I'm always asking friends and neighbors how they organize their coupons. I like seeing what works for others, since everyone does it differently. My original system (from 2008!) worked for me for a long time, but in the past six months, I've really cut down on the amount of time I'm couponing and shopping, so I wanted a streamlined system. It's been over two months since I switched, and this is helping save me time both in the store and at home:
I've always preferred a small accordion file to a binder system. It is small enough to fit in my purse, and this simple one from Staples has a flat bottom so it sits open on my table or the shopping cart seat. I keep my categories very simple (no more “baby” category–pout), and I always carry a pencil, scissors, and calculator with me. I use the two empty sections to organize upcoming trips, with a shopping list and the coordinating coupons in those sections.
As for time, I spend a few minutes with my Sunday inserts, flipping through to cut out any I know I'll use–like Cheerios, toothpaste, etc. I don't overfill the red file this way. The rest of the inserts go into a hanging file box with the date of the insert on top. Note–to find the date of your insert, check the spine/fold. You'll see it in teeny tiny print. This gets pulled out only when I'm doing a grocery list. I sit it next to me at the computer and use the date and abbreviation (P&G is the Proctor & Gamble monthly insert, SS means SmartSource, while V or RP means RedPlum) from the blog matchups and pull the coupons as needed. I save my inserts because I do a lot of Drugstore Game shopping and often need coupons I wouldn't normally save. This is what's working for me. See more Works for me Wednesday at We Are That Family.
If you're a beginning couponer, you don't need to save your inserts. You might want to start by cutting the coupons you'll use and remembering to take them to the store. That's a key issue I hear from most beginners–they're not in the habit yet, so they forget!