Everything You Need to Know About Couponing (and How Much You Can Expect to Save)

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I love bargains. I love saving. And I hate spending money. So, I am a proud couponer. I am not an “extreme” couponer who saves 50%+ on shopping trips. But, I do save several hundreds of dollars each year just by using coupons. I want to help you save money on groceries using coupons! So, I put together a Coupon 101 post. More people enjoy watching a video rather than reading, it would be a good content idea to post it on visual platforms such as Youtube. Don’t waste time trying to get noticed, instead buy youtube subscribers.

I’ll even give you real numbers of exactly how much money we saved using coupons in 2013 at the end of the post.

Couponing 101 – How do you Coupon?

What is a coupon?

A piece of paper or code that allows you to save money or get a discount on a specified product for a specified amount for a limited time.

Where do you get coupons?

Inside your local Sunday Newspaper

In your mailbox

  • Redplum insert (Wednesdays)
  • Monthly ValPaks

On or in products

At the register after check-out

Online grocery coupons

  • or
  • (need to sign up)
  • (sign up optional)
  • (sign up required)
  • and

Online Services/Deal Coupons

  • Company Facebook Pages
  • Email Newsletter Subscriptions

How do you organize coupons?

I use an accordion file folder, binders with playing card sheet inserts, or paper clips.

Organize them by categories: dairy, meat, frozen, drinks, snacks, staples, cleaning supplies, bathroom, laundry, baby, restaurants, paper products, etc. Within the categories sort them by brands, type of product, store, and/or expiration dates.

How do you use coupons?

At the register, after all items are scanned, hand the cashier your coupons, give them your store loyalty card, or show them your smartphone.

Electronic coupons will come off atomically if uploaded to your shoppers’ card. Paper coupons and electronic coupons cannot be applied toward the same item (or “stacked”).

All coupons can only be used for the product, size, and variety specified. Follow “like coupons” limits. Make sure the coupon is not expired before handing it to the cashier.

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Do not buy, sell, or copy coupons. Doing so is illegal.

Best Way to Save with Coupons?

Use on top of sales, clearance, mark downs, and other discounts.

Use two coupons with in-store BOGO sales. You are buying two items, so two coupons can be used even though one is “free” with the in-store sale.

Only buy products or goods you actually need and use.

Plan your shopping trip ahead of time to maximize savings.

Stack store coupons with manufacturing coupons. i.e. a Target and a P&G coupon.

Have a “Buy Price” list. Know how much per unit your favorite items are so you can start figuring out what a “good price” really is.

Look online before you shop at retail chains (Staples, Michaels, Old Navy, etc) for coupons.

Buy generic if coupons and sales still don’t make it a better deal than the store brand.

How much time does it take to coupon?

I typically spend 1-3 hours a week doing couponing. I spend less time if I don’t print/look for coupons online. I also only clear out my accordion folder of expired coupons once a month (at the beginning of each month) which takes me about 20-30 minutes. Cutting coupons only takes 5-10 minutes. Sorting coupons and putting them in your folder can take 10 minutes or more. I typically do most of my couponing on Sundays, when I get the paper and the ads.

How much do you save with Coupons?

Depending on what products you buy and how much you buy and how often you shop and if you shop smart will vary how much you will actually save. But, for my family, we’ve saved more than $680 this year using coupons alone (see full analysis below). From May 2012 to the end of that year we saved roughly $350. We’ve saved even more by shopping sales. Using coupons has allowed us to build up a small stockpile of toiletry and food items. This means we won’t have to pay full-price when we run out of something we need.

How to coupon when shopping Online

Search for discount or promo codes to enter at checkout from places like

Before you buy online, go through a cash back website like one of my three favorite ones:

  • Upromise – The Smart Way to Save for College
  • (110% Price Match Guarantee)

Price Match!

Wal-Mart and Best Buy and Amazon all do price matching, and to advertised deals online now. If you find a better deal or sale, let them know! Chances are you can score the lower price!

My 2013 Coupon Saving Analysis

I tracked my coupon savings for an entire year! And I have to say, it’s quite a task to do so! I don’t know if I have the same drive to keep track of it again for 2014. This year was a great year for couponing at times. I explored couponing at Target for an entire month, built a stockpile of toiletries and food, and purchased a Sam’s Club Membership. I am sure I didn’t record every coupon or every receipt or every savings (it’s hard to see sale/discount savings on Target receipts), but from what I was able to easily track and record over the last year, here is how we fared:

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Highest Amount of Money Saved in One Month: $127.50 in February (ironic for the shortest month!)

Lowest Amount of Money Saved in One Month: $8.38 in December (When I fell off the couponing bandwagon)

Average Saved Per Month: $57.24

Total Amount Saved Using Coupons: $686.90

Average % Saved on Purchases: 11.2%

Total Amount Saved with Coupons and Sales: $1,761.51

Total % Saved with Coupons and Sales: 25%

If you really want to learn how to save hundreds of dollars couponing, sign up for Grocery University! It’s only $9.97!

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