Couponing is a bit tough when you’re first starting out, mainly because you don’t have many coupons saved up. It’s a little slow at first but after only a few weeks you’ll have more coupons than you know what to do with. With a little planning, you can get many brand-name items for free or nearly free once you master this couponing thing.
The Basics – Clip Everything
Many people don’t think about this when they begin couponing, but you have to clip and save every single coupon that you receive. A common thought is to only clip what you think you might use. However, you never know when that one big sale is going to happen and you need a coupon to make the item free or nearly free. For this reason you need to keep them all, regardless of whether or not you’ll ever use them.
If you ever get an item for free or nearly free and don’t need or want to use it, consider donating it to a homeless or women’s shelter. They can always use the stuff you’re getting, and you’ll be helping out some needy people at the same time.
I know that many of you are busy, and some of you may think you’re too busy to mess with coupons. To save time with your coupons, develop a file system and keep the coupon books intact. In other words, do not clip the coupons until you need to use them. In the meantime, file all of your coupon inserts into corresponding folders by month. You’ll always want to develop a game plan before hitting the store, so you can clip and organize your coupons then.
The Sunday Paper
By far one of the best places to get coupons is in your Sunday paper. There are a variety of “coupon books” that come every week. They are from Red Plum, SmartSource, and you’ll occassionally get a P&G (Procter and Gamble) Saver book.
My paper costs $2.00 every Sunday, but I get a better deal by subscribing. To save money, check and see if your paper has a weekend-only edition or something similar. If they do, go ahead and subscribe to your paper. You’ll save tons of money by doing so. Remember, coupons typically do not come any other day of the week but Sunday.
If you want the paper just for the coupons, another option is to contact your paper and see if you can have only the coupon inserts delivered every week. Some papers will do this while others won’t. If they do, you’ll get the coupons at a reduced rate. In addition, if you know a paper delivery person you can often have the save the extra coupon inserts for you.
Another option of getting coupons (sometimes for free) is to visit stores late on Sunday evening just before closing. Many of these stores will let you have the papers that they did not sell.
Ask Your Neighbors, Friends and Family
Many people receive the Sunday paper, but they do not always use the coupons. Ask your friends, relatives and neighbors if you can have the coupon inserts or the coupons that they do not plan to use. Since these will be thrown into the trash anyway, they make a great free addition to your coupon stash.
Oftentimes just asking someone to save coupons for you results in coupon overload. If your nice neighbor knows that you’re looking for diaper coupons, she’ll likely clip everything that she comes across.
Internet Printable Coupons
The internet and being able to print coupons has made couponing and frugal shopping 100 times easier than it used to be. There are literally hundreds of places you can print coupons from the free printable coupons section here at FreeStuff.com to printable coupons directly from manufacturer sites. In fact, I use internet printable coupons probably 5 times more than I use the coupons I clip from the inserts.
Laser Jet Is The Way To Go
First things first — printing coupons uses lots of ink. If you’re printing with an inkjet printer, you’re not getting the most bang for your buck. If you can, try to invest in a LaserJet printer. These printers print out coupons much faster and use far less ink. I’ve been printing on the same cartridge in my inkjet printer for over a year now and it keeps on going!
Amazon.com has this LaserJet printer for only $79.98. You’ll easily save that per year in cartridge and ink costs by making the switch.
If you can’t afford to switch right now (you will be able to afford it after you master couponing), always remember to print the coupons in black ink only. Stores have never given me a problem with accepting the black and white coupons. All you need is a legible bar code that scans for the coupon to work.
Most internet printable coupons have print limits. This limit is usually two per computer. For example, whenever you print coupons from our free coupon section or equivalent, you’ll have to install the coupon printer software. This isn’t some spyware or virus, it’s to actually keep track of how many times you’ve printed a coupon.
Printing More Than One Coupon
Whenever you click on an internet printable coupon link, you’ll be taken to a page that prints the coupon but never actually shows you the coupon on your screen. After the coupon prints, you’ll be taken to a page that says something like “Thank you for printing our coupon. You may close this window.” Don’t close the window. Instead, hit the “back” button on your browser and then hit “reload” or “refresh.” That way, you’ll be able to print that second coupon!
Using More Than One Computer – More Coupons!
The more computers that you have access to, the more coupons that you can print. I’m pretty lucky and have two computers to print from at home, and another six or so computers that I routinely print from at work. This means that I can actually print 16 coupons for some of the best deals.
If you don’t have access to multiple computers, you can always ask friends, family members or coworkers if they would kindly print your coupons for you.
If all else fails, do not get discouraged if you only have one computer to print from. You can still land some killer deals with two coupons per item. I’ll show you how in later posts in this series.
Coupon Clipping Services
Yes, there are actually services out there that clip coupons for you. As I mentioned earlier, you can sometimes have only the coupon inserts delivered to your house instead of the entire Sunday paper. If your local paper doesn’t do this, you can use a clipping service that will actually mail all of the inserts to you. You’ll typically save a lot of money if you’re getting the paper for the coupon inserts only.
Here are a few clipping services that may be of interest:
Coupons on eBay
You can purchase many valuable coupons on eBay. If you find a killer deal and need multiples of the same coupon, you can usually find these at reasonable prices on eBay. Just like with any other eBay transaction, be sure to check the seller’s feedback and history before bidding or buying.
Here are some eBay stores for buying coupons:
- The Coupon Zone
- Kalamazoo Clipper
- CouponDan Couponkatys Coupon Store
- Holloways Coupons
- 24 Hour Card Store
Online Coupon Forums
One of the best places to search for printable coupons and coupon trades is online couponing forums. There are tons out there, and I’ll list the ones that I use.
Printable Coupon Resources
Well, that’s about it for accumulating coupons. I hope this information has been helpful. These are all of the resources I use but I really focus on the easy-to-obtain internet printable coupons to save tons of money.
Stay tuned for more in-depth information on what to do with all of these coupons now that you have a solid foundation on how to acquire them. I plan to write a whole series on couponing and post my actual transactions and what I got as examples that you can learn from.