Coupons are everywhere if you look….and I mean everywhere. I get asked all the time about how to find coupons. Coupons can be printed, digital, mailed, store provided, on the product packaging…you name it.
A few weeks ago I was visiting my mom and I noticed she had some crackers sitting on the kitchen table that still had a peely coupon on it. I couldn’t hide my disappointment at her rookie mistake and had to remind her to always take the peelies off as soon as you pick up the product because the cashier’s rarely notice.
In the summer of 2011, I was let go from my corporate job of 7 years. It was a reorganization and I was one of the lucky ones shown the door. My husband and I had closed on our first house two months prior, and we were getting married in 4 months. To say the least, it was a stressful time.
My frugal nature kicked into overdrive over the coming weeks trying to find a job. I was determined to find a new job that could expand my skill set and naturally expand me. I was also determined to find even more ways to save and not let this hiccup interrupt my financial goals.
Couponing became a way of life for me in those months. Not only to fill the time while I was filling out applications but also to save a ton of money on groceries and household goods.
The plethora of coupons around makes it easy for experienced couponers to save big, but also make it easy for non-couponers or those just getting into couponing to save if they keep their eyes open.
How to find coupons
1. The Sunday paper
My lifeblood. My hobby. One of my best friends. I freaking love the paper and it has nothing to do with the articles inside. I have the paper delivered to my house every Sunday. Therefore Sunday is one of my favorite days of the week. I grab the paper, scissors, and my organizer, pour some coffee and have some fun.
Sunday is my favorite day to put new coupons in my organizer, but it’s also the day that I remove expired coupons from my organizer. I get frustrated at myself when I go to use a coupon only to find out it recently expired. So removing expired coupons, while not the most fun activity, is necessary.
If you have a printer at home this will be your new best friend. It’s a free mega database of thousands of coupons. You do have to install their coupon printer, but once installed you can print to your heart’s content. Note that typically each coupon can only be printed twice so you are not able to print a high value or favorite coupon an infinite number of times.
But using a print copy is a great way to gain duplicates of the coupons you cut from the paper, or to find new ones!
3. Store Apps
Store apps offer many different kinds of deals and specials specifically on the apps. Many of the coupons you can find in the Sunday paper are also available as manufacturer coupons on store apps, so it’s a great opportunity to double up on a high-value coupon if you only have one copy in print.
My go-to stores where I most often take advantage of their apps are:
Walgreens – In addition to coupons, they offer a program called Balance Rewards. Type in your phone number at check out and Walgreens will track your purchases and give you in-store credit when you reach certain spending thresholds.
The best value is letting your points accumulate as the more you have, the less it requires to reach a reward. As you can see on the graphic on the right, it’s a 1:1 ratio until you get up to the $20.00 reward which only ‘costs’ 18,000 points.
Points do expire, so if you don’t shop at Walgreens often, accumulating points may not be your best choice if they expire before you get a chance to use them.
CVS – I love their app. In addition to most manufacturer coupons, the CVS app offers many of their own store coupons that you can clip digitally. For example, I currently have “$5.00 off $20.00 Physician’s Formula” purchase and a “$3.00 of $12.00 St. Ives facial scrubs and cleansers.” I don’t use them all but if I was planning to purchase these items anyway; it’s an additional way to save.
Like Walgreens, CVS has an in-store credit program called ExtraBucks. They offer deals throughout the store, for example: “Spend $30.00 on select items and get $10.00 ExtraBucks.”
I also really like CVS’s Beauty Club. If you sign up you will receive $3.00 ExtraBucks for every $30.00 you spend on beauty. The best part is the $30.00 is calculated using the item’s price before any coupons, so it’s really easy for a couponer to hit the $30.00 spending very little out of pocket to get there.
Meijer – One of my primary grocery stores. They offer manufacturer coupons digitally all the time. Their rewards program is called mPerks and frequently offers what they call “rewards.” For example, I’m currently earning toward a $3.00 reward if I spend $150.00 at the store. The app automatically tracks your spend and the $150.00 doesn’t have to be in one trip, it can be in multiple trips. As soon as I qualify for the $3.00 reward, it appears as a digital coupon I can clip in the app. So easy and convenient!
Target – I don’t get to Target as often as I’d like as there isn’t one close to my house. There is one close to work so I’ll go on my lunch breaks. The Cartwheel app for Target used to be separate from the Target app, but now you can find them together under the Target app.
Because I don’t shop at Target often my default strategy is to simply:
Open app>Cartwheel offers>All>Sort by discount
For me, I can then easily see what items are the highest percentage off which is how I like to find the best deals.
Related: 15 Best Money Saving Apps
4. Couponing Apps
I know there are many out there but below are my favorite. I’m a couponer and saver. I love all things couponing, but I, too, can get confused and overwhelmed between all the clipping, scanning, uploading receipts, scanning bar codes, etc. Below are my go-to’s for app-type saving.
Ibotta – Simply buy select items from specific retailers; upload your receipt and get cash back. I wrote a review about Ibotta recently if you’d like to hear more about it. (Get a $10.00 welcome bonus by using my affiliate link, click here)
Checkout51– Similar to Ibotta, you claim specific offers on specific products. The main difference Checkout51 offers is that the purchase can be from any store. whereas with Ibotta the offers are only available at specific stores.
Fetch Rewards – My new favorite grocery saving app is Fetch. It works similarly to other couponing apps in that you upload your receipt. The biggest difference is that you don’t have to purchase from a specific retailer and you don’t clip specific offers. Simply purchase select well-known brands, scan your receipt and you’re done. You will earn points that you can exchange for gift cards. (Enter my affiliate code M2CNU to get extra points when you register).
5. Peelies & Tear Pads
Coupons are abound if you are aware and keep your eyes open. Many times products will have coupons adhered to the product itself. That’s awesome if you remember to take the coupon off before hitting the checkout line. The cashiers are scanning; they usually aren’t looking for coupons like you are.
So make sure to take the peely off the product before you approach the register to ensure the coupon comes off your total.
I also love when product displays have tear pads. Sometimes it’s a small cardboard display next to an end cap. In some cases I see the tear bad adhered to the display itself. Either way, tear pads are a great way to take advantage of a manufacturer coupon that you didn’t have to find yourself.
6. Purchase Inserts
Did you know if you missed the Sunday paper you can actually purchase coupon inserts by themselves? It’s a business. There are businesses out there that will sell you specific inserts. The inserts themselves are usually pretty cheap and less than the cost of the Sunday paper itself.
I haven’t explored this too much because the cost to ship the inserts typically outweighed the value for me. But if you missed the paper and need to get copies of a specific insert after Sundays, this is an option for you.
An example is sundaycouponinserts.com
7. Manufacturer’s Emails
My favorites are Kellogg’s & P&G. Sign up for their emails and they will send you digital coupons to your inbox. In addition to their brands, I also receive offers from other brands on their behalf. I recently wrote about how to get Shutterfly for free. And Kellogg’s & P&G where two of the ways to do so, so an extra benefit!
There truly are coupons all around if you stay on the lookout for them. Using them has never been more simple as most stores are coupon friendly. Whip open that coupon organizer and hand over physical coupons. Or use your store’s app and clip coupons digitally. Either way, your wallet will thank you!
What is your favorite source for coupons?