Beginner's Guide

Couponing 101
How do I use coupons?
The strategy in using coupons involves matching up store sales with available coupons and other offers (rebates, etc.)  to get the lowest price possible, and then stock up on low priced or free items. The goal for the average household is to slash your grocery bill by 30 to 50%.

You HAVE time to clip coupons!
One recent survey showed that people who spend 10 minutes or less per week clipping coupons save an average of $7 off their weekly grocery bill. That’s like earning $42 per hour. (Resource:
Set a budget. Look at what you are spending on groceries and try and set a reasonable goal. It isn’t always about what you save, but what you spend! Set goals and be realistic.
You may use one coupon per indicated items purchased. If you have two coupons to save $1 on one bag of chips, you can buy two bags and use both coupons. 
 You may not use two coupons on one item. Most coupons say, ‘one coupon per purchase’. You may not buy one box of cereal and use ten coupons on it. (Stacking with a store coupon may be allowed and will be discussed later).
 Coupons may not be copied. Making copies of coupons is illegal. There are many ways to get multiple coupons.
 Read the details of the coupon. Manufacturer’s usually put a picture of their most expensive product on the coupon to make you think that is what you have to buy. Ignore the picture! The wording on the coupon is what matters. Many times coupon will say ‘on any ‘product’ size.’
You can use a coupon on an item that is on sale or clearance too! Occasionally I will have a store clerk tell me otherwise, but it is usually cleared up with a chat with a manager or a call to corporate.

Where do I get coupons?
Sunday Newspaper.The Sunday paper carries inserts of coupons and it is the most reliable source. They provide savings over a broad range of items. The Charlotte Observer is the best option in our area. For a list of upcoming inserts check out
o   Red Plum (RP) and Smart Source (SS)
o   Procter and Gamble (P&G)
§  Typically once a month
o   General Mills (GM)
§  Quarterly
o   Other inserts
§  Rare
Online Coupons. Manufacture coupons are available for                   

**you are usually able to print each coupon twice (per computer) after printing your coupons hit back space and then refresh to print another set.

Store Websites. Store websites are loaded with coupons. Check out Harris Teeter, Target, Food Lion, Bloom, Kmart, Bi-Lo.

Product Websites. Many products you use have websites that offer coupons. Many even update their coupons monthly! Some of our favorites: Kraft, Kellogg’s, Campbell’s, Green Giant, Nestle, Butterball, Proctor and Gamble.

Facebook. Companies often offer coupons to their fans. Be sure to ‘like’ companies on Facebook to get coupons and updates.

Free Sample.  Sign up for free samples! Not only is it a great way to try new products, but many samples come with coupons!

In Store Coupons. Pamphlets, brochures, peelies (found on products in store), blinkies (machines in store that you pull coupons from), hangtags (coupon tags found around the neck of an item).

Clip Free/ E-Coupons. These coupons are loaded to your store value cards (ex. Harris Teeter, Rite Aid, Food Lion, etc.) Check your store websites for details. Also check out to learn about coupon savings that can be applied to college funds.

Writing Companies. Send your favorite companies a quick email telling them why you love their products, or if you have a bad experience with a product. They love to hear from their consumers! Often times they will send you high value coupons in return.

Magazines. Magazines can often times have great coupons in them. There is one magazine that is geared toward saving called ALL YOU. ALL YOU Magazine contains over 30 coupons every month!
Clipping Services/Online Auctions/Coupon Trains:                

How do I get started?
Develop a system for organizing and collecting your coupons. Whether you choose to use a coupon binder, accordion file pouch, or file box it is important to stay organized!
Create an email account. It is beneficial to set up a separate email account to use for all coupon sites you decided to register on. This way your primary email account doesn’t become overwhelmed.

Change your way of thinking.  Store brands are no longer cheaper! Most times once you combine a sale with a coupon your price for name brand items is significantly less. Learn not to be brand loyal, if you are willing to try a different cereal or shampoo you will find deals more often and pay much less!
Learn to use coupon deal sites. There are literally thousands of websites out there! Many of these sites give you all the deals and coupon resources you need for FREE. Most offer matchups with coupons and sale ads. Most of the work this way is done for you!    
Know when sales begin and end. All grocery stores in our area run sales from Wednesday to Tuesday and our drugs stores run sales Sunday to Saturday. Most stores release a sales flier highlighting the best deals.

Other Super Tips:
Rain Checks. So you get to the store to get a deal and they are all out of stock, and the sale on the item is ending. No worries! Under most circumstances stores offer rain checks on unavailable items. Get them! Most times these rain checks don’t have an expiration date.
Rebates. Rebates are a great way to save money. Many companies want you to try new products and are willing to give you your money back to do so! Many rebates even allow you to use a coupon, just another way to maximize your savings.
Be willing to buy a product you don’t need or want. This may sound confusing, but there are many deals that you will benefit more from by buying certain products. We are not suggesting you buy items you don’t need, but some deals will benefit you more in the end. And you can always donate or give away items you personally don’t need.
Learn your store’s policies. Each store has their own rules and policies to coupons. Make sure you understand their policies. Print out their policies and keep them with you when you shop. That way you can maximize your savings. Some examples include stacking coupons. Often stores will allow you to use a manufacture and store coupon on one item.
Learn the cycle. Coupons and deals run in cycles. You will see things reappear about every six to eight weeks. If you miss a deal it is ok! You will likely see it again, or something similar soon. There will always be deals!

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