A Beginner's Guide to Couponing
By Erin Huffstetler, About.com Guide
If you're interested in couponing, but aren't sure how to get started, this guide’s for you:
Where to Look for CouponsThere are lots of coupons up for grabs, if you know where to find them. By far, the best places to look are:
- Newspapers- the Smart Source and Valassis coupon inserts appear on a near-weekly basis. The Procter and Gamble insert appears at the start of each month
- Magazines- women's publications such as Woman's Day, Red Book, Family Circle and Good Housekeeping frequently carry manufacturer coupons
- In store- look for coupons on store shelves, on products and on the back of your receipts. Also look for coupons to print out at the register
- Online- look to free grocery coupon sites for loads of printable coupons. Not all stores take them; but if yours does, you’re in luck
- Junk mail- high-value manufacturer coupons have started to appear in junk mailers, so be sure to look before you toss
- Direct from the manufacturer- check manufacturer websites for printable coupons or contact companies (by mail, e-mail or phone) to request coupons
- Store mailings- get a frequent shopper card for the grocery stores that you shop, and you may be rewarded with special coupon mailings
- On products- look in and on the packaging of the products that you buy for special loyalty coupons
How to Keep Coupons OrganizedThere are lots of ways to organize coupons; the key is to find the approach that works best for you. Three options to consider:
- Clipping out all coupons
- Clipping out just the coupons that you intend to use
- Leaving the coupon inserts intact, and clipping coupons on an "as-needed" basis
- Develop a filing system. Many couponers organize their coupons by grocery category--dairy, frozen foods, deli, etc. – but it's not the only way to go. Find a filing system that works for you--by aisle, by expiration, etc. – and put it into action.
- Find a container to hold your coupons. Use a shoebox, a storage container, a coupon binder, a coupon wallet or a recipe box – it doesn't matter what you choose – but it's important to have a landing spot for all of those coupons.
- File coupons the same day you get them. Okay, so you may not always have time to file your coupons right away, but try to file them as soon as you can. This will prevent them from getting lost, and save you the hassle of having to sort through a big mess of coupons all at once.
- Purge regularly. Expired coupons won't save you money, so don't let them hog space in your coupon file. Set a schedule for purging expired coupons, and stick to it.