The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Coupons

Cheryl Lock

1. Get Organized

Whether you clip and sort coupons in a binder or file them all by store into separate folders, experiment with different methods that will help you save time both when searching at home (“Hey, I already have a coupon for mustard!”) and when you’re in the store.

2. Focus on One Store–to Start

If you purchase most of your cleaning supplies at Target, for example, begin your coupon search there. You’ll be less overwhelmed this way, and you’ll gain confidence as you start to see how much you’re saving on the things that your family needs. When you feel you’ve conquered one store, you can branch out to other places that you frequent.

3. Clip Based on Need

Figure out what exactly you’ll be shopping for and base your coupon search on those items only. So if you’re heading to Shop Rite for three dinners that you plan to make, focus your coupon search for items on your “to buy” list, and ignore everything else.

4. Stockpile to Save Even More

Once you’ve gotten the hang of general couponing for a purpose, you can start stockpiling purchases for your favorite non-perishable items, like rice, pasta and coffee. To do this, keep a running list of the items that are in constant rotation in your house, and update the inventory each week so you’ll always know what’s running low. This way, when you come across that 15% coupon savings on pasta sauce, you’ll know if you need to use it or not. Not only will you be stocked up on things that you’ll actually use, but you’ll also have gotten it all for a great price.

5. Learn the Drugstore Rules

Shopping at stores like CVS, Walgreens and Rite Aid can take more time to master, since they each have their own reward system. So read all the fine print on their coupons, and when you do find a store that you believe offers the best rewards, do the majority of your shopping there to get the most savings. (And check out our comparison of online drugstores for even more saving advice.)

  • Anna Leath

    If you buy mostly store brands are coupons really worth it? I buy mostly at Kroger and have their discount card, but can never find coupons online or in the paper for anything other than national brands – which I don’t buy. I do get coupons from Kroger for some of their store brand items because I have their discount card.