How to Start Couponing: A Beginner’s Guide

What is couponing?a-beginners-guide-to-couponing

Couponing is exactly what it sounds like – using coupons to get a better price on items in a particular store. There are coupons for virtually any store and any type of item, and it is particularly effective for household goods, groceries, and personal care items.

The key to couponing is to combine a coupon or other specific deal with an existing sale or cash back offer. By combining multiple offers, you get the best price on items. It takes some time and preparation, but it’s sort of like putting together a puzzle where the prize is 50 cent shampoo.

Here’s an example: Tresemme Shampoo is available at CVS for $6, but is on sale for 2 for $8. There’s also a deal on Tresemme products where you get $5 Extra Bucks for spending $15 or more. I would buy 6 Tresemme shampoos for $16, and get $5 back for my next visit, essentially meaning I spend $11 for 4 shampoos. If I also had a $4 off of 2 Tresemme products coupon, I would spend $7 on the 4 shampoos, or $1.75 per shampoo. I also wouldn’t have to buy shampoo for a while.

Where to Get Coupons

  • Weekend Local Newspaper: The weekend paper generally has 1-3 of the major coupon inserts (Red Plum, SmartSource, or Procter & Gamble). You can also find inserts for specific stores – I usually save Michael’s and Staples as places I usually go to. I try to buy a newspaper on Saturday because it’s cheaper than the Sunday paper but has all of the inserts.
  • Online: Many brand websites offer coupons for specific products – if you find a good deal at a store, try checking the brand’s site for an additional coupon. You can typically combine manufacturer’s coupons with specific store coupons, even if they apply to the same product.  Ebatesalso has an in-store option where you can link your credit card to your account to get up to 10% cash back when you use that card in stores.
  • On Your Phone: Many stores have apps that make their coupons available to you – some of my favorites are Michael’sCVS, and Cartwheel by Target. You can often save on specific products or on a product category. There are also money saving apps that get you cash back on your purchase.  One of my favorites is Ibotta, which offers cash back on a wide array of products, especially grocery products.
  • In Stores: Some places print coupons on receipts for your next visit, or have a coupon station in store where you can scan a rewards card and get a stack of coupons. CVS is one of the best places to coupon because of the availability of different offers – there are usually a comical amount of coupons on the end of the receipt, and they have an Extra Bucks station in-store to print coupons there too.
  • Mailings: Sign up for rewards programs and e-mail lists to get coupons both in the postal mail and in your e-mail. These are often off of your whole purchase, which can really supplement your savings.

Where To Shop 

You can go just about anywhere to use coupons – whatever is local to you.

My favorite place to go is CVS, as I mentioned, because of all of the in-store coupons and rewards. They also offer Extra Bucks both on specific products and on a percentage of your spending over each year, and have a really easy to use website to plan your visit.

Target is another one of my favorites because of the Cartwheel app – you can scan products while you’re in store to see if there are additional offers available, or search for them in the app to plan your trip in advance.

Other Resources

There are several excellent and thorough blogs that focus on couponing that I use as a resource when I go. Krazy Coupon Lady is one of my favorites, and she lists a huge number of deals by store so you can plan your trip. She links to a lot of online coupons as well, which is helpful so you don’t have to go searching.

Another one of my favorite blogs is Raining Hot Coupons, where she posts exceptionally good deals across the internet or in stores on particular items. I got a Kitchenaid mixer for my mom for about $120 because of a great deal that she posted!

I also like to use store gift cards to pay for couponing adventures – it helps me limit how much I’m going to spend so I don’t get carried away, and there are lots of opportunities to get discounted gift cards or cash back on gift cards that will save you even more money in the long run. Raise is a gift card-reselling platform where you can get discounted cards (I get CVS cards for 11% off). I also use MyGiftCardsPlus, which is partnered with Swagbucks, to get cash back on gift card purchases, essentially putting more money in your pocket.

When online shopping, I use the Chrome plug in Honey. When you go to check out, Honey will scan their database for eligible coupons so you don’t have to – I have gotten free shipping or a percentage off that I never would have found otherwise thanks to Honey, and it’s totally free.

Good luck couponing! Any tips for couponing newbies?



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