Be A Better Couponer Part 3: Understanding Couponing

beabettershopperWho is ready to use coupons more efficiently and save more on groceries this year?

Maybe you’ve tried and thrown up your hands in surrender and said “This is just not for me” and you’re still playing full price for groceries.

I’m here to tell you, you don’t have too!

Maybe you think couponing is a lot of work.

That’s the excuse most people use when it comes to using coupons.   It’s too much work.  But to me, work = pay.  So let’s look at how much coupons “pay” you.  I cut our monthly budget $300-$400 a month when I started so I basically get paid $300-$400 a month to coupon.  Sounds to me like the “work” is worth it!

So far we have:

But to be a better coupon shopper, you need to understand couponing!

First, there are TWO kinds of coupons:

  • Manufacturer coupons

Clearly marked as “manufacturer coupon”
Has UPC code
Has expiration date (or is marked “no expiration date”)
Has a “remit to” address
Read fine print carefully

  • Store coupons

Clearly marked as a “store coupon”
May or may not have a UPC
Has an expiration date
Specific to the store that issued it (unless another store accepts it as competitor coupon)

Manufacturer coupons and store coupons can be used together in what is called “stacking” coupons.

Tips for using coupons:

  1. Read the coupon carefully.  Make sure you get the right brand, size, etc listed on the coupon.  If it says “10oz” you may only use it on the 10oz size of that product.  If it says “30ct or larger” you may use it on the 30 count of that product or any count size larger than 30, but not the 15 count product.
  2. Some coupons are $X off of a product.  Some are a $X off TWO products (or three or more).  Make sure you get how many products the coupon states it is good for.  You cannot use a $1/2 Shampoos when you have only purchased 1.  Nor can you use two manufacturers’ coupons for $1 off the same product.  You can however stack a $1 off manufacturer coupon with a $1 off store coupon and receive $2 off the product!
  3. Learn your store’s coupon policy.


Using coupons to your advantage: A few beginners’ tips:


  • Clip or save EVERY coupon you get.  (Yes, even those coupons on products that you think you will NEVER buy!)  You never know when those coupons can MAKE YOU MONEY.  Yes, I said “make you money”.

    For example, I once made $10 from buying a product at Wal-Green’s that I would not have normally bought.  It was a $10 product.  Wal-Green’s was offering $10 in RR if you bought that product.  That automatically made it FREE.  I had a $5 coupon and there was a $5 MIR that was available that I sent in for.  Look at it like this:
    $10 product – $5 coupon = $5 OOP
    $10 RR back to use on a future purchase ($5 more than I paid for the product so a $5 profit).
    Sent off for rebate – received $5 check.  Total of $10 profit.
    What do you do with products you won’t use?  DONATE!  Food pantries, shelters, battered women’s center, children’s home, food drives, a family in need, an elderly neighbor on a fixed income, etc!  They benefit from the item, I benefit from the profit!

  • Get multiple copies of the Sunday paper.  You can get copies at the Dollar Tree for $1 (paper boxes and other stores are $1.50 – $2.50)  One coupon out of the newspaper can easily pay for the whole paper!


  •  Never PAY for toothpaste again!  You will ALWAYS be able to get free toothpaste at CVS or Wal-Green’s.  I probably have 10 toothpastes in my pantry and I got them all for FREE!


  •  Don’t be brand loyal.  Have you always used Crest toothpaste?  Well, Colgate is just as good and if you can get for FREE (or better…how about a 50 or 75 cent profit?) why wouldn’t you at least try it???
    And it’s not just toothpaste.  Shampoo, hairspray, body wash, detergent, deodorant, etc.  You’ll save more money if you follow the deals.  (Believe me, if I can get my husband to try a different deodorant, you can get your family to try different brands too!)


  •  Get organized!  There are many ways to organize your coupons – you just have to find the way that works for you!


  • Find a couple “coupon blogs” that you like and subscribe.  They will help you with the deals and match up the weekly sales with coupons.  Plus give you lots of great information on lots of ways to save!  Find out how to subscribe to this blog here.


  • Make your list and sort your coupons before you go to the store.  I like to make my list on an envelope and then put the matching coupons inside


  • Using coupons on BOGO items.  If Publix has Tombstone Pizzas BOGO $5.99 that means you get two for $5.99.  If you have a coupon for $1 off a Tombstone pizza of course you would use it!  But what if you had TWO $1 off a Tombstone pizza coupons (see above about getting multiple papers…)  Did you know you can use BOTH coupons?  I know you are getting one pizza for free, BUT you can still use both coupons!  So your 2 pizzas for $5.99 just became 2 pizzas for ONLY $3.99!

Stay tuned!  We will be talking about APPS that help you coupon and more tips for saving in the stores!

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