• 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

      Hello Tina. New couponer here. Is there a link to a quick view legend that explains the various initials (ex. SV, UL) and other indicators. I keep forgetting what they mean and I then can’t remember where to go to find this information.

    2. 0

      Hi, I wonder how to submit a coupon or a deal?

      • 0.1
        Helen (Free Stuff Finder) :

        Hello there! If you want to submit a deal go to community section inside the FSF app (second option from the left). Click on the community icon and you’ll see a little “+” sign at the bottom right corner. From there you can create your post. Just click on the “submit” button when you place everything. Hope that was helpful!

    3. -1

      Hi Tina , I want to know if this works in other countries as well

      • -1.1

        Hey Besa! We are based in the US so most of the deals we post are available to US only. Although some deals have worldwide shipping. To make sure, I advise that you contact them directly to check if they ship internationally too. Hope this helps!

    4. -2

      Where can i use the coupon

    5. -3

      Hi my name is Abolaji I need to put a Coupon I want to know how to use coupon I don’t know how to get it I don’t know how to go online I don’t know where to get it and I have a big family I wish a YouTube video every day thoughts I don’t truly understand how to use the coupon can you please teach me so that I can help my family please help me out this is my number 8572227725Thank you

    6. -4

      Im wanting to try couponing today at walgreens or walmart im looking for gain detergent

    7. -5

      Hey Tina got a question how do u do it online I gave to drive an hour away from house just to go to a local store. So I do all of my online usually so is there any way u can coupon online?

    8. -6

      Dont know how to use coupon

    9. -7

      hi so I just kind of just got in to this but when I go online to find deals in the store without really going in the store. I don’t know how to find sales and I’m not really sure how to add up the percentages like the 5%, 10%, ext. please help me!!!!

    10. -8

      Hi Tina! I was reading through your section on where to get inserts and wanted to let you know, that yes Every convenient store or here we have a ton of Sunoco gas stations, they ALL toss out their Sunday papers at the end of the day prior to close. I also wanted to let people know the biggest thing I’ve learned is that a closed mouth Never gets Fed! I have gone to a handful of my small gas stations and convenience stores, and (after building a good rapport with the evening workers) have asked if they would be willing to hold onto whatever Sunday papers they don’t sell. so now every Monday morning, before 10am, I go to the ones that agreed and they hand me ALL the papers that they didn’t sell the day/night before! It’s definitely been a HUGE money saver for me!! Try it out let me know if anyone else has any luck doing the same 💕

      • -8.1

        Oh wow! Thank you SO much for sharing this, Samantha! What a great idea! I know a lot of people collect coupons from family and friends who don’t use them, but this didn’t even cross my mind. So you basically take it off their hands (since they would throw it anyway) AND save money in the process. Win-win! Thanks again for sharing! Hope you’re having an amazing week! 🙂

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