Tips For Using Coupons For Beginners

Break out those 2-inch binders, ladies and gentlemen. We’re going couponing! We kid, we kid — there’s no need to go to the extreme to save a couple of bucks.

Coupons exist to help you save money, so why not take advantage of that? We can just ignore the fact that they might be a marketing ploy and focus on the part about stretching your dollar.

Where to find coupons:

As you might already know, most stores release their own weekly (sometimes monthly) booklet of ongoing sales and deals. They are filled with money-saving discounts for items throughout the store. You can use these ads to save your cash by picking the on-sale and store brands over the name brands.

Seventy-five cents might not seem like a lot, but if you are paying an extra $0.75 across ten items, that adds up to $7.50 — otherwise known as your matinee movie ticket on Saturday.

Many stores, including Target, Amazon, and Walgreens, have instant downloadable coupons and deal sections on their websites. These contain steals you won’t be able to find anywhere else. Even if you aren’t an overzealous shopper, a quick look through the offerings can help you make your money go further.

Many stores even have their own apps just for coupons! Download the Cartwheel app for Target to unlock extra savings.

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Quick tip: To save your time and sanity, create a folder in your Internet browser’s bookmark bar and save your most frequented stores online coupon pages. Voilà, life simplified.

Using more than one coupon:

Extreme couponers make use of a concept referred to as stacking. Stacking is essentially using one coupon on top of another. Most stores allow you to use both their store coupons as well as manufacturers’ coupons on the same item and in the same transaction. Manufacturer coupons can often be found in magazines and other print media, as well as on the shelves near the products they are meant for.

Many brands, such as Kelloggs, Dove, and Tide, also post coupons and other special offers online for you to print out use.

Wary of signing-up for too many offers and ending up with an inbox full of useless clutter? Create an e-mail address to use specifically for coupons. This way, everything will be in one place and you only have to look at it when you need it.

Coupons aren’t limited to in-store shopping; coupons and codes can be used when you’re shopping online! A quick google search with the phrases “[store name] coupon” or “[store name] discount code” will yield you a few results. Common websites that will be displayed are RetailMeNot, Coupons.com, and DealNews.

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You can also use browser extensions like Honey and Ebates (affiliate link) for saving money online!

Coupons

What to avoid:

A common pitfall is being lured in by the discount offered when you open a store credit card. Many stores will offer you between 5-30% off your purchase if you apply and/or open a store credit card.

A rule of thumb for this is to ask yourself two questions: is my credit in good standing and will I pay this off tomorrow? You don’t want to open a card if you are carrying high balances on other cards and endanger your creditworthiness.

If you plan to open the card to get the discount and then pay it off slowly over a few months, you risk the interest that builds being more than the discount you received. Essentially, not only will you create more debt for yourself, you will also end up spending more than you save.

Interested in learning more about the art of couponing? Check out CouponGeek, TheFrugalGirls and CommonSenseWithMoney for more information.