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Friday, March 20, 2009

Coupon Organizing Series: The Envelope Method

I started out organizing my coupons with the binder method. I used that method for almost 2 years and finally decided to give something else a try!

Initially my binder method was in alphabetical order. I had 5 binders...

  • 2 for food (A-L, M-Z)
  • 2 for non-food (A-L, M-Z)
  • 1 for baby, pets, and individual store coupons
I started out with 1 binder (in the begining) but my coupons just kept growing and growing until I had 5. I couldn't possible take these in the store with me, they would take up the whole buggy, and I had to constantly pass up clearance deals without having them with me!

I knew that I wanted to keep my coupons organized in alphabetical order (the same as in the binder) but I wanted a faster method of taming those little pieces of paper Sunday evenings! I felt that making "categories" would put too many coupons in one envelope and take me longer to go through them in the store!

I changed over this past Sunday. I was 5 weeks behind with coupon filing (I already had them clipped but I was working out of baskets!). It took me over 5 hours to create my new envelope system, swap the coupons that were in my binder over to the envelopes, organize and file the coupons in my baskets, clip and organize my current set of papers.

Here what the final result looks like!

I started out in a small plastic bin...didn't work! I moved up to a mid-size bin...still too small! I finally had to go with the biggest bin I had and my poor coupons still can't breath!

Here's How I Did It!

Left Side:
  • 1 Envelope for each letter of the alphabet
  • Additional envelopes for Glade, Crest/Colgate, Loreal and a second letter "s" envelope! (I added the additional envelopes because I knew that their were going to be tons of coupons in that category!)

Right Side:
  • 1 Envelope for each letter
  • Additional envelopes for Betty Crocker, General Mills, Pillsbury and a second letter "s"

  • 1 Envelope for each: Cats, Dogs, Baby, Use Now(for coupons that I know I am going to use but haven't made my list for each store and haven't filed them in those store envelopes yet...an in between!)

  • 1 Envelope for each store that I shop at!

I took this baby for a test run with me on Tuesday! It was a hit! I was able to still fit the box in the front of the buggy (with my purse up under it to keep it from sliding) AND I was able to score some great deals on clearance items (which was one of the things that I missed being able to do NOT having my coupons with me!)

I still plan to "purge" my coupons once per month as I did in the binders to get rid of the expired ones!

I estimate that it will take me approximately 20-25 minutes to clip and organize using this method. The binder method took me about 45 minutes! I am extremely pleased with trimming time off of this tedious task!

It took me about 10 minutes to pull all of my coupons for my grocery list this week and I was pleased with that time frame also (for 4 stores)!

Overall I seem to like it for now! My only other question would be...how long do these envelopes last! I will be handling them a lot! Can anyone share with me how long it takes them before they have to change torn or worn out envelopes?

My CVS ladies were amazed! They've never actually seen my coupons before and were in total disbelief! I told them that what was under the lid saves me hundreds of dollars a month and it was worth every second it took me to organize and use them!


tressa1220 said...

I like it! But I too am concerned with how long it will last. I have index cards right now sticking up like tabs and they are SHABBY looking. I wonder about your slips of paper. I have tons of envies from the mail though I guess you could just continuously replace them as they wear out... I wonder if Scrapbooking Card Stock would be better than index cards...

Lissa said...


I used the index cards also! I noticed with a friends envelope method that she would constantly pull out her index card on accident so I placed a small piece of tape on the back side attaching it to the envelope. This looks like it may help it from slipping down into the envelope in itself.

Not sure how card stock would work. I didn't want the index cards cut too short so that I could make sure I was able to see them!

We will see how long they last! I will keep track of it and post the results when I have to start changing out things! I will be saving the envelopes from the mail too...to use to replace them!

Thanks for writing! Hope to hear from you again!

What method do you currently use?


Erin said...

I basically use the same system- minus the envelopes. This works great, because each letter can be as big or little as it needs to be. I bought sturdy plastic index card dividers at Walmart. I use the same plastic box and I have mine alphabetically in food and non food categories. I then have a slot for pets and candy. I keep envelopes in the front with my store names so that I can have most of my coupons pulled before I go. Those envelopes have lasted a few months. I think your system is great! BTW- awesome site. Love it.

Lissa said...

Hi Erin...would love to see a picture of your box if it's possible! I would ad it as a variation to the envelope method in my post!

The idea of not having the envelopes would be great, I am not really 100% comfortable with them.

Is you box as wide as mine? If it is...how do you keep the two rows seperate...or do you have just one long row?

I would love for you to share more on your method...as I always look for room to improve!

Thanks, Lissa

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