Coupons 101

Coupons 101: How to Make the Most of Your Coupons, Offers and Deals
-by Jeanette Pavini, consumer and investigative reporter

If you were wcoupons 101alking down the street and saw a $50 bill lying there, would you just walk right past it? Please. Stupid question, right?

Now, imagine finding that $50 every week for a year. Can you say “free money?” That’s exactly what using coupons can save the average family of four every week.

Using coupons has become almost effortless. You can now find offers that you want when you want them, 24/7—no need to wait for the Sunday newspaper. And think about this—if you typically buy one box of cereal a week and you start using a “$1 off” coupon each time, you will have an extra $52 in your pocket at the end of the year, and that’s just for one item. Easy!

Coupons aren’t just for groceries anymore. You can find coupons on everything from baby food to pet food, medications, personal care items, cleaning products, office supplies and baby supplies.

So learn the basics, set aside about 30 minutes each week, and you’ll be well on your way to earning literally thousands of extra dollars a year. Think of it as giving yourself a raise, and here is the class to teach you how: Welcome to Coupons 101.

START AT THE BEGINNING:

  • Set up a separate email account just for coupons and manufacturer newsletters. This way you can keep your savings separate from your personal or work email.
  • Visit the websites of your favorite stores and manufacturers and subscribe to their newsletters. You can also subscribe to the Coupons.com’s SuperSaver newsletter.
  • Save all the grocery store ads that come in your mail every week.
  • Once you have all your materials, set aside 30 minutes each week to sit down and plan meals around store sales and coupons. Ideally, you should do this on the day store ads come in the mail.
  • Visit Coupons.com and print out coupons or save them directly to your store loyalty card. This is also the time when you can check your savings email account for any good deals that week. Also, check local papers and magazines for additional coupons.
  • The ultimate goal is to find coupons that you can use on sale items because that means you are optimizing your savings. Try to work as many of these double deals into your weekly menu.
  • Keep your eyes open for additional offers when you are shopping like “peelies,” which are on the product packaging, or coupons that you get at the register.
  • If an item is on sale but out of stock, stores will usually give you a rain check to buy it at a later date. Some stores will also offer you a rain check for coupons. If your coupon is about to expire, but the item is out of stock, ask a store manager if they can stamp or sign it so you can use it later.

TAKE IT TO THE NEXT LEVEL:

  • Register your loyalty card at Coupons.com and “clip” coupons directly to it. When you swipe your card at checkout, store sales and coupon savings will automatically be applied. Click on the Save to Card tab to get started.
  • Organize your coupons in a binder using plastic holders and dividers. Make sure you check for expiration dates.
  • Identify sale cycles. A lot of stores rotate staples like paper goods, cereal and bread at rock bottom prices to draw you into the store. Follow the store cycles and you may start to see patterns—often cycles last 12 weeks.
  • If your coupons won’t scan or a cashier is reluctant to accept it, don’t be afraid to speak up or ask for a manager. It can also be beneficial to have a store’s coupon policy with you when you shop.
  • If you really love a particular product or manufacturer, let them know. Send an email telling them why you love their product and ask if they have any coupons. It can’t hurt to try.

BOOST YOUR SAVINGS EVEN MORE:

  • Optimize your savings. Say you print out two of the same exact coupons for peanut butter, but they each say, “one coupon per purchase.” Generally that means you can’t use both coupons on one jar of peanut butter, but if you wanted to buy two jars, you may be able to use one coupon for each in the same transaction.
  • Whenever you make an online purchase, always check for a coupon code. At the very least you will often find free shipping. You can also stack coupon codes at certain online stores, but it usually has to be for different types of deals. For example, you could apply a free shipping code in addition to a 20% off code, but you could not apply a 15% off code on top of a 20% off.
  • Coupon doubling is when a store doubles (or even triples) the value of a single coupon. Usually this is offered as a special store promotion or customer appreciation event. Manufacturers reimburse the store for the face value of the coupon, but the store pays out of pocket for the additional double or triple savings. Other than this exception, coupons can only be used once because a store is losing money if they scan a single coupon more than that.

SEE IT WORK IN REAL LIFE:

Always look at the payoff: At the bottom of your receipts, you’ll see the amount saved. Keep your receipts and tally up how much money you are saving. Remember, coupons are like free money—and why would you ever pass that up?

We have a new website designed to help our customers with coupon printing questions and other helpful tips.  Please visit http://help.coupons.com?cid=37535_2!

119 thoughts on “Coupons 101

    • Hi Cindy,

      Good luck to you! Visit our blog throughout National Coupon Month for more tips on saving.

      Thank you,
      Coupons.com

  1. I have a ebt card and still need to use coupons to make it through the month. I trade with my neighbor then another neighbor will go through them, then they are sent overseas to our military families.

    • military families have usually at the ACS building’s coupons upon request or even already cut out and sort in zip log bags they should ask or look for it .

  2. I love this post. I have been couponing for years and have done the steps recommended in your post here. You have really covered the major points needed to maximize savings using coupons. I have so many family members and friends always asking me how I save with coupons and now I have a post I can send them to that will completely get them off on the right foot. Thanks for the post.
    Loyal follower,
    Carolyn

    • Hi Carolyn, Thank you for your comment! We appreciate the support and hope your family members and friends find our post useful as well. Happy savings!

  3. thanks a lot for the free info!!! ;) I am always trying to find a good deal, its also a hobby of mine. I keep working twords being a better couponer. thanks for sharing your info!

  4. I’ve been watching my Aunt coupon for years. The $ she saves she puts aside in sep. acct. and within what seemed like no time at all, she saved enough $ to buy a new car~with all the bells and whistles. Here goes!!!

  5. I’m so envious of people in the USA! Any coupons in the UK are few and far between. If I find 2 a month I’m lucky. I’ll be taking a vacation to Florida in 35 days time. Excited to print some coupons!

    • Hi Gemma, We’re happy to hear you’ll be able to print coupons once you reach Florida. Please note that offers from Coupons.com are only valid inside the United States. Happy savings!

    • Hi Wendy, Thanks for posting your question. The best way to receive help with technical issues is to email socialmedia@couponsinc.com. Please include a description of the problem and daytime contact information. An engineer will be happy to reach out to you with help as soon as possible. Thank you!

  6. Will you be expanding your list of businesses with loyalty cards soon? I really like this site, but do not see the grocery stores I use in my area. Thank you for any feed back you could provide.

    • Hi Jean, Thanks for posting your question. Please let us know which grocery store you patron at, as well as the location. We are always trying to expand the savings card feature to include more retailers and would like to pass on the information you provide us to the appropriate team to explore the opportunity. Thank you!

      • Hi Bon, Please let us know which grocery store you patron at, as well as the location. We would like to pass on the information to the appropriate team to explore the opportunity of adding the retailer to the Savings Card feature. Thank you!

      • Hi Bon, please let us know which store you patron at and the location. We would like to foward the information to the correct team to explore if that retailer can be added to our Savings Card feature. Thanks!

    • Hi Jessica! Thanks for posting your question here. We will need more information from you to help troubleshoot the problem. Please email socialmedia@couponsinc.com with a description of the problem and daytime contact information. Please do not post it here as we do not want your personal information compromised on a public forum. We hope to resolve your problem soon, Jessica. Thank you for your patience!

    • Hi Monique, Thank you for your interest in that coupon. We cannot guarantee a coupon for a specific product will be available at any particular time. It may no longer be available due to popular printing. Please visit our site often as we add new coupons throughout the month. Thanks! -Kim

    • Hi Ashley, Thanks for your question. Manufacturers using our coupon printing technology typically assign individual print limits to their coupon offers to make sure everyone gets a chance to print their coupon. Thus, the print limit for one coupon may differ from another one. Hope that helps! -Kim

  7. Hello I am new to couponing, hopefully i can get the hang of it. your post was great guide on how to get me started.. also i noticed that some of the coupons have a Walmart logo on them, does this mean that they are only redeemable at Walmart or can I use them at any store?

    • Hi Amaris, We’re glad you’re getting the hang of couponing and hope you’re enjoying your savings.

      Even though the coupon might say “Redeemable at Walmart” it should be accepted anywhere that accepts manufacturer coupons. Most major retailers have an official policy to accept printable coupons as long as they have an expiration date, scan properly at the register, and are not for free product. You can usually find a coupon acceptance policy online at the retailer’s website. If that policy says the store accepts printed coupons, we recommend you print that policy statement off and bring it in with you on your next visit to the store.

      Let us know if you have any other questions!

      Thanks,
      Kim

    • Hi Daniela, Thanks for reaching out to us. Have you installed the Coupon Printer for your Mac computer yet? The Coupon Printer is a small, safe browser add-on that will enable your computer to build and print coupons upon request that conform to manufacturer and retailer requirements for redemption. You can download the file to install the printer at http://www.coupons.com/couponweb/help/print/install.html. Please let us know if you have any other questions. Thanks! -Kim

      • DOESN’T FRIGGIN WORK!!!!
        I have “installed” your coupon software 4 times now!!! I quit my browser prior to installation (per the readme) – I have restarted my Mac – I have tried other browsers – every time I try to print a coupon it wants to install the coupon software. I am on a Mac OSX 10.5.8 – using Safari 5.0.6 and Firefox 3.6.28 – both supposedly supported according to your website. WHAT IS UP?

        • Hi Gary,
          We’re sorry to hear you’re experiencing browser issues and would like to offer you help quickly. Please email socialmedia@couponsinc.com with your name and full description of your issue so we can directly assist you with technical assistance. We sincerely apologize for any inconveniences and thank you for your patience, as then our customer support team member will try to assist you in resolving your issue as soon as possible.
          Thank you,
          Christine

  8. i have dowloaded the app.. i have dowlnoaded the coupon printer over and over and over.. and everytime i try to print my coupons, it brings me right back to the screen saying i have to download the coupon printer, even though i have already done it and it confirmed it was finished.. WHY WONT THIS WORK? im about to uninstall it cause now i have TWO downloads for it any why have it taking up space if i cant even use it!!
    very frustrated!

    • Hi Amber, We are sorry you experienced installation issues. We would like to troubleshoot the problem for you, but will need more information to narrow down the problem. Please email socialmedia@couponsinc.com with a description of the problem and daytime contact information. A support team member will reach out to you as soon as possible. Thanks! -Kim

  9. I have seen many websites were people post that they can print 2 of each coupon. I have never been able to print 2 of the same coupon. Every time I print one the coupon is gone. Is it true that you can print 2 of the same coupon?

    • Hi Tracy, Thanks for your question. Manufacturers set print limits that may vary from coupon to coupon. Often times the print limit is set at 2. After printing a coupon once, it may appear at a different location in the coupon gallery. You can sort coupons by category to have an easier time locating it. Let us know if you have any other questions. Thanks! -Kim

  10. I dont have a printer. Is there a way to download the coupond tomy ipadand show the coupond to the cashier when I get to the check out line?

    • Hi Richard,

      Thanks for your question! Our secure printing platform ensures that coupons will never display on screen, but will print directly to your printer. Coupons cannot be printed to digital formats such as PDF to be scanned at check out. You can still use coupons from our site with our Savings Card feature. The feature allows you to add coupons to your grocery store card and doesn’t require a printer – http://www.coupons.com/couponweb/eoffers.aspx?pid=13306&nid=10&zid=iq37.

      Hope that helps. Let us know if you have any other questions.

      Thanks,
      Kim

    • Hi Rose, Coupons are added throughout the month, but many of them appear on the first day of the month. Let us know if you have other questions. Thanks! -Kim

    • Hi Catwalk803,
      Thank you for your question. You can set your zip code with the following steps:
      1. Log into your account at Coupons.com
      2. Click on your name in the upper right hand corner to show the drop down menu
      3. Click on “Your Profile”
      4. Set your zip code and click “Submit Changes”
      Hope that helps! Let us know if you have more questions. Thanks. -Kim

  11. The add-on that is required to run the coupon printer causes your site to crash. I run vista with ie9. Everything is up to
    date. You need to fix this problem.

    • Hi Deb, We are sorry to hear you are encountering an issue with the Counter Printer. Please email socialmedia@couponsinc.com with a description of the problem and daytime contact information. A support team member will reach out to troubleshoot the issue. We hope to resolve your issue as soon as possible so that you can get back to printing. Thanks! -Kim

  12. can someone please help me print my tobbaco coupons or help me find more please??? I need dip-snuff or cigarettes please. i really would like to get printable one. THANK YOU ALL SO MUCN.

    • Hi Melissa, Thanks for your interest in our coupons. However, our coupons are only valid in the United States and its territories. Thanks! -Kim

    • Hi Lara, Thanks for your interest in our coupons. We cannot guarantee a specific offer will be available for a product at any particular time. We do add coupons throughout the month, so please check back often. Thanks! -Kim

  13. Printing problem.
    How would I print coupons smaller and black?
    When I just press “Print coupon” on front page i don’t have any control over size and color.

    • Hi Cresta, Thanks for reaching out to us. Our coupon printing technology ensures that coupons are never displayed on screen and are sent directly to your printer. Currently there is no option to adjust the sizes of the coupons, but you can print coupons in black and white by adjusting your printer settings. If you need assistance with this, please email socialmedia@couponsinc.com and a support team member will be glad to help troubleshoot the printing color with you. Thanks! -Kim

    • Hi Cresta, Thanks for the question. Currently we do not have an option to view all clipped coupons in one place. Please stay tuned for any updates the site may have. Thanks! -Kim

  14. does anyone know why my coupons only print part way.Its like ther is a margin either side that cuts of my sides of the coupons . I cant figure out how to fix this.

    • Hi Trish, Thanks for leaving a comment on our blog. We would like to resolve your print issue but will need more information to narrow down the problem. Please email socialmedia@couponsinc.com with details of the problem and daytime contact information. A support team member will reach out to help troubleshoot the issue as soon as possible. Thanks! -Kim

  15. Once you have reached your limit on an item, is there anyway you can more coupons for those items in the future. Some of mine have expired before I could use them because I was new to coupons.

    • Hi Sara, Manufacturers set print limits for each coupon. Unfortunately, the print limit cannot be reset if you have already reached it. Please be sure all settings are correct and paper is loaded into your printer before printing. Coupons appear throughout the month, especially on the first of the month. Please check the site back often for coupons you may be interested in. Thanks! -Kim

  16. I moved and can’t figure out how to change the zip code. I change it under local but when I go back to coupons it has changed back to my old zip code.

    • Hi Pat, Have you tried setting your preferred zip code in your Profile Settings yet? Once you do so, the zip code will not change until you change it. The instructions are below:
      1. Log into your account at Coupons.com
      2. Click on your name at the top right hand corner to release the drop down menu. Click “Your Profile”
      3. Enter your preferred zip code. Click “Submit Changes” at the end of the page
      Please let us know if you continue to have issues changing the zip code. We are glad to walk you through it. Thanks! -Kim

  17. Finding coupons has become a search for the holy grail!!!! A huge waist of time. I should not have to have an internet connection and a printer to save on items my family and I use daily. What about the elderly who need it the most? It has just become a huge sorce of frustration. I would be better off getting a second job and paying full price. It pisses me off to no end!!!

    • Hi Jean,
      We’re sorry to hear that you’re unhappy with the couponing process. Our goal at Coupons.com is to deliver the best offers to our customers, whether it be manufacturer coupons or offers under the “Coupon Codes” tab. Our team works of deal experts work hard to provide retailer coupon codes, deals and printable coupons to help deliver the best deals to our site users from brand websites and elsewhere online. Also, our coupon printing technology ensures that manufacturer coupons are securely printed directly to our customer’s printer. Our mission is to help customers find great coupons and save money. We’re sorry for any inconveniences and thank you for your feedback. If there is anything we can assist you with directly, please let us know.
      Thanks,
      Christine

  18. This doesn’t seem to work on my iPad…can’t clip more than 1 coupon without it removing the last one and can’t install printer. Is that common?

    • Hi Leigh,

      We’re sorry to hear you’re experiencing browser issues and would like to offer you help quickly. Please email socialmedia@couponsinc.com with your name and full description of your issue so we can directly assist you with technical assistance. We sincerely apologize for any inconveniences and thank you for your patience, as then our customer support team member will try to assist you in resolving your issue as soon as possible.

      Thank you!
      Nicole

    • Hi Leigh,

      In regards to mobile devices – in this case iPad – download of free apps from the Apple Store is required for Coupons.com and Grocery iQ. Once installed on mobile device, the following are options in obtaining coupons:

      - Print : only to HP wireless printers – selective list)
      - Email : would need to access email from a laptop or desktop computer system; click on link within email and then print

      Once you download these apps, you can clip as many as you’d like.

      Hope this helps!

      Best regards, Helen @ Coupons.com

  19. I select coupons to print and got the confirmation that the coupons had printed, but they never printed out on my printer. When I tried to go back to select them again to try to print. It showed I had already printed those and won’t let me print them again. I would like to say coupons.com save me money, but they won’t be true simply because I couldn’t print them. It is not my printer because I have went to other sites today to print there manufacturer’s coupons and it printed just fine.

    Please fix this issue coupons.com. Give coupon clippers a way to reprint if it didn’t actually print out.

    Thanks.

    • Hi S,

      We’re sorry to hear you’re experiencing printing issues and would like to offer you help quickly. Please email socialmedia@couponsinc.com with your name and full description of your issue so we can directly assist you with technical assistance. We sincerely apologize for any inconveniences and thank you for your patience, as then our customer support team member will try to assist you in resolving your issue as soon as possible.

      Thank you,
      Nicole

      • I have the same problem! I thought I was the only one. And if I try and print the same coupon on another coupon site it says I’ve reached my limit! I would appreciate it so much if you could help me. Thank you

        • Hi Mary,

          Thank you for reaching out to us. We’re sorry to hear you’re experiencing printing issues and would like to offer you help quickly. Please email socialmedia@couponsinc.com with your name and full description of your issue so we can directly assist you with technical assistance. We sincerely apologize for any inconveniences as our customer support team member will try to assist you in resolving your issue as soon as possible. Please let us know if you have any other questions.

          Thanks,
          Nicole

          Thank you,
          Nicole

    • Hi Kristen,

      Thank you for your comment. We try to post coupons as often as we can. Check back every Thursday for our series called “Top Weekly Deals” where we post the best deals of the week. Also, we post more coupons towards upcoming holiday seasons.

      Please let us know if you have any other questions.

      Thanks!
      Nicole

    • Hi Karen,

      Thanks for contacting us. Our printed coupons should be accepted anywhere that accepts manufacturer coupons. Most major retailers have an official policy to accept printable coupons as long as they have an expiration date, scan properly at the register, and are not for free product. You can usually find a coupon acceptance policy online at the retailer’s website. If that policy says the store accepts printed coupons, we recommend you print that policy statement off and bring it in with you on your next visit to the store. We hope this helps answer your question.

      If we can assist directly, please email socialmedia@coupons.com and include your day time contact information.

      Thanks,
      Nicole

  20. Thanks for all the tips. I need all the help I can get bc Im not familiar with using coupons at all. It def does make a big difference though!

  21. Is there anything in writing that I am allowed to print two coupons from coupons.com? I have been printing two for years but today at Walgreens, they refused to take my second coupon because it had the same number as the first.

    • Hi Carolyn,

      Thank you for your question. We do not have anything in writing about the number of times a coupon can be printed since it can vary. However, each coupon should have it’s own identifier, such that no two coupons have the same exact one.

      Thank you,
      Nicole

  22. I have been couponing for a couple of years now, and I still learn something new when I go to blogs like these. I’ve always wondered what the sales cycles were for products. I haven’t been really good about keeping track of that. One of the things I want to do this year is keep a spreadsheet on the buys that I do. I think this might at least help give me an idea on cycles.

  23. I see others have had this same problem for months on end. It is not our printers….it is the website itself. How can we leave great feedback and tell others if it doesn’t work?

  24. Would love if you could expand the Loyalty Cards to add the grocery chain Food Lion, new to couponing on this level…but very excited!

  25. I have just started using this site exclusively. I’ve also just started couponing seriously after watching a tv show about it. My coupons added to the store sales have saved me a tremendous amount of money. Thanks for the tips. I look forward to saving even more.

    • Hi Kristin,
      New coupons come up almost every day, but the 1st of the month is when the majority start. Sign up for our Supersaver Newsletter to ensure you never miss new coupons again!

  26. ok…if i see a coupon on this site for save $1.00 on 1 minute maid orange juice…can i print that off several times and use it with each orange juice. i want 5 orange juices ao i can use 5 printed coupons??? please help:)

  27. There are always coupons in my “to print coupons” How can I see/delete those coupons. Many times there are 18 or more and I don’t want to waste paper.

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