So you want to learn how to save money by couponing? You have come to the right place. Here at Happy Money Saver we are passionate about coupons, saving money and getting great deals! I’m sure after seeing Extreme Couponing on TLC, you want to know, “How do they do that?!” First off, just know that not everyone who coupons is “extreme”. Making a goal to save 50%-60% off your grocery budget is absolutely something you can accomplish and be proud of. I cut my grocery budget in half once I started and you can too – read about my personal couponing story here or watch one of my local news segments where I did one of my shopping trips on video here.
Below, I have created a beginner couponing guide to help you get started with couponing. If you have any suggestions or questions, please leave a comment on my blog as we are ALL here to help each other! 🙂
Use coupons on sale prices and stock up!
If you want to save money you must learn this #1 basic principal in the art of couponing. When an item in a store goes on sale, that is when you use your coupons on those items and stock up! If you just try to use coupons to save money only, you will only save the $1.00 or so per coupon. But if you wait for your products to go on sale, and then use your coupons too, you will be saving a lot more. Stocking up is very important as well because most stores follow an 8-12 week sales cylce which means that if something is on sale this week, it will usually not be on sale again for another 8-12 weeks. You will want to buy the items when they are on sale using coupons and buy enough to stock up for an 8-12 week period of time.
Example: Spaghetti sauce is regularly priced at $3.50 per jar. It goes on sale to $1.50 per jar and you have a $1.00 off coupon. So you will only pay $0.50 per jar ( a savings of $3.00!). If you go through a jar a week you would usually pay $42.00 without coupons over that time period for 12 jars. But if you use coupons and this sale price you will only pay $6.00 for 12, a savings of $36! Stocking up and using coupons on sale prices can save you a LOT of money!
Store Coupons + Manufacturer’s Coupons = Stacking
So there is a difference between Store coupons and Manufacturer’s coupons. And because of this difference you can use both of them at the same time. Store coupons are often found in the stores weekly ads. These are coupons that do not say “Manufacturer’s” on them, but say the name of that store (example: it would say “Safeway coupon”. You can usually find these in the store, sometimes in the Sunday Paper, through your emails /online and by signing up for store shopper cards. Manufacturer’s coupons come from the manufactures (like Kelloggs, Kraft etc.) and the store gets reimbursed for the full face value of those coupons. You can use both a STORE coupon and a MANUFACTURERS coupon on one item!
Example: At Safeway Scott toilet paper is on sale for $2.99 for a package. You have a manufacturer’s coupon for $1.00 off Scott toilet paper and a store coupon for $1.00 off Scott toilet paper. Use both of the coupons on one package and you will get it for $0.99!
Where to get coupons:
- Sunday Newspaper Coupon Inserts – The Sunday paper carries little coupon booklets in them called inserts. These inserts carry TONS of coupons in them. There are 3 main types of inserts that I get in my area: SmartSource (SS), RedPlum (RP) and Procter &Gamble (P&G). They look like this:
I recommend having a subscription to the Sunday paper for as many people as there are in your family,even babies so you are able to STOCK UP when things go on sale. For Example..I have a family of 6 so I get 6 Sunday papers to meet my couponing needs. But if there is just one of you.. get one Sunday paper. This is probably the hardest thing to do for some of you..buying 6 Sunday papers? You are probably thinking..is this lady nuts? Will I save enough money buying all these newspapers? But I can tell you — YES it is worth it. I have saved over $3,000 in just 6 months of sale shopping with multiple Sunday newspaper coupons. Also – you can get an early sneak peek of coupons that will be coming in each Sunday newspaper at Sunday Coupon Preview here.
- Internet Printable Coupons – Online printable coupons are great because you can just print and cut them out. Just know that you cannot photocopy internet printable coupons as it’s illegal and each printable has its own tracking code. But you can usually print out 2 legit coupons per household/or per computer of each coupon. Most of the time to be able to print coupons you will need to download their tracking software which has always been safe to do for me. Here are some of my favorite sites to print coupons from (copy these links and add them to your browser if you like) : Coupons.com, Coupon Network, Smart Source, Red Plum, and Target. Different companies are also offering a lot of printable coupons from their Facebook pages as well.
- Magazines: The All You Magazine is my favorite magazine for coupons! This one magazine has TONS of coupons inside, including FREE product coupons every once in awhile. You can buy it at Walmart in store or online by subscription. If you have a subscription, you get the issue before it hits newsstands! Plus there are sometimes coupons in other magazines as well, so make sure and check all your magazines for coupons.
- Digital Coupons, eCoupons and Preferred savings cards – You can load coupons to your preferred savings cards at various grocery stores and discount programs such as Safeway’s Just For U program, Ibotta, Savingstar, UPromise and more. Check your grocery store to see if they offer ecoupons added to your club card or other programs.
- Inside Products – Check inside packages or boxes of products you buy, sometimes there are coupons inside.
- Find coupons in the store –
- Blinkies are those little blinking machines in stores that spit out coupons. When you go shopping, collect a few of each one as you walk by if you will use them.
- Tearpads are little coupons in a tearpad. Take a few of these if you see them as well. They have these in grocery stores/drug stores as well as gas stations.
- Peelies: These are little peel-able coupons on products. Taking peelie coupons is a gray area of couponing – but I did a survey on my blog and most readers think it is wrong to take them unless you are buying the product it is on.
- Catalina coupons: These coupons print on a receipt-like piece of paper at the register. Sometimes they are for products and sometimes they are $ off any in-store purchase.
- Also keep your eyes out for Coupon Booklets, and coupons on bottles of wine.
Couponing Abbreviations & Language:
Couponing Lingo can be really hard to understand. Its like another language! Make sure and become familiar with all the terms and abbreviations. See a full list of Coupon Abbreviations and Language here.
Get some coupons & get Organized
Now that you know how to save money it’s time to collect your coupons, organize them and start saving!! Subscribe or buy your Sunday newspapers (some folks have been able to get them at Dollar stores to save money). I recommend getting one Sunday newspaper per member of your household so you can stock up. Save all your coupons for up to 6 months – often times people throw away those Sunday coupon inserts after a week and some of the coupons inside don’t expire for 6 months. Save them – because you never know when that sale will come where you can get the item for cheap or even free. Also start printing off some printable coupons and organizing them. Here are a few of my favorite places to print coupons from: Coupons.com, Coupon Network, Smart Source, Red Plum, and Target.
Organize your coupons
There is no right or wrong way to organize your coupons. I have tried each and every one of these methods below and they each have their benefits. Just find what works for you and stick to it!
- The File Folder Method (I recommend this for beginners)
- The Binder Method (very popular method)
- The Coupon Box Method (what I personally use)
Getting Started with Couponing:
- Pick one or two stores and learn as much as you can about each store! Look up their corporate coupon policies online or call the stores and ask them about what kinds of coupons they will accept. You can also check out my store guides for Rite Aid and Walgreens.
- Join the store’s preferred savings or club card programs (for example, Safeway Just for U, Fred Meyer, Albertsons, RiteAid, etc)
- Get a copy of the store’s Weekly Sales Ad (either in your newspapers or online) and match sale items with coupons!
- Make a Shopping List, clip your coupons, have a budget & stick to it. Gather up as many freebies as you can!
- Take BABY STEPS! Learning to coupon is a process, the more you do it the better you get at it. Remember every coupon you use saves you money! This is lots of FUN! I’m super excited that you are here and ready to join in this money saving adventure!