So now that you’ve begun saving coupons, how do you plan on organizing them? Some people use envelopes; others buy pre-made coupon sorters in varying sizes. The last time I used coupons regularly, I started out by purchasing a pre-made coupon organizer that used a full-sized zipper binder. I quickly developed a dislike for it, however, because the categories did not seem logical to me. I had a hard time using it.
After just a few weeks, I decided that the pre-made organizer’s categories were absolutely NOT going to work for me. The binder itself was lacking in features; I had to carry a separate folder with my printed copies of store coupon policies, because the binder had literally NO extra pockets or storage. Pens and pencils were kept in my purse, and when shopping I had nowhere to place the coupons I had pulled out to use. So off to the store I went, this time with the intention of developing a better binder that I would WANT to use.
Luckily, I took on this task shortly after the start of the school year, and at Walgreens I found a great zipper binder for 75% off. So my $20 binder only cost me $5. I had to hit several stores to find the baseball card holder sheets I’d planned on using, but did eventually find large packs of them at Target. I also picked up some fine-tip permanent markers and some stick-on divider tabs, and went home to begin my project.
I started by putting the sheets into the binder, then worked on my divider tabs. I came up with a list of sections I wanted, then prepared the tabs so that the sections would be alphabetical. After adding the divider tabs, I began placing my coupons in, but quickly discovered another issue. Being able to see through the sheets to coupons below was driving me insane. Many of you probably aren’t bothered by that, but with my sensory issues (I have SPD) it was something I needed to counteract. I didn’t know HOW to accomplish this task though! My first idea was to get the full-sized divider sheets, but I quickly vetoed that theory, because it would have added quite a bit of bulk to my binder and would have made it hard to move between sections (or even turn pages). I looked online to see if anybody sold sheets that were not clear-backed, but couldn’t find anything. I was ready to just give up, and even put the project aside for a couple of days. Then, when looking for something else one day, I stumbled upon the PERFECT solution.
In searching my home for something, I came across a box that contained things I used when I lived with and cared for my elderly mother. In this box, I found some leftover Con-Tact Paper I had put in my mother’s kitchen cabinets. The little “Aha!” light went on… I grabbed it and a sorter sheet, and measured out the size I needed (I went slightly smaller than the sheet itself). I cut, then applied the Con-Tact Paper to the back side of the sheet, and put the newly doctored sheet into my binder…
It worked perfectly! I was able to see the coupons but not anything in sheets below that one. An added benefit was that, now that the background was white instead of clear, I was better able to see the coupons themselves. I ran out and bought several rolls, and over the next few days I made backings for every sorter sheet I had. It was painstaking, tedious work, and the Con-Tact Paper still added a little extra bulk to the binder (though less than my other idea would have), but it was worth it. I now had a binder I could actually use without risking sensory overload every time I opened it.
Now it was time to get to work. I applied divider tabs (alphabetically, of course), then sorted all of my coupons into each section. I kept a sorter page in front, for restaurant or fast food coupons; I now use that front most page for my full-sized store loyalty cards, and thank goodness I did that because my key ring of small cards has since been misplaced… I added a notebook, so I could keep track of things like which stores have the best regular price on certain items and so on. I also stuck an extra pencil pouch in there, because while this binder was better than the one I’d purchased as a pre-made organizer, it still lacked a couple of features I would have liked to have, such as slots for writing instruments.
Since this post was originally written, I have again switched binders (current binder is pictured above). I have a binder that does have every feature I could want (and yes, it was on sale, haha). I have more sorter sheets, which are going to need my custom Con-Tact Paper backing added. I have a built-in section of dividers where I can keep my printed copies of store coupon and price match policies, plus any other printouts I may need. Tomorrow I will take photos and create a new post, which will include some of my basic tips and tricks for starting out as a couponer.