Couponing has become a very popular hobby for many people. Who doesn’t want to find different ways to save money? Couponing can be a very effective tool for saving money on everyday household items and groceries. It is also quite possible to use coupons and get many products for free, or close to it! To get you started, here is a list of tips for couponing as well as a list of the best stores to coupon.
Whether you’re just starting with couponing or you’re an extreme couponer, this guide will be a big help on your journey to getting the best deals!
6 Essential Tips for Couponing
1. Read the Fine Print
Most coupons will have some teeny tiny fine print at the bottom that lists the details and limitations of the coupon. Often, that is where you will find the expiration date and any other restrictions. That is also where it will tell you exactly which items you can use for your coupon.
For instance, sometimes coupons exclude sale items, or they can be precise on which size, color, brand, etc., you can apply the coupons. Make sure to read this to avoid ending up at the cash register to find out the coupon won’t work.
2. Organize Your Coupons by the Expiration Dates
If you keep your coupons in order of expiration date, you will be less likely to miss out on using your coupons because they expired accidentally. And depending on how many coupons you save, this can happen quickly!
3. Start a Coupon Binder
If you’re saving a lot of cut-out or printable coupons, a binder can be beneficial! Not only will it help you stay organized, but you can take the whole binder to the store with you and keep your grocery list right inside.
Bringing your coupon binder to the store can make it easier to refer to the coupons whenever necessary and compare retail prices on things to see just how much your coupons can save you.
4. Read Each Store’s Coupon Policy
Every store has different policies surrounding couponing. That is where you will likely find information on coupon stacking, which can be one of the best ways to save some money! You can also typically find out their stance on manufacturer coupons, internet coupons, mobile coupons, and exclusions.
5. Google Coupons for Each Store Before Checking Out In-Store or Online
You can often find coupons for local stores and online shopping stores by simply searching for coupons online. You will be surprised at how many coupons are out there just waiting to be used! Sometimes it’s only a 10% off coupon, and it only ends up saving you a dollar, but all of the small amounts of money saved add up.
6. Keep Your Products Organized
Once you start couponing, your products can start to stack up. So if you make a space for them, whether it’s just shelving, a closet, or even a spare room, you can be more likely to get the most out of your couponing. If you don’t organize your products, you can accidentally let things expire, and all your hard work will be for nothing.
You can also look into getting a deep freeze for food items or some shelving for your garage for canned items.
4 Different Types of Coupons
1. Manufacturer Coupons
Manufacturer coupons are coupons released directly from the manufacturer. Any store that the manufacturer supplies should accept these. For example, Walmart carries Kellogg's cereal, so if you have a coupon from Kelloggs for $1 off a box of cereal, Walmart should honor that even though the coupon wasn’t a “Walmart” coupon. And you should be able to use that coupon at any store that sells Kellogg's brand cereal.
Stores often supply these coupons in their coupon catalogs, and you can also find these coupons online and print them as well. There are still restrictions on these coupons, such as expiration dates, how many products you can use it for, etc.
Where to find manufacturer coupons:
- Brand websites (great if you like to buy specific brands)
2. Online and Mobile Coupons
You can find a ton of coupons online, as we discussed earlier. You can print these coupons out and add them to your couponing binder. Some stores accept mobile coupons as well.
Mobile coupons can be more convenient to some, but if you already have a coupon binder, it can be easier to store them all there rather than trying to keep them all on your phone. Be sure to check each store's couponing policy online regarding mobile and online coupons.
3. Coupon Codes
Coupon codes have become very popular, especially while shopping online. This type of coupon doesn’t typically require a barcode. You copy and paste or type in the code on the coupon.
4. Catalina Coupons
Catalina coupons are the printed coupons that typically come attached to your receipt or print out for you after you’ve made a purchase. These will normally have store-specific coupons as well as manufacturer coupons.
11 of the Best Stores to Coupon
Walgreens is a drugstore that is popular in the couponing community. They offer a ton of different ways to save money in addition to couponing. To name a few, if you buy their brand items, you can receive cash back. You can also earn money back to spend at Walgreens by signing up for MyWalgreens.
The best places to find Walgreens coupons are:
- Walgreens weekly ad newspaper
- Walgreens app
- Catalina coupons
CVS is another drugstore that is great for couponing! They allow for coupon stacking, as they allow you to stack their coupons and manufacturer coupons. One cool thing about couponing at CVS is that they will enable you to use BOGO coupons on items that are already BOGO so that you can get two items for free! They also allow you to use manufacturer coupons on sale and clearance items.
The best places to find CVS coupons are:
- CVS weekly ad paper
- CVS app
Walmart is a great store all around when it comes to saving money. Their prices are already lower, especially their personal store brand. They price match and have an excellent return policy! You can return an item without even having a receipt. You need a driver’s license. However, returning items this way is only allowed a couple of times per year.
Another way to save money by shopping with Walmart is to use their grocery pickup or delivery. You can use coupons, and you don’t have to go in the store and end up spending money on things you didn’t plan on buying.
The best places to find Walmart coupons are:
4. Kroger Stores
While Kroger has their store, many other smaller grocery chains carry Kroger products, like King Soopers, Fresh Market, City Market, Smiths, Fred Meyer, and Fry’s. These stores are all over the U.S.
The best places to find Kroger store coupons are:
- The store weekly newspaper ads
- Catalina coupons
5. Hobby Lobby
Hobby Lobby is HUGE and has so many different things. Every craft item you can imagine, games, decor, floral, gift wrapping, fabric, holiday item. They offer a great variety. And they always have easy-to-find coupons! You can also find many items in the store that are already on sale. They will have a sticker on the item itself.
The best places to find Hobby Lobby coupons are:
- Hobby Lobby weekly ad
Target is a hugely popular store with really great brands. And for some reason, it’s where the moms love to shop. They have great clothes, great toys, and excellent home appliances. If you go to a Super Target, they also have groceries and a bigger selection of other items.
You can also get a Target RedCard, which allows you to save 5% when you use it. That can be a great way to save money if you shop at Target often.
The best places to find Target coupons are:
- Target App
JoAnn’s is a craft store similar to Hobby Lobby, only a little smaller. The best thing about JoAnn’s is that it allows coupon stacking on top of their already good prices. Also, they have killer Black Friday sales.
The best places to find JoAnn’s coupons are:
- JoAnn’s app
8. Dollar Tree or Dollar General
The coolest thing about couponing at Dollar Tree is that everything is already a dollar, which means with a coupon, you are getting the item for LESS than a dollar. So awesome! And some of their coupons are over a dollar off, which means you can get the item completely free.
The best places to find Dollar Tree coupons are:
- Dollar Tree newspaper (outside the store)
- Dollar Tree Value Seekers Club
9. Rite Aid
Rite Aid is a top-rated couponing store. It’s a drugstore similar to Walgreens. Rite Aid is excellent because it allows you to stack coupons on the same item AND use multiple coupons in one transaction for different items. So you can get things for less than a dollar, or possibly even for FREE.
The best places to find Rite Aid coupons are:
- Rebate apps such as iBotta and Checkout51
- RiteAid’s newspaper
10. Costco & Sam's Club
Costco and Sam’s Club require memberships. Luckily the memberships are relatively affordable. They offer much lower prices on the same products that other stores offer. And they have excellent sales. Add coupons to the mix, and you’re saving some good money!
They also have Costco brands that are of excellent quality and significantly cheaper. Their brands cover clothes, groceries, supplements, toilet paper, paper towels, laundry detergents, diapers, wipes, and formula. These are great stores if you are trying to have a baby on a budget!
These stores also sell most things in bulk. So if you’re the only one using the products, this can work for canned goods or freezable products. But produce or milk might end up going to waste.
The best places to find Costco and Sam’s Club coupons are:
- Their sales packets they send via mail
11. Trader Joe’s
For the people who enjoy more of the healthy alternative stores, Trader Joe’s can be great. If you don’t have a Trader Joe’s, then Good Earth, Whole Foods, and Sprouts all accept manufacturer coupons as well. Some of these stores have their coupons as well, while some of them don’t.
That is great because health food stores can be pricey, so coupons can make it a lot more reasonably priced. If you are a student or a senior, some of these stores also offer discounts for that as well.
The best places to find Trader Joe’s and other health food store coupons are:
- Any site that offers manufacturer coupons
Rebate Apps, Cashback, and Other Couponing Resources
Groupon is an online couponing service offered via web and mobile app. Groupon has a lot of different coupons for local retailers and eateries. The great part about this is that you can change the location to look at deals in other cities and states. This is a great way to save some money while you’re traveling.
Coupons.com is a website that has a TON of different manufacturer coupons. It has printable coupons, digital coupons, cashback offers, and promo codes. They are all categorized by type of product as well, so you don’t have to filter through coupons that don’t apply to you. You can find anything on there.
iBotta is a cashback rewards app offered as a mobile app or web extension. It works by scanning your receipt and getting immediate cashback on qualifying purchases.
The great thing about iBotta is that it has a ton of generic coupons such as $1 back on any bag of cat food. This means it doesn’t matter the brand or size! It also has a lot of brand and size-specific cashback rewards as well. Many of the items on the app are very commonly used items, so you can get some cash back.
To maximize your cashback, look at the app first to see if you can plan meals and grocery lists around, or maybe a new brand you wouldn’t mind trying to make sure you will buy things you will use. iBotta also offers cashback through referrals, so if you refer someone to use their cashback tool, you can get a cashback referral bonus!
iBotta works with HUNDREDS of stores, including grocery stores, retail stores, gas stations, and many more. Check out this article for a complete list of all supported stores you can shop with to earn cashback with iBotta.
4. Capital One extension
The Capital One extension is a free, easy-to-use browser extension that works in the background. Once it’s installed, it automatically applies coupons to online shopping for a ton of different stores. It also compares prices for products and shipping to other online retailers and informs you if it found a cheaper option elsewhere. You don’t have to have a capital one card to use this extension.
Swagbucks is an online tool that allows you to earn gift cards to stores you love. How it works is; you sign up online and earn points by shopping online, watching videos, and answering survey questions. Your points add up and are redeemable for gift cards to popular stores like Amazon, Walmart, and even PayPal – full Swagbucks review here.
Rakuten is a cashback tool that offers a browser extension for online shopping, or it allows you to connect your card so that it can track your in-person purchases to apply cashback that way as well.
Rakuten also offers cashback through referrals, so if you refer someone to use their cashback tool, you can get a cashback referral bonus!
7. Coupon Sherpa
Coupon Sherpa is a couponing app that focuses more on local deals. One cool feature that this app offers is that it allows you to find and save coupons for easy access later, which is better than sorting through screenshots and searching for coupons you saw a couple of days ago.
The downfall to this app is that it seems to be only for Apple users, not Android.
8. Checkout 51
Checkout51 is very similar to iBotta. It is so similar that you can often find the same sort of deals on both apps. So you can get double the cashback by scanning your receipt through iBotta and Checkout 51! So if you’re going to have one, you might as well have both!
Dosh is an automatic cashback app. No receipts are required! It works by connecting your debit and credit cards, and it automatically applies cashback based on your purchases. Dosh even offers cashback on hotel stays!
To get the most out of using Dosh, check out their partners, and see which purchases you can earn the most cash back on.
10. Join Your Favorite Store’s Loyalty Programs
Most stores now offer loyalty programs. You typically sign up with your phone number or email and start receiving cashback, points, or coupons. This is especially common with smaller grocery chains, as well as retail stores and restaurants.
11. Krazy Coupon Lady
The Krazy Coupon Lady is a website full of great information for new couponers. It has a ton of coupons and deals for different stores. It also has a ton of tips on couponing, budgeting, and saving money.
They also have a useful app! Krazy Coupon Lady is the ultimate couponing resource.
Couponing can be a fun and effective way to save a lot of money on products your family uses anyway. Whether you want to start simple with couponing or jump right into extreme couponing, you can’t go wrong!
To make your journey less of a hassle and more of an enjoyable hobby, we hope you can use these tips, tools, and a list of best stores to coupon to get you started. This post originally appeared on Your Money Geek.
Josh writes about ways to make money, pay off debt, and improve yourself. After paying off $300,000 in student loans with his wife in less than five years, Josh started Money Life Wax and has been featured on Forbes, Business Insider, Huffington Post, and more! In addition to being a life-long entrepreneur, Josh and his wife enjoy spending time with their chocolate lab named Morgan, working out, being outside, traveling, and helping others with their finances! I got serious with money when I used Personal Capital to track my finances.