Sometimes when getting started, people get overwhelmed with all of the different coupons and have difficulty deciding what categories they should put in their binder. As you get further into couponing, your binder will evolve and you can decide what are the best categories for you that make the most sense. But in order to get you started and give you an idea, I have listed here all of my categories in the order that I have them in my binder. You can look this over and get your own inspiration on what you need to add to your binder so that you can keep organized and maximize your savings.
The following is all of my categories in the order that they are placed in my binder:
The first page is a 9 pocket baseball card insert that I use for all of my store loyalty cards and gift/merchandise credit cards. If I have a store loyalty card and a gift card for the same store, I will normally put both cards together in the same pocket with the gift card on top, so that I don’t forget that I have it.
Next I have a full size sheet with a piece of paper in it that just says “File Me!” I try to keep this page empty and put my coupons away at the end of my trip, but sometimes that simply isn’t possible, especially while standing in the store and I use this spot to save my coupons that I have just picked up in store (blinkies, catalinas, etc) so that I don’t lose them and can put them away when I have the time.
Next are full size sheets with the printed store coupon policy. Often there are 9 pocket sheets between these pages with the name of the store, for store specific coupons and what I call “store money coupons.” These are things like ECBs from CVS.
All of the next pages are baseball card inserts and the occasional full size sheet for oversized coupons. The categories are as follows:
Free! – For all coupons that are for a totally free item.
Must Use – For all food and non-food items where the coupon will expire soon and I would have purchased the item if it were on sale or not. I keep these as long as possible in the hopes that there will be a sale, but still have them front and center so that I don’t forget about them and miss out on the savings the coupon gives me and end up having to buy the item at full price.
Other – For all coupons, food and non-food that are items that not enough coupons come out for, such as batteries and odd items such as things that come out only during specific times of the year, such as school supplies in August and September.
Paper Goods – For all toilet paper, paper towels, napkins, etc.
Food Storage – For zipper bags, disposable storage containers, aluminum foil and plastic wraps. I also put things like wax paper and parchment paper on this sheet.
Toothpaste and Dental Products
Beauty – This is where I put make up and hair color and different kinds of make up remover, etc.
Frozen Fruits and Veg
Ethnic Foods – This is where i put Mexican and Chinese food coupons
Meats – Normally this is only things like lunch meat, bacon and sausage
Crackers and Snacks
Cooking, Spices and Broth
Canned and Jarred Fruit – I also put the little plastic cups with fruit and applesauce here
Breakfast – This is for things like breakfast bars and Pop Tarts
Candy and Junk – Yes, it actually says “Junk.”
Drinks – For everything not Coffee or Tea
Coffee and Tea
As I mentioned before, this is just my list, provided for your own inspiration. It is important that you choose categories that make the most sense to you. If you don’t need a category, then just leave it out. It is your binder and you need to let it evolve into your own thing so that you can find things easily and quickly when needed. There are a lot of times where I find items on clearance that I wasn’t expecting and end up getting things for free or nearly free that I wasn’t expecting and being able to find the coupons quickly and easily is key in making that happen.
In addition, if you have a ton of categories, like I do, it is important to have tabs that you can look to in order to get to the category you want quickly. Adding in 50+ page dividers, for me, is out of the question, as the binder itself is heavy enough without all those extra pages. This is why the Post It! Tabs is so convenient and easy. And with them being removable, and able to be stuck to the inserts again and again, they are a no brainer for my coupon book.