How to and Free Resources to Learn How to Coupon

Just about everyone knows that coupons are a basic tool to help people save money. You've probably also heard about people who have saved jaw-dropping amounts of money using coupons, buying carts full of groceries and other products while paying just a few dollars. You may not reach that level of couponing skill and determination overnight, but anyone can get started learning how to use coupons to save money.

What Is Couponing, and How Does it Work?

Couponing is the simple act of using coupons to get discounts on things that you buy. Usually, people cut out coupons from newspapers, magazines, and flyers, but you can also print them out from the Internet. You can also find coupon codes online that you can use when you order things from online retailers. The idea behind coupons is that a store or the maker of a product will give you a discount for shopping with them in the hopes that you'll keep shopping at that store or buying that company's products in the future.

How to Get Started Couponing and Save Money

It's not hard to use coupons, but you'll need to put in some effort to find good coupons and to keep them organized. Remember to include both printed and digital resources to put together your coupon stash.

Step 1: Find and Collect Coupons

There are a lot of places where you can find printed paper coupons. Often, coupons are inserted inside Sunday newspapers or magazines. If you want to get serious about couponing, subscribe to more than one Sunday newspaper. You should also look at the websites of the companies that supply printed coupons; among the biggest of these are SmartSource and Red Plum. These companies may have even more coupons on their websites.

You should also make sure to check out any coupons that your favorite stores have. Some retailers offer in-store machines that will print out coupons for you. Some stores have loyalty programs or apps that offer coupons. And when you buy things, some stores will print out coupons for you along with your receipt.

Step 2: Get a Binder and Get Organized

All of those coupons you've collected will be no good if you can't find them when you need them. You'll need to find a way to keep them organized. Lots of people use a three-ring binder for this. The clear plastic sheets collectors use to hold baseball cards are also great for holding and organizing coupons. You can sort your coupons into different sections, like "snacks," "soups," "baking supplies," "cleaning products," and the like, so they're easy to find when you need them. Some people also use a coupon organizer, a small organizer that looks a bit like a wallet, to store their coupons, although you'll quickly outgrow this option if you intend to get really serious about couponing.

Step 3: Only Buy What You Need

One of the most important rules of couponing is that it doesn't matter how much of a discount you can get on a product if the product will go to waste. Always buy things that you know you'll be able to use. Don't get so caught up in how much you can save that you end up throwing away food because you can't eat it all before it goes bad. The same goes for non-food items: You may be able to fill up an entire room with discounted paper towels, for example, but is it really worth it to sacrifice the use of that room?

Step 4: Don't Limit Yourself to One Store

You may love the grocery store closest to your house, but if you want to save the most money, you might sometimes need to go elsewhere. Extreme couponers often split their shopping runs between multiple stores, seeking out and taking advantage of the best deals at each. Take advantage of store loyalty programs, but sign up for them at every store, not just the one you like most. Of course, you'll also need to factor in the cost of gas when you're planning your shopping strategy: It may not be worth it to drive across town or farther to save on a handful of items if you'll use up a lot of gas getting there and back. Whenever you can, combine shopping trips to stores in a particular area to maximize your savings.

Step 5: Keep Track of Your Results

Hang onto your receipts, and use a spreadsheet to track how much you've spent and how much you've saved. Over time, you'll be able to get a better idea of the types of coupons you use most and the stores that have the best deals.

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CouponFollow Team
CouponFollow Team
The CouponFollow content team produces content about top savings hacks, frugal tips, and in-depth research about the coupon industry.