There are lots of different ways to obtain money saving coupons for your grocery and household needs and as we know they are one of the foundations of great savings on CVS deals. I have heard over and over that using cents off grocery coupons is too much trouble, that they don’t really save that much money, that there are only coupons for items I don’t use, that buying store brand is cheaper, and that they are hard to find. After couponing for quite a length of time I have found that all of these barriers can be broken with anywhere from a little to a lot of work, and substantial savings can be obtained.
This post is dedicated to “I don’t know where to find them.” I will give simple steps to take to start saving with coupons. I advise starting with #1 and
working your way down the list until you reach your time limit or your savings goals. Remember, by the inch it’s a cinch, by the yard it’s hard.
#1 Collecting Coupons in the Store
The easiest way to save, in terms of time and simplicity in organization, is to look for coupons while shopping. Most stores have coupons available right next to some products. Coupon etiquette is expected and practiced by most couponers in not taking more than a couple of each coupon each time they shop.
Blinkie Machines are little machines maintained by SmartSource. They are attached to the shelf in the store and have a little red light blinking to draw the attention of the shopper. Small, shiny coupons “pop” out of the bottom. You can pull the coupon out and within a few seconds another one will pop out. Then there will be a couple minutes before it repeats this process. It is timed so that one shopper cannot just pull them all out (nor a playful child).
Tearpads are just that, pads of coupons found hanging near the products or often on a stand-alone display of the product that shoppers are free to “tear” off to use.
Peelies are coupons stuck to the actual package of the product and either the shopper or the cashier removes them and uses them when checking out.
Stand-Alone Displays are rarer, but sometimes there are display boards with several pads of coupons attached. During Frozen food month and Dairy month displays in these areas can often be found.
Store “Magazines” are often put out with manufacturer coupons in them and sometimes store coupons (like the Reinventing Beauty Magazine at CVS). These can usually be found near the ads.
Free Sample Tables usually offer coupons with the samples.
So you can begin to use coupons without any extra time added other than reading the coupon when you find it to be sure you purchase the correct product.
#2 Printing Coupons Online
I think the next easiest way to save using coupons is to print coupons available online. Be sure to check with your local store to see if they take printable coupons. Most grocery and drug stores do and a lot of the big box stores will...but all individual stores have the option of saying no. I save a LOT of money by using printable coupons. I will list below the online sources in steps from easiest (least time) to hardest (most time).
Coupon Printing Sites offer dozens to hundreds of coupons each month. They update them the first of the month, often resetting coupon limits from the month before. They also add new coupons off and on throughout the month. When there is a great coupon the print limit will be reached early—so if you see a coupon you think you might want to use, print it when you first see it.
These are the easiest to print in terms of time spent. You scroll thru the pages of coupons offered, check the ones you want to print and on the last page click print coupons now. Most coupons are allowed to be printed twice, so after printing go back and check them again and print them a second time if you’d like more than one. The main sites are: Coupons, RedPlum, Hopster and SmartSource.
Click the banner below to find all available Coupons.com printable coupons.
And there are counterfeit printable coupons out there, too, so be alert. If it seems too good to be true, it often is. The four sources above are safe to use. See the details in this post I wrote at Simply CVS about counterfeit printables.
Manufacturer Websites often offer coupons to be printed for their products. If you are in need of a certain item visit their website and look for coupons. They also often offer email sign-ups for receiving coupons thru emails.
#3 Buy the Sunday Paper which includes inserts of coupons. The bigger the city the more coupons offered so purchase one from the largest city around you. Often dollar stores have them for less than in the paper boxes.
#4 Neighbors will often get a paper but not use the coupons or only use some of them. Ask your neighbors for their inserts.
#5 Friends and Family Members can be a great source for extra inserts from the Sunday paper, too.
#6 Co-workers, Church or Club Members or any other people you are in regular contact with may have Sunday inserts they won’t be using...ask them.
#7 Online Programs are available to sign up to receive coupons for new products. Manufacturers want new products used and consumers to tell their friends about the product so they provide different programs with coupons to send out. Usually they send one free coupon for the member and several high value coupons to share with friends. Two that come to mind right off are Vocal Point and Pssst. Also, there are programs like Free Flys that offer free samples and coupons after signing up for their free program and requesting certain samples. I am not personally familiar with this program but I often see great offers from them.
#8 Manufacturers will almost always send coupons when contacted by a consumer. Email, phone or write a company and compliment them on one of their products you have used, comment on a product you’d like to try or just ask if they offer coupons in the mail. I think I have received coupons from probably over 75% of the companies I have contacted and they are great coupons to have.
#9 Buying Coupons is illegal. But paying someone for clipping, sorting and mailing coupons is legal. There are several clipping services available and many Ebay sellers also offer coupons. Using a clipping service instead of Ebay is useful when you want less of one coupon. Ebay sellers usually sell at least 10 and more often 20 in a batch of the same coupon—great for long time couponers who want to build their stockpile, but for beginners being able to pick a few of each different coupon may be more desirable and a clipping service would be better. There is usually a minimum order total of $2.50 with a clipping service, but not always.
#10 Obtaining Extra Inserts is a great way to build a supply of coupons. Many people approach paper carriers or stores (especially convenience stores) and gas stations which sell Sunday papers and ask for extra inserts from the papers that do not sell. Apparently only the front page or section needs to be returned to the paper to get credit for the papers that have not been sold and the rest of the paper is thrown out, including the coupon inserts. It is usually necessary to pick these up first thing Monday morning. EDITING 7/2/2011: Insert companies are working on cutting down on this and many newspapers have contracts that they will destroy the extra inserts--so this may not be allowed in some places or much longer, so you may want to check into this further before practicing this. I will leave it in here until I hear that it is an unethical coupon practice.
#11 Hunting Down Extra Inserts in various places net many people many extra coupons. I have read of people eating out Sunday mornings and looking around the tables as people leave who have been reading the paper and may have left the inserts. Hotel lobbies are another favorite of couponers traveling. And a big one is “dumpster diving.” This is the term given by couponers to the act of digging thru the trash for inserts—either a recycling center (permission is needed for this), their apartment building trash or any other place people may throw away the Sunday paper. EDITING 7/2/2011: Same as with the note above, "dumpster diving" may become unethical if newspapers are to destroy the extra inserts and the inserts people are diving for are from unsold newspapers and not recycled individual papers.
#12 Trading Coupons with other couponers is a major part of the super couponer’s strategy. This step can be actually very simple or very complex--from trading with a local friend to a local group of friends to trading with an online group like the ones trading on We Use Coupons or Hot Coupon World. The basis for trading is that one couponer has coupons they will not be using but another couponer wants and vice a versa. I met a gal online that I regularly send and receive envelopes of coupons and rebate forms. When a local store has a deal or triple coupons we send each other our wish lists and if we can, we send on the coupons we have on it. We also have learned many of each other’s favorite items and automatically put any of those coupons we find in an “envie” waiting to be filled up to mail.
#13 Subscribe to All You Magazine for a great supply of coupons. Each month All You Magazine has between $50 and $100 worth of coupons. Often these are coupons with much higher value than the average insert coupons and with longer expiration dates. And many of them work for CVS deals. I have read of some couponers who have five or more subscriptions delivered to their homes each month so they can have the extra coupons. All You is sold exclusively thru subscriptions or at Walmart--Walmart is about $2.28 each, subscriptions normally run $1.67 each. All you is a Simply Shoe Boxes affiliate partner.
So as you can see, couponing can take virtually no time at all to quite a bit of time (as seen on TLC's Extreme Couponing). And there are savings to be had at each level. The friend I mentioned who I trade with kept track one year of her spendings. For feeding herself, her husband, her two cats (and stray cats she happens to encounter—like living at the local library) and many donations to friends and family members (including gifts) she spent only $500 on groceries for the YEAR. This included all cleaning, paper and health and beauty items, too. This is her hobby and she lives in a metropolitan area with lots of stores so this is extreme, but I share it to let you know what coupons can do for a household budget.
I am not an Extreme Couponer by any means, but I do save a lot with coupons, especially when combined with sales and store incentive programs. I am able to get most of my toothpaste, toothbrushes, gum, and other items for pennies or tax only by using coupons.
Links in this post may be Simply Shoe Boxes' affiliate links.