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How to Organize your Coupons by Category as a Beginner

As a beginner, you may find out that collecting coupons can be quite overwhelming. The various coupons you collect can build up fast and end up cluttering you house if they are not properly organized. Moreover, if they are not well sorted, you will have a hard time finding them when you need them and as such you may end up missing out on some fantastic savings at the store.

There are various methods one can use but by giving a general overview, it can help you decide which works best for you.

  1. Envelopes

For a beginner, you can make use of envelops to organize you coupons. All you have to do is just to write the category on the coupon (food, pets, health, beauty, et al.) on them and put your coupons inside. There will be need for you to change the envelopes from time to time because, truth be told, envelops are not that durable and will get easily worn out when you take them along with you for your shopping trips.

2. Accordion File

This is another great coupon organization system for beginners. These small accordion files have tabs for you to use to separate your coupons, thus, making it easier for you to locate the coupon you need. Just clip your coupons and put them in their respective categories. You will often find these organizing tools at many dollar stores and they are usually of good quality. However, if you can’t seem to find any at your local dollar store, many big box stores such as Walmart will carry these as well even though it can tend to be more expensive.

3. Coupon Binder

Coupon binders are great for more advanced collectors but a beginner can also make use of them. You can get started by buying a large binder, some divider tabs and trading card protector sheets and put them all together. You should then divide your coupons by category, date or alphabetically with your divider tabs and place your coupons in the protector sheets and then into the binder.

Sorting Your Coupons by Category

Sorting your coupons by category is one of the easiest ways of categorizing your coupons, especially if you have a lot of coupons and can’t always remember each and every one that you have. The most common categories are: health, beauty, pets, baby/kids, food, household, and miscellaneous. You can as well create sub categories within the category that you have created.

Once you’ve created your categories, put your coupons into the categories that they belong to.

You should endeavor to go through your coupons from time to time so as to get rid of the expired ones. This makes the task less overwhelming, and also prevents embarrassment at the store if you try to use an expired coupon.

Here are some major coupon categories, and subcategories, to help you organize your coupons if you clip them. Using these categories to help you file your coupons can keep you from getting overwhelmed and more easily put your fingers on the coupon you need, when you need it.

  1. Baby
  • Baby food
  • Diapers
  • Formula
  • Medical
  • Wipes
  • Others

2. Baking

  • Cake mixes
  • Frosting
  • Canned milk
  • Dry Milk
  • Cookie and Brownie mixes
  • Flour
  • Sugar
  • Muffin mixes
  • Oil
  • Cooking spray
  • Spices
  • Seasoning
  • Yeast
  • Baking powder
  • Others

3. Beverages

  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Powdered mixes
  • Sodas
  • Others

4. Breads

  • Bagels
  • English muffins
  • Donuts
  • Hot dog buns
  •  Hamburger buns
  • Sandwich bread
  • Tortillas
  • Others

5. Breakfast

  • Cereal
  • Granola
  • Cereal bars
  • Hot cereal
  • Oatmeal
  • Pancake mix
  • Syrup
  • Others

6. Canned and Jarred Food

  • Canned and Dried fruit
  • Canned meats
  • Canned vegetables
  • Canned beans
  • Pasta sauce
  • Tomatoes
  • Soup and Broth
  • Others

7. Cleaning Supplies

  • Air fresheners
  • Dishwasher detergent
  • Dishwashing liquid
  • Floor care
  • General cleaners
  • Glass cleaner
  • Others

8. Condiments

  • Ketchup
  • Mustard
  • Mayonnaise
  • Peanut butter
  • Jelly
  • Jam
  • Pickles
  • Olives
  • Salad dressing
  • Sauces
  • Marinades
  • Vinegars
  • Others

9. Dairy/Refrigerated

  • Cookies
  • Butter
  • Eggs
  • Cheese (block, shredded, sliced)
  • Cream
  • Creamer Yogurt
  • Sour cream
  • Others

10. Dried Goods

  • Beans
  • Pasta
  • Rice
  • Others

11. Fresh Food

  • Meat
  • Fish
  • Others

12. Household Goods

  • Batteries
  • Foil and Plastic wrap
  • Greeting cards
  • Light bulbs
  • Storage containers and bags
  • Trash bags
  • Others

13. Laundry Supplies

  • Fabric softener
  • Laundry detergent
  • Stain removers
  • Bleaches
  • Other

14. Medical

  • Cold, Flu, Allergy medications
  •  First aid and Band aids
  • Pain relievers
  • Vitamins and Supplements
  • Others

15. Paper Goods

  • Napkins
  • Paper towels
  • Plates and other Utensils
  • Toilet paper
  • Others

16. Personal Care

  • Mouthwash
  • Whitening products
  • Toothbrushes
  • Dental Floss
  • Toothpaste
  • Others

17. Personal Care

  • Cosmetics and Makeup
  • Body wash
  • Cosmetics
  • Lotion
  • Skin and Facial care
  • Soap (bar and hand soap)
  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Hair dye
  • Hair care and product
  • Deodorant
  • Pads and Tampons
  • Razors
  • Shaving gel
  • Shaving cream
  • Others

18. Pets

  • Cat litter
  • Cat food
  • Dog food
  • Treats
  • Others

19. Snacks

  • Cookies
  • Candy
  • Crackers
  • Nuts and Snacks
  • Popcorn, Chips and Pretzels
  • Pudding
  • Jello
  • Others

20. Miscellaneous

  • Entertainment
  • Restaurants
  • Others

In conclusion, a good way to determine if the current system you are using is working effectively is to review how many expired coupons you discarded on a regular basis. If you discard a lot of them, it just goes to show that it is time for you to change it. Unless you are into trading coupons, then clipping and organizing tons of coupons each week, on the chance that you might use them, could result in a lot of unproductive time and might lead to couponing burnout.

A good look at the coupons that you are actually using can help you come up with a labeling process that works best for you.

For instance, if you are redeeming more coupons from the personal care category than any other section, then breaking that category into more top-level subcategories (personal care-dental, personal care-hair care) can be quite useful to you. However, if you are redeeming few pets coupons, then dropping some of the subcategories under pets would make sense.

Also, you have the liberty to tweak it any way you wish to suit your personal preferences.