Saturday, June 12, 2010

Begin Couponing in 5 Easy Steps

My friend is thinking about getting into the couponing world and it's got me thinking about the process of learning how to use coupons. Now that I'm a mom, I approach this whole thing very differently than I did in the beginning, so I'd like to update my blog to reflect my new approach on coupon shopping. Here are the results:

Step 1: Get coupons
Either get a subscription to a newspaper (Sunday only, if you can), or commit to buying a paper every weekend when there are inserts. If you have options, choose the paper with the largest circulation, as it will contain more coupons. For example, if you live in the Greenville, NC area, get The News and Observer (Raleigh paper) instead of The Daily Reflector (Greenville paper).

Step 2: Get supplies
You need to establish a system for organizing your (whole) coupon inserts). I use a file box with 6-8 hanging file folders (one for each month). Another option is a 3-ring binder with large page protectors or folders (you'd probably want 1 per insert or 1 per week). Alternatively, magazine holders would work well too. Just use whatever you feel comfortable with or what you have around the house already. When you get your Sunday paper, take out the inserts and write the date on the top of each one. Then, file the whole insert in your folder or whatever you use to organize them (I use one hanging folder for each month). This way you can easily find an insert when you are ready to cut a coupon.

Step 3: Choose a store
Pick one store to start with so you can get the hang of using coupons and the store's policies. I recommend starting with a drug store (they tend to have something free just about every week). My favorite for newbies, and just in general, is CVS.

Step 4: Choose a source for your sale info
You'll want to find a way to learn about sales and promotions at your chosen store every week. The best places will also do coupon match-ups for you (where they tell you which coupons are available for sale items). I recommend a blog like my own or,,, etc. Find a site that is easy to navigate and that won't overload you with too much information. You want to be able to find what you need quickly and easily. A blog that provides coupon match-ups (most do) will tell you which insert the coupon comes from. They will usually look like this: 6/6 SS (June 6th Smart Source), 6/6 RP (June 6th Red Plum - may also be listed as 6/6 V, for Valassis), or 6/6 PG (June 6th Proctor and Gamble). Red Plum and Smart Source usually have an insert in every Sunday paper. Proctor and Gamble usually publish an insert on the first Sunday of each month.

Step 5: Start Shopping!
Go to your chosen info site/blog and find out what is cheap/free at your chosen store this week. Pick a couple of things to buy that you would normally use, especially if they will generate rebates. I highly recommend trying the $5 CVS Challenge (there is a link to the left side of the page on my blog). Every week there are scenarios in which you spend $5 and you'll get back $5 or more in ECBs (CVS's in store rebates).

Once you've gotten your feet wet, try reading my posts under "Couponing 101," which you can find at the bottom of the screen on this blog. There you can learn more about how coupons work, how to combine them for the greatest savings, and how each of the drug stores' coupon and rebate policies work.

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A Random Thought

If you wouldn't have bought it to begin with, you didn't save money on it!

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