two new t-shirts (neither of which are soda related, but both of which are food-related).

Lately I’ve been asked a bunch of times about how I organize/store our non-food coupons (since the grocery store ones are just stuck into one of those clear envelopes and stashed in my purse on store runs – more on that here). You know, like the ones from Michael’s, JoAnn, Old Navy and Bed Bath & Beyond and restaurants all the other not-grocery-store related places? And every time I was asked I sort of admitted that I didn’t have the best system but that I tried to slip them into the compartment on the passenger side door of our car so at least they were with us all the time (since we only have one car and are rarely at a store without the car since nothing is really that walkable from our house). The real issue was that I would forget what was in there (things would expire all the time, and it was sort of one giant mess o’ papers) and the other annoying thing was that I was always having to run back out to the car while in places like Bed Bath & Beyond and Michael’s (because I always forgot to grab the coupon before going in). The kicker? Sometimes I would run all the way back out with Beansie in tow, only to find that my coupon was expired already. Boo.

So I needed a system. And then while trolling the notebook section of Target, one found me.

It was this cute thing that I thought was a notebook and then I opened it and a light bulb went off. And it might be my best organizational coup in the last five years. Yes, it’s kinda life-changing if you’re an organizational wannabe like me (I never have my ish together, but I have dreams of conquering that one day…).

First of all it’s slim and light. Like a small notebook without all the pages (it just has a thin notepad on one side and an accordion fold-out pocket system on the other side). So I thought to myself: “self- you could put all your non-grocery coupons into the accordion side and use the pad to write down exactly what’s in there, crossing off things as they expire (so you can see all the valid coupons that you have at a glance) – and  you can keep it in your purse since that’s always with you and then you won’t have to run to the car.” Yesssss. And then I high fived myself in the notebook aisle and Clara thought we were clapping so she clapped along.

So I bought it and I did all the things I told myself I would do in my head (labeled the tabs on each accordion section and used the notebook to write down what I have) and I’ve used this method for about a month (gotta trouble-shoot things before exclaiming to the internet at large that they’re life-changing) and I’m telling you it’s the bee’s knees. I can even circle things that are about to expire to remind myself to use them or lose them.

I think it was like $6 or something, and I’m still on the first sheet of paper on the pad (I had visions of running out of paper since coupons rotate in and out, but it’s amazing how one JoAnn coupon expires or gets used just as I slip a new one in there so it hasn’t been too bad with the whole crossing out thing. Of course when the page gets all crazy and scratched out over time I’ll just tear it off and start over on page two, but it seems like this pad could easily last me a year or two and then I could just replace it without replacing the whole shebang – so that’s nice. Oh and it’s recycled paper and made by a company called Greenroom if that helps anyone track it down at Tar-jay.

As for what I labeled each section, what made sense for me was: craft, food, clothes, Bed Bath & Beyond, and misc (just because I usually have a fair amount of coupons in each of those categories). And for food I don’t mean grocery coupons, I mean restaurant coupons like printed out Groupons and little fliers that I get in those Valpack mailers for places like a nearby Mexican restaurant or a local BBQ joint. As for my grocery store coupons, you can read more on those here, but they slip into a clear envelope that stays at home unless we’re going grocery shopping (we don’t usually do that at the spur of the moment like dropping in on other stores or eating out, so I just shove that envelope in my purse when we know we’re headed to Kroger).

So that’s my system to answer all of you inquisitive-coupon-loving folks out there. I hope it’s helpful to anyone else who is wrestling with non-grocery-store coupons that tend to pile up everywhere. It’s amazing how having a place for something (and not shoving them all into the side door of the car) can make them a lot easier to actually use. I think I’m better at remembering that I have them, so I’m even saving money on top of feeling like the Queen Of Organization (not in all categories, haha, but in non-grocery-coupons I’ve got it down… for now). Oh and I figured other folks out there might have other methods or tricks that they have changed their organization strategy – so spill it. I need to know how else to up my organizational ante. Seriously, help a scatterbrained momma out.


  1. says

    Love this! I’m not much of a couponer, but I am a HUGE shopper and think something like this would be great for organizing all of my receipts. I’m heading to Target ASAP to pick one of these up. Currently my receipts just get shoved into a drawer and forgotten.

    Hope you had a great sight-seeing day in Portland! Did you try VooDoo doughnuts? Or make it to the rose gardens?

  2. says

    That’s so funny–I found the exact same notebook at Target and had a similar eureka moment! Only I use mine for grocery shopping–I make my list on the notepad and star the items I have coupons for.

    • Jesse Rader says

      A kindred spirit because I am huge on the shopping list and now have a way to have the list and the coupons in one place. Although I also keep all my store cards, gift cards and cards of the sort like VIP shopper (lego), Shopping rewards cards and the business cards of my favorite places and doctors, library and so on in a business card notebook and keep that in my purse as well. If I could get something that holds all three I would be in organized heaven for all my shopping of all kind needs.

      Sorry I was unable to see them in Portland but glad you enjoyed my city!!

  3. Carly G says

    You’ll probably get this comment a million times, but– did you know that Bed, Bath, and Beyond coupons never really expire? They will take them no matter the exp. date. Also you can use one coupon per item there. So if you buy 6 towels you can use 6 20% coupons.

    • Lindsay says

      In our market (Pittsburgh) we’ve been receiving coupons that in fact do expire. One side has 20% & the expiration date and the other has 10% with an expiration date.

      I can’t say if the 10% expires or not as I’ve only used the coupon once before the 20% expiration date.

    • Carly G says

      No problem! I live in an apartment complex and people always throw theirs away in the mail room, so I snag all the extras :)

    • Kellee says

      Someone below said their’s had expiration dates and they do state that they expire at whatever day, but BB&B will take their own expired coupons. So it doesn’t matter that the coupon says it’s expired, you can still use it. Now, Buy Buy Baby, which is owned by BB&B, will accept BB&B coupons as well, but they can not be expired. And they won’t accept their expired coupons either. Weird, since they’re owned by same company, but oh well.

    • says

      Do you know they have an iPhone app? It’s SO great – I always have my phone even if I don’t have my coupons with me and the fliers from the front of the store are gone. And you can use several at once, just like the paper ones!

    • Ruth says

      One of the salespeople at Joann’s also told me that you can text yourself those the printable coupons that they email to you. That way you can have those on your phone as well, since you can use as many coupons as you have items.

      If you are REALLY on the ball you can bring the mailer coupons with you as well and have a savings extravaganza.

    • says

      Just to add to the Joann’s love, “they have an app for that” with all of their current coupons, and if you send “Welcome” 526-66 (I just checked my phone) you’ll get an exclusive coupon sent a few times a week. I love it! I have all of my Joann’s coupons on me at all times.

  4. says

    I use a simple binder clip to keep all of my Bed, Bath, and Beyond coupons together. The other coupons are a mess! I will be on the hunt for a similar setup as I like that I could grab everything and go. This might also work for the gift cards that we acquire throughout the year!

  5. Martha says

    This is great! I am going to Target tomorrow! I always have loose papers and coupons floating around my purse, and it is just a mess. I have a small notebook with one pocket, but it just isn’t enough to keep my purse clean. This will be great! Thanks Sherry :-) Happy travels!

  6. Kelly says

    Awesome notebook, I totally need that. Right now my system is taking the Bed Bath & Beyond coupon out of the mailbox (which I stop at while still in the car) and putting it directly into the passenger side door pocket. I have had as many as 20 in there at any given time. Best thing? I know that they’ll take them regardless of the expiration date. I think I’ve used ones that were three or four years old that had gotten shuffled to the back of the pile.

    My mother is even worse than I am–one year for Christmas I had all my apartment living friends save the ones that were being tossed out by neighbors and gave her a big box of them (a few hundred even) for Christmas, that kept us going for a good long while!

  7. Stacey O'Brien says

    Oh! I have the same organizer, and I love it, too! I use mine for grocery store coupons, and the notepad for my shopping list. But I love your idea, too, and just may need to buy another one to keep my other coupons and gift cards in order.

  8. says

    Such a great idea! And hooray for Clara for clapping with you!
    I totally could have used it today, since I have to go to BB&B on my lunch break and left my coupon at home. Fail.

  9. kate says

    You might ask your local BBB if they will still take expired coupons. They do here in Kansas – and if I am buying three items, and have three coupons, they’ll also let me use ALL of them in the same transaction. Maybe ours is doing it wrong, though, lol.

  10. Katie Rose says

    I have had a coupon organizer (from Etsy) for 2.5 years now and I LOVE IT! Mine is organized by month though (any coupons that expire in February go in the February slot, etc.) Because I don’t have tons of coupons + I have a good memory, I know what is in there most the time and rarely miss out on something I was meaning to use. I usually look through it once a week (the night before the recycling goes out) and recycle any that have expired.

    My cousin was quite jealous of my system, so I got her her own for Christmas. It is also from Target but it is made by Real Simple. It is bigger than mine, which I like (I can’t get those bigger BB&B ones to fit into mine). The one I bought for her doesn’t have the notepad, but it does have interchangeable tabs, which I like so you can change the way you organize it if you ever change your mind!

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