Beginners: Start Here for Couponing Basics and Store Coupon Acceptance Policies

How do I get started?

The first thing you need to do is find coupons!  There are LOTS of ways to get coupons:
  • The Sunday Paper is a good place to start.  Since our local Sunday Papers are $2 each now, many people go to Walgreens to get their for about $1.50 plus tax.  You might want to get multiple copies if you see good coupons in the Sunday Coupon Preview.  It might be a good idea to call your local Walgreens to see if they are offering lower priced papers. 
  • Asking Friends and Family to give you coupons they won't use has been a good source of coupons for me.  I had a neighbor who wasn't interested in the coupons in the Sunday paper, so he would give them to me.  My Granny cuts out all the coupons in her Sunday paper and gives them to me.  :)  I had a friend email and offer me Target coupons she didn't need.
  • Start a Coupon Swap with Friends.  Get your church buddies, neighbors, and Mom groups together and start trading coupons.  I don't need formula coupons, so I give them to a neighbor.  She will give me other coupons I can use in return.  People that don't have babies don't generally need coupons for diapers, baby food, formula, wipes, etc., so offer to trade with them.  Trade your cat coupons (litter, food, treats) to a cat person and get dog coupons in return.
  • Store Coupons.  Usually when you sign up for a store discount card, you will start to receive coupons from them.  Kroger is good about this.  I don't get that many from Harris Teeter although, depending on where you live, you might automatically get coupons in the mail for a dollar amount off a purchase.  If you hear about a mailing of these, you can ask the customer service associate at Harris Teeter if they have any.  I have gotten coupons this way several times. 
  • Blinkies/Peelies/"Coupon Fairies"/Wine Tags  Blinkies are those little machines on the aisles at the store that blink a red light and spit out coupons.  I will usually collect a few of these and usually hang on to them to use another time when the price goes down.  Peelies are coupons stuck to products at the store.  I see these a lot!  "Coupon Fairies" are nice people who realize they may not use a certain coupon, so they will leave it by the product in the store for someone else to use.  Keep an eye out for these!  Wine Tags are hard to come by around here.  They are tags hanging on wine bottles usually for a dollar amount off your purchase of bread, cheese, or meat.  In the state of NC (where I am), you are not required to make an alcohol purchase to use these coupons.  Please read the back of the wine tag for information regarding your state.
  • Printable Coupons  For lots of printable coupons, see my section of them HERE or check the coupon database for them HERE.  This is a great resource to go to when you are preparing for a shopping trip.  
  1. Go HERE for printable coupons from
  2. Go HERE for printable coupons from 
  3. Go HERE for printable coupons from
  4. Go HERE for printable coupons from
  5. Go HERE for printable Target Store coupons. 
  • Facebook is a great place to get coupons.  Search for your favorite products, click "like" on their page and see if coupons or free samples are available.  Check 
  • Free Samples usually come with coupons, so sign up for them when you can for extra coupons.  Look HERE for free samples to sign up for.  I always recommend using a "junk" email when signing up for freebies or giveaways.  This way, your regular email isn't overloaded with junk emails they will probably start sending.
  • The Maufacturer's Website OR Write to the Maunfacturer.  Check the Manufacturer's website for coupons and while you are there, email them and tell them how much you love their product.  They usually send coupons!
  • Digital Coupons.  There are several places to get digital coupons from.  These coupons are sent directly to your shopper card so they automatically come off your total at the register.
Coupon Terminology

SS= SmartSource (insert from the Sunday Paper)
RP=RedPlum (insert from the Sunday Paper)
P&G=Proctor and Gamble (insert from the Sunday Paper)
Q or q= Coupon
BOGO=Buy One Get One Free
B1G2F=Buy One Get Two Free
B2G3F=Buy Two Get Three Free

What do I do with my Coupons?

  • I strongly suggest organizing them!  You will not use your coupons if they are not organized!  We have all been there and done that.  Here are a few ways to organize them:
  1. The Binder Method.  You have all seen them (well....US) at the store with their 8 inch thick coupon binders laid across the grocery cart!  This is a great way to organize your coupons.  Start with a nice binder....preferably one that zips so you don't have coupons flying out everywhere.  Buy some tab dividers....preferably ones you can write on NOT the kind with little inserts that will always fall out.  Also, buy some Baseball trading card pages.  I have found these at Walmart, Office Max, and Staples so far.  Make out categories for your coupons.  It may be helpful to think about the aisles in the store and organize your coupons based on the layout of the store.  My tabs are labeled as follows: BABY, BAKING, BREAD/PRODUCE/MEAT, CANNED, CEREAL, CLEANING, DAIRY, DEODORANT/SOAP, FEMININE, FROZEN, HAIR, LAUNDRY, OTC (over the counter -medicines), PASTA/RICE, PAPER TOWELS/TP/PLASTIC (also put foil, ziploc, etc on this section), PET CARE, SALAD DRESSING/CONDIMENTS, and SNACKS.  Cut out your coupons and fold them to fit in the baseball card sleeves.  Make sure you check often for expired coupons to remove.    
  2.  Insert Method  This method will save time when preparing your trips to the store.  However, if the store is clearancing out items or having an unadvertised sale when you get there, you won't have your coupons.  This is probably the best method for beginners and people who want to save the most amount of time.  When you get your newspaper inserts, the date of the paper it came from is written on the side in TINY print.  To save your eyesight and some time, mark the front of the insert with the date so you can read it easily.  Then, get a large accordion style organizer or use file folders.  Organize your inserts bu the date.  Example: In one file folder, you could place all inserts from the 4/10/2011 Sunday paper.  OR you can divide your up and have one folder for multiple Smartsource inserts from the 4/10/2011 Sunday paper and a separate folder for the Redplum insert from the 4/10/2011 Sunday paper.  Then, while preparing your shopping list, visit the COUPON DATABASE to do your coupon match-ups. There is not a right or wrong way to organize your coupons.  Do what works for you!
  3. The Box or a Small Accordion Style Organizer  Some people prefer to us the "box."  It works like a recipe box where you have tabs for categories.  I don't prefer either types of these unless you are using it for a small shopping trip.  Otherwise, you could stand there thumbing through 100 coupons for ONE cereal coupon you are looking for. 
Coupon Doubling
  • A 5 is better than a 9!  Look at the UPC numbers on the coupon.  If the farthest number to the left is a 5, then the coupon will automatically double (even if it says "Do Not Double").  If it starts with a 9, it will not double. 
What Next?

Prepare to go shopping!
  • Use my awesome Coupon Database to find any available coupons, print coupons, and find the inserts your coupons are located in. 
  • Go HERE for Store Deals and Coupon Match-ups.
  • Prepare to be amazed at how much you can save on your groceries with coupons and sales! 
Local Stores

  • See the Store Deals and Coupon Match-ups HERE.
  • For a Beginner's guide to shopping at Harris Teeter and to read their Coupon Acceptance Policy, click HERE. 
  • For a Beginner's guide to shopping at Kroger and to read about their Coupon Acceptance Policy, click HERE. 
  • For a Beginner's guide to shopping at Lowes Foods and to read about their Coupon Acceptance Policy, click HERE.
  • For a Beginner's guide to shopping at Target and to read about their Coupon Acceptance Policy, click HERE.