The first step in learning to use coupons is finding the coupons themselves! Learn more in Couponing 101: A Step by Step Guide for Beginners.
In my post about TLC’s Extreme Couponing, I promised to start sharing tips about how to do Practical Couponing. Here is the first in the series of Couponing 101. Check back regularly for updates and you will be on your way to using coupons to save lots of money on your family grocery bill!
Lesson 1 – Where to Find Coupons
When starting to coupon there are two main things you need to do. The first is to find coupons and the second is to figure out how to use them to get the most for your money.
The most common source of coupons is your own Sunday newspaper. Each week (excluding holiday weekends) most major newspapers will have 1 to 3 coupon inserts included. Get these! If you don’t already subscribe to the paper, look for subscription deals. If you’re in our area in Minnesota, check out these Star Tribune Subscription Deals.
You can also ask your friends and family to save their coupons for you. If you really want to get serious about collecting extra coupon inserts, you can visit local coffee shops on Sunday to find them from discarded papers, ask your local gas station or deli if they can give you the inserts from their unsold papers at the end of the day, check your local newspaper recycling, etc. etc.
Get creative and there are lots of ways to find extra papers. If you need extra of any particular coupon from the Sunday paper, you can get them individually from coupon services such as The Coupon Marketplace where you pay a small service fee for each coupon to be sent to you.
You can also print many coupons online. There are specific sites dedicated to printable coupons such as Coupons.com and Red Plum and SavingStar. You can get coupons for natural and organic foods from Mambo Sprouts.
Besides these coupon sites many companies often post coupons on their own web sites and on Facebook. They are often available only for a limited time, so when you see a good coupon PRINT IT because it may not be around for long.
Unfortunately, you can end up using a lot of paper and ink printing coupons. To minimize these costs, buy the cheapest printer paper you can. You can often get paper at the large office supply stores for free or nearly free with rebate deals – you can find some of these at Thrifty Jinxy.
To minimize ink usage, set your printer to print in black and white (the only exception is if your store has a problem with black & white coupons, but for most locations it is just fine.)
One last tip about internet coupons – at many coupon printing sites, after you print your coupon, hit the “back” button in your browser and you should be able to print the coupon a second time. If you have more than one computer in your house, you can print the coupon twice from EACH computer.
Besides these “main” sources of coupons, there are many secondary sources. They may come in the mail in magazines, flyers, or home mailers. If there are particular products that you use often, call the manufacturer or contact them through their web site and request coupons. Many are happen to send them to you and some may even surprise you with coupons for a FREE item.
You can also find coupons at the grocery store itself – check the entrance area near the store flyers, ask at the service desk, keep your eyes open as you browse the aisles.
The second step of couponing is figuring out how to use coupons to get the best deals that end up in free or deeply discounted items. Check back soon for some concrete information as to how to do this…..
Ms. Career Girl says
After watching Extreme Couponing on TLC I did a Google search and found your website. I’ve learned a lot just from this first section. I really want to focus on as most as I can start to really save money when my family needs groceries. I don’t have the space to go extreme and stock pile a lot, but I think I have some ideas 🙂 Thank you!!
Jinxy and Me says
I’m glad you found us and I’m glad you’re learning already. It takes a while to get the hang of things, but once you do you’ll see that you will be saving a nice % off your bill regularly.
I watched Extreme Couponing for the first time and am super excited to try it! Any tips will be greatly appreciated!
Rileys Mommy says
after watching tlc extreme couponing my jaw literally hit the floor. i said literally out loud are you kidding me ! since then i went and had to find out how these women do this. seriously i just had a baby and i want to be a stay at home mom and with the economy the way it is maybe i can learn how to extreme coupon myself or atleast learn how to save money. everytime i go into the store and spend my usual $100 I FEEL LIKE I AM JUST GIVING MY MONEY AWAY !!!! THANKS FOR THE TIPS !!!
I am trying to figure out how you use numerous coupons for the same item. Cause a lot of the coupons I see say one coupon per item. Can ou help me, please? I am just starting, so trying to get the swing of things, lol!
Ok, now I have a reason to leave my Cricut machine alone. After watching Extreme Couponing I’m hooked. My family is struggling like others and this may be our saviour. I can’t wait to get started. Thank you for your informative website. We have four active duty military families on our street and helping them with there groceries may be what my family can do to help them for all they do. Thank You again!
Hi – we have a photocopier in our home. If I print one set coupons from a coupon site, can I just make photocopies of them or do I have to print only 2 sets from each computer? (I was wondering if there was a special code on these printable coupons that would deny, at the register, me using more than 2 of the same code. Does this make sense?
Jinxy and Me says
Hi, Karen. No – you can’t make photocopies of the coupons. They are printed with special bar codes and only 2 are allowed per computer. You might actually get away with it at some cash registers, but it would be considered coupon fraud and you do NOT want to commit that!
Jinxy and Me says
Traci – Thanks so much for your comment. It is so nice that you are not only helping your own family, but others as well!
I watched TLC Extreme couponing not to long ago and am a little confused on a subject and would like to ask a question. All the items these people seem to be purchasing seem like bulk items that you do not use on a daily base. Like…toothpaste, soap, deodorant, laundry detergent, ect. I know that this saves you some money, but how is it that you never really see them buy food? Ya they purchase “snacks” but not meals. So do you still have to purchase your regular grocery list? I have always made a list for my grocery and label food for one and miscellaneous for not food products but I do it on a day by day bases. For example:
Breakfast: Need cereal
Dinner: Lasagna with broccoli
And then I write all the ingredients that I need for those meals.
Then I have my Misc. list:
I hope I am making sense, but I want to know if you can do this same extreme couponing with day by day meals, or is it just for products that are meant to be on a shelf for a long time?
Jinxy and Me says
Hi, Shurena. I’ll try to answer your questions. One of the keys with couponing is to build your meals around what you can buy very cheaply combining your coupons with that week’s store deals. So, rather than saying at the beginning of the week we want to have chicken on Monday, chili on Tuesday and fish sticks on Wednesday and going to the store to buy those things, you buy instead whatever is on sale that week for the lowest prices and stock up, repeating every week so that you are stocking up on different items. Then when you plan your meals, you plan them to use up what you have already purchased in the past or else using what is on sale that particular week.
Does that help explain it? If not, let me know and I’ll try to elaborate more…
Yes like katrina I would also like to know how you use numerous coupons for the same item. Cause a lot of the coupons I see say one coupon per item.
On extreme cuponing I see that they use more than one cupon per item how is that possible, or is their any trick to it?
Jinxy and Me says
A lot of people are confused by the “one coupon per item”. As an example, if you buy 4 tubes of toothpaste, each of those is an item, so 4 items all together. So, if you have 4 toothpaste coupons, you can use one coupon for each of those items, for a total of 4 coupons. Some stores do set specific limits as to the amount of duplicate coupons you can use, so be sure to check your local store policies before planning any big shopping trips.
lisa tallwood says
I don’t understand how this works. I have coupons for pizza. Save 1.00 on four when you buy four packages. Do I use four coupons. or just one. . And I get confuse . Their is a lot of coupons I Have that are like that, and would like to know if they are worth using..and some that say one coupon per purchase. Do I just get one or more. buy 3 and packs and 3.00 off I want to start but its confussing. I have some sisters that do couponin they get a lot of things. and I would like to do starte.
If it says “Save $1 on 4” then you would need to buy 4 packages and end up saving a total of $1. You could buy 8 packages and use TWO of the coupons that each say “Save $1 on 4” and end up saving a total of $2. The statement “one coupon per purchase” means that you can’t use two different coupons on the same package. For example, if you purchase only one package of cookies, you can only use one coupon on it – NOT two coupons on that one cookie purchase. If you buy TWO package of cookies, then that is TWO purchases and you can use two coupons. I hope that makes sense!