Introduction to Couponing: How to Coupon

[ 0 ] August 22, 2011 |

This is the first post in an 8-part blog series. Each Monday we will break down the different elements of couponing and show you how you can use them to become a savvy couponer.

So you want to start couponing. Great. Your head might be swirling with images and stories of coupon extremists reaping the rewards of dedicated couponing,  but if you’re a beginner we think it’s best that you get the basics down before you start building stock-pile shelves in your basement.

If you’re unsure of how to start saving, we’re here to teach you how to coupon both online and in your neighborhood stores. Are you ready?

Online Coupons

You might be a little intimidated by online couponing. But there’s no reason to worry, it actually couldn’t be any easier! Just check out our primer on how to navigate a coupon website:

1. Search to your heart’s content.

So you’ve logged onto the home page, but you can’t quite find the deal you want. Check out how the coupons are categorized – you might see them grouped together as ‘New Coupons’, ‘Coupons by Store’, or ‘Most Popular Coupons’. Be sure to look for a category that features the site’s absolute deals. On FabulousSavings, we have them under Exclusive Coupons.

Most coupon websites will feature a search bar. Even if you might have a specific product in mind, you’ll find the best results if you search by store. For instance, instead of searching for Apple iPod coupons, try “Apple Store coupons”.

2.  Keep an eye out for coupon codes & expiry dates.

While not all online coupons have a set expiry date, it’s important to always check for one! Some sites have a special category for soon-to-expire coupons. On FabulousSavings, we call them Last Minute Deals.

Another detail to watch out for is the coupon code. These are the codes that some merchants require you to type in at checkout. Again, not all coupons have one, but be sure to check by reading the terms of the deal.

3. Click and let the coupon work its online magic.

After you click on the coupon of your choice, most sites will then redirect you to the merchant website (e.g., after clicking an Apple Store coupon, you’ll be directed to the Apple Store online shop). And voila! Unless you’re required to enter a coupon code, the discount has already been applied.

Shop for your items and you’ll see the savings show up once you get to the merchant’s checkout page. It’s like magic. Magic that saves you money.

In-Store Coupons

One of the biggest trends in couponing right now in the United States is the use of physical coupons. The dedicated shoppers of TLC’s Extreme Couponing prove that there’s no end to the lengths some will go to take advantage of the many loopholes of couponing.

Wondering where to start? Read on to find out.

1. Check weekly flyers and newspapers.

One of the best places to get a wide variety of coupons all at once is the Sunday coupon inserts. For example, once a month, Procter & Gamble has a special coupon insert dedicated to their products available in select papers. Check the P&G website to find out which papers carry the P&G inserts. And don’t forget to ask around! You would be surprised how many people throw flyers and coupon inserts away.

2. Watch for grocery store displays.

If you’re miffed over the lack of coupons in weekly flyers, you might not realize most coupons can actually be found in the stores themselves. Considering how huge many grocery aisles are, they can be easy to miss! You can usually find them right next to the product they’re for. Even if you don’t need it right away, grab a few to use during a later trip. Just be sure to note the expiry date!

3. Give a shout to the manufacturers of your favorite products.

Manufacturers are just like you and me – they love a good compliment. Get in touch with the makers of the item of your choice and let them know how much you enjoy their product. Be sincere, of course! Most will be more than happy to send you a few vouchers as a way of saying thanks. You never know, they might just send a few free samples, too.

4. Shopper loyalty programs are your friends!

Many people seem to avoid registering for anything, but it’s definitely worth your time and your money. Lots of grocery chains have members-only coupons and even online deals that you just wouldn’t be aware of if you weren’t signed up. Google or call your local chain to ask about the benefits of their shopper appreciation programs. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.

5. Find deals on products you actually use.

It’s easy to get carried away with all the great deals you can find with coupons, but the key to saving is only using coupons on products that you buy regularly. Finding a good deal and spending money on something you wouldn’t normally buy can be counter-productive. If you’re not careful you may end up spending money that you shouldn’t.

The trick is to not get caught up in the savings. Be smart about your purchases. Save your coupons and keep them organized. When you need to make a purchase, check through your coupons for potential savings.

6. Stay organized!

There are many methods of keeping coupons organized. The most popular being coupon binders. Separate your coupons into categories: Clothes, Groceries, Cleaning Products, etc. This way when you’re looking to purchase an item, you’ll know exactly where to look for savings. You can also try keeping your coupons in envelopes or an accordion file folder. Whatever works best for you.

As you can see, learning how to coupon isn’t hard at all, it just requires you to be a little savvy. Good luck and save big!

Category: shopping tips

About Shannon: Shannon is a savvy saver and lover of all things fashion and beauty. As a lover of pop-culture, she'll keep you up-to-date on all the hottest news and trends. You can find her tweeting on @FabulousSavings. View author profile.

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