1. First, you need to start getting coupons. So where do you get coupons? There are so many ways to obtain coupons.
-Newspaper Inserts: These can be found in the Sunday Newspaper and include Smart Source (SS), Red Plum (RP), Proctor & Gamble (P&G) ~about once a month, and on occasion General Mills (GM) and Pepsico Moments to Save. They mainly consist of manufacturer's coupons and regional variations do apply. Some may get more or less depending on location and there may also be differences in coupon content.
-Internet Printables: There are coupon printing websites like www.coupons.com, www.smartsource.com, and www.redplum.com. You are usually allowed two prints per coupon per computer. Manufacturer's websites and their Facebook pages are also great sources. Some might require you to register or sign up on their site but you will be in the know for future offers.
-On the Product: Some coupons may be located on the actual product. These are often referred to as peelies. Be sure to use coupon etiquette. Only take the coupon if you buy the product!
-Dispensers: Also known as blinkies, you can sometimes find these throughout the aisles in the grocery store. Again, use coupon etiquette. Only take a few.
-Magazines: All You is probably the best magazine source for coupons. Others include Woman's Day, Parade, Good Housekeeping, Family Circle, Parenting and the list goes on...
-Electronic Coupons: eCoupons are usually store specific and are to be loaded directly to your store loyalty card. These can only be used once and they do not double or triple. Stores like Harris Teeter and Bi-Lo will allow you to use paper coupons along with the ecoupon. Some stores will only allow you to use one or the other. Refer to the store's coupon policy or ask a manager or sales associate if you are unsure.
-Store Coupons and In-Ad Coupons: Stores such as Target have coupons that you can print online from their website. You may use 1 store coupon and 1 manufacturer coupon for an item. This is referred to as stacking. Also, stores like Walgreens and Rite-Aid will have coupons in their weekly circular ads. You may also use these in conjunction with manufacturer's coupons. You can also print store coupons for Rite-Aid from their website by watching videos. They are called Video Values.
2. Ok, so now you have coupons but what do you do with them? You now need to organize them. You will need to figure out what works best for YOU. I use a 3-ring binder and an accordion file box. Feeling creative? You can always create your own organizer to suit your needs.
-3-Ring Binder: I want to first start off telling you that this method can be very time consuming but a lot of people like the end result. You will need a 3-ring binder, preferably one that zips, tab dividers, and baseball card protector sheets. Make categories on your tabbed dividers. You can keep it simple or get as detailed as you would like. Now clip your coupons and organize accordingly. Some coupons will fit very nicely into the pockets while others not so much. You may start to feel like you are taking up Origami when trying to fit some of those coupons in the pockets.
-Accordion File Box: Using a permanent marker, write the date on the front of your inserts and file the whole insert in the file box. When you run out of room in the box, just replace the oldest inserts with the new ones. Be sure to clip any coupons from the old inserts that have yet to expire. Coupon match up sites will tell you the source and date of the needed coupon. You can then easily locate the insert and clip the needed coupon. With this method you are not spending time cutting coupons that may never be used. In conjunction with the file box I would use a smaller expanding wallet organizer to store any loose coupons that you have.
3. Now you need to figure our which stores you want to shop. In the beginning I would choose 1 or 2 stores and really get to know them. Know their coupon policy! Do they have a loyalty card? Do they have store coupons or ecoupons? Do they double manufacturer coupons? Do they accept internet coupons? Do they take competitors coupons? Do they price match? Do they offer promos like Super Doubles or Triples? Do they have a limit on the amount of coupons you can use per day? Do you need to get two items for the B1G1 deal or does the item ring up at half price? Know all these answers and more before you go shopping. Make sure you get their weekly circular. Eventually you will get to know the store's sales cycle for items. The cycles can be anywhere from 6-12 weeks depending on your store and location. During an item's sale cycle, it will reach it's lowest price only once. This is when you want to buy this item and stock up! It is best to buy enough of that item to last you until the item reaches it's lowest price again. Don't go overboard, you don't want any items to go bad. Know your product prices and only buy when it is at it's lowest price. This alone will save you at least 40-50% on your groceries. You save even more when you pair that item with a manufacturer coupon and/or store coupon. Make a list as you go of the items you need and their "buy price". You should only buy these items when they are at that price or lower. If an item is out of stock you can always ask for a rain check. This entitles you to purchase that item for that sales price at a later date when they have restocked. When checking out, watch the cashier and register to make sure all discounts are coming off correctly and always check your receipt to make sure all looks correct.
4. You will need to start slowly. Effective couponing takes a little time, patience, and organization. You don't want to get overwhelmed. Know that building a stockpile takes a time. With each shopping trip, you will find that couponing gets easier and easier. At first you will more than likely see savings of around 40-50% but over time those savings can jump to 60-100%. Know what you use and purchase enough to last you until the item goes on sale again. If you happen to buy more than needed, you can always DONATE! I donate many items that I purchase especially if an item is free and I have no use for it or I already have plenty.
There are plenty of websites out there that do the math for you! They even tell you which coupons to use for that item. Just click on the items you want, print your list, and go shopping! Be careful though, sale items may vary. Always check to make sure that item is on sale at YOUR store. Information listed on these websites may not always be accurate. Here are a few that I use:
Alright, now that you know the basics, get out there and start saving!