Couponing 101

Couponing is a fine art, and to those that do it well, it’s an art and a science. You have to be organized, plan well, and research your shopping options.

The first part of couponing is making sure you have coupons! You can get printable coupons online, but usually the most high value coupons still come in print form. So, where do you find them? The Sunday paper of course! There are several coupon flyers in the Sunday paper. The two that come every week are SmartSource and RedPlum. There are also extra coupons from Proctor & Gamble every so often.

So, I know you have a lot of quandaries, and I will try to address them below. If you have any additional questions, please feel free to ask them in the comments section below.

1.) I don’t subscribe to the newspaper. How can I get the coupons?

– Subscribe to the Sunday edition only (this usually costs less than $1.00 an issue)
– Take the coupons from your local coffee shop paper
– Ask your neighbor if they will save the Sunday coupons for you
– Go to your local recycling center and dig around for coupons
– Buy specific coupons on CouponClippers.com or eBay.com

2.) Now what, do I need to clip every single coupon and organize them by category or something?

The short answer is NO! This is a mistake I made when I first started couponing. Unless you see it as a fun hobby, I recommend saving SmartSource, Red Plum, and Proctor & Gamble coupon flyer’s in dated folders, in their whole form (no clipping required). Then when deals come out, you can check couponing websites to see which ones you need. Typically, the blogs will tell you the date and source.

For example:

Here’s an excerpt from a DealSeekingMom blog post about how to get free stuff with coupons at CVS Drugstore.

Let’s translate it:

This is a post is telling you that you can get $0.55 off Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups in the Sunday paper, which you can use to get it totally free. SS 8/23/09 means this coupon for $0.55 Reese’s Candy was found in the SmartSource coupon flyer in the paper on Sunday August, 23.

Further, the post explains that you can use two coupons with a BOGO (buy one, get one free offer). SS 7/19/09 and SS 8/23/09 means theses two coupons are found in the SmartSource coupon flyer found in the Sunday paper on July 17 and August 23.

3.) Are you saying I should just store the coupons and only dig them out when there is a use for them?

YES! I know it’s contrary to everything you’ve ever heard, but really it doesn’t make sense to spend and hour or two every Sunday clipping and meticulously organizing your coupons. The thing is, you’ll probably only use a few of them to get free stuff and oftentimes, you won’t use them for months. This is because sales and promotions usually don’t coincide with the timing of coupon publishing. However, if you save coupons in dated folders, you can fish them out months later, and use them to your advantage.

4.) How do I get free stuff with my coupons?

You use coupon matchups! Coupon matchups are the best thing since sliced bread. They are exactly what they sound like… matching a coupon up with a sale on a particular item. When we get into future lessons, you’ll learn how to use drug store rebate programs, stackable coupons, and coupon policies to your advantage. For now though, simply understand that if an item is on sale for $1.00 and you have a $1.00 off coupon, the item is FREE when you use your coupon. This is a matchup. Sometimes matchups make items really cheap, but since this is Free Mania, we only care if we can get it for 100% free, right?!

5.) Where can I find coupon matchups?

FreeMania.net/blog
DealSeekingMom.com
CouponCravings.com
FatWallet.com
Freebies4Mom.com

Next, we’ll discuss eCoupons, then Printable Internet Coupons, and finally how to get the best deals at certain stores like Walmart, Target, Safeway, Kroger, CVS, and Rite Aid by using their incentive programs and coupon policies to get the best free stuff and deals.