The other day someone mentioned to my husband something about the fact that I always find the best deals and I always have a coupon for something. That’s actually a pretty true statement. I can sniff out a coupon a mile away. It’s almost like a game for me — to see if I can find a coupon for whatever I’m going to buy. $.25 here, $1 there; it really adds up! And I find coupons all over, so I thought I’d compile a list of the top 10 places (plus one bonus one) that I usually find coupons.
The Sunday Newspaper: We actually subscribe to the paper for no other reason than the ads and the coupons that come in those ads on Sundays. There are usually 1-3 little leaflet packets of coupons for grocery items in there. I can usually find a coupon for brands and products I buy anyway. My favorite coupons are the ones that will give you a free product. I’ve seen this often with new candy bars and dog treats. Basically the coupon is valid for whatever the product sells for in the store so you don’t have to pay a dime!
The Wednesday Paper (The Grocery Ads): I don’t know if it’s like this everywhere, but where I live, our Wednesday paper holds all the ads for the grocery stores. Browsing through these I can usually find coupons for specific items at specific grocery stores. Fred Meyer always has coupons for grocery items and Albertsons and Safeway often times do too (stores may vary in your area, but I’m sure you’ll still find coupons in their ads). Sometimes coupons are only valid for a few days because they are such a good deal ($1 for a jar of peanut butter or $.25 for a carton of eggs). The other day I found a coupon for Weight Watcher Smart Ones frozen meals for only $1 each (they are normally over $3 each) with a limit of 5. I actually bought 5, found another coupon and went back later that week for 5 more!
The Thursday and/or Friday Paper: Ok, this is the last newspaper one. I only get the Saturday, Sunday and Wednesday papers at home, but we get a paper everyday where I work and I usually find that there are special sale ads in the paper on Thursdays and Fridays that are advertising weekend sales, many that include coupons. These are often completely separate from the ads that come in the Sunday paper because they are for sales that usually only happen Friday and/or Saturday. JCPenney and Sears often have ads like these. This is especially true around holidays and at the end of seasons when they are trying to clearance things out. Often you can find coupons like “Save $10 off a purchase of $50 or more.”
Through Snail Mail: I usually hate junk mail cluttering up my mailbox, but a few times a month I’ll receive a coupon book or small leaflet full of coupons. Most people probably consider this junkmail, but I love it. Usually about once a month we receive a little coupon book that is filled with coupons and specials from businesses around my city. It usually has discounts on tanning, oil changes, home repairs, restaurants, dry cleaning, you name it. I like this because I become more knowledgeable about what businesses are around my house and I can try them out with less risk since I have a coupon. We also receive sheets of coupons from bigger chains like Dominoes, Pizza Hut, KFC, Arby’s, etc. These often have lots of valuable coupons that I store up for those eating out nights.
Entertainment Books: I love these things because they are an entire book full of coupons and savings, many of which are pretty substantial. They are filled with coupons for eating out, grocery shopping, fun activities, and all sorts of stuff. In our entertainment book last year we had a coupon for 50% parasailing at a nearby lake. My husband and I have always wanted to do this, but it can be pretty pricey. I found out that the price for the both of us to go up together was $80 — but it was only $40 with the coupon. So we saved $40 and did this on my birthday last year. The average price for an entertainment book is about $35, but if that is too much for you or you don’t think you’ll save enough to break even, you can often buy them later in the year for as little as $10. The coupons are only valid for a year so you have less time to use them which is why it’s cheaper, but we did this last year and didn’t miss much. Plus we saved $40 parasailing and it only costs us $10 for the book.
In Packages: Often times, you find coupons in certain packages of items good for a discount on a future purchase of that same item. For instance, South Beach Diet foods often have a coupon for $1 off a future purchase of another South Beach product. Or certain items at the drugstore, like deodorant or sometimes toothpaste will have a coupon in it. Chances are if you bought the product to use then you like that product so why not save money on a future purchase of it?
Online: Search for “coupons” on any search engine site online and you will find a ton of sites where you can print coupons right off of your computer!
Through E-mail: Many of the online coupon sites have an e-mail list you can sign up for to receive coupons through your e-mail so you don’t have to go online to find them. Also you can also receive coupons to specific stores/restaurants when you sign up for their e-mail lists.
At Stores: Have you ever seen those little red coupon dispensing machines lining the aisles of your grocery store? I have to admit that I haven’t seen as many of them lately, but I do find coupons at grocery stores from time to time — and they are conveniently located right underneath the item they are for. You can also sometimes find coupons at the register when you are ringing your items up. For instance if you go to buy an item that the store has a special coupon for that week, but you don’t have the coupon, you can ask the cashier if they have an extra one and often times they will have a spare one that they can scan for you to give you the discount. Also, at places like Linen’s and Things where they give out a 20% off of any item coupon in all of their ads, they always have extras behind the registers that you can use — all you have to do is ask.
Magazines: Many magazine also feature coupons in a lot of their ads. You can often find coupons for grocery items in magazines that are directed towards women (Good Housekeeping, Family Circle, etc.). Fashion magazines tend to have coupons for different makeup and skin care items as well.
(Bonus) Referrals: These ones seems to be less common so I figured I’d throw it in as a bonus. Sometimes you can get discount on specific services and/or items by referring someone to that service/item (or being referred yourself). For instance, if we refer someone to our current satellite provider (Dish Network) we get $50 off our bill and the person we referred gets $50 off theirs too. Also, we recently bought new cell phones through a website and if we refer someone to buy a phone through their site as well, they receive a $25 coupon and so do we. It works great for both.
Bonus Suggestion: Organizing Your Coupons: Since I find coupons anywhere, it seems that every table and countertop in my house is overflowing with coupons and often times when I need to use a coupon, I either forget where I put it or forget that I even have it. I’ve tried using an accordion coupon organizer, but that just became too difficult and time consuming to organize. Recently, I’ve begun a new process where I file all coupons in my filing cabinet. I only have 3 folders: 1 for grocery coupons, 1 for eating out coupons and one or specific store coupons (these are the types of coupons I collect most often so that is why I made these folders). When I find a coupon I simply drop it in the appropriate folder and it’s out of my way. Then if I need to go grocery shopping, I pull out my grocery coupon folder and pull out any coupons for items I need to buy that week. And if we feel like going out to eat, I pull out that folder and we usually decide where to go based on what coupons we have. So far this has simplified the coupon process quite a bit for me and has allowed me to find and use my coupons more often.
Bonus Suggestion 2: Further Tips for Effective Couponing
If you haven’t used coupons much before, it might feel a little overwhelming trying to work out how to start, and best utilize the available deals. It doesn’t have to be too stressful or time-consuming, though. Here are some further tips to help you on your way:
- Keep in mind that coupons are available for a wide variety of products, not just food and groceries. For example, search online, and you’ll find handy coupons for office supplies, furniture, technology, landscaping items, and toys.
- Take advantage of tech tools to make coupon management easier. Check out the free app Flipp that provides weekly online coupons and other deals for more than 2,000 stores, including Walmart and Aldi. Plus, many coupon-specific websites have mobile apps that let users source and redeem digital coupons while at the register.
- To maximize your savings, it’s worth combining coupons with cash-back reward offers. Some apps enable you to earn rebates when you buy certain products at set times. Find these before you shop and see if you can therefore make a little cash back on purchases while also enjoying a dollar-off amount or percent discount with your coupons. Rewards apps include Checkout 51, Ibotta, and Fetch Rewards.
- If you visit the same stores repeatedly, see if they have store savings cards you can sign up for. With these rewards cards, you can get access to additional savings when you shop. Many programs send out extra coupons in the mail to loyalty program participants, too.
- Read the fine print to ensure you can best use your coupons in every store. Terms and conditions are listed on printed deals or apps and websites, etc. Get to know the coupon policies of the stores you frequent, too, including additional factors such as price matching and rain checks, which may not be overtly advertised.
- Increase your total savings by presenting coupons to cashiers in the best order if you’re using more than one per transaction. You don’t want a lower-value coupon to negate a higher-value deal, for instance.
- Lastly, don’t buy things you don’t need. Stores often use coupons as a marketing tool that tempts shoppers to purchase goods they otherwise wouldn’t have bothered with. Be savvy by writing up a shopping list and sticking to it. Try to get in and out of shops quickly, so you’re less likely to spend more money due to aimless browsing.