The Coupon Box Method – How I Organize my Coupons

A common question I I hear from my readers is “How do you personally organize your coupons?” And the answer is…I use the Coupon Box Method.  Being organized makes coupon shopping more enjoyable as I can find my coupons quickly when I am out at the stores.

I have tried quite a few different methods to organize my coupons including the coupon binder method, which is a huge favorite of many coupon shoppers out there. And there is no right or wrong way to organize your coupons, you just find what works out best for you!  It has been about a year now that I have been organizing coupons into a Coupon Box and it is by far my favorite way of all time!

I was introduced to this method at the first coupon class I ever taught. A very sweet girl named Tracie whipped out her coupon box and told me it was her favorite way to organize her coupons. I was intrigued and so I tried it out. I LOVED it and have been using ever since. (Thanks Tracie!!)

How to make a Quick $5.00 Coupon Box

The first thing I wanted to mention is that to make a Coupon Box you can pay as little as $5.00 for everything!! Yes, you heard me right, only $5 bucks for everything at Walmart.   All you need is a plastic box with a lid – make sure and pick a lid that has latches, so that if your box gets dropped, your coupons will not spill out all over. You will also need some 3 5/8 by 6 1/2 inch envelopes and some index cards.  

Here is my Walmart receipt for all three of these items. Final price = $5.00!

Next thing you want to do is to cut off the top adhesive strip area of your envelopes. I just used some scissors and cut, cut, cut!

Then you will add an index card to the inside of each envelope. Staple it inside ( I just used one staple. ) 

 

And finally you can take a sharpie and write each of your coupon categories on the envelopes. If you want it to look a little more professional you can also print off your categories onto address labels and stick those on the index cards instead of writing too.

You can do as many or as few categories as you like. Here are the current categories I am using:

Catalinas/Rainchecks
Bags/Foil/Plastic
Baking
Beverages
Body/Deodorant/Eyes
Candy
Canned/Bottled Food
Cereal (I separate my cereal into 3 envelopes – One GM, One Kellogg’s, One Quaker. Or you can just put all your cereal into one.)
Cleaners
Condiments/Dressings/Spices
Dairy
Feminine
Frozen
Hair/Tools/Makeup
Laundry
Lotion/Shaving
Medicine/First Aid
Meat
Office Supplies/Pet
Paper Products
Pasta/Rice/Potatoes
Peanut Butter
Produce/Diet
Snacks/Crackers/Bars
Toothpaste/Oral Care
Utility/Misc
Restaurant
Free Coupons

You can also add these ones too if you like:
Baby
Coffee
Fast Food
Air Fresheners
You can separate the Frozen into sections (Ice Cream, Meat, Veg., Fruit/Potatoes, Beverages, Breads, Pizza)
You can separate the Cleaners into sections (All Purpose, Glass, Laundry, Dish, Furniture, Bathroom)
Retail Coupons
Toy Coupons
Lightbulbs/Batteries
Syrup
Mexican
Asian
Breakfast
Breads

Another way to categorize it it is by alphabetizing it. Each envelope is a letter. The great thing about alphabetizing is you dont have to think about which category you placed something in, so if you are looking for Skippy Peanut Butter you would just go right to your “S” category.

And that’s it. Add your coupons and you are good to go! The Coupon Box is nice because you don’t have to fold your coupons like you do sometimes in the coupon binder, plus it fits nicely in the child seat at the grocery store. You can thumb quickly through to get the coupons you need.

Now – I just shared with you the inexpensive $5.00 easy beginner way to make a coupon box. I used that method for over a year, but wanted something a bit sturdier. So I upgraded my coupon box by using some plastic tab dividers and thicker paper. 

How to make a STURDY Longer Lasting Coupon Box

This is my soup’ed up version of my coupon box. If you have tried out the Coupon Box Method and realized it’s for you, consider making a sturdy version that will last a long time like this one. I had some leftover file folders hanging around so I used those to make new coupon box (or you can get some strong cardstock too).

Step 1 – Take a hanging file folder and spread it open. Take one of your envelopes to use as a width measurement.

Then cut out a peice of the hanging file folder about double to triple the heighth of the envelope (depending on how big you want your folders.) Fold it in half using a bone folder on the bottom or wooden spoon to make the edge straight.

Step 2 – Double check that the template you have cut out fits just how you want it in your coupon box.

Step 3 – Using that one as a template cut out as many mini-folders as you will need for the number of categories you will have. I cut out 3 at once to save time. You can get 2  mini-folders out of each File Folder.

Step 4 – Once all your folders are cut out cut two slits using an exacto knife for the tabs.  Then enter your tabs onto each mini-folder.

Step 5 – Fill out the labels for your categories or print off address style labels for your tabs.

Step 6 – Add your coupons! I also added a small box at the back of My Coupon Box to hold my calculator, my scissors, my sharpie, pen and clips. 

This version of My Coupon Box is so much sturdier!  I clip all my coupons and store them in this box. When I go coupon shopping I prepare in advance and add my coupons I plan on using to the box at the back. When I am at the store and I find coupons I just add them to the front of my box until I get home and have time to organize them.

I go through my box about once every month (usually at the end when a bunch of coupons expire) and clean out the expireds to send to the military overseas.  I love my Coupon Box organization method, it works great for me! 

Anyone else out there use a coupon box too? How many of you use the binder method or another method?50 Comments

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Comments

  1. i attended your couponing class in yakima and have since been using your coupon box method and i LOVE it. i was keeping my flyers in folders and only clipping the coupons i needed, but it still took a long time to flip through all the flyers to find the coupon i was looking for and i couldn’t take them with me. with the box, i can easily find what i am looking for and i can keep similar coupons together so i can use the one that gives me the best deal and it easily fits into the seat of the shopping cart so i can get those unadvertised deals. i recently helped one of my friends make her own box and she loves it. it is also great if you have kids and pets running around so all your hard work doesn’t end up all over the floor. its cheap and very easy to maintain. by far the best way i have found to organize my coupons.

    • Hi Trina! Glad you like this method too. One other thing I love about the box is that if there is an expired coupon in there I cant see it until I clean out my box.. I like that because I hated seeing any expired coupons in my binder. The guilt of expired coupons…ha ha.

  2. I also use the box method but I alphbetize my folders. Also instead of envelopes or repurposing files, I used some old blank invitation paper. These were the perfect size for my box and they were already folded and ready to go. I used address labels and printed the labels with letters. They are broken down like A, AL, B, BL, etc. This helps seperate them for me.

    This method is sooooo much easier to use then the binder. It takes no time to cut and file my coupons. I don’t think I will go back to a binder. Next order of business is to find a tote to store it and carry in the store. lol

    • Oooh, let me know if you find one. I bought a bigger purse and tried to squeeze my box in there. But it fit so tightly I couldnt remove the lid from my box. Let me know if you find the perfect tote! :)

      • Christina says:

        Hi Karrie,
        I know this is a little late, but I was just reading your info on a box and I don’t know if you have heard of the company Thirty One, but they make great bags and they come in all different sizes. They fit my box perfectly, if you haven’t already found one :)

    • Linda Wms. says:

      I have used a similar solution for filing my Q’s for years now. I found a handbag that was wide/tall enough to hold my stash of Q’s. I added my own sturdy divider inserts labeled by category. Each category has an envelope to stash my Q’s. My bag snaps on each side and middle to shrink up; unsnaps for easy access. It has pockets to store calculator, phone, keys, etc. Love it! Truly, my all in one bag for shopping.

  3. NaDell Ransom says:

    I use a long (legal envelope style) plastic accordion file that I bought at $ Tree and I used to organize it by date, but have since changed to the category method with the ones that expire soonest in front. I even found some at Target after school started for 30 cents each.
    I bought another small file that I put each store’s coupons, catalinas, and coupons I normally use at that store in so I don’t have to dig them out.
    I like them all clipped and ready to go, even though it takes an hour or so each week to organize them all.

    • Cool NaDell! It IS so nice to have all your coupons organized even though it takes a little bit of time. I find its easy to clip while I watch TV sometimes.

  4. Question -do you take it to the store? If so where do you put it? I love having my binder in the front cart seat – and I would be the right plastic container would fit… I don’t know that I’m ready to switch yet though.. but maybe.. do you find you are hunting for coupons often? (or are you a take a list and the coupons you need and go girl?)

    • I use the coupon box method and I take it in with me and put it in the child seat in front. Now, if I had a child riding in the seat I would have to put the box in the basket which wouldn’t be as convenient, but I could still make it work. I know, for the most part, which coupons I’ll be using before I go, so I pull these out of the box before I head to the store and keep them in an envelope. I still take my box, though, in case I find an unadvertised deal that I can match up with one of the coupons in my box. If I can’t use one of the coupons I had planned to use that day, I just put it in the back of the envelope until I get home and can put it back in the box along with any other coupons I’ve picked up along the way.

      • HI! My coupon box actually fits perfectly into a shopping cart kid seat spot. My kids are old enough to walk now so I am lucky that way. I prepare before I go by taking out the coupons and adding them to an envelope with a list usually, and then if I find a deal in store I can quickly thumb through the coupons I have. I had a harder time having my binder in the front seat as it would sometimes be all floppin’ around, and this box sits perfectly in that seat.

        • I have this problem a lot – which is part of the reason I’m looking at the box method – especially at the new targets! Those new carts don’t balance my binder well!! The other reason is I think filing would be easier in the box.. humm maybe I just need to do it :)

  5. So far, I still like the binder way. I like how I can see at a glance what coupons I have, since they all have their own see through pocket. I think that is easier (for me anyway) to search for a coupon while in the store and you see an unadvertised sale. I have the bigger pockets, so the coupons are not folded. And if I buy multiples of a coupon, they are all together in one pocket. I put the ones with the later dates in the back. Plus my 2 yr old needs the seat or he runs away from me! And I can use the cart to help balance the binder while I have it open and am looking for a coupon.

    • Hi Heidi! I know a lot of people who just LOVE the binder way too! I tried it and loved it at first but always had a hard time upkeeping it for some reason. I still have a hard time upkeeping the box some months, but at least the expired coupons arent looking at me..ha ha. Everyone has to find a way that works well for them and do it. Glad you have a way that works for you!

  6. this is soo what I need to do, I have a binder and its starting to drive me nuts trying to file all my coupons, this is my next project for sure!

  7. Thanks for the shout out Karrie!! I’m still using the same box that I showed you and loving it. I’m on your site almost daily, THANK YOU for all you do for us couponers out there!

  8. Hmmm, might have to consider this method. Right now we use the binder and I hate it, we’re good about clipping the coupons but terriably about putting them away because it takes forever. I was considering doing the file box method with the sleeves for each type of insert but I like that I would be able to take the whole box with me this way. I also like the idea that is more discreet… this way I can do a sneak attack on cashiers and the people behind me, they will have no idea whats coming! :insert evil laugh:

    • Ha ha ha!! Too funny, yes a sneak attack. Love it. It is a little more discreet to have the box in the shopping cart, however you should still see some of the looks I get when people actually notice it. Ha! :)

  9. Karrie…i know that look ha ha ha! i forgot to mention that i use paper clips to hold my multiples together. i tried staples, but it was hard to get them apart without ripping them and with the clips, i can reuse them and i found them at the $ store so they were cheap! P.S. i LOVE your blog and check it every day. thank you for all the work you do to make all of our lives easier.

  10. yes thank you karrie without you and all the other bloggers I would still be paying full price..my whole family thanks you..

  11. I have been wanting to use a system that is like my binder, but have been unable to find one that meets ALL of my needs. I am a very visual person and I like it that my binder enables me to put all of my coupons from multiple types in one place. For example: I can place side-by-side a Safeway coupon, catalina, and manufacturer coupon for the same brand of something, like General Mills cereal. I actually do like to see the expiration dates because if a great coupon is about to expire, I make sure to see if it is worth using while I’m at the store and I like clearing them out regularly. The problem I am having is that I have so many coupons, I have a 3-ring binder and a 4-ring binder full of coupons and they are cumbersome when I bring them both in the store. I hate leaving one behind since it seems that every time I do that I find a great deal that I’d need my other binder for (one is for non-food and the other is for food only). After reading your blog (THANK YOU FOR WRITING IT!!!) I am thinking about a coupon box that would sort of be a larger version, but instead of loosely adding my coupons to the file folders, keeping them in my clear baseball pockets that are tucked into file folders. I may cut my pockets to make them a little smaller unless I can find some smaller ones. Anyone have an idea that can help me?

  12. silly question!! I love this system, I have currently been using the binder system but they are getting so heavy!! Do you just clip the coupons you know your family will use or are there certain ones you like to add as they are items that sale regularly?

    • I don’t add all the coupons to my box, just the ones that if the item was free I would buy it. So I don’t have a cat, and even if it were free I wouldnt buy – so no cat food in my box.

  13. I use the box method but I use an old diaper box (really cute huh) and file folders to put all the inserts in. I feel like I am just so busy that I can’t cut out all of my coupons at one time, plus its also easier to look for a specific date when I am matching things before I go to the store. This way I only cut what I need. I probably miss out on deals at the store but with a 2 year old I don’t have a lot of time to browse for deals in the store anyway- I just have to get in and get out with my list as fast as I can.

  14. HI there – I started couponing a little over a month ago and use the binder method. I cannot find a binder that zips that holds all of my coupons and it does take a while to file after clipping. I have thought about switching to the box method and was curious what size boxes every one carries, I love the thought of having ALL my coupons with me in the event of an unadvertised sale or unknown clearance. I also do have a seperate area for certain stores where at coupon is only redeemable at that store, Target, CVS, etc.

    Thanks for any input.

  15. Billie Zinke says:

    I’m also a faithful coupon box user. I tried the binder method and hated it. I think I might even have the same box but I use mine the other direction with the long envelopes. I just folded the flap to the inside.

    I’ve sorted mine into categories based on my local Meijer layout. I used color coded index cards for each department. HBA stuff is all blue. Dairy is orange. Baby, toys, paper goods, chemicals and hardware stuff is green. Dry edibles are yellow and then the meat, produce and frozen are red. Pretty much each aisle of stuff has its own envelope. I kept the empty envelope box to store my scissors, calculator and other odds and ends.

    It is super easy to use in any store though. Find the department, find the aisle and there are the coupons.

  16. I have always used the box method and love it! I use a Sterilite box with a latching lid that is about 7 1/2 x 9 and fits 5×8 index dividers. I have alphabetized food, household and health & beauty categories with different colored tabs. Behind that I have a section of tabs for my Target coupons, by category, and then alphabetized ones for gift cards and store specific coupons like Joanns, Bed, Bath & Beyond, etc. I always know where to find what I’m looking for and the box fits nicely in the cart seat area.

  17. I love your coupon box idea. Thanks for sharing it.

  18. Love your box method. A friend of mine from church showed me a method using a photo box, with cardstock to make the dividers to catagorize. It works well, unless you drop it. :o( So, I’d love to make a bigger one, like what you’ve shown. Thank so much for showing us!

  19. Wow! Awesome idea! Thanks for sharing. The $5 is with tax and tax is not the same everywhere! So where I live it will cost just a little over $5. :) But close enough eh? I saw this on a pin on Pintrest.

    • btw, I will have to make that for me. I use to use coupons all the time and haven’t in a long time and now getting back to using them again. (I will have to share this with a friend of mine, she is an extreme couponest).

  20. My stores are gonna LOVE to see me coming! I already bring my own bags (including cooler bags), water jugs AND a three year old. Now I’m gonna throw in a coupon caddy, too!
    I have strayed from couponing and need to get back. We lived on our modest stockpile after my hubby lost his job. Now we’re back on our feet, sort of, but the shelves are still pretty depleted. I used a binder before, but it took way too much work for someone who’s only slightly serious about couponing. (That, and it was REALLY awkward to flip through while pushing one of those extended bench carts with two to three kids and a car seat! Boy, it’s nice to have three in school now!) The box seems much less intimidating and I can test the box in the cart before I buy it! Your blog may have been the jump start I needed to dig out my scissors again. Thanks!

  21. I would LOVE to start couponing, but have no idea where to get good coupons! Any ideas?!?!?!

    Thank you for any advice you may have to offer!!! :)

  22. This is PERFECT! I’m not good at completing projects, so this may take me a while, but I’m going to give it a go! You should make and sell these on ebay!!!!! Thank you for posting this!

  23. Mary Wehner says:

    I use a file box that fits in an Organizing Utility Tote from Thirty-One. It has pockets in the front and sides for my scissors, pens, grocery list, and keys etc. Here is the link http://www.thirtyonegifts.com/Catalog/Product/27/
    It fits in the child seat of cart and it is discreet :-) lol

  24. Karrie, cqn you please tell me what size latch box you use? I’m excited to get started, but my Wal-Mart is currently scarce on boxes & envelopes. :-( Thanks, Michelle

  25. i just started with the coupons saving cause got the idea watching the tlc show and i us use this box method to file my coupons and i love it the simple the easier

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