Couponing Basics

Where to Start? 

Step One: Gathering your Coupons

The first step in couponing is to gather your coupons. There are various sources of coupons.

Sunday newspapers:  There are a few different types of inserts, Red Plum, Smart Source, and Proctor and Gamble, the latter is a periodic insert, the first two are normally in every Sunday. The available coupons vary by area and by paper. In our area, the Record Courier and Beacon Journal normally have both the Red Plum and the Smart Source inserts. The Plain Dealer does not have Red Plum but the Smart Source coupons are usually a tad different and/or better than our local coupons. Buy multiple papers, it might seem like a waste to buy 2 or 4 of the same paper but you more than make up for it with a few coupons. Most important with newspaper coupons, check to see if the inserts are in the paper before you buy it. There has been a lot of coupon theft, especially from machines and with a lot of stores, the clerks are responsible for putting the inserts into the papers, they are human, they make mistakes.

Internet Coupons: There are various websites that are sources of coupons to print, both collected coupons and manufacturer direct sites. Start with checking for coupons for your favorite products. Check their main web site and their Facebook page. General sites for collected coupons include, I always print my coupons through my Swagbucks account, that way I save money and earn Swagbucks. Go here to set up your Swagbucks account.  Normally with printable coupons, you can print two of the same by hitting your browser's back button after the print is complete. Some campaigns limit prints. Some stores limit the amount of printed coupons that can be used in a single transaction, or limit the value of printed coupons they will accept.

Peelies and other manufacturer coupons: Peelies are the coupons you find in store attached to the item. There are also machines that dispense coupons and pads of coupons hanging on racks. Occasionally, you will find books of coupons in store that are manufacturer coupons. Also I have found coupons inside the packaging of products I have already purchased. Keep your eyes peeled for these sources, because while they are not as consistent as the aforementioned types, these are often higher value coupons.

Store Coupons:  Store coupons vary by store. Some stores, such as Giant Eagle and CVS utilize store coupons in the form of discount cards. Additionally, you can add coupons to the cards of both stores from their website. These coupons load directly onto your card and come off when you check out and present the card. CVS also has a machine at the front of most stores where you get daily coupons by swiping your CVS card, swipe three times for various coupons of the day. Target has printables on their main website that change regularly. Some stores print their coupons in their weekly ads, both Acme and Walgreen's are known to do this, I've recently noticed Kmart ads with coupons as well. Walgreen's also puts out a monthly coupon book with deals that are good for the duration of the month. Most stores allow stacking of Store coupons with manufacturer coupons.

While it seems overwhelming at first, there are a variety of ways to start gathering coupons and saving yourself money. Start small, start with things you buy regularly. You might want to start with one source of coupons, say printed coupons, and add other sources as you get the hang of things. Remember, every little bit you save helps out in the end.