Do You Know How to Coupon Effectively?

Beginner's Guide to Couponing

woman cutting out coupons
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If you're interested in couponing, but you aren't sure how to get started, this guide is for you. It covers all the basics in one easy read.

Where to Look for Coupons

There are lots of coupons up for grabs, if you know where to find them. By far, the best places to look are:

  • Newspapers: The Smart Source and RedPlum coupon inserts appear on a near-weekly basis. The Procter and Gamble insert appears at the start of each month. If there are a lot of good coupons in this week's paper, consider buying extra copies. Dollar Tree sells papers at a discount, so a lot of couponers buys their extra papers there.
  • Online: Look to free grocery coupon sites for loads of printable coupons. You'll find all the coupons from the Sunday paper, plus lots more. Most coupon sites allow you to print two of each coupon, so be sure to max out your prints.
  • Magazines: Women's publications such as All YouWoman's Day, Red Book, Family Circle and Good Housekeeping frequently carry manufacturer coupons. All You even includes an index of all the coupons that are included in each issue.
  • In store: Look for coupons on store shelves, on products and on the back of your receipts. Also look for coupons to print out at the register. If you see a "Try Me Free" sticker on any product, check the packaging for a rebate offer. Shampoo companies frequently run these types of promotions.

Additional places to look:

  • Junk mail: High-value manufacturer coupons have started to appear in junk mailers, so be sure to look before you toss them.
  • Direct from the manufacturer: Check manufacturer websites for printable coupons or contact companies (by mail, e-mail or phone) to request coupons.
  • Store mailings: Get a frequent shopper card for the grocery stores that you shop, and you may be rewarded with special coupon mailings that are customized to your purchase habits. It's a great way to get coupons for produce and other items that you rarely find coupons for.
  • On products: Look in and on the packaging of the products that you buy for special loyalty coupons. There may be coupons on your favorite cereal that you can use on your next purchase.

How to Keep Coupons Organized

There are lots of ways to organize coupons; the key is to find the approach that works best for you. Three options to consider:

  • Clipping out all coupons
  • Clipping out just the coupons that you intend to use
  • Leaving the coupon inserts intact, and clipping coupons on an "as-needed" basis

Whichever approach you choose, there are several things that you can do to ensure that your coupons remain neat and accessible:

  1. Develop a filing system. Many couponers organize their coupons by grocery category—dairy, frozen foods, deli, etc.—but it's not the only way to go. Find a filing system that works for you--by aisle, by expiration, etc.—and put it into action.
  2. Find a container to hold your coupons. Use a shoebox, a storage container, a coupon binder, a coupon wallet or a recipe box—it doesn't matter what you choose—but it is important to have a landing spot for all of those coupons.
  3. File coupons the same day you get them. Okay, so you may not always have time to file your coupons right away, but try to file them as soon as you can. This will prevent them from getting lost, and save you the hassle of having to sort through a big mess of coupons all at once.
  1. Purge regularly. Expired coupons won't save you money, so don't let them hog space in your coupon file. Set a schedule for purging expired coupons, and stick to it.

How to Maximize Your Savings: