• How to Coupon for Beginners


    (Click on the video above to watch How to Coupon for Beginners)

    Welcome to Coupon 101! We will go thru the 5 basic steps on How to Start Couponing for Beginners! This article is the show notes for the accompanying video on youtube for How to Coupon, you can watch it here.

    Feel free to ask any questions in the comments below or on the video page. I’m here to help. Also, subscribe to my YouTube channel for more beginner tips, and videos diving into in-depth couponing & money saving topics.

    Step #1: Understanding the Goal

    The goal to couponing is to buy items at the lowest price (or very low price), and to buy enough until the next time you can score the item for the lowest price again.  We do this by taking advantage of sales, and combining them with the usage of coupons and cash back offers.

    This”very low price” or “lowest price” is known as a “Stock-Up Price”.

    A Stock Up Price is a price point that is low enough that you want to buy multiples of an item. We buy multiple units so that we have enough to use until the next time it goes on sale again.

    In this buying pattern – of buying low, waiting, and buying low again – you never have to pay full price for common household essentials. Examples of common products that we see deal on regularly are: Toilet Paper, Paper Towels, Laundry Detergent, Toothpaste, Shampoo, Lotion, Diapers.

    Step #2: Understanding Types of Coupons

    There are two types of coupons. Manufacturer Coupon (MFQ for short) and Store Coupons.

    Manufacturer Coupon – Issued by the product brand. They say “Manufacturer Coupon” at the top of the coupon. These coupons are paid for and issued by the product brand.

    Store Coupon – Issued by a store or retailer. ie. CVS or Walgreens. They will have the store name printed at the top of the coupon. For example, “Target Coupon” will be printed at the top of a Target Store Coupon.

    What is Coupon Stacking?

    A common question I hear from newbie couponers is “How Do I Stack Coupons?

    The most important rule to remember is that you can use 1 Manufacturer coupon per item you are purchasing. You cannot use 2 Manufacturer coupons on 1 item.

    However, when you have a Manufacturer Coupon AND a Store Coupon on the same item, you can use both coupons at the same time on that 1 item. Essentially using 2 coupons on the same item. This is called Coupon Stacking.

    Coupon Stacking is when you are allowed to use multiple offers and coupons on the same item, creating additional ways to save even more money.

    You can stack Manufacturer Coupon, Store Coupon, Store Rewards (if any), Store Sales & Gift Card Promotions, and Cashback Offers – on the same item!

    Step #3: Getting Coupons

    Now is time to get some coupons. You’re probably wondering, “Where do I get coupons?

    There are 3 major forms of coupons:

    • Insert Coupons – From the Sunday Newspaper in most regions
    • Printable Coupons – Printed from a computer or your phone
    • Mobile Coupons – Coupons you can access using just your phone

    What Are Insert Coupons?

    Inserts are little booklets filled with coupons. You can find these booklets inside Sunday edition newspapers in most regions of the country.

    Insert coupons are the most common source of coupons for extreme couponers and coupon hobbyists. Insert coupons are not required, but if you are serious about diving into couponing, I recommend starting to collect inserts every Sunday.

    There are only 2 types of inserts. Couponers refer to them by their acronyms:

    • SmartSource (SS)
    • Save

    The inserts that are included in each week’s paper is on a pre-determined schedule. We publish this schedule every year in January on the blog at FreeStuffFinder.com – You can find the insert schedule linked under “Coupons” site menu. Here is the 2023 Sunday Coupon Insert Schedule.

    Coupon Abbreviations

    We refer to each insert by its acronym and the date from the Sunday when they came out. For example “SS 1/20” is for the SmartSource insert from January 20th. And the little “x” means the expiration date for that coupon. So “x2/28” means the coupon expires on February 28th.

    I recommend writing the date on the front page of the insert with a sharpie. If you are ever unsure which date an insert came from, you can find the date written in very tiny font along the spine edge of the insert.

    Where to Get Inserts?

    You can start collecting inserts by purchasing Sunday newspapers. Please make sure to open up the paper (if you can) to check if there are inserts inside before you buy. Additionally make sure you keep the receipt, in case there are no inserts and you need to return the paper.

    Do not spend more than $2.50 per newspaper. Ideally, we want to keep this cost to $1.50 or lower.

    Here are some places you can get Sunday Papers:

    • Dollar Tree for $1 – The cheapest place to get the Sunday paper is at the Dollar Tree, assuming your Dollar Tree carries Sunday papers. Some regions even have Sunday Edition papers that are released on a Saturday, called Early Edition. Call your store or visit a DT on a Sunday morning.
    • Friends, Neighbors, Family – If a friend or neighbor has a newspaper subscription, including Sundays, ask if you can have the inserts.
    • Starbucks, McDonald’s, Restaurants – My Starbucks also has a little newspaper stand, where you can find papers for $1.85. I’ve heard of similar with some McDonald’s. I’ve also seen abandoned newspapers at Sunday breakfast restaurants around town. Keep an eye out.
    • Hospitals 
    • Convenient Store – I haven’t tried this but I heard that convenient stores toss their papers after midnight. If you know if this is true or know more, please let me know in the comments below.
    • Long Term Solution – For the long term, I like to get a Sunday Only paper subscription. Look for promotions in your region. For example, in Southern California, LA Times will run their $10 promotion, where you can get a year’s deliveries for just $10 per year! Limit 5 per household. They deliver as far south as San Diego.
    • By Bulk – I don’t recommend buying inserts by bulk from insert sellers, especially if you are just starting out. Most people won’t know what to do with that many inserts. And the math usually works out to be more expensive if you just bought the newspapers each week.

    Start with collecting 2 papers each week.

    Printable Coupons

    The quickest and easiest way to start couponing is by using printable coupons. As long as you have a printer, you can get started. You can browse and print coupons here.

    You can find deal ideas with printable coupons under “Coupons” menu on FSF.

    If you are in the market for a new printer, I highly recommend getting a Wireless Laser Printer. I prefer HP brand, and I recommend getting a B&W printer to save on ink. Keywords are: Wireless and Laser. Laser printers cost slightly more to buy the machine initially, but you will save a lot more money in ink in the long run. Not only you will save more, but also they print much faster and do not smudge.

    Step #4: Find a Deal

    Now that you have coupons and know where to find them, it’s time to find some deals.

    One way to find a deal is looking thru a store’s weekly ad to see what’s on sale, and then checking the coupons you have. If you see an item that is on sale, and you have a coupon for that item, you can match the two together to stack your savings. This is called a “Matchup”.

    For example, you can also find Coupon Matchups and Deal ideas posted daily on FreeStuffFinder.com and my Mobile App. We also post an extensive weekly matchup list for major stores like Target, CVS, and Walgreens. It lists everything on sale that week, and we’ll also list any known coupons or cashback offers you can stack with the sale.

    You can find the weekly matchup pinned at the top of each store category (Click on Stores from site menu, and then click on the store name. ie. Target). Weekly matchups are updated throughout the week.

    Step #5: Go Out & Try! 🙌

    Of course, when learning anything new, there is truly no substitute for practical experience. You will learn so much when you are out doing and practicing.

    Pick one or two deals that you understand and then go out to try them. Pick easy deals. I highly recommend you start at an easy store, like Target, if possible. CVS is also a friendly store if Target isn’t an option.

    NOW… Go here for the followup video, where I share the  Top 10 Tips for New Couponers to have a successful first couponing trip! Make sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel to be notified of updates.

    452 good-looking people commentedLeave a comment
    1. 1

      Hi tina i still don’t Getafe this and i don’t Know how this work

    2. 0

      I was reading the Rite Aid, Walgreens, and CVS coupon policies and it sounded like only CVs will allow two coupons for each item in a bogo and Rite Aid and Walgreen will only allow one. You cannot use a coupon for the free one. Is this right?

    3. -1

      Thanks for all your great tips, Tina! I’ve subscribed to your newsletter for a while now. Do you know of any way around having to install the coupons.com software? I don’t have a printer at home and my work computer does not allow it. Thanks!

    4. -2

      i have tried to get free samples I don’t ever receive and I don’t want to order anything I belive this is a scam

    5. -3

      I am looking to get a deal on razors this week. CVS sent me a $6 off $30 Just 4U coupon in my email, and I got a $4 off $10 coupon on my receipt last week. Would I be able to use both in one transaction? Also in the ad preview it says you get $10 off when you spend $40 on skin care but I dont think I can use that also. Thank you for any responses. I love this site!

    6. -4

      Hi Tina
      I’m new at this I’ve tried several times buying for free and I’ve done a pretty ok job at it. My question is about walgreens.. now you can clip coupon to your card does this mean you can use the same coupon if printed or cut from an insert? Or if you have to use more than one can u use the clip to your card +one you have on hand?

    7. -5

      Very new to this… However I tried to get coupons and had a hard time doing so.
      I clipped coupons, sent them to my email to get printed and when I would click on “print coupons” it would just send me back to the site to go through the steps all over again.
      Please help, I don’t know what I am doing wrong…

    8. -6

      Hi Tina,
      I really love your site and appreciate the info you give. I am very new to couponing but I see that it works. I have been a few small simple trips and now I am noticing that I need to organize my coupons. What is the best way you can tell to organize these? thank you again!


    9. -7

      Hi I’m new to this coupon thing I was wondering how dose the coupon snapple drink work at walamrt the coupon says buy one and the other one is free

    10. -8

      Whay we don’t have Redplum coupons ,in Sunday papers ,zip code 98204

      • -8.1

        Hi Olga. I’m not sure about that region, but I do know that different papers in different regions you get different coupons in them. Two papers in the same area will sometimes get different inserts. Some regions they don’t include RedPlum, because the come in the mail along with weekly ads from the post man.

      • -8.2

        Redplum is delivered on tuesday and wednesday from your local post office. If you do not recieve the redplum coupons, all you need to do is call redplum and give them your address and they will print out your copy for your mailman to deliver every tuesday and wednesday. At least thats how we do it in denver, co. Im a mailman here in denver. Hope this helps.

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