So with all the websites, books, and guide out there about couponing, where do you start? It can be overwhelming to start but don’t stress yourself out. Take small steps to get where you want. You may not have time to do 10 trips to CVS a week or drive out of town to go to the grocery once a week. However, even if you take small steps to save money, in the long run, it all adds up to more $$$$ in your pocket.
Don’t worry if you miss a great deal because there is always another great deal right around the corner!!!
A few important steps that you don’t want to skip are:
1. Buying/Obtaining the Sunday newspaper. These have your best coupon inserts in them. You should start out buying at least one newspaper a week. You may find that you eventually want to buy a couple of newspapers a week to buy multiple items of good deals. (AKA stockpiling) You will save money if you suscribe to a newspaper instead of buying it on a newstand. Click HERE to get a discounted subscription to your newspaper.
For my Central Indiana people, I highly recommend subscribing to the Indianapolis Star. They have the widest variety of coupons. The Kokomo Tribune has coupons but they do not have the widest selection of weekly coupons because the market share for the KT isn’t as large as the Indy Star. You will get the most bang from your buck from the Indy Star. There are other ways to get multiple coupon inserts, which is discussed a little further down the page.
There are 3 major coupon insert companies. They are Red Plum (RP), SmartSource (SS), and Proctor & Gamble (P&G). Occasionally there will be a Kellogg’s Insert (KG) or a General Mills Insert (GM). You will be seeing these abbreviations in the deals section.
There are also more unsavory methods of obtaining coupons – IE trash/recyclables digging. Do what you feel comfortable with. You can also ask your friends/family for inserts they don’t use. I like to reward the people who give me their coupons with some of my freebies I buy with those coupons.
Another method of obtaining coupons, is to buy them from clipper service. I’ve never used these before as I can’t pre-plan that far out. You have to order several days before you know you will need them. I’ve been told that the below Clipper Service is a reputable one to use:
I have bought entire inserts from Ebay before. (I’ve bought from Erik’s General Store several times and had a good experience with them.)
There are also many online coupons you can get. I have found that you usually get your best coupons from home mailers or from Sunday paper inserts. You also have to make sure that your store will accept internet coupons – most will. Marsh and CVS in Tipton will both accept internet coupons. Marsh will accept certain internet coupons. Click on the banner below to have instant access to many, many, internet coupons.
2. Organizing. This depends on personal preference. I’ve done it a couple of ways. I’ve clipped and then filed my coupons in a binder each week. I’ve found that consumes too much of my time each week and then I clip coupons that I never use. I get behind on doing this and it just stresses me out. Yes, I will lose out on deals because I don’t carry all my coupons with me when I shop. However, I save my sanity by not clipping them each week. Instead I use a plastic box with file folders labeled for each week, ex. RP 5/5. I then pull the insert and clip the coupon I need for the week. The disadvantage to this is I have to find the insert and spend time clipping them right before I leave to do my shopping. Requires more pre-planning on my part. I have found I like this method the best. Your personal preference may be different depending on various factors. Do what you prefer. I will always list my deals by the insert type and date of the insert. If you want to search what coupons are available try the Taylor Town Preview.
3. Stores Deciding which stores you want to shop at and understanding their coupon policies, shopping days, etc. My main focus on this website is local stores in the Central Indiana Area. Specifically CVS and Marsh Supermarkets.
CVS ads run Sunday to Saturday. See CVS Intro for more information.
Marsh ads run Thursday to Wednesday. See Marsh Intro for more information.
4. Stockpiling Basics. To get the best bang for your buck, you need to know when to use your coupon. Coupons can save you thousands of dollar is you use them correctly. You don’t want to just use a coupon for products you will never use just because you have a coupon (unless you are getting it free!!!) You want to wait until that item goes on sale and then use your coupon to maximize your savings. Then stock up on these rock bottom sales so you don’t have to buy these items until the next sale. For example, I never buy cereal unless it is on sale for $1.89 or less and then I pair it with a coupon worth .50…so I never pay more than $1.40 or so for a box of cereal. Sometimes less, depending on the brand and the deal that is going on. We usually have 12 boxes or so of cereal stockpiled. My family freaks if we get too low on cereal so its something we always have to have on hand.
5. Abbreviations & Coupon Terminology
BLINKIES = In Store Smart Source Coupons
BOGO/B1G1 = Buy One Get One
CATALINA = Coupon printed at register after purchased
CNP = Coupon Near Product (similar to BLINKIES)
CRT = Customer Receipt Tape (CVS receipt coupons)
DND = Do not Double (Some coupons have this lang)
DOUBLE COUPON = Coupon that grocery store doubles in value
EB/ECB = ExtraCare Bucks (CVS)
ES = Easy Saver (Walgreens)
FAR = Free After Rebate
FIC = Fresh Idea Card (Marsh)
GM = General Mills (Newspaper insert)
K = Kellogg’s (Newspaper Insert)
MIR = Mail in Rebate
OOP = Out of Pocket
P&G = Proctor & Gamble (Newspaper Insert)
Peelie = Coupon you peel off package
RP= Red Plum (Newspaper Insert)
RR = Rebate Rewards (Walgreens)
SS= Smart Source (Newspaper Insert)
STACKING = Using stores allow multiple use of coupons – manufacturer’s & store coupons or rebates.
TEAR PAD = A pad of coupons or MIR near a product or on display
WYB= When You Buy
YMMV = Your Mileage May Vary (Depends on certain store policies/factors whether the deal will work.)
6. Know Thy Coupon. In case you run into any problems with your coupons, KNOW what all the “official” language on it means.
One Coupon per Purchase
If you buy one bottle of shampoo, you can use one manufacturer’s coupon for that bottle. If you have additional coupons, you have to buy another item to be able to use that coupon. You are not allowed to use two manufacturer’s coupon per item. So if you had 10 coupons and 10 coupons, this is allowed. I used to think this meant I could only use one coupon per transaction. How far I’ve come! J (You can still use (1) manufacturer’s coupon and (1) store coupon at most stores.)
One Coupon per Item Purchased
This is the same as one coupon per purchase but with better language specifically stating one coupon per item purchased.
One Coupon per Customer/Family
This is rare but I have noticed this on some internet coupons or a big coupon like $5/20 purchase. The way around this is to make multiple transactions (if store allows) or multiple trips. YMMV on these types of coupons.
One Coupon per Transaction
You are only allowed one coupon for this item for each transaction. This is to try to limit how many you purchase in a transaction. So, just make a few transactions whether in one trip or multiple trips to get around this.