Repurpose brag books for coupons

Businesses are working diligently to get consumers to spend money during the downturn in the economy, and are trying to lure them in with coupons and deals. As a result, clipping coupons has definitely become worth the time and effort.

Instead of using a traditional coupon organizer that requires you to pull out all of your coupons to see them, I’ve started using brag books (small photo albums) to manage my coupon collection. In addition to giving me a better view of my stash, brag books also let you have two to three times more categories than a regular organizers.

If you’re interested in creating a coupon organizer out of a brag book, follow these suggestions:

  1. Track your coupon use for a few weeks without an organizer to see what types of categories you might want to create in your brag book.
  2. When you make categories, label them with printed sticky labels or handwritten on masking tape. As you use your book, you may decide to move pages or rename categories — and removable labels will make this a simple task.
  3. When you enter coupons into the pages, put the oldest at the front and the newest in the back. This way you won’t have to worry about coupons expiring.

The following are suggestions for ways in which you might set up your shopping categories:

  • Review a map of your grocery store, and set up categories based on the layout of your market.
  • Create large categories based on meal types (breakfast, lunch, dinner, desserts, snacks, parties, beverages, and condiments) and then subcategories within those types.
  • Set up categories according to where you store items in your kitchen: pantry, refrigerator, deep freezer, etc.
  • Use the good ol’ alphabetical system.

One coupon book might not fit all your needs, especially if you’re diligent about cutting coupons for non-food items. A second brag book is great for hardware, pharmacy, and other miscellaneous items.

How do you organize your coupons? Please tell us about your methods in the comments.

41 Comments for “Repurpose brag books for coupons”

  1. posted by Taylor at Household Management 101 on

    What a great suggestion! I like being able to find all my coupons I know I am going to use, but I also like to have all my extra coupons with me in case there is an unadvertised deal that would be even better with coupons. There is nothing worse than finding such a deal and realizing your coupons for the product are at home. This would easily fit in your purse too, which is nicer than some of those huge coupon organizers.

  2. posted by SavvyChristine on

    I have several unused or partially filled small photo albums lying around the house — now I know what to do with them. This solves two problems at once! Thanks

  3. posted by Kayleigh on

    I keep my coupons in regular business envelopes, but I separate them by type. For example, grocery coupons go in an envelope near the fridge, cleaning supply coupons go near the cleaning supplies, and coupons for batteries, etc go in a drawer with scissors and batteries. Coupons for things like gum or free mcdonalds coffee go directly in my purse so I’ll have them with me when I need them.

    I like the brag book idea, too.

  4. posted by Amanda on

    I don’t clip them until I’m ready to use them. I label circulars with the date and then use the coupon database on http://www.couponmom.com. It tells you what coupons are available for a certain product and in what circular to find them.

    Each week when I review the store ads for what is on sale and then check the database for further savings with coupons. Then I clip and go shopping.

    The database also tells you the best deals of the week(highest percentage saved) at stores like Target, CVS and Walgreens.

    I store my circulars in a drawer. I purge every few months and only keep circulars that are less than 4 months old.

  5. posted by John of Indiana on

    I saw 2 women doing this at the grocery just last week. I thought “What an interesting way to keep ‘em corralled. Just flip the pages and see what you’ve got coupons for…”
    I thought they were some specialized (expensive) coupon book, not just “brag books”, which are available most the time for cheap at the thrift shop.

  6. posted by Gryphon on

    Forgive me, I know this isn’t related to how you organize coupons, but I was wondering where you GET coupons. I would love to clip coupons, but the papers we get in my area are devoid of coupon life. Pizza coupons occasionally show up but that is it. Is there somewhere online you can go to get coupons? Can you order coupon catalogs? Any advice would be very appreciated. Thanks!

  7. posted by X3 on

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  8. posted by Carol on

    In response to Gryphon, I’ve always found them in my local newspaper on Sunday. Sometimes if you buy your paper at a store, the coupons will be missing. They’re always included in the home delivered papers, at least where I’ve lived. Another way to get coupons is to search the web. I know of one site, Couponbug.com, that offers coupons but the downside is that you have to pay a monthly fee for the site. Some grocery stores will offer a coupon exchange bin where people people can leave unwanted coupons for others to use. Something else that has worked well for me, visit the websites for your grocery store and the companies that make the products you use most. Sometimes coupons will be available at the sites. Sometimes you can sign up to receive coupons or the company will send you coupons in the mail for commenting on their products.

    In response the the article; I try to clips coupons as I get the circulars. It saves me time on grocery shopping day and it cuts down on the clutter. Once clipped, I file them in an coupon organizer I bought that’s the size of a wallet. On my grocery shopping day I always make a list. I then go through the entire coupon organizer and quickly sort through everything. If it’s an item on my list or something I might want to buy, I take the coupon. If it’s something I don’t plan on purchasing and it’ll expire before my next trip, I toss it out. Anything I don’t need that won’t expire goes back in the organizer and I only take the coupons I need. I also try to limit the coupons I clip to brands I regularly buy or new items I want to try. I’ve found that often times store brands cost less than name brands with a coupon.

  9. posted by Taryn on

    This is awesome!

  10. posted by rachael on

    I use a 3-ring binder. In it I have dividers for coupons printed off internet, pencil pags that attach to the binder in which I keep coupons organized by “cereals/snacks/etc” “household” “personal” etc. I also keep a spiral notebook in there with my grocery list and I keep my menu for 2 weeks,and any recipes I’ll be making in those 2 weeks. I take this binder with me every time I go shopping to whichever store I’m going to. It’s big, but that means I won’t lose it and it will go into the cabinet with all of my cookbooks.

  11. posted by infmom on

    We use a large card-file box with homemade dividers.

    A word to the wise–if you and your partner don’t agree on the categories you will have the dickens of a time forever after unless only one person does the filing. I wanted just a few general categories like frozen foods, condiments, cleaning supplies and so forth. My husband wanted to micro-categorize. I had to end up writing what I MEANT by each category on its divider, and even then we still squabble over it now and again.

    I don’t know what the answer is to a mismatch like that.

  12. posted by Nicolette on

    I use a similar system using 3 brag books: food, personal care and household. Within each book, I file coupons by date, with 2/3 coupons per page so I can flip through and immediately see what I have without having to take out a particular pile/category to sift through. I can generally fit 3 months worth in each book and it is easy to pull out the coupons as they expire. Within 30 minutes *tops* each week, I can update my books and they are small enough to pop into a pencil case in my purse when I head out shopping.

  13. posted by larochelle on

    Brag Book Repurpose #2:

    I have a brag book but instead of coupons, I have house photos, swatches & details in it as well as a “wish list” for each room.

    That way, when I go to flea markets and such, I know if the item I’m thinking of buying will match the room and if it will fit. It keeps me focused on what I’m looking for and as well as preventing me from making bad, impulsive decisions.

  14. posted by Karyn on

    This is a great idea! I’ve tried various “systems,” none of which have worked well because, as you’ve noted, the coupons can’t be viewed without pulling them all out. And brag books are cheap, too.

    I generally organize my coupons by the same broad categories used in grocery stores: grocery, produce, dairy/frozen, cleaning products, GM (general merchandise/nonfood). However, “grocery” is a huge category, and really needs sub-categorizing, which I generally do by brand name. I get a lot of coupons out of the free magazines and, sometimes, coupon books (e.g., Mambo Sprouts) distributed at co-ops and other natural foods stores like Whole Foods, and often the same coupon runs in several different magazines, as well as duplicate magazines distributed by different stores, so I will end up with, say, a half-dozen coupons for $1.00 off two Amy’s products. Organic Valley is another one that tends to have a gazillion coupons in distribution at any given time.

    Up till now, I’ve just used paper clips to hold them all together, but I think the brag book would work better for keeping my different brand-name coupons separate. Thanks for the idea!

  15. posted by Meagan on

    I keep my coupons in a binder filled with baseball card holders, organized by coupon insert and date. I use the Grocery Game, so I can just look up what coupons to use and find them.

    This is definitely not a frugal plan, but for bringing them to the store, I purchased a Franklin Covey planner binder and then selected a bunch of inserts for it, including business card holders, sheet protectors, a calculator, and zipper pouches. It’s their compact size so it fits in my purse, and I fill it up with the notepaper that they supply to write my grocery lists. I separate my coupons by store. I keep my gift cards and my store rewards cards in there too.

    It’s a completely custom coupon binder and I find it works very well for me, but like I said, not frugal. I had extra money from eBay sales and decided to splurge. It came to around $100 for the whole system.

  16. posted by knitwych on

    What a great idea! One of the things that has sabotaged my past attempts to use coupons more often has been lack of organization. Don’t ask me how many times I’ve cleaned out my wallet and found a half-dozen expired coupons I shoved in there – and promptly forgot about.

  17. posted by Isabel on

    The evolution of coupon filing for me began with clipping the coupon ASAP. This works well in a “perfect world” (one which runs on my time schedule) & became impossible at times, so I collected the pages into the desk drawer. While I was on the phone, I clip the coupons; place them into a coupon filer taking into consideration expiration dates which are filed with the closest approaching date to the front. I’ve also used things similar to brag books. But am back with a coupon filer because I’ve found for me it’s a faster method to remove the coupons. I file by catagories ie. Produce, Dairy, Meat, Laundry, Health & Beauty, Batteries etc. I also have a small loose leaf notebook which I note clothes sizes, window sizes, towel bars or anything requiring measurements from sofa size choice to throw rugs. This eliminates returning items or other wasteful elements of my time. Shopping is not an entertainment for me. So the less time spent on that element in my life, the better. When I lived in an area with many retailers this notebook was very handy in that I also listed by catagory, retailer & unit price what I paid for items. When I was in other stores, I knew if the sale price was actually a savings to purchase. Love the suggestions I’m reading on this site. Best only.

  18. posted by Stephen on

    I’ve been doing something very similar – interesting to see someone else doing that. I’ve been using an 8 x 8 scrapbook though mostly. I used to use photo album books like that for receipts… the 8 x 8 scrapbooks can hold big coupons like from Bed Bath & Beyond, etc.

  19. posted by Lori Paximadis on

    This is a great solution for people who buy a lot of name-brand prepackaged stuff. I cook mostly from scratch, though, and rarely find more than one or two useful grocery coupons in a Sunday paper’s worth of inserts, so I just don’t have that much to organize.

    All my grocery coupons go in a business-size Tyvek envelope that lives in the office. When I make my shopping list, I’ll check the envelope to see if there’s something I can use.

    Costco coupons are another matter. When the booklet comes, I clip everything I can use, add the items to my list, and stick the coupons in front of my bills in my wallet so they’re there when I need them. Same with coupons from Office Max, J.Jill, and other places I shop regularly. Right now, I have about ten Costco coupons and a J.Jill coupon in there, which is about the max I ever have at any one time, so they don’t take up that much space.

  20. posted by Springpeeper on

    Like Lori, I cook mostly from scratch so most coupons are for items I don’t buy, don’t want to buy or shouldn’t eat! Long ago, I uncluttered the whole coupon clipping business!!

    I’ll make an exception when a coupon comes along for some staple I use, such as milk or margarine, but these are rare. Then I’ll either store the coupon in my wallet or staple it to the grocery list that we take with us to the store.

    The coupon must be for a “significant” amount (at least 75 cents) or I don’t bother with it because my time is too valuable to waste fussing with coupons! ;)

  21. posted by Thomas on

    The “coupon binder” strategy has been floating around for a while. Here’s a very in-depth article on doing just what Erin talks about:
    http://www.thesimpledollar.com/2008/06/13/how-we-organize-our-coupons-and-execute-our-coupon-strategy/

  22. posted by Tabitha (From Single to Married) on

    what a great idea and one I would have never thought of – thanks!

  23. posted by PowerNana4 on

    I found in my husband’s post-MA stuff a great plastic folder…similar to yours…ACCEPT…it has pockets and tabs! I believe he got it at Staples or Office Supply. The tabs come with A-Z letters and I file my coupons by letter groupings or types. This is so great as I don’t have to did or search AND there is room in the back part for store flyers, etc. The front has a plastic sleeve where I can keep my list right in front of me and not veer of course ;) It is also red so I won’t lose it! The elastic band that holds it tight is an added bonus. I will try and send a photo. (my husband is the techno-person in our household.) To Springpeeper, I am getting free stuff and not just junk, but food after clipping for a month and watching the ads. It pays to shop at Target, Walgreen, Fred Meyer or Kroger or whatever stores that feature coupon deals in your area. Don’t give up. Its a pain at first and then you realize us “coupon ladies” are not crazy after all. : )

  24. posted by PowerNana4 on

    Please forgive my spelling mistakes…I don’t have to “dig” sounds a lot better and I don’t veer “off” course.Also, to be PC I realize a lot of men are clipping coupons as well…my hat is off to you all.

  25. posted by Catherine Cantieri, Sorted on

    Very cool idea! I really like Nicolette’s idea of one for groceries, one for personal care and one for household stuff. I like it so much, I think I’ll pick up some brag books at the dollar store tonight and give it a try!

  26. posted by Flywheel on

    Coupons.com is a good site for printable coupons.
    http://print.coupons.com/Couponweb/Offers.aspx?pid=13306&zid=iq37&nid=10

    This one offers a list of 74 grocery-related coupon sites.
    http://www.tiphero.com/cat2_9002_groceries.html

    This one offers various LOCALIZED coupon categories (including groceries) based on your Zip Code.
    http://www.valpak.com/coupons/home;jsessionid=329D0505F30AEF0A5F909C729C5DE1D2

  27. posted by LL on

    Genius.

  28. posted by Michelle on

    Picked up a brag book at Michael’s yesterday for $3 and today it is all complete and looks very similar to your pic’s above. Thanks for this great idea…the old system was about 8 envelopes labeled in a box. This new system now has 24 holders and I used my labeling machine! Thanks again Unclutterer!

  29. posted by Christine on

    I have tried several methods. First the little coupon books that have all the sections in it and it would fit in your purse, the only problem is that it did not have enough sections so I started carrying two of them. Then i went to a filing system which does not work well for clearence items because it would take too long to find it plus who wanted to carrying in a filing box. Then I got smart and I now have a 3 ring binder that zips closed with baseball card sheets in them and dividers sectioning off each of my catergories. Each coupon has it own section and this makes for the fastest coupon shopping EVER! Yes it is takes time to get them all in there in the begining and yes it cost a little more to get started but to me my time with my family is way more important plus if you find something on sale and you want to check to see if you have that coupon it does not take you minutes to go through a whole section of coupons but only a couple of seconds to see if you have it. My friend liked it so much that she too has changed and I think my aunt who couponed years ago wants to do it again after seeing my method! Seriously after you take the plunge and change you will want to kick yourself for not doing it sooner!
    When you go into the store all you do is open your binder and sit it in the child seat and start flipping away when you are ready.

  30. posted by Traci on

    Brag Book Repurpose #3

    I use a similar book to hold receipts. I buy/return quite often. I label the pages by store. This ensures the receipts are available for easy retrieval when needed.

    Will do my coupon book tonight.

    Thanks Unclutterer

  31. posted by Luisa on

    Brag Book Repurpose #4

    I used to use them for recipes, sometimes require you to rearrange or re-copy the clipping before it will fit in the book. It’s small, cheap, see through and splash proof.

  32. posted by Gina on

    What a great idea! I currently just stick them all in an envelope – this is so much easier!

    I have just created a {simple} downloadable grocery list: http://crazy-organized.blogspot.com.

  33. posted by Andrea on

    The brag book is a great idea. I’m struggling with all kinds of clutter right now — from e-mail to coupons which I frequently clip but sometimes let expire because they are tucked away and out of sight. I’m definitely going to use this idea. Thanks…

  34. posted by Saturday Linkage « Frugalista Tips on

    [...] Repurpose Brag Books for Coupons Teri, at Unclutterer, has an idea for unused “brag books”: keep coupons in them! If you have some laying about the house, this is a great way to use them. [...]

  35. posted by Sharon on

    I too cook mostly from scratch and do not use a lot of coupons out there. I do however keep close watch for the ones I will use, especially on non-food items. If I can save money on my non-food items using coupons and sales, that gives me more money to spend on the foods I do buy. I have been using a small photo album for a while now and it works great for me.

  36. posted by Leslie on

    I love this! It would keep them so organized, plus the little brag books are small enough to fit in my purse.

  37. posted by Sarah on

    Thanks for the great idea. When I first read the tip I didn’t think it would be of use to me, because I don’t tend to use coupons often. However this year I purchased an Entertainment book (basically, a book of coupons for buy-one-get-one-free meals at various local restaurants), and decided I needed a better way of keeping the coupons at hand without carrying the whole book with me. Luckily, this post was stored somewhere in the back of my mind, and I found a small photo album that I was able to repurpose. Now I can carry just a few coupons around that I know I will use!

  38. posted by Elaine on

    This is in my top 5 best ideas for the year – thank you SO MUCH. My coupon brag book is going strong and my coupon use has increased greatly, now that I’ve ditched that silly, clumsy compartmentalized thing.

    I don’t have time to create categories, but one thing I have done is cut strips of colored paper and fastened them with good, durable tape to the inside of the back. If a coupon is set to expire within the next few weeks, I tape one of the strips to the page where that coupon is, with the tail end hanging down from the bottom like a bookmark. Those are the ones I will look at first on a shopping trip, to minimize waste. When the coupon gets used (or thrown away upon expiration), I can return the strip to the back of the book to use again later.

    I also move coupons up toward the front to prevent blank pages. Usually I don’t fill all the pages, so I use the page at the very back for specialty items, such as rental-car discount coupons, which usually don’t expire for a long time.

  39. posted by Ian Stanley on

    For those in the UK, TESCO will accept any coupon as long as they sell the item.

    So what you may ask, TESCO will accept them even if you do not have them in your basket. So take along ALL your coupons and have them scanned in at the till and save ££££

  40. Avatar of

    posted by geegarland on

    In response to those that said they cook from scratch…ME TOO!! Which is exactly why I never wanted to clip coupons…until I tried http://www.thegrocerygame.com for a free one month trial. I didn’t realize all the things I could save money on! Rice, beans, pasta, canned tomatoes, tuna, aluminum foil, ziplock baggies, cleaning supplies, toothpaste, toothbrushes, shampoo/conditioner, face wash…you get the idea. So now I’m sold. I do cook from scratch, but there are a lot of things out there that I’m paying significantly less for because I cut coupons and match them with that weeks store circular. I have seriously cut my grocery bill in half since doing it this way.

  41. posted by Denise on

    Great idea! I have a big binder now and it’s just too big.

    For those cooking from scratch – do you grow all the ingredients, too? I don’t buy prepackaged meals, but I do buy bread, beans, yogurt, sour cream, milk, butter, eggs, cheese, peanut butter, etc and all with coupons. Plus, I don’t actually pay money for things like toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, soap, deordorant either.

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