Coupon Basics for Newbies

How to Get Coupons

1. Coupon Inserts that come in the paper:

Start getting all the coupon inserts. There are three main types of inserts: Redplum (RP) (used to be called Valassis), Smartsource(S or SS), and the Proctor and Gamble (PG).
As a general rule, coupons inserts usually do not come in the papers on holidays, but there are exceptions.

To find out what local paper gets the Redplum CLICK HERE
To find out what local paper gets the Proctor and Gamble CLICK HERE
If there is a paper that gets these, it will also have the Smartsource.

Occasionally there are other types of inserts that come in the papers as well. General Mills and Kelloggs have both recently done some extra coupon inserts.

I suggest getting at least two papers every Sunday. More if there are really good coupons. On Sunday, most stores offer two packs for 2.50. But in my area there are guys that stand on corners and sell them for $1 a piece. Some Walmarts also sell them for a $1.

Other ways to get inserts:

Ask your neighbors, friends, and family for theirs.
Check local recycling centers.
Check the trash ( as long as it’s not too gross!)

Keep all the coupons! Don’t get rid of anything unless it’s expired! You never know what will be free or a moneymaker!

2. Blinkies and Tearpads:
Blinkies are found in these nice little machines on aisles in all types of stores.
Tearpads are coupons found in the store that you tear off of what is usually a whole pad of coupons.
Always be on the lookout for both of these.

3. Home Mailers
These are coupons that are mailed out to your home by companies. You can get these by signing up on a lot of company sites, and you can usually get some by contacting companies yourself. Write or call to tell them how you liked/disliked a product, or just to ask questions. They will usually send out some great coupons.

4. Catalinas
These coupons print on a receipt-like piece of paper at the register. Always watch for these. Sometimes they are item specific coupons, but other times they are $ off off of any in store purchase. When checking out at Kroger, I have actually seen the small trash cans piled high with these types of coupons. Why on earth people throw these away, I’ll never understand.

5. Peelies
These are coupons found on product, that have to be pealed off.

6. Printable Coupons
You can print coupons from all over the internet. Companies have printable coupons on their sites, and there are some main places to print coupons from.
You can print coupons from my side bar, or from some of these other places:
Health eSavers

7. Load Coupons to Your Kroger Card
P&G eSaver

8. Load Coupons to Your Cellphone

9. Magazines, Newsletters, and other Papers.
One of the best magazines for getting coupons is the All You Magazine.
Check out my giveaway for this mag. HERE.

Be on the lookout everywhere for coupons. You’ll be surprised where you’ll find them.

Tricks of the Trade

1. Understand Your Stores
Familiarize yourself with the stores in your area and their coupon policies. You can’t afford to be brand loyal or store loyal, if you really want to save money.
Coupon policies vary greatly by store, chain and the area of the country. Call or stop by the customer service desk, to find out what the policies are.

Questions to ask:

a. Do you double coupons, and up to how much?
b. Do you take competitor coupons?
c. Do you take Internet Printable coupons?
d. Do you have store coupons, and can I combine a manufacturer coupon with a store coupon?
e. Do you have a frequent shopper card? ie. Kroger Plus Card, CVS Extra Care Card
f. How many like coupons will double in one transaction?
g. Do you ever have promotions where coupons triple?
h. Do you take expired coupons?

Now that you’re familiar with the policies, look at each store’s ad every week. See what’s on sale, and maximize your savings by using coupons with sales (see for help with this).
French’s Mustard is normally 1.89 at Kroger. This week it is part of the 10/$10, making it only a dollar. You have a .50/1 coupon for French’s Mustard. Since Kroger doubles up to 50 cents, then you get your mustard for FREE.
Note: You are not obligated to buy 10 to get the deal. Each item is only $1 each.

2. Doubling
Doubling is done by certain stores. If a store’s policy is that a they double coupons up to .50 cents, then any coupon .50 cents and under will double in the amount. .35/1 becomes .70, and .50 becomes $1.00. But any coupon over .50 will not be doubled. Some stores double up to .60 or even .99, so be sure to find out what your stores do.

3. Rainchecks
If an item is on sale and sold out, you can get a raincheck for the sale price. Raincheck’s don’t expire! Sometimes getting a raincheck will work out to your advantage, because better coupons will come out. Always get a raincheck on a great deal if the item is sold out. All of the item doesn’t have to be sold out in order to get a raincheck. One flavor/type of that item can be sold out, and you can get a raincheck. For instance: At CVS Dawn was on sale for .99. They did have some on the shelf, but a particular scent was sold out. So I was able to get a raincheck for the sale price, and the cashier just wrote it for any Dawn.

4. Buy Smaller

Retailers like to get you with the “bigger size is a better value” hogwash. But this is not always true. With coupons, smaller items sometimes work out to be free or super cheap. Buy smaller items, and use your coupons to buy in bulk. You end up spending less for more.

5. Look for markdown and clearance items.

Coupons can be used on an item even when it is on clearance. This works out in your favor, because in most instances you can get something for free or mere pennies.

6. Stockpile
When something is going to be free or a great deal, stock up! This way you don’t run out of something, and then have to run out and pay full price for it. Try to build up a 3-6 month stash of things you need. Preparing like this also makes you feel more secure. You will have the peace of mind that if something were to happen, you would be able to feed/take care of your family for a while. Some people have a 1-2 year supply of toiletries, paper products, and other non-perishable items. This way each year they are only getting what they can get for free. Just be sure to watch your expiration dates!

Organizing Your Coupons

Different ways of organizing works for different people.

1. Filing all your inserts.

File all your inserts by day and type (8/10 S, 12/14 RP, 8/31 PG, ect…)
This saves you time initially, but I have found that it becomes more of a chore when you are getting ready for your shopping trips. It’s not easy to remember everything you have, and you won’t always have a coupon with you when you see a clearanced item.

2. Binder Method

This method works by clipping and filing your coupons in a binder. I used baseball card sheets when I did this. This method did not work for me either, because I found that the coupons would continue to slide out of the sleeves. This was my binder:

3. Coupon Box
This is what I am doing now. I cut the coupons out of the inserts and file them in my handy little bin. I’ve already done better doing it this way, and I’ve got my coupons ready when I find some awesome markdowns. Refund Cents has something similar to this HERE. It’s called the Deluxe Coupon File. You can get it for $22.90 included shipping and handling.

I use small envelopes: Cut the tab off and put an index card with the label for the category in there. I first learned about this from Money Saving Mom, and it has worked really well for me. It fits perfectly in the shopping cart seat. I still file some of my inserts though. Some weeks I just get way too many inserts in order to clip and file all the coupons.

I have a section for each store I shop at, and I put store specific coupons in there.
I also have Restaraunt and Movies section for those types of coupons.
In the very front I have an envelope for my shopping trips ( I put all the coupons I know I’m going to use ahead of time in there), and an envelope for coupons to file. I put all the coupons I find at the store in there.
Then I have three different main sections. Food, Household, and Baby. In each category I have more specific envelopes. It is my personal opinion that this is the best option.

4. Coupon File

Some people like this method the best because they don’t have something that is big and bulky to lug around. I have so many coupons, that I would not be able to use this system. But if you are just starting out, this might be the best start for you. It’s cheap and easy. You can get this for a $1 at the dollar store, or for a couple dollars at Walmart. Organizing Junkie has a post about how she uses this HERE. Check it out and maybe it will help you!

5. Low Budget Envelope System

This is something that my friend The Messy Mom does. It’s basically like the coupon file, but using envelopes instead. She has a great post and video on it. It might be just the thing for you! Check out her post HERE.

In the end, you have to find what works for you. I tried what other people liked to do, and it just didn’t work for me. Make your life easy and do what works!

Now that you’re prepared, start saving some money! Ready, Set, Go!!!

  1. Great intro post!BR/BR/I just recently switched from a binder to a coupon box as well, and find it much more convenient.

  2. Wow what a lot of great information! Thanks so much for including my post. I will definitely be sharing this link with my readers. Great stuff!!

  3. What an awesome post!! Question: What is a mannie? It was in a previous post and the only thing I am finding that has nothing to do with coupons or saving money is that it’s a male nanny =o)

  4. Do you subscribe to refund cents? I have never heard of this but am always looking for a way to get better deals. I relly haven’t gotten into refunds and rebates to much though.

  5. I have not had much experience with Refund Cents. Money Saving Mom recommends it. The Deluxe Coupon File is mainly why I recommend the site. I don’t know about the other deals they offer.

  6. I use a coupon binder with baseball card sheets. I have no problem with coupons falling out at all. I have tried a coupon box, and for me, it was just more difficult.

  7. Love your site. What happens at cvs if they are offering a buy 1 get 1 50% off and I have a buy 1 get 1 free coupon? Do I just pay 1/2 of 1?

  8. can i use coupons that print on my register receipts at other stores, if they say manufacturer’s Q?

  9. I need to organize my coupons, they are all over, in my purse, on my desk and in my jacket pocket!BR/BR/Thanks!

  10. thank you so much this was great.. i been doing this for a month but i still have a little trouble and this explain alot. thank you

  11. Okay, I am working on the box method, but also the small accordian one to take with me for starting out…thank you for all that you do!

  12. Great post! For the first time, I now know where to start, have been wanting to do couponing, but ddn’t know where to start, but now I do & am so excited to begin saving!

  13. Can someone please tell more more about the Walgreen rewards? Or how you can make money and save towards other products? I am so new to this!!

  14. I am totally going to start doing this. Ever since I have joined your site I have learned incredible ways to save money on things I normally would have paid full price for (which is what I always use to do). I now, Honestly feel cheated for buying all the DVD’s I bought at $19.99 and up because now I always pay less than $10, which is incredible. And I think every time I login to your website I learn about something new out there on the web to use as a resource, which is incredible. I’ve purchased so many discounted toys for my daughter and for her friends when they have birthdays. It is truly an incredible service you provide. I don’t remember how I stumbled upon your website, but I am so Thankful I did — I’ve saved so much money and I’ve been able to buy my daughter more things that I would have otherwised had to say “No” to. So Thank You.

  15. I have this post saved as my go-to for coupon tips for friends, such a wonderful source! Thanks again!

  16. this is awesome!!!! thank you for taking the time to do this i sure have learned a lot from it.

  17. this has been the most informative and easiest site I’ve looked at so far. i am very into eating better but as my family grew this became daunting and not budget friendly. but reading this site makes me hopeful again. i have a question about printable coupons. do i have to down load a different software w/ each printable coupon site? also i didn’t see the option to make only black and white prints. do you have any advice on this or anything about printable coupons?


    • So glad you are finding the site helpful! Some of the coupon sites do have different software that you have to “run” or “allow” on your computer. It will generally tell you that in a pop-up window when you try to print for the first time. You can print in b/w using your printer settings on your computer. Hope that helps!

  18. Yes thank you both for your help. I have yet another question and maybe you have answered this somewhere that I haven’t come upon but how do you use more that one coupon? example 1.00 off 2 packages of xyz, could I use 2 coupons for those 2 items the 1.00 off and another? Another example: I have a coupon for 1.50 off of 2 ziploc products could I also use with that a .75 cents off 1 ziploc product and would that .75 coupon be eligible for doubling, equaling 3$ off 2 ziploc products? I am obviously new at all this! I’m trying not to scramble my brain:)

    • Jaycie – Most of the stores in my area do not double either. I just pair my manufacturer coupons with store sales to save as much as I can. Good luck saving where you can! :)

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