Beginner’s Guide to Couponing | Part 2
This is Part 2 in a three-part series. Catch up by reading Part 1. This post may contain affiliate links.
Coupon Types And Where to Get Them
There are various kinds of coupons and sources from which to get them. Familiarize yourself with all of them, as you will use a combination each time you shop.
Your Sunday paper will typically have coupon “inserts.” Three companies produce coupon inserts.
- Smart Source (SS)
- Red Plum (RP)
- Proctor & Gamble (PG)
Each week is a little different. Some weeks your paper will have just one, two, or three or more inserts.
Where to Get Them
You could go to your local convenience store or market and buy the paper each week, but that is likely not the most efficient or cost-effective way of getting your coupons.
- Subscribe. Subscribing is almost always cheaper than buying retail. Look for discounts or promotions for new subscribers.
- Ask a friend/neighbor/relative/co-worker who subscribes but doesn’t use their coupons.
- Most Dollar Tree’s carry the Sunday paper.
- Your free local or community paper may include some inserts.
- Most convenience stores/gas stations toss unused papers on Monday. Consider making friends and asking for them.
- Ask your newspaper carrier for unused coupon inserts.
Different papers carry different inserts, so if you have access to a few major or regional newspapers, it will be worth your while to explore which papers carry which inserts.
Take a Sunday to buy one copy of each of the papers and compare which paper will be the best one for you to get going forward. (Not all papers carry coupons, so check for coupons before buying.)
To maximize your couponing efforts, subscribe or get your hands on at least two to four copies of the paper.
Another type of coupon is printable coupons. These are coupons you print online from coupon websites or directly from manufacturers.
When you visit some sites for the first time, you will need to download a “coupon installer.” You will only need to do this once for each site that requires it. Typically, you are allowed to print each coupon two times per computer.
Coupons are added regularly to coupon sites, and on the first of the month, there is usually an influx of new coupons. When you see a coupon you would like to use, print it right away, as coupons become unavailable when the total print limit is reached.
Where to Get Them
Some manufacturers have coupons directly on their websites. (For example, Lysol, Arm & Hammer, General Mills, Colgate.) Simply “google” the product or manufacturer you’re looking for to find their website.
You may be required to sign up for the company’s newsletter or join their “savings club.” Consider getting a separate email address for this purpose.
Electronic coupons are coupons loaded directly onto your store’s discount card. Depending on your store’s policy, they usually can be used in conjunction (or “stacked”) with a newspaper or printable coupon for the same item.
Where to Get Them
- Your store’s website or app
Coupon apps provide yet another way to save at the grocery store. The savings are usually in the form of cash back. You register your store’s discount card and upload the coupons you wish to use. When you purchase the particular item, you receive cash back in the form of your choice.
Each app works differently, so familiarize yourself with the rules of each one. Most can be stacked with a printable or newspaper coupon AND an electronic coupon for the same item!
Where to Get Them
Other Coupon Sources
In addition to above, there are other places to find coupons.
- Directly from the manufacturer (Simply email or write and request coupons.)
- On displays and shelves (tear pads)
- Directly on products (tear pads)
- In aisles dispensed by machines (blinkies)
- In booklets at your customer service desk
Now that you know where to get your coupons from, you can decide how you want to organize them.
Being an organized couponer will have a significant impact on your approach to couponing in general and will likely affect whether or not you stick with couponing. There are essentially two methods of organization.
Whole Insert Method
This method involves filing each coupon insert from the paper on a weekly basis. You simply write the date on the front cover and file each insert in reverse chronological order in a binder or file box. With this method, you only clip coupons when you plan your shopping trip.
Binder with sheet protectors or a file box with file folders
- Less time spent on a weekly basis
- Low maintenance
- More time is spent when you are planning your shopping trip.
- You are limited to what deals are shown on coupon blogs (more about that later) and what’s advertised in your store’s circular.
- You cannot take advantage of unadvertised deals at the store.
- You will still need to find a way to organize coupons printed from the internet.
This method is a great place to start for beginners.
This method involves clipping coupons each week and filing them by categories in a binder. Coupons can be organized by food category, alphabetically by manufacturer, by expiration date, or by the aisles in your store. This binder is ”portable” so you can take it to the store with you.
Binder, baseball card inserts, divider tabs
- You have a better sense of the coupons you have, along with when they are expiring.
- You can react to unadvertised deals and sale items.
- Less time spent when planning your shopping trip.
- More time is spent on a weekly basis. It can take anywhere from 20 minutes to one hour to clip and file, depending on the amount of coupons.
- You will clip A LOT of coupons that you end up not using before they expire. (Expired coupons can be donated.)
- If you fall behind in this method, it’s a pain to catch up.
- There is high burn-out potential with this method.
This is an excellent method to transition to after couponing for a month or two. It will take that long to decide if this method is right for you and to get a feel for what coupons you actually use.
Another option, (and technically a third one) is to do a combination of the whole insert method and the coupon binder method.
You use the coupon binder method to clip and file the coupons you are pretty certain you are going to use. You use the whole insert method to file the coupons you did not clip, so that way you can still take advantage of deals even if you did not clip the coupons.
Two binders (or one binder and one file box with folders), sheet protectors, baseball card inserts, divider tabs
- You will spend a little less time clipping.
- You can still take advantage of deals if you haven’t already clipped the coupons.
- You are maintaining two methods of organization.
- You might still miss out on unadvertised deals.
Okay, now you understand the basics of couponing, know where to get your coupons from, and how to organize them. In Part 3, we will discuss how to find deals, coupon lingo, and further resources available to you.