Getting Started

So. Here you are. You want to learn how to coupon. You dream about skipping through the checkout line without ever having to crack open your wallet. Although I can’t guarantee that, I can guarantee that you are in for some delightful surprises! Like never having to pay for toothpaste again! (It’s the little things in life, ladies.) I'm so glad you are taking the plunge and diving into this little known world of couponing. Buckle your seat belts, because this is going to rock your entire lifestyle (in a super good, God-honoring way)!

So before we dive in head first, here’s a quick Getting Started Guide to… well… get you started.

You'll be ringing up savings in no time.

#1 Subscribe to the Sunday paper

It doesn’t matter which Sunday paper you subscribe to, just subscribe to one. Why Sunday? Because that’s the only paper each week that’s chock full of coupons! There are three different inserts that you will see on a regular basis: SmartSource, Red Plum and my all-time favorite, P&G which only comes out once a month. And don’t worry, you don’t have to subscribe to a whole week’s worth of papers to get the Sunday edition—you typically get a Sunday-only or weekend-only subscription for less than $2 a week. Trust me. It’s worth the little investment.

#2 Sign up for store reward cards
Pharmacies like Rite Aid and CVS are the places where you’re going to get the biggest bang for your buck. Sign up for their reward cards. They're free! And by having one you’ll get all the advertised sale prices (only effective with a store card), email bonus coupons, printable coupons, exclusive offers and more.

#3 Visit
I suggest you bookmark this website since I'll be guiding you there often. This is where you’ll be printing coupons from your home computer. It’s safe and easy—promise! The first time you print from any source, you’ll be required to download quick and safe software so that you can print securely from home. After the software is installed, printing coupons is just a click away! Typically, you can only print the same coupon twice. But if your hubby, sister or roomie has his or her own computer, you can print out even more. So talk to them about installing the software, too. And remember, it’s illegal to photocopy coupons, so once you’ve reached your print limit, you’ve reached your print limit.

#4 Set aside time to shop
No more last minute stops to the grocery store. Starting today everything you buy and every shopping trip will be planned and calculated. So set aside some time on a Sunday afternoon (with a giant mug of coffee) to sit down, clip coupons and plan your next big overhaul.

#5 Buy a small, expandable filing folder
This is where you’ll store your treasures. My sister-in-law gave me one that had 10-13 files and I labeled each one alphabetically. So the first sleeve was “A-B,” the second was “C-D” etc. Then, every coupon I clipped went into one of the sleeves based on the name brand. Betty Crocker cookie mix? Filed under “B.” Nyquil? Filed under “N.” You get it. 

Now, you don't have to necessarily use this method. There are several ways to organize your coupons. Some people use binders, others use envelopes and others don’t use any method at all. I like my accordion file folder because it slips into my purse and if I come across a deal I hadn’t seen in the flier, I can immediately find the coupon I’m looking for without sifting through a pile of clippings or worsehaving to go home and return later because I didn’t have my coupons with me. Couponing is a time investment, so the more time you can save, the better!

#6 Learn the lingo
You’ll see it all over the pages here. So here’s a quick tutorial: 
  • $1.00/1: $1.00 off one product 
  • $1.00/2: $1.00 off two products
  • BOGO: Buy one get one free
  • B2G1: Buy two get one free
  • Double Coupons: This means that the store doubles the value of the coupon. Shaws and Stop and Shop double coupons up to $0.99. So if you use a $0.50/1 coupon at Shaws they’ll double it to $1/1! You’ll soon learn that $0.50 and $0.60 coupons are often more valuable than others for just this reason. (Find a $0.99 coupon and leap for joy!)
  • Extra Bucks: The CVS rewards program. Extra Bucks print according to the store’s advertised deals. When you make a qualifying purchase, you receive the coordinating Extra Bucks value as advertised. These print at the bottom of your receipt to use like cash next time you are in the store.
  • UP+s: The Rite Aid rewards program. Rite Aid has a new policy where they add your store rewards to the card itself. Opt out of this. When you do, your rewards will print out at the bottom of the receipt just like at CVS and you can use them however you’d like.
  • Store Coupon: A coupon for use only at the store that it is associated with. Walgreens, for instance, has coupons in their weekly advertisements. These can only be used at Walgreens; however, they can be combined with a manufacturer’s coupon (see next.)
  • Manufacturer Coupon: A coupon created by the manufacturer, or by a marketing company on the manufacturer’s behalf.  These can be used at any store that accepts manufacturer coupons and can often be combined with store coupons for even better savings. 
  • Raincheck: Looking for a product but they are out of stock? Get a raincheck—a written slip that guarantees the sale price when the item comes back in stock. Simply hand the raincheck to the cashier the next time you come in and they’ll honor the sale price. But remember, you must use the raincheck within the specific period of time. Often the raincheck will expire 30 days from the date it is issued.
#7 Study your preferred store’s coupon policy
I typically visit different stores for different deals, but I’m used to the coupon policies of each. When you’re getting started, stick to the store you normally shop at. When you get comfortable, move on and explore other stores to maximize your savings. I’ll touch on coupon policies throughout my posts. Don’t worry—they’re not too tricky!

#8 Practice patience
There will be times when the cashier isn’t in a good mood—especially after you hand him or her your pile of treasured clippings. There will be times when the sale price doesn’t ring through and you have to go to Customer Service. There will be times when your coupon policy memory lags and you don’t get the savings you were hoping for or you approach checkout with an expired coupon. There will be frustrating and embarrassing moments. They’ve happened to me on more occasions that I’d like to admit. So remember to be patient. It’s a great way to practice that not-so-easy-to-acquire fruit of the Spirit. ;) And be patient with yourself, too! This is supposed to be fun. And it will be once you get the hang of it.


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