Coupon Clipping for the Ordinary Mom

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simple couponingYou’re a busy woman with a lot on your plate, but you want to save money, right?!

One of the oldest ways that people saved money on the home front was through the use of coupons.

There were years that coupon clipping wasn’t “cool,” but then TLC introduced people to the world of Extreme Couponing in 2010.

On that show, cameras followed extreme couponers to see how many groceries and products they could get for little to no money. It was an interesting show to watch, but most people aren’t going to, nor do they need to coupon to that level.

I do not need a stockpile of hundreds of boxes of Hamburger Helper in my garage. In fact, I haven’t even eaten Hamburger Helper since I had kids.

There are a lot of great coupons that you can use to get products for free or deeply discounted; however, if you don’t have a good way of organizing your coupons you will never use them.

As a busy mom, it is even more important that my coupons are organized SIMPLY and can be found easily.

Time is a hot commodity in my life, and I need to make sure that the money saving methods that I use are a good return on my investment. Remember I’m the one who doesn’t even recommend having a garage sale to everyone.

Nowadays, there are great coupons that can be found and easily used on your smartphone. That topic is for another day.  The purpose of this post is to explain my simple way to organize and use paper coupons.

Side note: Did you know you can get even better savings at the stores if you combine paper coupons with Ibotta, Target Cartwheel, Checkout 51? Yes, you can use them all!

Here is how I organize and use coupons to save our family money in just minutes a week.

I have two coupon expandable folders that I use, one is for weekly inserts, and one is for free-standing coupons. You can use any file system, but if you want the ones like I have, they can be found on Amazon.

AmazonBasics Expanding File, Letter Size – Black

C-Line 13-Pocket Expanding File, Coupon Size, Includes Tabs, 1 File, Fashion Circle Series, Black/Gray (56412)

To better help you understand my simple coupon method I will first explain how I organize inserts.

When I receive the Sunday paper, I immediately remove the coupon inserts. There are multiple types, Red Plum (RP), Smart Source (SS), and Proctor and Gamble (PG).

Once I have the inserts I log onto the website I click on the insert schedule tab at the top and then browse the current insert schedule. Along the left-hand side of the page will be all of the current inserts. I click on the ones for that week (7-2 PG means the Proctor and Gamble insert from July 2). Once you click on the link, it will tell you what date the insert expires.

red plum and smart source inserts

I take a moment to write on each inserts what date it came out and what date it expires. This will make clearing out expired inserts much easier.

If there happen to be two Red Plum or Smart Source inserts in a given week, be sure to identify which one is which by matching up a coupon and on the insert cover writing SS1 or SS2.

Once I have written down the date it came out and the expiration date, I file them away in my expandable folder. I keep the inserts in order by date, but that’s as complex as it gets.

coupon inserts

When it comes time to go shopping, I will again visit the website.  I type in what I am shopping for in the coupon search. If there is a coupon, the site will tell me where to find it, whether it is an electronic coupon or in an insert. If it is in an insert, I can quickly pull out the insert it says and clip the necessary coupon.

This whole process takes only a few minutes and doesn’t require me to clip any coupons I’m not going to use.

If you are an extreme couponer who wants to have all of their coupons easily available in case there is a special deal or items on clearance at the store, this will not work. In that case, you will want to explore the binder and plastic sleeve method. Learn how to make a coupon binder.

I tried that method back before I had children, but it took so long to clip and organize weekly. I know that my return on investment was not enough to make it worthwhile for my family.

You will also need a smaller expandable folder for individual coupons.

This one is useful for those coupons you receive in the mail, at the dentist office, or when you have a coupon that you clipped for your shopping trip, but didn’t end up using.

individual coupons

I have categories that make sense for my family, but you could use whatever makes sense for you. For instance, I no longer need baby supplies- WOOHOO.

coupon categories

Neither of these systems takes much time or money to set up.

They are easy to use for the busy woman who still wants to save a little money with coupons.

Once you have the system set up, you can’t forget the important task of clearing out expired coupons. If you don’t take the time to do that, your coupon folders will become too big and bulky, and you’ll soon be overwhelmed.

Every month I take 5 minutes and go through my coupons in both of my coupon files and get rid of expired coupons and inserts. Having the expiration date on the front of the inserts makes this go much faster. I remember to do this every month because it is on my monthly to-do list on my refrigerator.


I hope I have helped you to see that there is a way to use coupons and save some money in your family budget without taking too much of your time or energy. Happy Couponing.

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