I have read so many systems for organizing coupons and it took me several months to find one that really worked for me. I have combined the methods of several to get one that works for me. So...here's how I do it...
First, I try to clip anything that I know I am going to use in my weekly grocery shopping or definites for upcoming CVS or Walgreen's ad. I then put them into my coupon binder. My coupon binder is a regular binder with plastic baseball card sheets in it. Each sheet is a different category (have not gotten organized enough to use tabs, etc. yet). I then slide in all the breakfast food coupons on one sheet, frozen foods on another, etc. Before I go shopping, I take my Wal-Mart envelope (just a regular business size envelope that says Wal-Mart on it) and put in the coupons I'll be using from my shopping list. I'll also take my binder with me so that if I see anything really cheap or on sale, I can grab my coupon for the item.
I also have a file box with file folders and manilla folders in it. Each week when I get my coupons in my paper and my husband brings home the abandoned coupons from work, I write the date on the front of the insert with a sharpie in big numbers. I date the manilla folders in pencil and put the coupon inserts into them. Then, when I see a great deal that requires a coupon from 4 weeks ago, I simply go into the file folder for 12/14 and grab the pile of P&G inserts, pull them out, clip what I need and put them back in.
I do not throw any coupons away. In the beginning of this adventure, I would throw away inserts after I thought I was done clipping all the things I wanted. This was a huge mistake. In the coming weeks, all kinds of deals would abound and I was missing out on them! For example, I'd think I'm not going to use that coupon for product X, I don't normally use it. Then a great deal would come up for product X, where you could get X for free after ecb's and if the coupon was for $3 off, I could use that extra $3 off to pay for something else in my cart.
L'oreal Facial cleanser is $5.99 with $5.99 ecb's. I have $5 ecb's from a previous transaction. I can go to the register with my L'oreal product and say, a gallon of milk (pretend milk is still $1.99 a gallon). Now, L'oreal rings up $5.99, milk rings up $1.99 and my total is around $8. I use my $3 q, which brings my total down to $5. So, I buy milk and facial cleanser with my $5 ecb and get back $5.99 ecb's. I just made a 99 cent profit. And guess what? Even though I don't normally use that facial cleanser, the next time I run out I decide to try it out (it was free, what the heck?) and I actually like it! And if I don't, I can pass it on to someone else to try.
How do you organize your coupons? Did this help? Leave a comment!