I wanted to share my method for keeping a coupon filing system for manufacturer’s coupons to help you set-up or improve on your own system.

I have a “coupon tote” that I keep my coupon files in. The purpose of the tote is to hold not only my coupon files, but also hold all of my necessary tools for maintaining my coupon files. The tote is actually a scrapbooking tote, but works perfectly for the purpose of holding my 4 accordion-style coupon files. Here is a list of some of the tools I keep in the tote: scissors, pens, paper clips, tape, sticky notes, sticky flags, label maker. The tote is perfect for me because I can grab it, take it into any room or my car, and clip and organize my coupons.

Here is one of my coupon files. I like the plastic accordion style files that are about 10 ” in length and 5″ tall. I have used accordion files where the accordion is exposed on the bottom of the file (rather than wrapped with the outer file material so that you can’t see the folds) and I did not like how it expanded in a lop-sided manner. These files are very affordable. I actually found this blue plastic accordion file at Target in the “dollar section”. I label each plastic tab for each section with my label maker. I have found that by having specific categories for my coupons, I can easily find the coupons I’m looking for.

These are the four categories for my four coupon files: Grocery, Drugstore, Baby, and Cleaning/Household. An important recent addition to my files is the address label sticker on the front cover with my phone number on it. Consider labeling your coupon file, because someday you may leave it in the shopping cart like I did! Luckily I was able to reclaim it at customer service later in the day, but the funny thing was that mine was not the only coupon file that was in their “lost & found”.

When I go shopping I usually just take one coupon file with me into the store, along with my list and coupons I plan on using. I like to write my list on the outside of an envelope and put the coupons for the items on my list inside the envelope. Even though I’ve already pulled my coupons to use for my shopping trip, I still bring my coupon file because I will need to occasionally look-up a coupon to use (especially on clearance or mark-down items). If I go to the drugstore than I often will take my entire coupon tote to have in the car. They have such a large variety of items (and lots of clearance) at the drugstore that I have often found something and said “darn, I have a coupon for this, but not in the coupon file I have with me”.

I clip my coupons on an irregular basis. I almost always have a stack of coupons to clip and do a little bit here and there. I also purge the expired coupons on an irregular basis. I just don’t see a need to sit down and go through my entire file on a regular basis. The expiration dates vary so much that it would be hard to keep your file “current” at all times.

Ok – now you know just how obsessed with coupons I am. There is no need to go to this extreme. Do what makes you happy. Don’t spend more time on your coupon system than you want to! I hope that my coupon tips are helping you shop smarter, save time, and save money!