Coupon 101

Couponing can be very intimidating if you don’t know what you’re doing! And, if you think it means just clipping from your Sunday paper and using those coupons for your grocery trip, you will give up all too quickly!  You will most likely find that the store brand is probably a better buy. That, my friends, is NOT couponing!

I want to help you become a Coupon Frugalista and that will require a change in your grocery mindset.

*No more binge shopping trips, loading your cart to the brim just to feed your family for the week.

*You will start planning meals from your pantry instead of planning a menu and then buying every last ingredient at full price.

*You will start using your coupons while items are at rock-bottom prices and thus building a stockpile of toilet paper, deodorant, toothpaste … you name it!  No more buying $5 deodorant just because you’re out.


Step #1 Gather your coupons!

If you have absolutely NO stockpile, you will need to get as many coupons as you can possibly get those Frugalista hands on!!

There are a few ways to obtain coupons – printables, ecoupons, and newspaper inserts.

Printable Coupons –  Coupons.com, SmartSource.com and Redplum.com are the 3 major sites that you can print coupons from right at home.  There are actually many sites to print from, but those 3 are a good start and if there’s ever anything amazing I will post it on the site!

ECoupons – These are coupons that can be loaded directly to your participating store savings card.  cellfire.com, shortcuts.com, and pgesaver.com are all sites that you can find ecoupons on.  You will also want to check your grocery stores website for additional ecoupons.

Sunday Paper –  There are 100’s of dollars worth of coupons in your Sunday papers!!  The inserts vary from week to week.  You will find Redplum, SmartSource, and Procter & Gamble.  There is also an occasional General Mills insert.

If you have no stockpile, you’re going to need to get 4-6 newspapers a week. Trust me, you will make up the cost in savings right away and you’ll be very sad if you only have 1 paper! The reason you want 4-6 papers is that when you find something at a rock bottom price, you’ll be able to get 4-6 at that price and not just one! For example, Safeway is having a great sale on your favorite cereal for $1.50 / box. If you have 6 manufacturers coupons for $1 off that cereal, you can get 6 boxes for just $.50!!! Then, you will shop from your stockpile instead of buying the cereal at full price when you run out.

If you do not have a Sunday Paper subscription get discounted newspaper subscriptions here If you are new to couponing and want to order coupons from previous weeks, you can do that at My Coupon Hunter, The Coupon Clippers or couponclippingbygabby . Or you can find them on Ebay (when I order from Ebay, I go thru Ebates first to earn cash back!) I get 1 Subscription delivered to my house and I go to the Dollar Tree to buy the rest!

Now, once you have a pretty good stockpile started, you certainly don’t need that many papers!  I usually flip through my inserts to see if there are a decent amount of coupons that I KNOW I’ll use.  Then, if there are oodles of them, I’ll buy a few more papers at the dollar store.  If there are only few that I want more of I just order them.  There’s no sense in wasting my gas and time to buy 3 more papers that I don’t need!

Step #2 Get Organized!!!

You are going to have coupons coming out of your ears!!! The best way to organize them, in my opinion, is to put them in a 3” binder. I started with a 2” and ran out of room shortly. You will need 20 – 25 {I have 23} dividers. Get the plastic ones because the paper will only last you a few shopping trips! You will also need to invest in some baseball card holders. They can be found in the front of Target or Walmart where the baseball cards are. This way you can have your coupons spread out in clear view and easily accessible.

Clipping – I take all of one insert and tear each page apart carefully, then stack them on top of their like pages.  So I have 5 of the first page, 5 of the second, etc.  Then I hold them tight and clip!  That way you’re cutting 5 at a time instead of 1.  Then I split them into their categories and file!

These are the categories I have my binder split into:

Target ( I have a Target section because they have a lot of their own Q’s and I shop there a lot!  Behind my Target pages I have a few other pages organized by store – Whole Foods, CVS, etc)

Free

Produce

Condiments

Beverages

Packaged / Cans (Bread, tortillas, rice, pasta, & canned)

Baking

Cereal / Breakfast

Snacks/ Candy

Dairy

Meats

Frozen

Cosmetics

Oral Care

Personal Care

Shave / Deodarant

Meds

Paper (Paper towels, bath tissue, ziploc, foil etc)

Household

Cleaning (organize by type and put fresh air (febreeze) type things in back)

Office

Kids/ Baby

Pets

Within these categories I will keep them in groups. For instance, in the dairy category, I’ll have a few pages of yogurt Q’s then a few of butter Q’s, then milk and creamer. I just find it easier to not have so many dividers. You could get more dividers if you wanted and have all of the sub categories in their own section.  One set of dividers I bought had pockets on them so I use one of those to put all of the store coupon policies in. This is very important because a lot of times the checkers really just don’t know the policy and might try to not let you use a Q.  Having the store coupon policy in hand makes it much easier to explain than to have to call over a manager 😉

Step #4  Know when to shop!

Use your coupons when the items are at their lowest prices!  I will always post the best deals I can find and what Q’s you need to go with them so that all you have to do is make your list, grab your Q’s and go!

Check with your local grocery stores to see if and when they double coupons to save even more.

My favorite thing to do is STACK my coupons! You can “stack” a manufacturers coupon with a store coupon to save lots of moola! Target, Rite Aid, Safeway and many more have in-store coupons. These will have the store name on them specifically and will not say manufacturers coupon on them.

You will start to learn what is “rock-bottom” as you go. Don’t beat yourself up when somethings even cheaper the next week, it’s all part of the game! You can start keeping a grocery journal to track this if you need to.

Step #4 Be Prepared!

Prepare yourself for your shopping trip.  Make your list knowing which amazing promos you are going to cash in on.  When you need to do multiple transactions at a single store, make a list for each transaction.  Have all of your coupons clipped and in a seperate envelope for that trip.

Step #5  RELAX!!!

When you start to realize how much money you can save while creating a stockpile it can be overwhelming.  I used to want to rush out and buy every great deal and then start to panic when I missed some.  The deals WILL come back around!!!  I promise!  Try to focus on 1 or 2 stores while you learn the process.  I literally was running from one store to the next trying to get every deal!!


I hope this helps some of you newbies!  Please ask questions if you have them 😉




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