Couponing can help you save a lot of money. While coupons are simple to search and use, starting couponing may be a little overwhelming if you don’t have a specific guide for this.
If you’ve ever watched the Extreme Couponing reality show, you’ll understand what we mean. The gals and guys featured on the show are often seen walking out of a grocery shop with a cart full of goods, and practically for free.
But how can you actually get started doing this? In this article, we will tell you everything you need to know to learn all about couponing.
Couponing is like an art, but the kind of art that can save you a lot of money. By following our suggestions from this article, you can significantly decrease your grocery costs by a noticeable amount. Ready?
Here’s your ultimate couponing guide so let’s save some serious cash!
Where to Get Your Coupons
You’ll have a significant advantage if you know where to look in order to get your coupons. Back in the day, clipping coupons from the Sunday paper was the only way to get those grocery deals, but nowadays things have gotten easier. You can simply get coupons online, so paper delivery is no longer as popular as it once was. Well, this is how coupon manufacturers realized they had to find new ways to distribute coupons.
They are now available in several places. Our couponing guide is here to inform you of a few of the more well-known locations where you may get coupons, as well as some tips to get the most out of them.
Getting Coupons Through Apps
When it comes to finding coupons online, apps make it an easier way to do so. Coupon companies have become aware of this fact and because of this, they started launching couponing apps. Here are two of the most popular and used apps where you can get your coupons.
Using this couponing app is pretty simple. Once you’ve downloaded the app onto your smartphone, you can tell it which supermarkets you want to search discounts for. Then, search via the grocery store for coupons on items you want to buy. After shopping, simply scan the bar code from your receipt into your mobile phone.
Ibotta automatically links the coupons you’ve checked in the app with your receipt. Once you reach a $10 minimum of savings, you can draw them out via a PayPal transfer. Ibotta collaborates with many large retailers including Target, Sam’s Club, Walmart and others.
This is another awesome and free couponing app. Although this one is similar to Ibotta, some features work a bit differently. You can save some money by shopping online through the Rakuten portal, or using the app for in-store shopping. As you do, you’ll get a percentage cash back on your purchases. Rakuten works with nearly 2,000 retailers such as Amazon, Walmart, Safeway, Target, Best Buy, and Macy’s.
You may be wondering how this app is able to provide cash back for purchases made through their portal. Well, it’s simple. Rakuten connects stores that pay the couponing app a referral percentage for sending customers their way. After this, Rakuten splits that referral fee with you, the customer.
Once your savings from shopping reach a certain amount, you can get your cash. You can either choose to request your cash via PayPal, or have Rakuten send you a check.
Both Ibotta and Rakuten will reward you with cash for referring friends who make purchases through these two apps. More money savings while couponing!
Websites that Have Coupons
You can also get coupons through many online sites. Here are some of the more well-known websites that can help your couponing adventures.
- Coupons.com: as soon as you access the site, you’ll see multiple coupons on the front page. Just hit the plus sign button found on the right corner of the coupon to check those deals you’re interested in. Once you’re done checking, simply click on the “print coupons” button found on the right side of the top bar. As your coupons will print, you’ll be ready to shop and save money. This website doesn’t request any fees for you to join.
- Retail-Me-Not: once you get on the site, click the “Explore” button found on the top bar. There you’ll find several categories including “Online Codes” and “In-Store coupons”. You can use it to save money on anything from clothing to groceries.
- Smart Source: this coupon manufacturer provides coupons online and by mail. In order to find those that fit your needs, the website has a feature that lets you search coupons by brand, zip code, category, and much more.
- Groupon: this one is pretty popular. It has lots of deals on everything from restaurant discounts to travel getaways. They do have a “coupons” section on their site as well which features discounts and coupons for specific stores.
Since you’re probably doing a lot of things online anyway (work included), couponing online seems to be the easiest way to get some discounts and save some money. Check out coupon websites on a regular basis to make sure you add more savings.
Getting Coupons Through Your Sunday Paper or the Mail
Back in the past, you could only get coupons by subscribing to the Sunday paper and clipping them from it. If you still get your Sunday paper, you’ll find lots of coupons in it every week.
You don’t read the newspaper? No worries, some coupon companies (P&G, Red Plum, and Smart Source) got smart so you can still get your coupons through the mail. In many areas, you’ll get coupon books from these manufacturers through weekly mail delivery. Flip through them and use what you can and need.
Finding Coupons on Manufacturer Products
Couponing doesn’t always mean using apps or clipping coupons from the Sunday paper. That’s because lots of manufacturers include coupons directly in the product packaging.
Also, some coupons are actually part of the product and must be removed from the box. Other coupons come attached to the product via some kind of peel-off technique. Or, bottled products often have coupons hanging around the neck.
Look for these products in stores and use the coupons where you can.
Getting Coupons Directly From Supermarkets
Many grocery shops send out weekly coupon discounts via mail. Check your mailbox for these and take some time to carefully go through them. You never know when you get a coupon for your favorite yogurt or dish soap.
You can even visit the customer service desk at your favorite stores. Before doing your groceries, make sure you stop by there first to get some coupons. They almost always have newspaper ads or coupon books available.
Hint: consider signing up for loyalty programs as many grocery stores have launched their own membership program. These loyalty programs often have coupons that only program members can use.
You can also visit your favorite store’s website to search for coupons. Most of them have a special section with all coupons available. For instance, here are some Amazon coupons you may want to use.
Learn Your Local Store’s Coupon Policy
Every store has a different coupon policy, so make sure you check your local store’s guidelines. As mentioned before, you can usually get coupons online or go and ask the store employees in person. We suggest paying attention to the following:
- Is it possible to double a coupon? Some supermarkets will double your coupon, up to a certain amount. So if you have a $1-off coupon, the store will give you a $2 discount.
- Is it necessary to sign up for the loyalty program? In order to claim some coupons, you may need to join the store’s membership program and use their app to scan your rewards card.
Once you know your local store’s policies well, you may notice that you understand its sales cycles a bit better as well. This will help you to stock up on products — like your favorite pasta sauce — when they are on sale as you know they won’t be on sale again until next month.
Create a Stockpile
Couponing can help you to find some good sales and when this does happen, make sure you buy a few of the products — if you know exactly you’ll be using them before they expire.
Products that are particularly suitable for stockpiling are nonperishable goods (like flour, rice, pasta, or canned foods), personal care items (soap, shampoo, conditioner), and other household items (laundry detergent, toilet paper, and other cleaning supplies).
According to frugal-living experts, stockpiling allows you to choose how much money you pay rather than letting the store dictate. For example, if you run out of dish soap, you’ll have to pay the current price. However, if you have several extra bottles on hand, you can keep an eye on prices and decide to buy dish soap accordingly.
This method is quite helpful, especially with the economy nowadays, where household goods prices are spiking due to inflation. If couponing can get you a good deal on things you know you’ll use, purchasing them now could save you some serious cash in the coming months.
Use Coupons Strategically
Couponing doesn’t always mean you must use all coupons you get no matter what. According to experts in the field, buying a sale-priced item using no coupon can sometimes be less expensive than buying a full-priced one with a coupon. They encourage paying attention to annual sales.
For instance, pens and pencils go on sale in August. Baking goods are also on sale around the winter holiday. To maximize savings, hunt for coupons that coincide with these periods.
Sometimes you might happen to find a coupon before any sales period. We recommend keeping it until you find a discount to pair it with. Before doing this, make sure you check the expiration date so you don’t lose the discount for waiting too long.
Our ultimate couponing guide isn’t over yet! We have an extra section that will definitely help you organize your coupons.
How to Organize Your Coupons
If you often use coupons, you may know how important it is to organize them. If they are just thrown in an envelope or box where you cannot see them, you may never use them. There are several ways to organize your coupons so you can actually take advantage of those discounts.
Here are the three most important things to consider:
- The product
- The expiration date
- The store
Most coupons come with an expiration date, so you better organize them accordingly to avoid losing the discounts. If you do that, you’ll know exactly which ones you need to use the quickest. You should put those that are about to expire soon in the front of your envelope or folder.
Approved retailers are also important details. Many manufacturer coupons can be used at any store. As a result, make sure you keep those kinds of coupons in a binder or separate folder. Some coupons, however, are only redeemable at certain stores. Make sure to keep those ones separately as well.
If you want to reach the next level of being organized while couponing, you may want to organize your coupons by product too. Or, at the very least, by category. For example, your DIY coupon organizer could look something like this:
- A folder for each supermarket, as well as for coupons that can be used at any store
- Within each folder, you’ll keep everything organized using separators by date
- Within each separator, you’ll keep smaller envelopes naming different categories, such as Food, Household and Cleaning, Beauty Products, and so on.
While this “organizing” technique may take more time, it’s preferable to have it and take advantage of as many coupons as you want than to have no technique at all and lose some great deals.
If you don’t have the time to create your own coupon organizer, you can find several paid or free alternatives to download online. No matter which method you use to organize your coupons, keep in mind that it has to be something that works for you.
This task may require some trial and error, which is fine. The more you work at it, the more efficient and easy it will be to use coupons.
Ways to Maximize Your Coupon Savings
There are many methods to increase your coupon savings. Although all ways may not work in all supermarkets, the trial-and-error method will teach you which options are ideal for you. Here are our recommendations:
- Go for double coupon days: some stores have these events from time to time when they double whatever the coupon’s dollar amount is. If your favorite store has double coupon days and you can actually do your groceries on those days, take advantage of them. This kind of couponing can definitely save you some money!
- Combine manufacturer coupons with store coupons: this option is available in many stores so make sure you take advantage of it whenever possible.
- Purchase coupon items on sale: if you have the chance to buy coupon products when they are on sale, do so. This way you’ll get two discounts: the one provided by the sale, and the additional one via the coupon. After all, the more money you save, the better.
When Does a Coupon Not Really Save You Money?
One important thing you should know when couponing is that getting a coupon doesn’t always mean you have to use it. Coupons can end up with you spending more money instead of saving it. This can happen in these two common situations:
You Use Coupons to Get Items You Normally Wouldn’t Buy
Use coupons only for items you typically buy or items that may become something you’ll need in the future. Don’t use them for things that don’t improve the quality of life for you and your family. For example, let’s say you don’t regularly buy snack packs such as potato chips or flavored nuts. Don’t start buying them just because you’ve found a great deal via a coupon.
Why? Because you’ll end up paying more money instead of saving. A from-time-to-time treat is OK, but making it a habit will only cost you more money.
You Use Coupons to Purchase Items That You Are Unlikely to Use
We know, sometimes it’s very tempting to buy things when you’ve found a good deal via a coupon. But here’s the thing: if the product is something that you’ll never use, you are simply throwing money down the drain. Make sure to use coupons on items you know you’ll use to reduce food and other waste.
Here’s another article that may help you out: Is Walmart Plus Really Worth It? Here’s What You Should Know