Couponing FAQ: How Long To Keep Inserts?

Several readers have recently emailed with this question or a similar one:

I do not clip all my inserts, but rather clip the coupons I know I will use and then date/file the rest to pull up as needed when a deal comes around. How long do you recommend keeping inserts around if you don’t clip every coupon?

If you’ve been around for awhile, you know that I’m a fan of the “hybrid” method of organizing coupons: clip all the coupons you know you will use, as well as the ones you think you might use or that often make for a “can’t resist” deal; then file the rest of the insert just in case.

Here’s a video tour of my coupon box!

I don’t really like the “file by insert” method because I’ve found that I never get around to clipping the coupons.  Sure, it saves time on the front it, but I don’t think it ultimately saves time because when you need the coupon, you have to go to your file, find the right insert, find the coupon, clip it, and then file the insert back.

Plus, most people don’t take a file box full of coupons, plus a pair of scissors, into the store with them just in case they happen upon a sale. :)

I was clipping just about every single coupon until a reader suggested clipping most of the coupons, and filing the rest by insert.  So simple, yet for me, so effective.

Anyway, so – if you’re doing the above “hybrid” method, and have already clipped the coupons you know you will use or think might make for a great deal, I would throw away or recycle the leftover “just in case” inserts about every 3 months, as most coupons expire after three months.

Couponing FAQ: How To Find The Insert Date

However, if you are not clipping at all, and only filing by insert, I would recommend keeping those inserts for a year.  There are a handful of coupons that have a very long valid period: in January 2010, we had some dental care coupons that were valid through January 2011!  So, if you hadn’t clipped them, you would need to keep that insert for one year just in case you needed the coupon.

The other thing you can do is to write the expiration date of the coupon with the latest expiration on the front cover of the coupon insert.  Then, you know when all the coupons have expired and can throw them out.  Obviously, though, that takes some time to go through and look at the expiration dates.

Which method do you use, and when do you throw away your inserts?

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Comments

  1. I use the method of only clipping from inserts when I need them. After I make my grocery list, I search the coupon database for coupons for the things I need, write down the insert date/info (e.g. “12/31 SS”) as I go (or print if it’s a printable). When I’m done with that at the computer, I go through the inserts and clip all the coupons I need.

    About once every 3-4 months, I go through the oldest inserts and throw out any pages in the insert that have only expired coupons on them. It thins the insert down, or sometimes I eliminate the whole thing. Also, P&G is almost completely coupons that are good for 1-2 months, so if it’s more than 2 months old, it’s going to the trash.

  2. I clip almost everything – thinking would I buy it if I could get it for free on the things I might not usually purchase – and toss the rest that I know I will never get. I first use two check boxes to presort them and then from there I put them into my two binders.
    Using the middle step keeps the process going if I get interrupted.

  3. I mostly just store whole inserts and clip before my shopping trip. I do clip some coupons and put them in my pocket-size coupon file if I KNOW I will use them, no matter what the sale price is.
    Anyway, I only keep inserts for 6 months. After six months, I will go through them and pull out any coupons that aren’t expired and throw the rest in the recycle bin. Usually the only coupons that don’t expire within six months are Listerine and Reach.

  4. I clip everything and organize them in a binder. Then at the end of every month, I pay my 13-yr-old son $2 an hour to pull all the expired ones out while he’s watching TV.

    • Jeanette says:

      I used to have my 9 year old pull out my expired! The print is so small, I couldn’t read it!! Recently, I started using Coupon Cleanout (www.CouponCleanout.com) and she couldn’t happier. I select my state and it shows me what inserts are safe to pull out. Thought I’d pass it along for any other “whole insert” filers.

  5. I use the “can’t find time to clip my coupons” system! It involves stacking all the inserts in a pile and hoping I can get around to clipping them this week. Then when it doesn’t happen, searching for the right insert to clip the specific coupon I need.

    I really do like clipping all my coupons, but I am having the hardest time finding the time to do it. I know I have missed out on a few deals because my coupons were sitting in a pile in my office.

  6. I tried Coupon Cleanout and it didn’t work for my area. I like the idea of writing the last expiry date on the top page of the inserts, I’m going to do that.

    Thanks for the idea!

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