Below is the list of my 101 Best Couponing Tips. It is a random list of my favorite and most used tips. Feel free to comment with yours! And if you like this list, please consider using the Pin It button at the bottom to share it with your friends on Pinterest.
1. It is very important that you save all of your receipts. You never know when you might need one for a rebate. I keep my receipts in a check file and I organize them by store. When I have a new receipt, I put it in the back of the store pocket so that the receipts remain organized from oldest to newest.
2. My favorite places to find coupons are the Sunday paper, online, on and inside products, in free sample packages, on the back of my receipts and in magazines.
3. Each week, get your store’s circular and look through it. I always draw a circle around things that I like or think might be a good deal. After looking through it, start comparing the deals to coupons that you have. You can use the coupon database to quickly search to see if a coupon exists.
4. When you are shopping in the store, make sure you check for in store deals and the clearance section to see if there are products that you can pair with a coupon for a great deal.
5. Before you buy toys, electronics, music, etc., check the price on Amazon.com. It might be cheaper on Amazon than it is in the store.
6. Visit your store’s website. Check to see if their coupon policy is online and read through it. If they have any clubs, magazines, etc available make sure you sign up for them.
7. Call the local store and ask to speak to the customer service manager. Ask her what types of coupons they accept, if they accept printable coupons (and if they can be in black and white or must be in color), if you can use both a store coupon and a manufacturer coupon on one item and if there are any additional ways to save at your store.
8. When you are getting started couponing, it can be hard to know how many papers to purchase. I’ve always suggested purchasing at least 4 papers. This is because when items go on sale buy one, get one free you will have enough coupons to get 2 deals. I have also heard people suggest that you get one paper per person in your household plus an extra paper. So if you have 4 family members, you would buy 5 papers.
9. If you purchase an item for a rebate, take the UPC off of it before you put it up in your cabinet. If you can’t remove the UPC without ruining the package, write on it with a permanent marker so you don’t accidentally toss the UPC when you go to use the product.
10. The most important thing (besides using coupons) that you are going to do to lower your grocery bill is to start menu planning. The biggest budget buster you can have is to base your meals on whatever you feel like having instead of what is on sale. When you start to base your meals around what is on sale, you are going to start to see your weekly bill drop.
11. When shopping for your weekly groceries and household items, always be on the lookout for specialty marked packages, packages that contain a bonus item and packages that have a peelie coupon. I always look through all the products on the shelf before I add one to my cart. You never know what you might find!
12. Check with your local grocery store to find out if they have a kid’s club. You can ask at the service desk. Also be sure to ask them if they give the kids anything when they are in the stores (like a cookie from the bakery) and if they provide mini shopping carts for the kids.
13. Throughout the year, pick up gift items when you find them on sale and keep them until you need them. Store them in your gift closet. When you need a gift, just head to your gift closet for a quick and cheap gift!
14. Check out your local Dollar Tree to see if they sell close dated bread. You’ll pay just $1 per loaf for bread that goes for almost $3 at Walmart.
15. When you are just starting to build your coupon stash, I highly recommend that you save every single coupon that you can that is not expired. You never know what you might go on sale, what might be free with a coupon, or what might even make you money for buying it. I’m not advocating against sharing coupons or trading coupons you don’t think you will use, I am telling you not to throw any away!
16. Most stores offer rain checks. A rain check is a written certificate that enables you to get the item at the sale price when it is back in stock. Plus you can use coupons in conjunction with a rain check!
17. Treat your coupons as you would your cash. Don’t turn your back on them in the store. If someone was to steal them, that is a lot of money you would lose out on saving.
18. If you only shop at one grocery store, you might be paying too much. Not all grocery stores price items the same and it’s important to know the shelf price (this is the non sale price) of your everyday items at different stores.
19. Items typically go on sale about every 6 weeks to 3 months depending on the store you shop at. Instead of concentrating on stocking up on as many of a product as you can, you could just buy enough to last your family until the next sale comes around.
20. If you are new to couponing, you probably feel very overwhelmed. My absolute best tip to you is to learn how to coupon at just one store. Once you have shopped at that store for a couple of weeks, add a second store to your couponing routine.
21. Check expiration dates as you put them in the shopping cart. I always pick my items from the back of the items on the shelf.
22. Always look inside your newspapers before you buy them to make sure they contain the inserts. Insert theft is on the rise and I don’t want you to be a victim.
23. When you are at a retail store or restaurant, ask them if they know of any coupons that are available before you checkout. I asked at Aeropostale recently and they told me that the info desk in the mall sells a coupon booklet for $5 that includes a $10/$50 Aeropostale coupon in it. If I hadn’t asked, I would have been out an extra $10 that day (I got the coupon booklet for free because I am a AAA member).
24. eCoupons are electronic coupons that attach to your store card or your phone number. With most eCoupons, you must load them on to your store card or phone number using the internet before you head to the store. When you are at the store, you scan your store card or give your phone number at the store and the coupon amount is automatically deducted from your bill. Not all stores accept them, so be sure to ask if your store does.
25. Do you ever have a hard time figuring out if a sale price is a stock up price? A good rule of thumb is if it’s 50% or more off, it’s a buy it now price; 75% or more off is a stock up price.
26. If you have a favorite meal that you cook, try doubling the recipe when you make it. Freeze half of the meal for nights when you don’t feel like cooking!
27. If you aren’t sure if you are going to like a generic product, try doing half generic and half name brand. This works great for sauces and cereal.
28. I found that if I am going to the grocery store and I get a buggy/cart, I end up buying more than I went in for. So if I only need a few things, I either grab a basket or nothing at all and just hand carry my purchase to the register.
29. It will take you at least 3 months to really start seeing a substantial savings on your grocery bill. Make sure you are commited to couponing during that time period to see the biggest savings.
30. Don’t buy something just because it’s cheap or FREE if you won’t use it. Don’t let the thrill of the deal cause you to buy something you don’t need.
31. When you are stocking up on a product, only buy 1-2 of the new flavors. I once bought 12 bottles of pineapple salsa because I thought it would be delicious. It was nasty and I was stuck with 11 unopened bottles I had to try to giveaway to unsuspecting friends.
32. Write the expiration date on the front of the product before you put it in your stockpile. This way you don’t accidentally let something expire before you use it.
33. Make a list of items your family uses every week and work on building up a stockpile of those items. Like if your family goes through at least one box of Old El Paso tacos a week, work on building up a 3 month supply.
34. Items typically go on sale every 6-12 weeks. When you are shopping, buy enough to last your family 3 months. The sale will come around again before you run out and who knows, the coupons might be better!
35. Don’t coupon during busy times of the day unless you absolutely have to. When the stores are busy, the cashiers and customers can both be rattled and stressed out and it could lead to missed coupons or unnecessary coupon rejections. I always shop when I know the store won’t be crowded.
36. Don’t be afraid to choose your cashier based on appearance. We call this ‘cashier profiling’. Sometimes you can just look at a cashier and tell that they are going to be coupon friendly. I always make a walk of the grocery checkout lines before I pick which line I want to use.
37. Have a coupon you won’t use? Consider putting it on the product in the store for someone else to find. We call this being a Coupon Fairy.
38. Ask your local meat department when they mark down meat. Try to time your shopping trips around their mark down schedule. You can really cut a chunk out of your meat budget by doing this.
39. Have a friend who is also a couponer? Consider getting together and swapping excess items. Like if she has too many toothbrushes but needs shampoo and you have excess shampoo but need toothbrushes, swap the items. This can be a great way to stretch your stockpile.
40. If you are going out to eat, order water. Restaurants now charge almost $3 for a soda. $3 x 4 is $12! Order water and save the $12 for something fun instead (like Disney!).
41. Ask your store if they will take coupons that are printed in black and white. If they agree, change your printing preference to print in gray scale and you will save a ton of ink.
42. Bigger doesn’t mean cheaper. When you are in a store and trying to decide between 2 different sizes of the same item, check it’s price per ounce (most stores have this printed right on the label). I have seen the smaller size be cheaper than the larger!
43. Lately grocery stores have been marking their generic items higher than the name brand. They know people who don’t use coupons will gravitate towards the generic without checking the price of the name brand. Outsmart your store by always checking.
44. Teach your family that before you throw out a product’s wrapping, you always look for coupons. Sometimes they hide coupons on the inside of packaging and it won’t be mentioned on the outside.
45. Your stockpile does not have to be stored in the kitchen. I recently visited a friend who had her stockpile in her garage, laundry room, hall closet, linen closet, master bedroom, master closet, master bathroom and her kids room. As long as it’s shelf stable, you can put it anywhere it will fit!
46. Start a price book of all the items you buy on a regular basis. Update the price each time you find it cheaper. After about 3 months of this, you will have a great reference guide on the best price for your items. When you see it at that price again, you’ll know to stock up.
47. Before you buy ANYTHING online, search for a coupon code. Just type the store’s name and coupon code into the search engine. I recently saved $50 just by checking for a coupon code before I bought a piece of software.
48. Start a folder on your computer of pictures you need to print (make sure these pictures are copies of the originals and that the originals are stored in a separate location). As deals come out for 4×6 prints, print your pictures and then remove them from the folder. If you are organized before the deal comes, you are more likely to actually do it.
49. Make a coupon organizing schedule. It is so important when you are couponing to stay organized and if you have a written schedule, you are more likely to stick to it. For example, on Sunday you would go through the newest inserts. On Monday, you might print and organize coupons. On Tuesday, you might go through the sales flyers, etc etc.
50. Before I go to the store, I make my list and pull out all the coupons I will need to use. I then put the coupons in my purse with my wallet. Before I pay, I go through all my coupons and make sure I picked the item up. Then I head to the cashier and hand her the stack of coupons at the end of my order and make sure that she rings them all.
51. Printable coupons can run out of prints very quickly. Don’t count on a coupon to be there when you want to print it. You need to check and print coupons everyday or you might miss a really great one. Plus remember that most coupons are good for 30 days after you print them.
52. Check the prices at every store in your area. I’ve found that bread is cheap at the Dollar Tree and milk is cheap at the gas station. Sometimes you can find some great deals in the least expected places.
53. Don’t count the drug stores out! I save a ton of money each week by shopping at the drug stores and sometimes their food prices are cheaper than the grocery stores. Always check their flyer each week for their food sales.
54. Need multiple copies of a coupon? Check online for coupon clipping services. You pay a fee for their time to cut out the coupon and they send you a stack of them in return.
55. When you are couponing, you can’t be brand loyal. It’s okay to remain loyal to 2-3 products, but for the most part you need to buy what is on sale instead of what brand you like. For example, if Tide is your favorite detergent but Gain is on sale for $4 cheaper, you’ll want to go for the Gain. But if Tide goes on sale, stock up since you know you love it.
56. Buying in bulk is not always cheaper. You can head to your local Warehouse store and get 6 boxes of Macaroni and Cheese for $6, but there is a good chance you could get the same 6 boxes on sale with a coupon at your local grocery store for cheaper. Bigger is not always better.
57. You need to plan your menu around what is on sale. If you want meatloaf but hamburger meat won’t be on sale for another week, make chicken instead. By planning your meals around what is on sale, you are going to save so much more money.
58. Plan your weekly menu out before you shop. If you know what you are going to eat for the next 7 nights and what you need to buy to make it, your going to save money! No more running to the store for that one jar of spaghetti sauce (you know you will pick up an impulse item or two). Buy it at the beginning of the week and stick with the menu!
59. It is going to take time to coupon. A lot of time. Take the amount of time you spend per week including the time to sort and organize coupons and divide it by the amount you saved. So if you spent 5 hours and saved $200, you made $40 an hour!
60. When you are at the store, it can be tempting to clear the shelves. But think of the others behind you. The single mom who might drive 30 minutes to the store and find the deal out of stock. If you need a ton of one product, make multiple trips or hit different stores. Just don’t clear the shelf (unless there is only 1-2 left, then it is understandable).
61. Write your name and phone number on your coupon binder/box. If you misplace it, they will be able to contact you.
62. Watch those expiration dates on coupons. It is never okay to use an expired coupon (or to try to just sneak it by the cashier). I go through my coupons every 2 weeks and pull out the coupons I want to use that will be expiring soon and add those items to my grocery list.
63. Keep your stockpile organized and easy to inventory. Always check your grocery shopping list against what is in your stockpile so you don’t spend money on items you don’t need.
64. Talk with the hubby and figure out how you can grocery shop alone. By not taking munchkins or a hungry hubby to the store, you will save more money! You could also make yourself a grocery shopping playlist and play it while you shop.
65. Go meat free at least one night per week. Make breakfast for dinner, serve up a salad, or search for vegetarian recipes. By skipping meat just one night, you’ll save about $28 per month!
66. When the summer weather rolls around, find a local farmer’s market or produce stand. Locally grown veggies can be so much cheaper than store bought. Plus you are helping out a small business.
67. Buy a whole chicken and cut it into parts that you need. Cook up the breasts, boil the bones for broth, etc. Whole chickens are a lot cheaper than buying all the pieces separate.
68. When you open the second to last box/tube/bottle of something, add it to your list. You’ll have time to find a great deal on it and you won’t run out in the mean time.
69. If you start finding a lot of great frozen deals but don’t have the freezer space, start saving for a deep freeze. Take $25-$30 out of your grocery budget every week and save it until you have enough to buy the deep freeze (you can get a good size one for about $200). It will more than pay for itself.
70. Stores will run gimmick sales to try to get you to buy more. It might be 10/$10 or 2/$5. Usually you can buy just 1 and still get the sale price. Get them to do a price check and find out.
71. Buy produce when it is in season. If it is out of season, find another produce that you like or buy frozen.
72. It is a lot cheaper to make from scratch than it is to buy convenience foods. If your kids love Lunchables, buy all the parts separate and make your own.
73. If you buy a product and it is spoiled, don’t throw it out. Return it to the store or call the company and let them know. They will usually replace it.
74. Pick one night a week to be your rebate night. If you have rebates to mail, fill them out and mail them on. Don’t buy the item for a rebate and then forget to mail it.
75. Find out of your area has a bakery outlet. You can get close dated bakery items for a fraction of the price you would pay at the supermarket and they usually freeze well.
76. If you want to save the most money, you are going to need to go to multiple stores. One store won’t have the best price on everything. And yes it costs a little gas, but if you only use one gallon of gas and save $30, it’s worth it.
77. Find a couponing buddy. They will keep you informed of great local deals. You could even split the shopping. Maybe one friend does all the deals at one grocery store for both friends while the other does all the deals at the other grocery store.
78. Set a specific grocery budget and get it in cash. If your budget is $100 a week, take $100 in cash out of the bank. You’ll be more likely to stick to your budget if you don’t have that plastic card to swap.
79. Bring your reusable bags. They hold more and some stores even offer a discount or incentive for bringing them.
80. Find yourself forgetting to use retail store coupons? Put them by your debit/credit card or even wrap them around your card. You’ll never forget again.
81. Many retail stores offer printable coupons on their website. Before you head to the mall, check the store’s site.
82. Join retail store and restaurant clubs. You’ll get exclusive coupons throughout the year and a treat on your birthday. Almost every single restaurant has a dining club of some sort.
83. Check with your local schools to see if they sell discount coupon booklets or cards. Our school sells books that have $5/$30 grocery store coupons in them.
84. Don’t forget your calculator. Add up your purchases as you put them in your shopping cart so you stick to your budget.
85. Write to the makers of your favorite product or products you want to try. Writing to companies is a great source of coupons.
86. Ask your store if they will let you stack store and manufacturer coupons together.
87. Ask your store’s bakery if they give out free cookies to the munchkins. Stop by the bakery when you get ready to check out instead of when you arrive. This will encourage them to be good while you shop.
88. Count your coupons before you check out. You’ll know exactly how many need to come off on the receipt. After you check out, count the number of coupons that were taken off. If the number is off, tell the service desk before you leave the store/parking lot. Also scan the prices on your receipt BEFORE you leave the store. This way if there is a problem, you can go to customer service and straighten it out. On occasion, I have been overcharged on an item but I take my receipt to customer service and they refund my money. So don’t be in a hurry to get home — instead just take a minute or two to double check your receipt and make sure you were charged correctly for all your purchases.
89. Treat your cashier with kindness and respect. You’ll build a relationship with her and you’ll find less issues at the register. She’ll know that your coupons are legitimate which will speed up the check out process.
90. When it’s feasible, organize your coupons in order of the products you put up on the check out stand. This will make it easier to check out and figure out if anything was missed.
91. If you have a smart phone, use it for couponing. You can download apps that help you save and earn money. Plus when you are in the store and you find a hot deal, you can use an online coupon database to find out if there is a coupon for it without having to dig through your binder/box/inserts.
92. More and more companies are starting to use Facebook for coupons, samples and more. Make sure you sign up for a Facebook account in order to print these great coupons. You don’t have to share this account with your friends/family. Just use it for the great deals.
93. Find a coupon blog for the store you cover. To do this, just Google the name of your store plus blog. So if you shop at Publix, you would search Publix blog. Bloggers do the work for you.
94. It’s okay to miss a deal. It will come around again. Don’t beat yourself up.
95. Figure out what you can add to your food to stretch it. We add re-fried beans to our taco meat. You could add some dry noodles to your boxed Macaroni and Cheese or some bread slices to your Stove Top.
96. Always read the fine print on a coupon. Lately I’ve noticed changes to the fine print (such as limit 4 like coupons or limit one per person that used to not be there). Read it before you use it and you won’t be embarrassed at the register.
97. Circle the items you want to buy in the grocery circular and then take it to the store. You’ll easily be able to find the items on your list and if you need a rain check, you can show the service desk the exact item you need quicker than they can find it.
98. When you are getting ready to check out with your big purchase, look around. If you see someone with a few items, let them go ahead of you. I know I would hate to get stuck behind me when I am shopping. Sometimes I even warn the people who get in line behind me that I have coupons (especially when she has already started ringing my order).
99. Ask your store when they get in their truck and when the product is placed on the shelf. If you can’t make it for the sale at the beginning of the sale week, at least try to make it on truck day.
100. Printable coupons contain tracking links. I suggest you don’t give your printable coupons away to strangers. They could copy your coupon and use it illegally. The feds could trace the coupon back to you.
101. Set a goal on what you use your coupon savings for, such as Couponing to Disney! If you have a goal you are working towards, you are more likely to stick with couponing.
Want to learn more? Read my Getting Started Couponing series.