How to Get Started Using Coupons - 4 Easy Steps! - Living Rich With Coupons®Living Rich With Coupons®

How to Get Started Using Coupons – 4 Easy Steps!

How to Get Started Using CouponsHow to Get Started Using Coupons

The new year brings new resolutions.  If one of your resolutions is to get your finances in order, I highly recommend setting up a budget.  Having control of your money and knowing exactly where it goes is one of the most important things you can do to secure your financial future.

Six years ago when we set up our first budget, we were forced into it during a time of unemployment.  One of the biggest expenses we had, besides our mortgage payments, was our groceries.  We were spending over $15,000 a year on groceries.  When we realized that for more than 20 years,  all that money was going toward groceries, we knew we had to make a change.   Actually, at that time, we were forced into making a change as we didn’t have the money to pay for our groceries and stay in our home while receiving unemployment checks.  It was a difficult time but, there was a wonderful benefit that came out of it….Couponing!  And, it’s changed our lives forever.

I recommend using coupons and saving to anyone that will sit still long enough to listen to me.  The thing I always tell them is that it’s easier then you think to get started.

So, if you want to save some serious money at the grocery store, here are four easy steps to get you started.

1.  Know Where to Find Coupons

Obviously, having coupons is the first thing you need to get started.  But, where do you find them all is usually the first question I get asked.

These days there are so many more options to getting coupons from paper to printables to electronic coupons.  Here are top 6 ways to find the best coupons.

Inserts in your weekly paper – these are inserts that vary each week in your Sunday paper.  Inserts are from Smart Source, Red Plum and/or P&G.
Printable Coupon – check out our list of all the top printable coupons sources
Catalina Printouts – these are coupons that print at your store after checkout
Magazines – Look for magazines with coupons.  All You Magazine is one of the top magazine for the best coupons however, Good Housekeeping, Woman’s Day, Better Homes & Garden Magazine and even Shape magazine have some great coupons
Tearpads/Blinkies – These are coupons that are found in store.  You can find them on displays or hanging from the shelf.
eCoupons – These are becoming more and more popular.  eCoupons are coupons that load onto your store loyalty card or your smart phone.  They are deducted at the register when you make a qualifying purchase.

2.  Know When to Use Coupons

Clipping and using coupons is only the first step in saving on your groceries.  Knowing when to use your coupons is what will get you the biggest bang for your buck.

Wait for a sale – Waiting to use your coupons when the items go on sale is the secret to saving the most money.  Don’t waste your coupons on full price items.  Hang onto them for the lowest price sale and then use that coupon.

Follow Sales Cycles – Sales on products usually run in cycles of about 8-12 weeks.  Also, sales follow cycles of holidays and events throughout the year.  For instance, snack and finger foods always go on sale around Super Bowl and candy goes on sale in February for Valentine’s Day.  Follow our Grocery Sales Cycles to see what you can expect to buy during certain months of the year.

Buy at the Lowest Price – This goes along with the first point which is wait for a sale.  If you wait for that item to go on sale, you are able to get it at it’s lowest price, combined with a coupon and even a store promotion.  Take a look at our example below on cereal to see just how much you can save by waiting for the lowest price and combining offers.

Cereal-Price3.  Know How to Use Coupons

Have you asked your customer service department at your store if they accept competitor coupons?  If not, you should!  There might be some ways to save at your store that you didn’t even know about.  Here are some things you should ask your store so you know that you are taking advantage of every savings opportunity:

Double Coupons – Does the store double coupons?  If so, does a $0.50 coupon double up to $1?  Does a $0.75 double up to $1.50?  Is there a limit to the amount of coupons that double?  Make sure you understand exactly how their double coupon policy works.

Stacking Store Coupons – Make sure to ask the store if they allow you to use a store coupon with a manufacturer coupon.  This is called stacking coupons.  Although you can never use 2 manufacturer coupons on the same product, you can, for most stores, stack a store coupon with a manufacturer coupon.

Competitor Coupons – Does your store accept competitor coupons?  Make sure to ask.  If they do, it’s even more of a savings opportunity.  I recently found out that Harmon Discount Stores accept Ulta Coupons.  Ulta Coupons are usually better coupons then Harmon puts out so now I am always saving Ulta coupons when come in the mail or newspapers.

4.  Stock Up

Stocking up on sale items is a very important part of getting the most savings at the grocery store.  It gives you control of what you are paying for your groceries instead of the store having control of your prices.

Lets say your family eats a lot of Cheerios cereal and you were able to purchase a box for just $0.50.  After 1 week, that box of Cheerios would be gone.  When you go back to the store the next week, you’ll need to buy another box of Cheerios.  And, guess what…it’s no longer on sale.  So, you wind up paying $3.99 or maybe even $2.99 if you have another coupon.  That is a big difference from the $0.50 you bought the week before.

Now, lets say you bought 8 boxes of Cheerios at the sale price of $0.50 (after coupons).  You are now in control of the price you will pay because you can wait for another sale.  You are not forced to pay a higher price for that product since you have enough to get you through a couple of months.

Stocking up does not mean turning your house into a mini market but it does mean having a stock of items that will last your family about 3-6 months.  A typical stockpile will consist of products that can be stored on 3-4 shelves.  That’s all you need.

Get Started!

Now that you know the 4 basic steps to saving at the grocery store, what are you waiting for?  Get going and SAVE SAVE SAVE! ;)

Be sure to visit the LRWC Beginners Section for even more great tips to help you save at the grocery store.

  • Lindsay

    Thanks, This is a great post! A great way to get started! It’s nice to see it all spelled out. It takes some time to get everything figured out but it’s worth the effort to save!

  • Laura

    Awesome explanation!

  • ALS

    Thanks for the explanation. I have decided to learn to coupon and everything seems overwhelming but your explanation was helpful.

    • Cindy Livesey

      You’re welcome. If you have any questions, please ask, there are many great readers here that are always willing to answer your questions. We all started out new at one time or another. Happy Savings!

  • Chris

    Any tips on stocking up when you don’t have a lot of space. We live in an apartment, and the pantry, refrigerator, and freezer are tiny.

  • Sheryl rosano

    Thank you. this post is really helpful. The only part of extreme couponing I am wondering is how you get multiple coupons for one item. To create a stock pile. Like stocking up on the cherries.

  • Ashley

    How do you obtain multiple coupons to stock up when items go on sale?

    Thanks for sharing this information! :)

    • Kari

      Hey Ashley! People get multiple coupons through a few sources, generally through obtaining multiple inserts several copies of a paper that has coupons (usually a Sunday paper) and through printing coupons off the internet. You can generally print an internet coupon twice from a single computer. So for me:

      I have 1 subscription to the Washington Post, 1 subscription to another paper and pick up two free papers in my region that have some of the inserts. So I’ll have anywhere between 3-6 of each individual insert from those sources.

      I have two computers that I use for printing coupons. So that means I can print each coupon twice from each computer so that gives me 4 coupons.

      Some folks elect to skip the newspaper route and to order their coupons online from “clipping services” which are folks who obtain multiple inserts from the paper and sell individual coupons in bulk. I only do this if something I really want is going to be free after the coupon and I can store 20 of them! HTH!

  • Crystal

    Thanks so much for the explanation! I’ve been wanting to get into couponing but it’s all so overwhelming. This was a big help, thanks again! =)

  • Vanessa

    Thank you for this website. Fry’s states, they double up to $1.00. So, if I have a $1.00 off coupon, they will not double, but if I have a $0.50 off coupon, it will be worth $1.00 off?

    • Denise Davison

      Yup thats correct!

    • Barb P

      Ask at the customer service desk. Usually a coupon policy will say ‘double up to $0.99′, which means they will not double a coupon with a face-value of $1. If the policy says “double up to a $1″, it could mean that they WILL double a $1 face-value coupon. That would be excellent!!! My local stores only double up to a $0.99 face-value.

  • lena

    If I have 5 coupons for a box of cereal etc. does that mean the store will except the 5 coupons for the same item of 5 boxes?

  • Diana Lee

    I’ve spent wayyy too much money on groceries for me and my finacee’, but I never understood how couponing worked! This helped so much!

    • Denise Davison Uzunis

      Yay! So happy to hear that! :)

  • Joshua Caleb Schueler

    I still don’t get it yet. All the coupons I am seeing are only for 45 cents or 55 cents off an item. How does this all add up to major savings? For example. I shop at Walmart and their policy does not allow double couponing. How can I get the most for my dollar at Walmart?

    • Sandy

      I do best at Walmart by utilizing their Price Match Policy and getting overages on high valued coupons. Walmart will price match other stores (read the policy) and use coupons on top of those sales to get your best deals. I also bring my high value coupons there to make money on whatever items I can. I will buy an item even if I don’t need it and donate it just to get the overage towards another item. For example the Bic razors are $2.68. I will use the $3 coupon and actually make .32 off that item etc…(I may buy 10 or 20 of them) which is where the $$ add up. You also must buy multiple Sunday newspapers for the coupons and print coupons daily. Walmart by far is my least favorite store for many many reasons aside from the fact that they do not double coupons and do not have sales per say. The Drug Stores, Target and SR is where I make a killing. Read Couponing for Beginners above for a good understanding of coupons also. HTH!

    • ChristineandDavid Brewster

      Walmart now has price match through savings catcher too. If u don’t have time for all the ads, scan receipt with smart phone or can go online and key in number and they scan the ads for you and give u the difference via ecards!

  • julie

    Hi, I have an question, what is double the coupon?

    • Laura D.

      If you have a $0.50/1 coupon for a product, the store will “double the coupon” when the coupon is scanned at the register, so the final deduction for that coupon will be $1.00. If it was $0.75/1 the store will double the coupon to $1.50 if the store “fully doubles”. Hope that helps!

      • dalia

        How do you know if the store doubles the coupon ?

        • Sandy

          Your best bet is to just call them and ask if they double mfg. coupons and up to what value and is there a limit on the number of coupons that you can use or double. Walmart, Target, Kmart never double but most grocery stores do.

  • Amber

    This is by far the most helpful coupon guide I have found online! Thank you! I do have one question though, by “doubling coupons” does that mean you ask the cashier to double the coupon before they scan it? Or would it be applying 2 clipped coupons to 1 item? Example: I am buying one box of cereal. In order to receive the “double coupon” would I need to hand the cashier 2 coupons for my one box, or would I hand her 1 coupon and ask to have it doubled?

    • Cindy Livesey

      Thanks Amber. I’m so glad you find it helpful.

      For the doubling coupons, you would first need to check with your store to be sure that they do, in fact, double coupons. If they do, the face value of the coupon will automatically double. For instance, if you have a $0.50/1 coupon, the register will deduct the coupon amount of $0.50 and then deduct it again. So, you would hand over 1 coupon for the 1 box of cereal (as per your example) and it will double. You don’t need to ask.

      Hope that helps.

  • Alissa

    Quick question..when sorting coupons do you sort by expiration date? I find that once something is on sale the coupons I have are expired!

  • Renee

    I have very limited resources at the moment… For instance I do not own a computer nor do I plan on purchasing one in the future… My desire to coupon comes from need which has reached the point of desperation… If my only means of acquiring coupons is through the Sunday newspaper will my efforts be for nothing?

  • Christina

    This was very helpful!

  • Chikita

    Thank you so much very easy to understand

  • thinds

    So in order to buy 8 boxs of
    something per say you have to hv 8 coupons? And when on sale use all coupons at that moment??? To stock up?

    • Sandy

      You don’t HAVE to have 8 coupons to purchase 8 items (you can buy without a coupon) but to lower your out of pocket expense a couponers dream is to have a coupon for every item you purchase. I hold onto my coupons until I see a really good sale and then I use them. As you coupon you will learn what REALLY good prices are and when the price is truly a stock up price. If you only have 4 coupons then you buy 4 – when you have 10 coupons then you buy 10 and so on. If you see that green checkmark next to Cindy’s match ups that typically indicates stock up price.

      • thinds

        Sandy, thank you. I think I understand I can buy what ever I want “without a coupon” my question was “hypothetically” speaking to save per item I will need that many coupons. I’m very new to this. I need to walk through this in my mind.

        • Sandy

          I had a feeling you knew that :) I have such a large stockpile that I buy items typically under .50 , Free or Money Makers and then donate most of them. But for newbies you should concentrate on buying sale items with coupons and dont pass up those Money maker products that you’ll never use! Do the deal and donate the item as that .50 you made will go towards hamburger meat. My advice: Start small. Do the easy deals and not too many of them in 1 shopping trip. It will get too confusing and you wont be able to keep track of whats up and what you should have gotten back in catalinas etc.** Remember you can typically only use 4 like coupons per transaction so if you have 8 coupons you must do separate transactions.

  • nancy

    what does it mean when the coupon says: Limit 2
    Does it mean I can use 2 coupons for the 2 items or does it mean I can use the same coupon for 2 items?

    • Christina D.

      What else does the coupon say?

  • Tom tom

    So excited I’m 15 and me and my mother are in a particularly rough spot in life so I’m hoping this will help

  • Ashleigh

    Cindy what is the app you mentioned on rachel ray?

  • Jessica

    I would like to get started couponing but still overwhelmed on where and how to start. Like, in the explanation above, to get the boxes of cereal for $0.50 do you have to have coupons for each box? I am a stay at home mom and would love to understand the ins and outs.

  • Jessica

    When a coupon says for example save 0.75 on two, how do you get the most out of your coupon?

    • Sandy

      1. Use at a store that doubles coupons as opposed to a Walmart or Target that does not. 2. Only use when item is on sale. 3. Stack with a store coupon ( ie. Target) 4. Use in conjunction with Ibotta or similiar program

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