The beginning of the year always brings new resolutions – some people decide to lose weight, be successful or work harder, while others plan to save money while shopping. And if you belong to the latter group of people, then learning how to get started couponing is your New Year’s resolution.
However, starting anything new can look hard, scary and overwhelming, which is the main reason people decide to quit. Many people start saving money with coupons, but after a few weeks of hard work and only a few dollars saved, they decide it’s simply not worth it. But the reality is that they only scratched the surface of couponing and lack valuable knowledge to be successful.
Therefore, to help you succeed at saving money with coupons, we decided to write this useful guide that will provide valuable information and help you get started couponing the right way. So let’s dig in.
Step 1: Change the Way You Shop
If you really want to save money with coupons, then you’ll have to change your thinking. This mental shift will help you leave behind the old way of shopping and open the doors for something new. Then, and only then, you’ll be able to truly embrace couponing and start seeing enormous savings in your bank account.
There will no longer be:
- Grocery list planning regardless of the price
- Huge monthly wholesale shopping trips
- Shopping trips without looking for coupons
Instead, you’ll start:
- Shopping when something is on sale
- Doing research or visiting different stores and save up to 90%
- Shopping with coupons and stock up while it’s cheaper or free
However, you need to realize that couponing is a cumulative process and not some instant magic formula. It will take some patience, but in the end, it will be worth it.
To truly get started, you’ll need the following things:
- A cheap printer (for printing online coupons)
- A computer or a laptop (for doing research and finding the best prices, deals and coupons)
- A local newspaper (to find coupons)
Step 2: Find Coupons
Once you have a completely new mentality towards shopping, it’s time to find coupons. There are many coupons you can grab if you know where to look.
Newspaper Inserts – the best place to find coupons is the Sunday paper. You’ll notice 3 different inserts that appear on a regular basis: Red Plum, Smart Source and Procter and Gamble. To really stack on coupons, you’ll have to buy more newspapers and get at least 2-4 copies of each coupon. Just remember – to really save money you’ll have to buy multiple products while they have the rock bottom price.
Printable Coupons – the majority of coupons you’ll use to save money will be online coupons which you can find on our website. Just enter the name of the product or the brand in our search box and you’ll find multiple coupons that will help you save a lot of money. Of course, you’ll have to own a printer to print the coupons, but that’s pretty straightforward. You can also find valuable online coupons on Facebook pages and manufacturer’s website. Most online coupons have a limit of 2 per computer, so it would be great if you can use more than one device.
Mobile Coupons – today, the easiest way to save money is to use free mobile apps, also known as rebate apps. These rebate apps contain a wide range of products which you can purchase, and in exchange, the app will give you some of the money back. The most famous rebate apps are Ibotta and Checkout 51. If you want to learn more about them, then read our rebate guide.
eCoupons – shorten for electronic coupon, eCoupons are becoming increasingly popular. They are coupons that are loaded onto your store loyalty card via computer or a mobile phone. Many stores have an eCoupon program, so visit the store’s website, register and add your credit card number to your account. After that, simply find a coupon and load it to your card. At the checkout swipe your card and you’ll redeem the coupon and reduce your shopping bill.
Additional places to look for coupons:
- In store – when you come to the store prepared for coupon shopping, then take some time and check out store shelves and products to find more coupons.
- Junk mail – always check your junk mail because manufacturers started sending coupons to their potential customers in order to promote their products and attract more people.
- On products – in some cases you’ll notice special loyalty coupons in or on the packaging of the product.
Step 3: Know When to Use Coupons
Finding coupons is the first step towards seeing real savings while shopping. The next, equally important step is to know when to use coupons to save the most money. You should:
Wait for a sale – the secret to saving money with coupons is to wait for the items to go on sale and then use the coupon. It’s simply not smart to use coupons on full price items. Instead, you should wait for the lowest price sale and then apply the coupon.
Follow sales cycles – knowing when something will be on sale is crucial to saving money. When a product appears on the store shelves it will definitely have a full price. But if you wait a few days (for perishable groceries) or a few weeks (for non-perishable items), chances are you’ll notice the same product on sale for a reduced price. In addition, most stores run sales on products in cycles of 8-12 weeks. There are also special sales on holidays, so make sure to check that out as well.
Step 4: Know How to Use Coupons
Now that you know the best time to use coupons, it’s time to learn how to use them to maximize savings. To achieve this, you’ll need to do a little research.
Before shopping, you need to familiarize yourself with the store’s coupon policy. You can do that by either reading their policy from their website or simply by asking customer service department at their store. You need to know:
- Whether they accept double coupons. If so, are there limits to the amount of coupons that double.
- Can you stack a store coupon with a manufacturer coupon (also known as stacking coupons). Even though you can’t use 2 manufacturer coupons on one item, most stores allow stacking manufacturer and store coupons.
- Will the store accept competitor coupons.
These valuable information will allow you to choose the store where you can use multiple coupons on one item and purchase it for the lowest possible price.
Step 5: Organize
The way you organize your coupons can make or break your couponing experience. There are lots of ways to do it, but the key is to find the approach that works for you.
You have three options:
- Clip out all coupons
- Clip out the coupons you’ll use right away
- Leave the coupon inserts intact and clip them when needed
We strongly recommend using the first option as you’ll always be prepared to take advantage of the biggest savings. However, clipping out all coupons requires some kind of storing method that will ensure your coupons are neat and easily accessible. We recommend two methods:
File Box Method – it requires you to make a coupon box that will cost around $5 at Walmart. You just need a plastic box with a lid that has latches, envelopes and index cards. Simply cut off the top adhesive strip area of all envelopes with scissors, and staple an index card inside of each envelope. Lastly, use a marker and write coupon categories on the envelopes.
Binder Method – This is a little advanced method that requires more organization and time but is the number one choice for storing your coupons. First, you need to purchase high quality 3 ring binder. It’s really important not to save money on this, as it’s a one-time investment. Next, you need to get baseball card holders. You’ll be able to find them at Target, Walmart and Amazon. They are sturdy and ideal for storing coupons.
And finally, you need section dividers to help you divide your coupons by category. This is the time when you really need to decide how you’ll organize your binder. There are multiple ways and it’s really up to your shopping style. You can divide coupons by:
- Alphabetical order
- Product type (meat, dairy, cleaning supplies)
- Expiration date (place the first to expire coupons in front)
Bonus Advice – Stock Up
Stocking up on sale items is a crucial aspect of couponing. This is especially true when we are stocking on items we use on a daily basis. For example, if you notice your favorite cereals on sale for $1, you should stock up and save money for future shopping because the next time you come to the same store, that same cereal will cost its full price. However, be careful not to overstock with perishable items that you can’t store for a long period of time.
Knowing the right way to get started couponing is essential for your success. The majority of people who try to save money with coupons fail, simply because they lack the knowledge or patience to succeed.
Applying the above-mentioned tips can help you significantly reduce your shopping bill. Use your computer to find best coupons and lowest prices of the selected items. Wait for the right time and use multiple coupons for each item (if possible).
And most importantly, organize everything according to your preference to make sure you use all coupons and save money on everything.