How to Start Couponing

Four Parts:Couponing PreparationOnline CouponingNewspaper CouponingCouponing Tips

Couponing is the practice of searching store ads, newspapers and websites for discounts that are available if you produce a coupon at checkout. Television shows and articles on "Extreme Couponing" have shown people that learn to save money on almost every shopping trip by analyzing and organizing paper coupons. Learning how to start couponing can save you hundreds of dollars in grocery bills and services.

Part 1
Couponing Preparation

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    Make a sample grocery list. Devote 1 section to the products you buy every month and another section to the products you buy every 3 or more months.
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    Decide which name-brand products you need and which products on which you are brand-flexible. Usually the best brand loyalty you have, the more money you will save.
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    Pay attention to product prices. If you are on auto-pilot when you go to the store, you may not know what the going rate is for a name-brand and discount-brand package of toilet paper, jar of pasta sauce or bag of chicken breasts. To get a deal, you must be able to recognize a deal.
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    Make a list of stores in your area. You will be searching for coupons by store as well as by product. Add some stores that you think might be too expensive, in case they give extremely valuable coupons.
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    Buy a coupon organizer. Small expandable folders are a great way to sort by expiration date. Get a folder that is no larger than 6 x 9 inches (15 by 23cm) so that you don't forget to bring it when you go shopping.
    • Keep a coupon folder for each type of item you want to buy. For example, you can have a coupon folder for grocery shopping that you place in your car and a coupon folder for services, such as oil changes, tax preparations and carpet cleaning that you keep by the computer or phone.
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    Bring your own bags. Many grocery stores give discounts for bringing your own bag, but you may need to ask for the discount.
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    Buy a printer. This is an essential part of online couponing, since you can do a good amount of couponing without ever subscribing to a newspaper.
    • A smart phone can also be a helpful tool in modern day couponing. You can search for an online coupon right in the store, compare prices with those on Amazon using an application called Price Check or send coupons by text message.
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    Understand coupon terminology.
    • Double coupons means that you can double the value of a coupon up to a certain number, and triple coupons means you can triple it. Look for stores that take and advertise these kinds of coupons.
    • Ask for rain checks. Rain checks allow you to go into the store and get a coupon for the sale price of an item when it is restocked. Some coupons specify "No Rainchecks" so you must get to the store early on in the sale to ensure the coupon will be valid for a purchase.
    • Learn the acronyms that are frequently used with couponing, such as Buy One Get One free/half off (BOGO), On Your Next Order (OYNO) and Mail-In Rebate (MIR).

Part 2
Online Couponing

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    Check if there is a Val-Pak coupon book in your area. This company gathers coupons for many different products and services that are specific to your area. Go to and type in your city.
    • Sign up to receive Val-Pak coupon books on the first of each month in your mailbox. They are free to you. If you do not want to receive this mail, you can also simply search the online database for printable coupons. Not all Val-Pak coupons are available online.
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    Sign up for email coupon newsletters for the stores on your list. This will require you to enter a few personal details, and you may choose to receive monthly coupons in the mail.
    • If you don't want your regular or work email to be cluttered with weekly newsletters, create a new email address just for couponing. You can check the email once or twice a week before you go shopping. If the store sells your information to another company, they will not have your personal email.
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    Search online coupon websites. Look on,, and for deals on your products and stores. Print them and file them by expiration date and type of product.
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    Read online couponing blogs. Many blogs link to current coupon deals, so check,,, and weekly or before big shopping trips.
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    Use search engines to find product-specific coupons. If you have some favorite brands, but you can't find coupons, then type "product name" and "coupon" into Google or Bing and search for coupons.
    • Keep in mind that there are some fraudulent coupon makers. Judge by the trustworthiness of the site and the user reviews whether you are finding an acceptable coupon. Call the store if you have questions.
    • Advanced coupon clippers search for coupons on eBay. Many people sell packs of coupons for low cost. Look for "Buy Now" in this case, so you can avoid a coupon arriving after its expiration date. Pay attention to reviews from the seller, and focus on this for products you buy in large quantities.
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    Look for coupons on Facebook. Find a manufacturer or store profile and "Like" the page. Check your Facebook news feed for new coupons daily.
    • Online couponing is an excellent place to start the practice, because you can control the amount of paper you keep and target your search by product, store or season. If you like to surf the Internet, you may not want to go on to newspaper coupon clipping.

Part 3
Newspaper Couponing

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    Call your newspaper to inquire about a weekend "Couponing special." In order to maximize your time and savings, you need multiple copies of Sunday papers. Some newspapers sell multiple copies to couponers for a discounted price.
    • Newspaper couponing takes a larger devotion in time and organization. Make sure you factor in the cost of the newspapers with the time you are willing to devote and the savings you intend to find. If you are only couponing occasionally, you may not want to invest in a newspaper subscription.
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    Ask your neighbors for their coupon sections. If you notice that your neighbors are throwing away a lot of newspapers, ask them if you can collect their Sunday newspapers after they are done with them. This will allow you to reap some of the benefits of Sunday coupons without making an investment.
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    Collect free newspapers and newsletters in your town. These may come with coupons for dining and inserts at local grocery stores.
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    Subscribe to another local newspaper, if you are reaping the rewards of couponing off your first subscription. Different newspapers have different coupons, so you can increase your savings.
    • Don't be afraid to cancel your subscription if you aren't successful using the coupons from a newspaper or magazine. Most newspapers allow you to cancel at any time. Some newspapers even allow you to buy Sunday newspapers on Monday at a discounted price.

Part 4
Couponing Tips

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    Learn what coupons are "stackable." This means that they can be used together. You should know this ahead of time so that you can plan how to check out.
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    Check out more than once. With coupons that are not stackable or have a limit, you can return to the store and buy more, using a different coupon.
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    Clip your coupons at home. If you are distracted by trying to tear out coupons or figure out which coupons are stackable, you may miss the fine print. Be well aware of the limitations and advantages before stepping into the store.
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    Apply these practices to online shopping. Keep in mind that discount/coupon codes are available through email newsletters, coupon websites and catalogs. Try to find a coupon code before checking out of any store online and you can save 5 to 50 percent off purchase or get shipping free.
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    Multiple checkouts are extremely common with couponing. Taking the extra time to split up your purchases or return to the store will help you to save more money and trips to the store.

Things You'll Need

  • Reusable grocery bags
  • Small expandable folders/binders
  • Printer
  • Printer ink
  • Store email newsletters
  • Coupon websites
  • Coupon blogs
  • Facebook fan pages
  • Newspaper subscriptions
  • Scissors
  • Printer paper
  • Online coupon codes
  • Multiple checkouts

Article Info

Categories: Couponing