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.
Katrina @ 'Sota is Sexy 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?
Yes and no. Haha. Voodoo was awesome but we didn’t have a chance to go to the gardens. Next time!
Katrina – We use a clear plastic accordian file for our receipts and a separate one for our coupons. We got both for $1 each at Target. For receipts, each pocket is labeled with a month, so we organize them all by date. It’s become so much easier to keep receipts in one place! (Now if I can just get my husband to learn how to do this!)
heather s. says
Kelly – I use the same folders for my receipts! I also bought a similar folder in 2009 that I used for receipts but now use for coupons just as Sherry does.
That is genius, I have got to get me one of those!
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.
Love this idea!
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!!
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.
Yes and yes! I love those tricks!
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.
Maureen @ This (Kinda) Old House says
I didn’t know that about using multiple coupons!!! Thanks for the tip, Carly!
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 :)
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.
I am so getting this, great idea. Thanks Sherry :)
jenny G. says
I think I need this. I just cleaned out my car yesterday, and I am embarrassed by how many Joann’s flyers I had to put into the recycle bin…
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!
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.
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.
Wahoo! Another great tip! Thanks for sharing everyone.
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!
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!
Elizabeth@ wake&gather says
That company makes the best notebooks. I have a dayplanner from them that lasts a full year and a half. I got it last June and I don’t have to replace it until 2013. And they’re suuuuper cute always.
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!
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.
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.
BB&B usually has a coupon on line, so you can always print out one at work.
Lindsey @ arkadian belle woods says
That’s awesome! I love finding things like that! Of course it’s easier said than done but that’s like a perfect organizer! Have a safe trip home!
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.
Yup they do that here too!
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!
Love it! Sounds awesome!
Bed Bath and Beyond will honor their coupons even if they are expired, so don’t throw those out. An employee quietly told me that fact once and I’ve used expired coupons many times since.
Krysta @ Domestic for Dummies says
I love how simple and not cluttered the notebook is. I think I know where I’m going on my lunch break!
Oh man! I’ve been looking for something like this forever. Even going so far as to try to modify a small 3-ring day planner to work. And then you go and find the perfect thing for me. =) I thank you mah-lady.
Ginny @ Goofy Monkeys says
I love that little coupon folder thingey! Pretty and sensible. The notepad is a brilliant idea too.
I have Joann, BBB coupons, plus all those end-of-receipt mini-coupons for Ikea (when you use your debit card). Never know where to put them…
Woohoo, house crashing! I was just thinking two days ago that I’d love another house crash post one day, then scolding myself for it since you guys are so busy already.
Also, I love this notebook-envelope-whodacky. Notebookvelope? Notevelope? Either way, I need a notevelope, not so much for coupons since they’re less frequent here, but for all the gift cards we got for our wedding! All are from home or DIY places – it’s almost like our friends and family know us ;-)
I hope you have a great trip home!
If only they had a notebook like that for playrooms filled to the ceiling with pillows, faux animals and other extraneous home decor items. Haha I kid $herdog :P
Actually, I purchased a wallet a few months ago in attempt to keep my purse cleaner and with less loose change at the bottom. Surprisingly, it worked and it’s been super organized ever since! I love how a little item like that can change your whole organizing world.
Haha, so true!
I love that idea, but I think I’ve done permanent damage to my right shoulder dragging around a giant purse. I really wish I could make myself wear a fanny pack.
[email protected] says
I need to work on getting more crafty coupons, but I love having them and having them organized.
Lindsay Huff says
LOVE love love that Michael’s has an app and they’ll scan your coupon off your phone. I used to randomly print them out, only to leave them at work/home/car/parking lot when they fall out of my purse. You don’t even have to have the app to get the coupon, just copy the coupon off the website and send it to your phone. As long as you can zoom in on the barcode and they can scan it, it’ll work. Saves on paper – no printing necessary!
Great tip! I think Hobby Lobby has that too (a physical coupon on their site that they scan right from your phone).
Karen F says
JoAnn has an app, too! Also, JoAnn will take Michael’s coupons, and vice versa.
I downloaded this app last week and have used it twice already. It’s awesome! no more forgetting the coupon at home or wasting paper to print them out. Plus they pretty much always have coupons available which means I will almost never go to Michaels without a coupon again. It also will show you what sales and deals are going on at the time and a few other features I haven’t tried out yet. Joann’s has a similar app that I’ve downloaded but haven’t used yet.
Mary Lou says
This is genius! I’ve been using a basic freezer ziplock bag that sits at the bottom of my purse. It gets so unruly and I can never find anything in there let alone remember what’s in there then when I do its long past expired. Now I have another weekend project to conquer! Safe travels!
Krystle @ ColorTansformedFamily says
That seems like a better method than mine. We just keep all of ours in a drawer in our foyer. Normally we forget to being them with us or they expire. This would definitely work better.
One more BBB coupon tip: If you want an item and don’t have a coupon yet (or forgot it, like I do too), buy it anyway and you can take the receipt back later with the coupon and get your discount after the fact.
Safe trip home….we’re having a beautiful VA day, so it will be nice when you get here!
Another great tip!
So simple – why didn’t I think of this before?? They’ve always just been shoved into our kitchen junk drawer (to be forgotten)or stuck up on the fridge (to be forgotten or tossed becuz they look messy). Thanks so much!
I bought one of these a few months back as well. . .but I use it for my grocery coupons and then I have my shopping list on the pad. I am pretty sure the pad slips out and you can replace it if/when you run out (as I use mine for grocery lists I am sure I will run out a lot faster than you!)
Teresa @ wherelovemeetslife says
I want so badly to be good at organizing coupons… we actually had some free coupons for Kroger and I forgot that we had them and let them expire.. ugh! I love the notebook you found.. is it small enough to just stick in a larger pocketbook? It looks that way from the pic.
Great idea with the notebook!
Oh yes, it’s the size of a small-ish notebook, so it should fit in most purses (not a clutch, but anything larger probably).
Amy @ this DIY life says
A couple months ago, I started leaving something in my purse and I love it. Like you, I have hopes of being organized someday and this makes me feel like I’m getting there. I used to put all my coupons in it but then it got waaay too full (http://thisdiylife.wordpress.com/2011/04/10/all-about-the-q/). So my standard coupons got upgraded to a binder and the little organized got a little re-org. I have little sections for each of the stores I frequent (CVS, Target, PetSmart, etc) and I have some that I haven’t labeled. I’ve started leaving my loyalty cards and gift cards in there too. Since it’s always in my purse, I always have them with me! I have unlabeled sections for miscellaneous places that I don’t always have coupons for. The very front section is for the really important stuff. Paint swatches, fabric swatches and pieces of ribbon so when I’m out shopping and I see the *perfect* thing, I can check to see if the colors mesh. Isn’t it fun to be organized…now onto the rest of my life :)
This is amazing! I am going to use it but I am on the whole cash system of spending so it would be great to organize my different areas in which I spend money. Groceries, going out, shopping etc. Definitely stopping by Target today to pick one of these babies up! Thanks for the help!! Have a safe trip back from Portland!
I’ve found that having a smart phone can cut down on paper coupon clutter. You can sign up for a store’s email list and they will send you the coupons via email and when you get to the store you can just pull the email up. It has really eliminated a lot of clutter. I’m thinking in the next 5-10 years paper coupons may be completely replaced.
Bed, Bath, and Beyond coupons never expire – just in case you weren’t aware! I don’t think a lot of people know this. they have an expiration date printed on them but you can hand them a coupon from 2007 and they’ll honor it. I’m thinking maybe they print an expiration date on them to encourage people to use them quickly? who knows. anyway – don’t throw those coupons away! they’ve honored my expired coupons every single time I’ve ever shopped there – which is a lot! (and I still have a huuuuge stack of coupons from them.)
YES! I must have one! Usually my Joann’s coups just float around my purse and expire…it’s not cute when I pull out my wallet to pay for something and coupons fly everywhere. To Target I go!
Pamela @ Pink Hammers & Sippy Cups says
This is excellent! I wish we got more coupons around here but it’s so much harder to “coupon” in Canada :(
Lindsay B says
I do something similar to this. I bought an accordion file folder with the months on the tab, and I file by expiration date. But it’s still a bit of a cluster. I might try filing by shopping category instead. I love that this is smaller too. Mine’s too big for my purse. Have a great weekend!
I used to use a small accordion-style plastic envelope thing to organize my coupons by category (perishable, health/beauty, etc.), but found that it was difficult to dig through and find or remember what I had. Then I bought a small ($1) photo album (the kind that holds 4 x 6 photos in your purse) at AC Moore. I think mine has room for 100 photos, so it’s a bit thick, but not unmanageable.
I then divided it into categories using small post-it flags, and I put the coupons in the sleeves like photos. I can usually fit 2 coupons to a page, and then I can easily flip through and see what I have at a glance, even if I’m standing in the aisle at the grocery store or at the check-out. It is so much faster and easier for me, and there’s even space for the retail coupons (like BBB or AC Moore, Michael’s, etc.) Hope this helps someone in their quest for coupon organization! :)
These are such great tips guys – thanks for sharing!
Laura @ Unpunctuated Life says
I have a coupon organizer that I use for all my grocery coupons, and I have a section in it labeled restaurants and stores. I keep an “inventory” of each coupon and its expiration date in Evernote so I can view it on my phone. It sounds super involved, but it’s really not! I don’t have that many non-grocery coupons, so I think that’s why it works for me.
The Mrs @ Success Along the Weigh says
I don’t end up finding a lot of coupons for stuff we buy but any excuse to buy something cute like that in case I hit the occasional paydirt with Target or the local grocery store. Thanks for passing that along!
Coupon clutter is one of the main reasons I so rarely use them! It would definitely make more sense to have an organized system, and this seems fairly easy to maintain.
Thanks for sharing your system! You can buy them online here:
I use the same type of notebook (found at HobbyLobby) for our cash system. We do the Dave Ramsey thing for our finances and with this I can separate my cash into categories :)
I am off to Target today! That coupon holder is much better than the paper clipped coupons that are at the bottom of my purse. Yeah!!!
Glad you had a nice trip to Portland!
genius! my purse is a nightmare…but not after today and a trip to target. btw….i LOVE the restaurant mexico (i live just up the road in f’burg and we have one local too).
You just made my organizing wannabe heart pitter-patter. This is going to happen!
Joann’s also has a coupon app for your smart phone. Hubby and I were out to dinner the other night and I needed to run into Joann’s but forgot to look for a coupon online and then remembered the app. 40% off the item I needed with no hassle.
Love all these tips guys! Thanks for sharing!
Amy Knisely says
Wow, way better than us! We don’t get a ton of paper coupons that we really need, (mostly with groceries we use a club card since any store sales automatically come up when you use the card) but the ones we are likely to use (BB&B, various home improvement stores and ESPECIALLY Jo-Ann’s) we just tack on the fridge with a magnet. That way it’s right there, and if I know I’m planning a trip to said business I put it in my wallet. We only tack them up if we know we’re going to use them so there aren’t very many at a time. We get tons of BB&B coupons and if we don’t need them, I’ll give them to a friend who does or just throw them out.
I’m going to have see if I can find that! So much classier (and more functional) than my 2 ziplock bag method (one for groceries and one for everything else). The only downside is I can already feel by purse getting heavier (at least I just stopped carrying diapers).
Witty Wife says
By the way, even though those Bed Bath and Beyond coupons expire, they still take them! Just ask!
Do they really? I tried at mine once before the lady told me no, =(