Couponing can be overwhelming but I promise you it isn’t difficult to do. Here’s a 5-step guide on how to coupon to get you started. Don’t forget to check out My Free Ultimate Couponing Guide for more in-depth information and resources.
How to Coupon: A 5-Step Quick Guide
1. GET COUPONS – You ‘ll need coupons, of course!
- SUNDAY PAPER – You can purchase them at a Dollar Store, gas stations, grocery stores or subscribe to Sunday paper only.
- PRINTABLE COUPONS – These are print-at-home coupons. You can find those HERE or a list of sites HERE
- E-COUPONS – Some stores have them available when you log onto your account online
- MOBILE COUPONS – Coupons that are sent to you via text messaging service to your mobile phone.
Read How-to Read a Coupon and Where to Get Coupons posts for a more detailed information.
2. ORGANIZATION METHODS – Keep coupons together.
- MINI ACCORDION FILE – You can find these are Target Dollar Spot, Dollar Stores or office supply stores. They’re great to organize your coupons into separate categories.
- FILING METHOD – This method requires you to file whole inserts by date using file folders in a crate, filing cabinet ,etc. It takes literally minutes to organize your coupons.
- BINDER METHOD – You’ll need to clip the coupons and file them in a 3-ring binder using baseball card holders for this method. A very time consuming process but you can take your coupon binder with you when you go to the store.
- MINI BINDER – Same idea as the binder method but more travel friendly.
I recommend starting with the mini accordion file.
3. KNOW THE STORE POLICIES – Keep away from trouble.
- STORE POLICIES – Know your store coupon policies and guidelines! You can find those at the store websites or ask the store. Print and read them carefully. Here are some links: CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aid, Target.
- LOYALTY CARDS – Many stores require you to have a loyalty card to get the sale prices. Loyalty cards are FREE!
- DOUBLE COUPONS – Some stores may double the coupon value or some will take any value of coupon and raise to a certain value (ex. Fry’s grocery store will take a $0.20 value coupon and raise it to $1). This is done at the register. There’s no doubling in California.
- STACKING COUPONS – Many stores allow you to combine manufacturer’s coupons with store coupons for even more savings!
- PRINTABLE COUPONS – Be sure that your store accepts printable coupons and know the restrictions, if any.
- COMPETITOR COUPONS – Some stores accept other stores’ coupons.
- EXPIRED COUPONS – A very rare privilege, some stores accept expired coupons. Don’t hesitate to ask.
- PRICE MATCHING – This is done at the register or customer guest service depending on the store. Know your store’s price matching policy.
4. PLAN YOUR TRIP – Preparation is key.
- WEEKLY ADS – If you didn’t get weekly ads in the Sunday paper, you can find them on the store website. Here are the links: CVS, Walgreens, Target, Rite Aid
- COUPON MATCH UPS – Keep this magic formula while looking for deals:
I compile weekly free and cheap finds at CVS with deal breakdowns, HERE.
- MAKE A LIST – Create a list to help keep track of what you need to buy, what coupons to use and how much you are supposed to pay at the register (with or without tax calculated). You may have to modify this list accordingly when you’re at the store.
5. GOOD THINGS TO KNOW – Don’t start just yet.
- ONE PER PURCHASE – Most, if not all, coupons have this restriction stated on the fine print. This means you need to use 1 coupon per item you are purchasing. Some cashiers understands this as 1 coupon per transaction. This is to enforce that you’re not using 2 manufacturer coupons per item.
Look at the example coupon above. It states “Limit 1 coupon per purchase” but also states “Limit 4 like coupon per day.”
- 10/$10 – This means buy 10 for $10 which makes an item $1 each. You don’t always necessarily need to buy 10 to get the $1 price unless the sale sign says you must. Same goes for sales such as: 2/$5 (2 for $5), 2/$1 (2 for $1) etc.
- DEAL LIMITS – Many drugstores have limits on rewards that you get back. Be sure you are aware of this and read the weekly ad carefully.
- RAINCHECKS – If the item you want is out of stock you can get a raincheck. Staple the piece of the ad you got the raincheck for to your raincheck slip. CVS and Walgreens rainchecks NEVER expire! I love rainchecks! You can’t combine rainchecks that produce extrabucks with current sales with extrabucks.
- WATCH THE CASHIER – This is crucial especially when you are doing a big transaction. There have been times where a cashier missed a coupon, coupons didn’t scan properly or the item didn’t ring up on sale. Watch the cashier like a hawk, lol.
- CHECK YOUR RECEIPT – Before leaving the store, make sure all your coupons were scanned and everything rang up accordingly. Step 4 (planning your trip) should give you an idea of how much you are suppose to pay out of pocket at the register. If there is a problem, it’s easier to get it fixed right away rather than going back to the store days later.
So, that’s it! Start with small and easy transactions until you’re comfortable. I highly recommend starting with CVS first because they have the best customer service, easiest rewards program and a well-written coupon policy. This is based on my couponing experience at CVS – since 2009.
Don’t forget to check out My Free Ultimate Coupon Guide, too.