Couponing Basics {Or How I Pay Less Than $1 for Products Worth $85}

When I moved to Baton Rouge and became a stay at home mom, I knew I needed to find some creative ways to save money for my family.  I had seen shows about couponing, but it always seemed like way too much work. But, I decided that I needed a way to keep my mind sharp between temper tantrums and playground trips.  Couponing = math = keeping mommy brain at bay (sort of). It definitely took a lot of time and learning on the front end, but soon it was second nature. Here are a few steps to help you get on a money saving roll!

Step 1: Find Coupons – The traditional way to accumulate coupons is from newspaper inserts in the Sunday paper. Some couponers prefer to have multiple copies of the inserts and either buy additional papers or order the inserts online. You may also find them in stores on tear pads or coupon machines (blinkies) or on the products themselves (peelies). You may also get coupons that print out at the register (Catalinas).

There are also many online sources for coupons.  Company websites or Facebook pages often offer coupons on their pages or via email. There are several great websites specifically for printing coupons such as coupons.com and smartsource.com. These types of coupons that can be used at any store are called manufacturer coupons (MQs). Many stores also have coupons available for printing from their websites. These store coupons can only be used the store from which they are printed. A great way to save is to “stack” manufacturer and store coupons with sales. This means that you use one of each type of coupon for an item.  For example, if shave gel is on sale for $1.50 and you have a $0.50 manufacturer coupon and a $0.50 store coupon, you will only pay $0.50 for the shave gel!

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Step 2: Pick a Store – I recommend starting with one or two stores so you don’t become overwhelmed. Learn their coupon policies inside and out. Each store has its own set of rules about how coupons can be used. I sometimes run into cashiers who don’t understand their own store’s policy, so it’s smart to carry a copy with you when you shop.  Many stores also have discount programs that allow you to save even more.  I’m a big fan of  Target for that reason. In addition to coupons, Target has an app called Cartwheel that allows you to get additional discounts on many products.  And their RedCard automatically saves you 5% on everything. If you prefer to not have a credit card, there is a debit card that links directly to your bank account.

CVS is another great store for a beginning couponer.  In addition to the weekly sales, they have a magic coupon machine with store coupons and a program called ExtraBucks that gives you store credit for certain purchases.  This credit can be used like cash and rolled into purchases that produce more ExtraBucks which can reduce your out of pocket cost even more (sometimes to zero!).

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Step 3: Find the deals – This is where it gets a little time consuming. Each week stores put out ads in the Sunday paper with the sales for the week.  That’s all well and good, but if you’re like me, you still don’t know which ones are a good deal or if there are any coupons out there to stack with the sales. Luckily, there are tons of coupon matching sites that will help you identify the best deals of the week for any particular store. Some even have a list that tells you the target prices you should aim for when shopping. A couple of my favorite match up sites are Hip2Save.com and KrazyCouponLady.com. These sites list the deals of the week and have links to the coupons available to stack with them.

These are just the basics and a great way to get started.  In my next post, I will be sharing even more tips and tricks that show you how to really save BIG!

Do you coupon!? What’s your favorite tip?

Ashley grew up in Joplin, Missouri and attended the University of Arkansas where she earned a degree in Finance and Insurance. She met her husband, Jason, in Fayetteville and they have one daughter, Etta Mae. They moved to Baton Rouge in 2013 for Jason's job with the LSU Tigers. Ashley is an extroverted introvert who loves Ted Talks, following politics on Twitter, and figuring out how to get the best deals on everything without paying shipping. If it were up to her, she would get paid to read books and take every college class so that she could learn everything about everything, but instead she pays the bills by working in recruiting for a multinational tech company. Ashley is blessed to have a daughter who is at least as stubborn as she is and a husband who is laid back enough to put up with both of them.

8 COMMENTS

  1. Yeah, I’d like to know too! I wanna take a class that shows you how to do it all. I’m a hands-on learner. I can’t just read and understand it. Please let us know!

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