You’ve no doubt seen and heard the stories about shoppers who are able to bring their grocery bill down to practically nothing. While it’s fun to watch these savvy consumers pull off fantastic feats of couponing, it’s not a realistic game plan for the normal shopper.
Still, using coupons is a great way to avoid paying full price on items you and your family need, especially when you combine these coupons with sale prices and really see the savings pile up.
If you’re asking yourself where to find coupons, there’s good news – coupons are everywhere!
Best Ways to Get Coupons
Whether you’re shopping for groceries or for anything else your family needs, here are the eleven best ways to get coupons to help you save on these essentials.
1. Sunday Newspaper
The most popular way that shoppers find coupons, especially for groceries and household items, is through the Sunday coupon inserts. These are found along with the weekly ads in each Sunday’s newspaper and include manufacturer coupons that can be clipped and used at the register to save at the time of purchase.
Included inserts vary by week, but the “big three” companies to compile these inserts are P&G (Procter & Gamble), RetailMeNot, and SmartSource.
Even if you don’t subscribe to the Sunday newspaper or pick one up at the newsstand, you may still get these coupon inserts send to your home in a mid-week mailer along with local ads; it just depends on the area in which you live and the stores available near you.
Usually the coupons in these inserts don’t expire for several weeks or even months, so you can collect your inserts over time and allow your coupon stash to grow. You can, of course, purchase the Sunday newspaper each week to get your inserts, but also consider asking friends, family members, and neighbors if they will save their inserts for you.
If you really want to build up your stash, consider checking with your local recycling center, schools, coffee shops, fast food restaurants, hotels, libraries, etc. to see if they will give you their coupon inserts from the Sunday newspapers they have on hand. It doesn’t hurt to ask!
2. Weekly Grocery Store Ads
As you’re looking through your Sunday newspaper or mid-week mailer to find coupon inserts, be sure to look at the weekly grocery store ads for coupons. You’ll typically find a lot of store coupons that can usually be stacked with manufacturer coupons (like the ones you get in the inserts) for even more savings.
Plus, looking through the ad will give you a better sense of what you can stock up on during a particular week and which coupons from your stash will help you save on the weekly sale prices.
3. Online Printable Coupons
Lots of coupons are just a click away when you have a printer at the ready. Browse websites like Coupons.com, PGEveryday.com, RetailMeNot.com, and SmartSource.com to supplement your coupon collection with many of the same coupons that you might find in the Sunday coupon inserts, plus additional high value coupons that are only available online.
It’s also helpful to check the manufacturer’s website for coupons. If you’ve found a new product that you absolutely love, do a quick search of the manufacturer’s website to see if they have any special offers like printable coupons or free samples available to request.
4. Digital Coupons
Printed manufacturer coupons are still very popular, but digital coupons are gaining traction every day. Coupons.com, PGEveryday.com, and SmartSource.com have digital coupons that can be loaded directly to your store’s loyalty card for money off at the time of purchase – no clipping required!
It’s easy to see why digital coupons are gaining in popularity. Who has time for all of that clipping? Plus, the digital coupons allow manufacturers to limit how many coupons can be used by the consumer and more easily reimburse the store for the coupons redeemed.
The websites mentioned above are helpful for finding some digital coupons, but if you really want to find the largest selection, visit your grocery store’s website to see all of the coupons – both store and manufacturer – that are currently available. Every time you shop, you should be able to find at least one coupon that applies to your purchase.
5. Coupon Apps
Going along with the digital theme, another good way to find coupons is by checking out some fantastic coupon apps. These either give you money off at the time of purchase, or your earned rebate offers accumulate in an account you can cash out later. Some favorites include:
Ibotta: Browse the list of offers available, shop, and upload a photo of your receipt to see the savings build up in a cashback account. Save on everything from body wash to laundry detergent to rotisserie chicken. Ibotta is a fun app to browse!
SavingStar: Similar to Coupons.com, SavingStar (available as an app and a website) loads offers to your store’s loyalty card, then gives you the savings after you purchase. It’s available via many store cards to help you save, or you can simply scan your receipt.
Checkout 51: This app is great for shoppers who live in the boonies and can’t find many coupons, much less coupons for a specific store. Most of Checkout 51’s offers can be redeemed at any store. Again, this is a cashback app, so you’ll see the savings pile up in your account rather than at the time of purchase.
6. At the Store
Once you’re shopping at the store, keep your eyes open as there are coupons everywhere. Manufacturers love to put coupons near or even attached to certain products to entice you to buy them. In the coupon world, these are called “blinkies,” “peelies,” “hangtag,” or “tearpad” coupons (just so you know the lingo…they’re pretty self-explanatory).
Also be sure to check the coupons that print out with or on your receipt. These coupons are typically triggered by the purchases you make and will give you money off a particular product or even money off a future purchase at that store. Bottom line: before you toss ‘em, check ‘em!
7. Social Media
If you love a particular product or product line, check their social media pages and give them a follow to stay on top of any promotions or coupons they might be offering. Facebook is especially good for offering printable coupons and a heads-up on in-store promotions.
A tip: if you’re following a Facebook page so that you know when a company is offering deals or coupons, be sure that you are “following” the page (a.k.a. you haven’t just “liked” it) and that you’ve enabled notifications so you are alerted when a new top post goes up.
8. Mailing Lists
If you sign up for a store’s loyalty program, be sure that you include your mailing address as oftentimes stores will mail you exclusive coupons once they have you on the list (paired with ads, of course, but hey – coupons!).
This goes beyond postal mail, too – sign up for a company’s email newsletter or text alerts list to receive coupons that you may not be able to find elsewhere.
If you’re going the email route, it may behoove you to use an alternate email address so that your primary email inbox doesn’t get bogged down with marketing materials. Then you can set up an auto-forward to a specific folder that you can browse before you head to the store.
9. Inside Products and Packages
Before you toss a product’s packaging, check inside for coupons off your future purchase. This is especially typical for products that require you to purchase refills (razors, disposable cleaners, etc.).
If you’ve ordered a free sample, there will often be at least one coupon inside to help you save on the full-size purchase. MySavings.com has a great list of free sample offers that is updated regularly. Besides getting the goodies, you’ll probably get some coupons!
You also may find coupons stuffed inside packages that you’ve ordered from an online retailer. Bottom line: take the ten seconds to check out the packaging before you toss it in the trash.
It’s true that printed magazines aren’t as popular as they used to be, but they can still be a great source for coupons. Parenting magazines like Parents and Working Mother typically contain coupons for products like diapers or stores like The Children’s Place. You may be able to find household product coupons in magazines like Good Housekeeping or Real Simple. And don’t forget to check Cosmopolitan and Allure for coupons on makeup and other beauty products. There’s no guarantee that they’ll be included, but it’s worth a look.
11. Contact the Manufacturer
If you really, really love a product, write the manufacturer and tell them! Everyone enjoys positive feedback, and they may send you product coupons as a thank you. You can specifically ask for coupons, if you wish, but others have found success just by writing and saying thanks for making a stellar product. There’s a great 5 A Day Challenge that helps you plan out how and when to contact companies and see where it leads.
This can go the other way, of course, too – if you had a problem with a particular product, let the company know (nicely) and ask if there’s anything that can be done to make your experience a more positive one.
3 Tips for Using Coupons
So now you’ve got this lovely collection of coupons…how do you plan to use them? Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you start on your couponing journey:
1. Remember the purpose of coupons.
Coupons are a marketing tool. They are intended to compel you to spend your hard-earned cash on something you might not otherwise purchase. Maybe the manufacturer wants you to try out a brand-new product, and so they offer a high-value coupon for it. And then you fall in love with the product and use it forever and ever. That’s not necessarily a bad thing.
But when you take a step back and realize how much you’re spending to get the savings with coupons, you might be shocked. Sure, you got back from the grocery store and saved $60 on your purchase, but you had to spend $100 to use all those coupons. What if you had just bought what you needed and only spent, say, $80? Be sure to look at the bottom line: your total at checkout.
2. Limit your coupon use to items you actually need and regularly use.
There are so many coupons out there that you might be tempted to clip all of them, but this is a waste of your time. Look through the coupon inserts, printable coupons, and apps with a discerning eye and ask yourself, “Is this something my family and I already use?”
If the answer is yes, go ahead and clip the coupon! If the answer is no, you can still clip the coupon if it’s for a product you’ve been thinking about trying. Otherwise just toss it – it’s not worth the hassle to keep it organized and you might just end up buying something that clutters up your living space.
3. Stack the coupons with sale prices.
The most effective way to use coupons is to “stack” the savings on top of sale prices. It’s most important to shop sales first, and then use any applicable coupons to knock some extra money off your total.
For example, say the full price of a box of cereal is $3 and you have a 50¢ coupon. If you use the coupon when the cereal is at full price, you’ll pay $2.50. But if you wait a week or two for a sale, you might see the price drop to $2, and then you can use the coupon to pay just $1.50 a box. Score!
How to Organize Your Coupons
To most effectively use coupons, you’ll need to make sure you’re keeping them organized. After all, what’s the point of clipping them if you can’t find them when you need them?! It’s frustrating to get to the store, see a sale on one of your favorite products, and remember that you clipped a coupon for it once upon a time but you don’t know where it is. Here are some different ways you can organize your coupons:
1. Coupon Binder
This is the method of choice for hard-core couponers because you can bring all of your coupons with you wherever you go. You’ll clip your coupons, then file them either by category or alphabetically in baseball trading card size holders inside a zip-up binder. Be sure to remove expired coupons regularly so you don’t get overwhelmed with the amount of coupons you have.
2. Full Insert Method
Instead of clipping individual coupons from the Sunday coupon inserts, just write the date you received them on the front and then file them away. Hanging file folders in a crate is a nice way to keep everything separated. Then before you shop, consult an online grocery coupon database like Coupon Tom to search for coupons for the items you want to buy. Then you just need to clip the coupons from those particular inserts instead of every single coupon.
3. Coupon Box
This is a variation of the coupon binder method, except you store coupons in envelopes by category inside of a plastic box instead of having all of the coupons on display. It’s helpful if you just want to buy, say, toilet paper – pull out your paper products envelope and see what coupons you have available for the items on sale. It’s a more discreet way to use coupons in the store.
4. Store Binder
Another option is to take all of the coupons you plan to use each week and file them by the store where you plan to use them. This is especially helpful as a way to keep track of store coupons that print at the register or are located in the weekly ad. Savvy shoppers who have some time on their hands know that the best deals are usually found at multiple stores each week. A small expandable coupon binder easily fits inside your purse or handbag to keep your favorite coupons at the ready.
5. Expandable Folders
The methods above are best for grocery store coupons, but what about restaurant, gas station, or store coupons? These are best kept in your vehicle or wherever they’re easily accessible when you’re out and about. Keep them in a small expandable folder organized alphabetically or by category.
For more information, read our post on How to Use Coupons: Keeping Your Coupons Organized.
While you may not be on the level of an extreme couponer yet, you can be well on your way to building up a significant stash of coupons. Just keep your eyes open for them – they’re all around!
What are your favorite ways to find coupons? Please comment below to share your experience!