With all the buzz going on lately because of TLC’s Extreme Couponing, I thought I’d make a few posts for those just starting out. Being somewhat of a newbie myself, I certainly can understand the frustration when the deals just aren’t adding up like they do on TV. Don’t give up! You don’t have to be an extreme couponer to save money. In fact, that’s why they call it “extreme”. Usually extreme cases are rare and not the norm.
This first post is going to focus on where to find grocery coupons. There are several places to get coupons:
1. Sunday newspapers
Most Sunday papers include coupon “inserts” (booklets of coupons) for an ever-changing variety of products. RedPlum, Smart Source, and Proctor & Gamble are the major companies distributing inserts currently. Occasionally other companies, such as Kellogg’s, will also include a brand-specific insert.
While the Sunday paper does cost, I have found it well worth our money to get at least one paper each week. The savings gained by the Sunday paper coupons far surpasses the cost of the paper.
I suggest calling your local newspapers and asking for a trial period Sunday subscription. I was able to get an amazing 6-month trial deal with a major metropolitan paper last year. At the end of the trial you can determine whether the cost of continuing your subscription is worth it.
I also recommend asking friends and family to pass along their unwanted coupon inserts. Many consumers still do not make use of these coupons, so you may be surprised to find how many are more than happy to share theirs.
2. Printable Coupons Online
The internet is a wonderful source (my favorite!) for coupons. All you need is your computer and a printer. There are several reputable sites from which to print coupons. You can always search my coupon database for the printable coupons available and can always find the hottest, most popular retail coupons at coupons.answers.com.
Some of my favorite internet coupon sources:
If you are looking for a specific product coupon, I suggest visiting the product website. A quick Google search will point you in the right direction. Arm & Hammer is just one of many companies directly offering coupons for their products, and you can get $5 worth of Kellogg’s coupons when you sign up for their newsletter. You can also register with Vocalpoint and receive P&G coupons and free samples once per month or so.
While an occasional store decides not to accept internet coupons, I have found most retailers gladly accept them. Internet coupons are now becoming a couponing norm. And don’t bother wasting color ink on these coupons. Black and white will do just fine!
A few internet couponing rules do apply, however. Never photocopy an internet printed coupon. This is coupon fraud. Each printed coupon contains a unique barcode, while a photocopied version no longer has this characteristic. Also, only print coupons from reputable sources. Occasionally individuals will take it upon themselves to edit and distribute coupons using image editing programs, resulting in coupon “fakes”. And this should go without saying, but I will say because I love to hear myself- Don’t edit coupons on your own either!
3. eCoupons or Digital Coupons
Several companies such as Kroger now offer coupons that you can download directly to your customer cards. These coupons are all electronic, so there’s no need to clip or organize anything. The discounts are taken off your total at checkout. Shortcuts, P&G eSaver, Cellfire.com and SavingStar are a few of my favorites. UPromise, while it doesn’t give product discounts, offers coupons that allow you to save for college when you purchase particular items.
If you request samples from companies online, the manufacturer will often include a coupon with your sample. Walmart has a wonderful sample program that often includes coupons mailed with the product. Several times a week here at Mrs Moneysaver I also share available samples.
5. Store Aisles
Grocery stores are a great source for coupons. Just look for tearpads and small “blinkie” machines offering coupons. Just because you don’t plan to use the coupon on that particular shopping trip doesn’t mean you can’t take coupons for later. Nearly everytime I see coupons offered in stores, I will grab at least two copies for future use.
Most magazines will offer at least a coupon or two, and on occasion, several. However, the only magazine I feel that is worth subscribing to for coupons is All You. In April’s issue alone there were over $88 worth in coupons. There are times when All You subscriptions go on sale, and if I find out about it I’ll definitely make you aware as well.
7. Email companies
If I really like a product, I have found that a quick “thank you” email to the manufacturer will often result in coupons.
8. Cash registers
Nearly every time I shop at a grocery store, coupons will print out alongside my receipt. While you often must use these coupons at the store that gave them to you, some retailers will accept competitor coupons.
9. Buying Coupons
Once you get the hang of it, you may find that it is worth it to buy some coupons (which is what several extreme couponers do). This can get a little controversial because selling coupons is illegal. The coupon clipping services claim they are not selling the actual coupon, but are charging for the clipping service itself. While some may argue that it would be pointless to pay someone to do something they can do themselves (such as clip a coupon), in my opinion coupon clipping services do offer something of value. If I wanted multiple coupons for the same product I would have to drive to the library and check for coupons in newspapers there, collect them from friends who won’t be using them, etc. So, their services do save time as well as gas money.
A couple of coupon clipping sites:
10. Coupon Trading Forums
Another great source of coupons is a coupon trading forum. These are different from the sites that sell coupons; they are strictly barter. You simply join the forum and post a message saying what you’re looking for and what you have to offer. This way, you can get rid of the coupons you don’t use without wasting them and at the same time get some that you will use. A couple of good coupon trading forums are:
There you have it! My top ten list of great places to get grocery coupons. Next week I’ll give you some tips on how to store them all.
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