A Quick and Easy Guide to Finding Coupons
Whether you’re needing to significantly downsize your budget or you’re just looking to use your money more wisely, one of the easiest ways to save money is to use coupons. From the most casual user to an extreme couponer, below are valuable resources for finding coupons.
So Much Savings!
The Sunday Paper
The Sunday paper is probably the most well-known source of
coupons. Coupon inserts are included
each week except for holiday weekends.
The primary coupon inserts are Smart Source (they have printable
coupons on their website), Valassis/Red Plum (they also post additional
coupons on their website), and P&G, which only publishes coupons once a
month. If there are many coupons for items
your family uses, consider buying extra copies of the paper, asking friends and
family members who don’t use coupons for their inserts, or using some of the
coupon purchasing resources mentioned below. You should also be aware that larger cities get better selections of coupons. Smaller towns, and even smaller cities, do not get as many coupons in the Smart Source or Red Plum inserts.
Coupon Clipping Services
The Coupon Clippers sells individual coupons (though you must meet a $5 threshold). If cutting coupons doesn’t interest you, but you want the benefits of saving money with coupons, this site is the perfect solution. Or you can use it like I use it; if it’s a “bad” coupon week where only a few coupons interest me, I’ll buy them online. I also use it when I want a large quantity of a specific coupon; though I usually buy 3-5 copies of the Sunday paper, if there’s just one item with a coupon that I want ten of, it certainly doesn’t pay to buy 10 copies of the paper, so I order instead. The price per coupon is low, so you should easily be able to recover the purchase price.
A site similar to The Coupon Clippers is The Coupon Master. I’ve used it a couple times, and while I wasn’t dissatisfied with it, I find I like The Coupon Clippers more.
Another site similar to The Coupon Clippers is the Coupons & Things by Dede. They sell whole inserts and some clipped coupons. I've looked through the site in the past, but I found that the prices were higher than what I could get elsewhere, like on ebay.
If you’re looking to buy coupons from the Sunday paper,
either a particular insert (typically sold in multiples of five) or a
particular coupon (usually sold in multiples of 10+), you can often find them
on ebay. While I typically use The
Coupon Clippers, if there are only one or two items I need more coupons for,
I’ll look on eBay, as the other sites require a minimum purchase, and ebay
doesn’t. My general rule of thumb is to go to The Coupon Clippers if there are several coupons I want multiples of, and ebay if there are only a couple I want multiples of.
Coupons.com has many coupons and is updated with new coupons multiple times per month. Most coupons have a two-print limit. While coupons.com is itself a great source for printing coupons, it has partnered with companies that will pay you to print and use the coupons, so you might want to consider printing these coupons from an affiliate instead.
Anyone with a Computer and Printer Can Print Coupons
One of the many facets of ShopAtHome is its coupon database. They themselves don’t offer the coupons, but they do connect you to the sites that are providing the coupons, usually the company that manufactures the product. They make you download an annoying toolbar to access the coupons and deals, but you may find it’s worth it because they have so many coupons to connect you to.
Facebook is no longer just for connecting with friends. Many companies now have corporate pages, and by “liking” them, you can get coupons. Even if you don’t want to participate in the social networking, it can be worth it to get a Facebook account to access all of the coupons, most of which are high-value (and some even for free items). I’ve gotten free jeans, Herbal Essences, and Yoplait that way, among others, and stores like Bath & Body Works often do free giveaway weekends, where you can print coupons to get free sample/travel-sized items, like soaps, lotions, and candles.
Many companies, like Kellogg’s and General Mills, have coupon sections on their websites; they always have coupons. Other companies will have coupons as part of a special promotion. To find these coupons, go to the website or check out places like ShopAtHome, which will connect you the coupons companies offer.
Cellfire allows you to load coupons onto your store loyalty card. When you scan your card, the coupons are automatically taken off your total.
Many stores have coupons on their websites. The best ones I’ve encountered are Target, which has a huge amount of coupons; some are store coupons (good only at Target), and others are manufacturer’s coupons, which you can use at Target or any other store. Target also lets you sign up to receive coupons on your cell phone, and don’t forget, they will take off 5 cents for each reusable bag you bring in (and use for the transaction).
Meijer (regional store similar to Super Wal-Mart or Super Target) also has a great supply of coupons at Meijer Mealbox that you can print. These are coupons good only at Meijer. Meijer has another coupon option called mPerks, which allows you to load coupons online to your profile, which is associated with your phone number. When you check out, you just enter your phone number, and the coupons automatically come off, similar to Cellfire. You can get a lot of great coupons through mPerks. Just this past month we’ve had coupons for free milk and free eggs. They also often have coupons for deals like $2 off a purchase of $5 or more.
In the Stores
Coupons can also be found in the store:
- Blinkies—These are the coupons you get from the flashing holders near products.
- Peelies—These are coupons attached to the product. Peel it off at the register to use it.
- Catalinas (also known as Cats)—These are the coupons that print when you check out (the long skinny ones). Sometimes you get cats for money off your next purchase if you buy certain items, like buy 5 bags of cheese, get $3 off your next order. Sometimes you get these from a competitor when you buy a certain product, like a coupon for Dole fruit cups because you bought Del Monte fruit cups. Some are random, like save $1 off your next purchase of toilet paper. And some are given to everyone, like Walgreens’ coupons to Midas (I’m really getting tired of those) or prescription transfer coupons.
coupons—these are store specific for places like Walgreens (Register
Rewards, which print from the Catalina machine) and CVS (Extra Care Bucks,
which print at the bottom of the receipt). Read here to find out more about these coupons from Walgreens and CVS.
Bloggers can be an invaluable resource in not only linking you to a coupon, but also letting you know the best time and place to use it for maximum savings. If you are truly committed to using coupons, I recommend following a few savings blogs, as the bloggers will take the hard work out of it for you; all you’ll have to do is print and/or clip the coupon and shop!
Groupon, Living Social, and Other Daily Deal Sites
Groupon and Living Social are fantastic resources for saving money at area businesses and the occasional national retailer. While most of the deals are for things I wouldn’t use or do, occasionally I find an amazing deal, like two tickets to a comedy club plus an appetizer for $15.
You can also go to Lifesta to buy deals people purchased from Groupon, Living Social, or other deal sites that they won’t be able to use. They’re usually asking for about the same price they paid (which itself was a bargain), but sometimes they reduce the price, allowing you to get an even better deal!
Entertainment books can be a great resource for coupons to local businesses. The coupons are focused on larger metropolitan areas, though, so if you don’t live close to the city, it’s probably not worth purchasing the book. If you do live in the city, check out the coupons provided; if there’s enough for places you’d go to, buy the book! You might want to even consider sharing the book with a friend, as there are way too many coupons for one person to use.
While not exactly a coupon (though they do provide many coupon codes to allow you to save even more money), online rebates through companies like ebates and Mr. Rebates give you money back on your purchases, as long as you link to the store through them.
Tips for Coupon Use
-Don’t copy coupons. It's illegal, and it makes it so stores don't receive the money they deserve from the coupon. This can lead to policies against printed coupons.
-When using Bricks or Smart Source to print coupons, press back and then refresh (or control+R) to print the coupon a second time. These coupons typically have a two-print limit.
-Have your coupons organized when you go to the checkout counter. An unorganized couponer can create hostility at a store. If you're organized, you're much more likely to inspire awe than anger.
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