When it comes to storing your coupons, the main question is how much time you want to spend cutting out coupons. I don't know the regular prices of things in the store, so I cut out almost everything and take them all with me. Other people have learned prices over time, or just buy things on sale that are in the ad, so they can just store the coupons as they come in the paper and cut out as they need them. When I began couponing, I tried cutting out every single coupon (took way too much time). Next I tried cutting out coupons as I needed them, but I didn't like that either. I've come up with a method that is a little of both. Now I spend 1-2 hours each Sunday cutting coupons and very little prep time before I go to a store.

Here's how I do cutting and storing. First, I cut out almost everything. I always cut out toiletries, cleaning products, and medical supplies. When it comes to food coupons, I cut out anything I think I might use, and ignore the things I've never bought and probably wouldn't get even if it was on sale. I always cut out dairy, meat, frozen veggies, snack items, candy, most baking items, drinks, and dog products. The rest I store in a portable file box that I already owned.

Coupons in File Box

I have a hanging folder for each company (SS, RP, and All You Magazine; I cut out all P&G coupons), and then I use a manila folder for each company for each week. If I need a coupon that I didn't cut out, they're really easy to find.

Coupon Binder 5

I store the coupons I cut out in a 2.5” binder with baseball card sleeves so that I can see them all at once.

Coupon Binder 6

I take the whole binder with me when I go to the grocery store. (CVS is really easy to plan ahead of time, so I don't usually take it there.) Another option is a small expanding file, such as this. I actually wouldn't be able to even fit all of my coupons in an expanding file. They have these at many stores, such as Target and Walmart, and this would be a cheap option to start with, especially since it takes a while to build your coupon base.

Back when I did light couponing and had an expanding file, I sorted my coupons by their expiration date. Now, in my binder, I store by type. I can see all the paper towel coupons at once, for example, and pull out which one I want to use. I don't have dividers, but I have categories in a certain order that I've just memorized over time. At first my categories were the following:

  • Toiletries
  • Cleaning
  • Food
  • Dog products
  • Medical

I couldn't find just the paper towel coupons all next to each other, and it drove me nuts. Now my categories look like this:

  • Shampoo
  • Body Wash
  • Face Care
  • Lotion
  • Women's Health (tampons, etc)
  • Teeth Care
  • Razors/Shaving Gel
  • Deodorant
  • Makeup/Hair Dye
  • Laundry
  • Dish Care
  • Misc. Cleaning Supplies
  • Paper products (napkins, paper towels, toilet paper)
  • Home Fragrance (glade plugins, air wick, candles)
  • Misc. kitchen items (ziploc bags, tin foil, trash bags)
  • Grains/Carbohydrates
  • Dairy
  • Meat
  • Canned foods (peanut butter, canned veggies)
  • Full meals (pizzas, stouffers, lean cuisines)
  • Side dishes (frozen veggies, mac & cheese)
  • Snacks (fruit, jello, nuts)
  • Candy
  • Baking
  • Oils & Seasonings
  • Drinks
  • Dog Products
  • Vitamins & Supplements
  • First Aid
  • Eye Care
  • Tummy Meds (pepto, zantac, prilosec)
  • Cold & Allergy Meds (tylenol cold, dimetapp, robitussin)
  • Painkillers
  • Miscellaneous (batteries, packaging tape, pens, whatever else is left)

I would recommend starting with just the first set of categories, and then moving to more specific ones if you choose. You can do these categories with a binder or an expanding file. Of course, the best thing will be whatever works best for you. My coupon storage matches my way of thinking, so yours could look quite different from mine.

Next up in the series will be meal planning and grocery shopping!