• How to Coupon


    (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. ie. Tide laundry detergent coupon is paid for by P&G.

    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 3 types of inserts. Couponers refer to them by their acronyms:

    • SmartSource (SS)
    • P&G (PG)
    • RetailMeNot (RMN) – This used to be called Redplum or RP. Some regions do not receive the RetailMeNot inserts in their Sunday papers, since in those regions, the RMN insert is included in the mail with weekly circulars.

    The inserts that are included in each week’s paper is on a pre-determined schedule. You won’t find all 3 inserts every week. P&G inserts come out on the first Sunday of every month.

    We publish this schedule every year in January on the blog at FreeStuffFinder.com – You can find the insert schedule linked under “Coupons” or “Coupon DB” site menu. Here is the 2019 Sunday Coupon Insert Schedule.


    We refer to each insert by their 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. And 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. Plus 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”.

    You can also find Coupon Matchups and Deal ideas posted daily on FreeStuffFinder.com and my (Upcoming) Mobile App. We also post an extensive weekly matchup list for major stores like Target, CVS, Walgreens, and Rite-Aid. 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 clicking on the store name. ie. Target). Weekly matchups are updated through out the week.

    Step #5: Go Out & Try! 🙌

    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 going 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.

    Keep an eye out for a followup video, where I will 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.

    215 good-looking people commentedLeave a comment
    1. 125

      hi tina..how can i use coupons during online purchase in target?

    2. 127

      Hi Tina,

      I am a beginner. Re: Walgreens current deal on Colgate toothpaste.

      Can I not use 3 printed coupons on 3 Colgate products? The cashier said I can only use 1 because it is fraud. She said, they all have the same bar code numbers.

      I looked at the P&G coupons that I clipped (about 7 coupons from same product), and they all have the same bar code.

      I am confused. How does it work?

      Thank you!

    3. 131

      Hi Tina I’ve been trying to find your stockpile list can you direct me to where I can find this please.

    4. 133

      Tina I need your help…..I received a Badge thru Target CartWheel, it’s Instant Replay. How do I use it?
      I want to get the Beats Solo deal but they are all sold out around the bay area and there’s no Raincheck Can I use this Badge at a later time?
      Please help!!!

      • 134

        Hi Blanca. I don’t think that you can use the badges. 🙁 They are just rewards that you get for making certain purchases. So sorry to hear that you weren’t able to get the Beats. Hopefully we’ll see some more great deals on these as we move into Black Friday and the holiday season. 🙂

    5. 135
      Dayanara Jai Alpuerto :

      Hi!! .Im a newbie here! and I was amzaed on how you get free stuffs in here! but I’d like to ask if these free stuffs in here are available in the Philippines? Thank you!

    6. 137

      Can I get freebies in Australia or is it just America Thanks Tina

    7. 139

      Hey was just wondering if there coupons for nz

    8. 141

      hi Tina. i went to walgreens and i tried to use the deal spend 15 dollars buying dove body wash. 2 suave hair care and 2 vaseline lotion. and get the 5000 points. of course using my coupons. the cashier told me yout total buy of $15.00 has to be after using the coupons. if not the machine does no give me my 5000 balance reward points. he tried and i could not get my 5000reward points.

      • 142

        Hey Yobana. Their deals have always been that you only have to reach the threshold before manufacturer coupons. The deal should have worked. Did you pay for the items and still not get your points? If so, I would contact customer service. They can add the points for you. 🙂

    9. 143
      Evangeline Macayan :

      Hi Tina I love the way you do Couponing.Thank you

    10. 145

      Hi Tina, I love all your video’s on how to coupon. Keep up the Great work. I feel I could save more, but I do pretty good at target. Thanks for all your help.

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