Monday, January 4, 2010

Coupons 101: An Intro Course

As promised, I am going to begin a series called Coupons 101: How to Use Coupons. For you experienced couponers, this all may seem VERY basic. But, I want to encourage even the beginners not to be intimidated by coupons!

Your first step is to start KEEPING coupons from the Sunday paper. Coupons go on about a monthly cycle. If the coupons came in the paper yesterday (PS, yesterday was an amazing day for coupons....5 inserts!) the items the coupons are good for will most likely be on sale in about 3 weeks--so hold on to them! When you get them, simply write the date on the inserts that come in them. There are 2 main companies that make the coupon bookets: Red Plum (often abbreviated to RP) and Smart Source (SS). There's really no need to cut every coupon out until you need a specific coupon.

Here are just a few tips for USING your coupons and getting the most out of them:
1) Check out your local stores coupon policies. Some stores double, or even triple. This really is your starting point once you've started to save your coupons.

2)Some stores have special store-exclusive coupons. For example, if you go to you can get on their email list and they will send you coupons that can only be used at Safeway. These coupons can be used WITH manufacturer's coupons (those are the ones you get in Sunday papers) to really make a BIG savings! This also works with Walgreens coupons that are in the weekly circulars. You can use one of those coupons AND a manufacturer's coupon for the same item! Combine that with a sale and typically you're going to get something for free or close to free!

3) Electronic coupons. Sign up at and (Proctor and Gamble coupons). These are digital coupons that load up to your "member reward card" and are automatically deducted at checkout.

4) Printable coupons. Don't overlook these! Most often you can print out at least 2 per computer by clicking on your browsers "back" or "reload" button.

So, what about all of the TIME it takes to match sales with coupons? That work is being done for you, my dear readers. There are MANY coupon-matching sites that will do all of the work FOR FREE. Don't think you need to PAY for this information! For example, I use because she matches all of my local stores: Kroger, Food Lion and Walmart. Doing a quick Swagbucks search (oh, how I encourage you to join!) for your store of choice plus coupon matches should yield you results.

If you have questions PLEASE leave comments! I'd love to hear how you save!

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