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…..