No one wants to overspend on groceries each month.
Couponing can seem overwhelming at first, but it’s not that hard. You could be saving hundreds of dollars a month on your grocery bill by using coupons the right way.
Our couponing guide will teach you everything you need to know about couponing, from finding the best coupons to how to stack them for maximum savings.
Grab a cup of coffee because this explains EVERYTHING and it’s a little long- but you will be able to coupon tomorrow!
It can be enjoyable once you get the hang of it, each trip to the grocery store becoming somewhat of a challenge you engage in.
In this fragile economy, it’s even more important to cut costs where we can, and with gas prices so high, it affects everything down to the price of milk.
Not everything you see on the Extreme Couponing show is real, so before you think that from now on, all of your groceries will be 100% free, think again.
For instance, Frys caught heat from the public when they allowed for special coupons doubling that the people didn’t get – it was for promotional purposes just for the show’s taping.
But still, that doesn’t mean that you can’t get some terrific deals that will save you plenty of money on your grocery spending with some intelligent planning.
So it’s worth the effort to take time clipping coupons because the money you’ll save will be money you can spend in other ways for yourself or your family.
What Can You Save On Using Coupons?
There are many ways to make minor changes and save more than you ever imagined at the grocery store. One of those ways is to make sure that you milk your coupon for all of the potential savings that are possible with it.
But, of course, that means you want to use your coupon when it packs the most power.
One example was a recent sale at a CVS store. They had a buy one get one half off on garbage bags. Using a coupon for the garbage bags and the CVS card rewards coupon, the savings for the garbage bags doubled to $5.00.
That’s what a lot of savvy couponers know. You use your coupons in such a way that you save the most money. As a result, some shoppers get cashback from couponing because they know the ins and outs of getting the best deals and even free stuff!
When you start couponing, make sure that you research which stores have items on sale. That way, you can use your manufacturers’ coupons, add them to an in-store coupon and save even more.
One example is when a local store had Frozen Pasta on Sale. The store was offering a $1 off coupon, and there was a $1 off manufacturer coupon from a newspaper insert.
A sale price paired with TWO coupon savings gave me more than 50% off the original price.
That’s why it’s so important once you have all of your coupons clipped that you know which store is the best one to use them at. When you get coupon inserts from the newspaper, hold on to them.
There will be a range of savings on items from food to toiletries dog, and cat supplies. The key to couponing is only to pair a coupon with a sale price.
Looking at the Grocery Store With New Eyes
How you view the layout of the stores where you shop is a significant clue to saving money on your needs.
The most expensive and the most bought spur-of-the-moment items will be on the outer shelf displays of the aisle and in specially arranged displays located in the center of the aisles.
That’s a long-standing method the store use to get you to part with your money. First, however, it would help to let go of the belief that a name brand is better.
Milk is milk – regardless of which cow it comes from.
Staples like salt, pepper, flour, and sugar are the same whether they’re the store’s brand or bear the logo of a household name company.
Just like you need to alter your view of the grocery store, you need to change your view of grocery shopping. Look at it as an operation of both timing and skill.
Create Your Shopping Plan
You might not know this, but all of the stores you shop at don’t automatically double the coupon’s face value. So to get the added benefit of doubled coupons, you need to shop only at stores that will do that for you.
Understand that stores will not double the coupon beyond $1.00. That means that a $0.25 coupon will be one that’s doubled in value to $0.50.
So be aware that if you have a coupon for $0.75 at a store that has a double coupon policy, you don’t get that extra $0.50 in savings.
How many times have you heard people in line say that they forgot their coupons? Not bringing them to the store with you when you shop will help you save on groceries. Instead, keep your stash with you always.
Like a Boy Scout, always be prepared – but in this case, for sales.
You also want to stop dashing out to the store unprepared for the sales they might be having. Instead, look through your resources to see if any of them have some specials going on.
That way, if the items you’re running out of getting come up as part of a store sale, then you’re prepared for savings then, too.
Look for coupons online that list by state and then look for deals and print them out. Unfortunately, because of some of the wacky behavior brought to awareness by extreme couponers, some stores aren’t as coupon-friendly as they once were.
So it will backfire on you if you’re prepared to shop and save, you have the weekly sales memorized, your coupons are on hand, and then you find out the store police won’t let you redeem all of your coupons.
Some stores don’t want people using both a store coupon and a manufacturer coupon – especially on a buy one get one free item (or BOGO.)
So know what your store will or won’t allow before you attempt it so that you don’t waste your time.
For my locals, Tops Markets doesn’t allow this. However, BJ’s does allow this for BJ’s shoppers as long as the coupon states a max value on it.
Your plan means that you select from your coupon stash the ones that will save you the most money. Then, search to see what store has the item for sale – if it is on sale and it’s at a store that’s coupon friendly, including offering a double coupon policy, then you’ve hit the savings jackpot!
You can use Flipp’s app to find grocery store deals all in one spot. But, of course, the best part is clicking the item and adding it to a shopping list.
Never leave a store without seeing if they have an in-store coupon for what you’re buying. For example, at CVS, you can check any deals on the item by electronically scanning your Extra Care Card.
Though CVS is a drugstore, they do have food items, and also, a lot of grocery stores use their type of Extra Care Card, but they just gave it another title.
CVS is one of my top choices for beginners because there are always so many deals.
Finally, look through your paperwork and any register receipts to see if there’s any kind of rebate that you can get back if you buy the product. A company that makes ink pens did that previously. Dollar General is known for doing this frequently with a $ off a $25 purchase.
THE PYRAMID METHOD TO COUPONING
You can use a pyramid method when couponing – you build a coupon upon a coupon to save.
Lay the pyramid foundation with manufacturer coupons, add in-store coupons, add membership discounts, and top it off with rebates! This is extreme couponing, my friends!
This is a fantastic way to save money on so many different kinds of merchandise.
You may have seen some people who have vast savings (and probably felt the envy too) when they shop, and you’re wondering how in the world they get ahold of all of those coupons!
Show Me the Coupons!
To be an experienced couponer, you have to know where to find the little pieces of paper that serve to put dollars back in your bank account.
Coupons are everywhere! You just have to know where they’re hiding.
Here are some of the best places for finding coupons:
Newspapers are the first stop when you want to look for coupons. But, of course, even beginner couponers know that the Sunday paper offers a nice insert filled with various coupons.
But did you know that you can also find coupons in your local gazette type of newspaper?
You can find discounts for the grocery store, local restaurants, hair salons, and more in the gazette papers. You can usually find those right inside the door of the local grocery store in little metal stands – and they’re usually free.
These are becoming rarer, BUT they still offer coupons. So it is worth checking every time you are shopping.
Save (formerly Redplum) is also another source for finding coupons that you can search. They have an insert for newspapers, but you can find it online as well.
Some of the recent coupons they had were $1.00 off a Honeysuckle turkey, $0.55 off Eagle Brand condensed milk, $1.00 off Cottonelle toilet paper, and BOGO Coupons for Airwick more.
P&G is another source of savings. They offer coupons in the newspaper as well as online. To print coupons online, you need to create an account.
You are limited to two prints; usually, sometimes, they will let you print only one, but they also come with an expiration date of 24 hours from the time you print the coupon.
Do you use Tide a lot? Then, it’s worth signing up. They almost always have a $2 Tide coupon to print.
If you used those products, right there, you would save almost $10.00 from looking through just one coupon savings offer.
Pay attention to which companies are prone to put in coupons at what time during the month so that you’ll always know when to grab them.
It’s true, as many veteran couponers say, that having a newspaper subscription pays for itself simply with the coupon inserts found in the weekend papers.
But you can get the coupons from the newspapers without buying them.
Do you know how many people buy a newspaper and then toss it aside? Just leave it for anyone to claim? To make sure you’re not stepping on toes, ask the sales associate or manager of whatever place you find the paper if it’s okay for you to take it home.
Leftover Sunday papers are a goldmine of additional savings!
You can look at a bit of cheat sheet that offers a peek at the coupons that will be heading your way. It’s sort of like getting a preview of upcoming movies – you’ll see what the main attraction will be.
Just go to Sunday Coupon Inserts, and you can see the week’s coupon inserts.
Print isn’t the only way that you can save money, either. For example, online resources can be used as a wellspring of coupons to save on your groceries.
- Look Right Where You Shop
There are times when coupons seem to appear out of thin air. Well, not quite like that, but you can move an item and then see where a coupon is left behind by a sweet couponer who didn’t need that product – so they’re paying it forward.
Then you’ll also find coupons affixed to items that you can lift off—also known as peelie coupons. These coupons are for those who buy the item with the voucher attached.
Another way you can get incredible savings is by reading your receipts and not just looking for false charges (though you should be doing that, too) but looking to see if the store printed any savings in-store that are good for your next visit.
Frequent Shopper Cards
If you shop at one place more than others, you might have a frequent shopper card. Those can be used for good deals, too, because the stores will send out coupons for you to get stuff for discounted prices and sometimes free.
That’s just a way that stores reward your faithfulness in buying from them instead of their competitor. If you don’t know if your store offers this, don’t hesitate to ask.
Another way to get coupons is to pull up a browser online and search for the company by name. You can find thousands, and you can print them off when you see them.
Don’t worry about the ink you use to print them because you can even print coupons to save on ink! You can also watch for companies that package discounts for ink and stores that make the deal even sweeter.
For example, one Walmart store recently offered HP printer ink – black and tricolor together for $32.00, which was already a saving off from buying the ink separately. However, Walmart also gave a $10.00 Walmart gift card once you purchased the ink. So the savings was about $14.00 in total.
You can also ask the customer service desk if there are any coupons. Some stores will give out coupons at the customer service desk.
For example, a CVS pharmacy store kept discounts offered by companies in a binder, and when customers asked, they would give those discount coupons. So sometimes, all it takes is asking to find significant savings.
- Getting Coupons From Your Computer
As a couponer just starting, you might think that newspaper inserts should be the primary foundation for coupons. But unfortunately, while they do give you savings, you can find most coupons online now.
You can’t build a database of coupons by sticking with only one source. However, there are some places online that veteran couponers already know about.
One of those places is Coupons.com, an app you can use to select coupons digitally, add to your loyalty card, or print coupons at home. Couponing is becoming easier because the shift is to all digital savings.
Each of these apps will give you cashback for items you buy at the store. The best part is that you can buy things on sale and have a manufacturer coupon and still get the earnings back.
This was when extreme couponing got taken to a whole new level in 2022.
If you have a favorite store that you shop at, make sure that you type it into a search engine and then use the word “coupon” with it. For example, if you type in the phrase “Target coupon site,” you get www.totallytarget.com, and since Target always offers good deals and savings, this is an excellent site to browse.
Not all coupons will jump out at you, so look for sites that might be more obscure. Use different phrases to pull up coupon sites. Even the word “retail coupons” pulls up many sites with savings. For example, you can check out http://www.retailmenot.com/grocery/ and see the savings you’ll find there.
- Taking Advantage of Digital Coupons
The newest kid on the block when getting coupons is digital coupons. They’re not the same as the coupons you clip.
You never actually even touch them. Instead, these sites link whatever coupons you pick out to the store’s shopping card that you use.
For example, if you look at coupons.com, you’ll see that you can pick out savings on the site. You can choose to print these or add them digitally.
Saving star used to be an online-only coupon site, but it was bought out by Coupons.com (which may no longer offer printable coupons coming soon!)
- Go Straight to the Top – Look up the Manufacturer
Remember that you want to get those coupons built up in the beginning, so you’re going to have to get them from various sources. So you want to keep your eyes open.
Besides newspaper, magazine, and online coupons, make sure you go straight to the source – the big businesses that make the products you like to use. Why do manufacturers like giving coupons to customers?
A customer who saves money is happy, and a happy customer morphs into a loyal customer. Usually, all you have to do to tap into this source is find the company online.
Then, sign up for their mailing list or newsletters. Some manufacturers have social media pages, too.
That’s a way that you can get coupons for cents off, and you can often get the item at no charge. Some companies love to send out free samples of their products to keep a customer loyal, so don’t overlook this.
Email, call, or write a letter to do whatever you have to do to get offers for coupons. It will be worth the effort. For example, a simple Tweet to a famous vegetarian manufacturer resulted in five coupons. The shopper got to buy anything in the food line for absolutely ZERO cost to them.
- Give Something, Get Something Back – Cashing in on Rewards
These are great ways to get samples and sometimes significant savings on some pretty expensive products. Sometimes all you’re asked to do is ‘like’ something on Facebook to get a free sample or coupon.
You’ll see programs that go by the title ‘Rewards’ or ‘Reward Programs’ online offering people coupons (usually for much, much more of a product than you usually find) if they do a survey or quiz.
- The Mail No One Usually Reads
Most junk mail is indeed junk mail – but sometimes you can find a diamond amid that junk. So why do companies put high-value coupons in junk mailers?
Because it’s an inexpensive way to get it in front of millions of people in hopes they’ll become loyal buyers, so don’t toss out the mailer envelopes with anything but ads until you see if there’s something relevant for you in them.
- The Non-Couponers or Share Couponers Among Your Friends and Family
Hard to believe, but not everyone is interested in being a couponer. So ask the people you know if they do, and if they don’t, ask for their Sunday inserts and leftover magazines.
Ask newspaper deliverers what they do with spare inserts. Look at it as networking for savings.
- Get It Together – Have a Club and Become Coupon Buddies
Trade the coupons you don’t use with a buddy for coupons you use. Then, get a lot of buddies together and save even more. See if your area already has a coupon swap club and how you can get in on the savings.
If You Don’t Organize, Your Coupons Will Take Over.
It happens to all of us – you can’t find the coupon you need, and when you do find it, it’s expired. Frustrating and not helpful! You have to know where your coupons are if you want to save, and you have to see if they’re valid.
It doesn’t matter if you pick up one of those gadgets that looks like an accordion wallet for them or if you have a filing system that’s state of the art – just use something and use it without fail!
Some couponers put off cutting the coupons out and leave them to do the day of use. But that way is too easy to fall into the last-minute rush trying to find the stash of inserts – and not only that, but it looks messier, too.
You don’t have to be the Martha Stewart of coupon organization, but you do have to have a system. Create one that suits your method of shopping. Get your canned goods first? Then make a system where you file them by canned goods first.
File them according to how you write your grocery list. The trick is to do what works for you and not do what doesn’t because you won’t stick with it. Loose coupons tend to get overwhelming, so have something to put them in.
It doesn’t matter what it is, but one of the more successful ways to organize them is to purchase a binder (you can find one at Walmart for less than $1) and those plastic inserts used to hold baseball cards.
You can file the coupons in the plastic inserts according to category and see at a glance what you have. You have to put some effort into keeping up with the organization of your coupons.
Clip them when you get them or as soon as you can. Toss expired ones regularly unless you give them to an organization that sends expired coupons to servicemen and women overseas, where they’re still viable.
One of the most irritating things to non-couponers is to see a couponer who is so unorganized it’s like she’s set up camp at the register. Don’t do that. Come with your coupons separated and ready to pass over to the cashier.
Now, if you’re one of those who aren’t very organized, you might not see the benefit of organization with coupons. But, on the other hand, you won’t get stressed at the register (or embarrassed as you fumble for a lengthy coupon search).
You won’t stress others behind you. You won’t miss out on good deals by forgetting your coupons, and you’ll save money to spend on other stuff you want or on other people.
Couponing is an art that can save you money and be used as a tool to show others how to save – newlyweds and people living on a fixed income could benefit from having someone show them how to make the most of their grocery budget.
Behavior Rules for Using Coupons
Don’t ever feel bad about saving money. You deserve to save money on your grocery bill, but it’s not courteous to make other people wait behind you if you have 60 items (each with a coupon you have to find) when they have 3.
So wave people on ahead of you and take the time to organize your items on the conveyor belt while they check out. You won’t feel pressured, you’ll have done a good deed, and your fellow shopper will be thankful!
- Don’t Take What Doesn’t Belong to You
Not stealing would seem to be common sense to most people, but sometimes new couponers don’t always realize there’s a wrong way to try to save money on groceries.
It’s unfair to think that whatever is done on television on coupon shows like Extreme Couponing is acceptable. It’s not.
You don’t want to lower your moral standards or cross any lines into illegal actions. For example, when you pick up a newspaper out of a public vending spot, don’t take extras if you don’t buy them.
Don’t reach for one newspaper and quickly slide the Sunday inserts out of a few extras. That’s not fair to others, and it’s stealing!
Darting across the dew-soaked lawn to grab your neighbor’s paper is stealing, too – even if he lets it lay there all day and then tosses it in the garbage can. But, of course, you can always ask if you can have it.
- Don’t Rip Coupons Off Products
Some coupons come already attached to the product and are intended for buying the product. If you swipe that coupon, then you’re a thief. Buy the product or leave the coupon alone.
- How Many Is Too Much?
Sometimes stores use tear pads or blinking electronic machines to share coupons. Yea! Take them all – they’re free, right?
No. They’re free, but it’s not right to empty the machine or make the tear pad bare because you’re greedy. You don’t like it when you miss out on great coupon deals, so don’t do it to others.
- Don’t Buy Like You’re Preparing for the Storm of the Century
How frustrating it is to go to the store, ready to shop for those deals – only to find nothing but dust or sugar granules waiting on the shelf where the products used to be. What happened?
It could be a mistake on the store’s part, but what happens so often is that couponers pick the place clean. Are you greedy if you see one remaining bag of sugar and you pick it up? No.
Even if you put the last two bags of sugar in your cart, that doesn’t mean you’ve shopped like there’s a storm coming. It’s not wrong to do that, and it’s not bad to buy items that you know you’ll use but don’t need right now.
But, it’s kind of selfish as a couponer if you get caught up in the frenzy of taking the items just because you can when you don’t need them and when it will leave others without the opportunity to get some, too.
You might not care about that – but it will come back to haunt you if you get too greedy with your couponing endeavors.
Unhappy customers hunt down overworked managers and give them an earful about why the store wasn’t better prepared, how they drove to the store and can’t get what they need, and ask if they need to shop at the competing store.
When that happens, the manager checks the order sheets, sees that the store did indeed buy enough to satisfy demand, realizes that couponers brought on the lack of merchandise, and then changes occur.
These changes no longer allow you to buy as much as you want. Changes mean you don’t get to use all of the coupons you once could. Changes mean fewer savings for you.
You have to find a balance in the couponing game and do what you need to ensure that stores remain receptive to couponing.
But what if you do need a lot of one item? Years ago, people called in large meat orders to the local butcher. Today, common courtesy for others is to prepare in advance for a significant buy.
Befriend the manager and ask for a particular order in that item.
Keep couponing in perspective. It’s about saving money, not stockpiling so many things that you get a hoarder mentality. Buy what you need. Leave behind what you don’t. That way, everyone wins.
FIRST STEPS TO TAKE AS A COUPONER
Now that you read all the basics to start couponing, you need to pick ONE couponer to follow for two weeks at the minimum.
The fantastic thing about technology today is all the FREE information. The downside? It can be very overwhelming when it comes to learning something new.
My favorite social media app is Tiktok- and when I’m logged into my BJs deal Tiktok account, it’s filled with all couponers. So if you like the video, I suggest heading over to Tiktok or Youtube to follow ONE couponer there.
The key is to pick one that you like the way they present the deals or write them up, the ones that you feel confident to go and do right away- that’s the couponer you want to follow.
Then only follow these coupon deals for a week or two. I suggest two weeks because there may be a week that doesn’t have any great bargains.
When you stick with one couponer, you’ll learn and build confidence to start following others or coming up with deals all on your own.
My favorite Tiktok Couponers are:
If you love BJ’s deals, of course, I would love to have you follow my BJs Deals Tiktok page too!
If you don’t use Tiktok no worries there are SO many blogs out there.
Some of my favorite blogs to start couponing are:
- The Krazy Coupon Lady
Once you have picked who you are going to follow- do all the deals that you can they share. Before you know it you’ll be an extreme couponer saving your family hundreds of dollars a month!