This is a project similar to our recipe binder, using reused materials to make something that does not look perfectly polished but is cheerful and works well for our household’s specific needs. One difference is that this project started with a purchase of something specifically for the project: I bought this nylon thingy (specifically marketed as a coupon organizer) in about 1994. Originally I used it with the stiff paper tabbed dividers that came with it.
After about a decade, though, those tabs no longer made much sense with the kinds of food I was buying. I mean, it had a separate section for cookies–we hardly ever buy those, because we don’t need them, and when we want some they are fun to bake. Chips and candy also were separate categories. And there was one for meat, but now that we eat less meat that seemed silly. There was no category that seemed appropriate for beans, so I kept forgetting where I had put the bean coupons.
If I had realized this project would be so quick (about 20 minutes) and easy and fun, I wouldn’t have waited so long to get around to it! I was finally inspired 4 years ago when my son’s preschool chucked out a bunch of barely-used file folders in nice bright colors. We used them in all sorts of crafts! The cheery colors of my improved coupon organizer make me happy every time I use it!
I cut off the original tabs of the file folders because they had kids’ names written on them. I placed one of the old coupon dividers on the unfolded folder, traced around it, and cut it out. Then I refined the shape to make it more rounded. Not only does this look nicer (I think) but there are no corners getting constantly handled and bent. This has worked out well; after 4 years of use, my tabs are in good shape.
Once I had the card size right for the organizer (I slid it in there to make sure…and wound up deciding to make my dividers about 1/8″ wider than the originals so they wouldn’t wiggle side-to-side so much) and the tab size the way I wanted it, I traced more cards but positioned the tab in various places before tracing it so that my tabs would be in staggered positions, easier to read. Here’s what the dividers look like when not in the organizer:
I made categories for the things that (a) I actually buy, and (b) often have coupons available. “Fruit & Vegs” is one category because there aren’t many coupons for them, even though we eat a lot of both. By making my own dividers, I was able to have as many as I want, with the categories named the way I want to name them, and I put them in alphabetical order for easy finding.