Self-Taught: Get some newspapers/inserts and dig in! Follow Facebook groups and blogs (like this one), clip coupons and scour ads, and RESEARCH, RESEARCH, RESEARCH! Figure out how you want to organize your coupons (see below). Start small...such as with one store. All stores have their own policies, rewards programs, etc. Learning the ropes at one store will help when you want to move on to another store. Trying to learn too many stores at once will likely confuse you. Another piece of advice: there is no need to "chase deals" all over town. This will lead to burnout. The same deals come along on a regular basis. No need to run to WalMart 7 times in one week just to try to find that one freebie.
Hands-On: Still having trouble grasping the concepts? Many commuties offer coupon classes. You can also try to find a "coupon buddy" in your area who will bring you on a shopping trip or two so you can shadow the deals.
There are several ways to get coupons:
Sunday Newspaper inserts
Typically the Sunday newspaper comes with at least one insert of coupons. (Some Sundays around certain holidays do not have any inserts...always check before you buy!). In your paper, there may be a SmartSource (SS), RedPlum (RP), and/or Proctor & Gamble (P&G).
- You can purchase your newspapers at most grocery and/or convenience stores
- Some Dollar Tree locations sell newspapers (get there early!)
- Local and Online Sellers (full inserts and clipped coupons)
- Ask family and friends who get the newspaper if you can have their unused coupons
- Some libraries will have a box with inserts in it that you can clip what you want
- NOTE: Insert coupons vary by newspaper and by region
Online coupon printing sites
- www.smartqponclips.com (coupons.com printing center)
- Sending emails/letters to companies, commenting on their products, asking for coupons
- Buying/Selling/Trading with other couponers
- Use a coupon database to find out where a particular coupon is
Organizing Your Coupons
This is one of those things that you will have to figure out what works for you.
Clip all your coupons every week and keep them in a binder, divided by product type, typically slipped into baseball card protection sleeves. The benefit of this method is that you are better prepared for clearance finds and sales.
CLICK HERE for an article I wrote about the binder I use and how I keep it organized!
Keep all your inserts intact, filed by date, only clipping the ones you KNOW you will use, and then clipping specific coupons when a known deal comes along. The benefit of this method is you don't spend nearly as much time organizing your coupons.
www.smartqponclips.com - all the late deals for all your favorite stores!
www.iheartcvs.com - preview upcoming and current CVS ads
www.iheartwags.com - preview upcoming and current Walgreens ads
www.iheartriteaid.com - preview upcoming and current Rite Aid ads
BOGO coupons and BOGO sales
Most stores allow you to use a man-q on each item in a BOGO sale. So if your store is selling an item BOGO, and you get two items, you can use two coupons - one for each item.
If you have a BOGO coupon, that coupon attaches itself to both items. Per the coupon, you are required to purchase two items in order to use the coupon. So that coupon is attached to both items; therefore, no additional man-q's can be used on those two items. There are a few blogs out there that condone and encourage use of additional man-q's when you are already using a BOGO q. This is unethical and it constitutes fraud, as this is NOT proper use of the coupons, per the manufactuturer who puts the coupon out and PAYS the merchant for the coupon. This group does not condone this type of misuse.
What if you have a BOGO coupon and the store is having a BOGO sale? This can be very confusing.
- To maximize savings, find the lowest number that the two sales have in common and buy that many items (may need mulitple coupons). For example, if the store is having a B2G1 sale and you have a B1G1 coupon, you will maximize savings by purchasing SIX items (since the sale requires multiples of TWO and the q requires multiples of THREE)...you will need 3 coupons, and you will only pay for ONE of the six items.
- Once you figure out how many items you are going to purchase, first figure out how much the store is going to charge you for those items. (Example: store is having a B2G1 sale, price is $2.50; if you buy six, the store is going to charge you $10). THEN, deduct the value of your coupons. (Example: you have 3 B1G1 coupons...so deduct $7.50 from that total, since each q is worth $2.50; final price $2.50 for 6 items). This method can be used for every BOGO scenario.
Many grocery stores will double manufacturer coupons.
What does this mean? This means that they take the face value of your coupon and "double" ones that have a value at or under a certain amount. For example, if the store "doubles coupons up to and including $.50", then any coupon you have that is $.50 or under will be worth twice that amount. Coupons over $.50 will be at face value.
- Tops Markets - doubles up to and including $.99 (occasionally they offer doubles on $1 coupons - but only during certain weeks)
- Wegmans - doubles up to and including $.99
Glossary of Terms
$/$$ - Purchase-based coupons (you must spend a certain amount to use the q)
$1/1 - $1 off 1 product
$1/2 - $1 off 2 products
Blinkie - A coupon found in store, usually attached to the shelf, inside a box that usually has a blinking light on it, and you can only pull one coupon out at a time
BOGO - Buy One Get One Free
B2G1 - Buy Two, Get One Free
BR - Balance Rewards (rewards at Walgreens)
CRT - "Cash Register Tape" - term used to refer to store coupons from CVS that print from their coupon center when you scan your card
CTC - Click to Card coupon (Tops)
DD - Double Dip (when purchasing an item gets you two or more rewards); can also mean Dead Deal
ECB - Extra Care Bucks (rewards at CVS)
Exp - Expiration Date
L2C - Link to Card coupon (Rite Aid)
MQ, Man-Q - Manufacturer's Coupon
NLA - No Longer Available
OOP - Out of Pocket
ONYO - On Your Next Order
P&G - Proctor & Gamble (coupon insert name - comes out on the last Sunday of the month)
Peelie - A coupon found attached to a product in store
PP - Plenti Points (rewards at Rite Aid)
Q - Coupon
RA - Rite Aid
RP - RedPlum (coupon insert name)
RR - Register Rewards (rewards at Walgreens)
SS - SmartSource (coupon insert name)
SQ - Store Coupon
Tearpad - a pad of coupons found in store, usually on a display of the product
TQ - Target Coupon
Wags - Walgreens
WYB - When You Buy
WYS - When You Spend
Couponing for Beginners:
- Couponing at CVS 101 click here
- Couponing at Target 101 click here
- Couponing at Walgreens 101 click here
- Couponing at Rite Aid 101 click here
Post by Kim Meroney