I have recently had someone ask about couponing. They are just getting started and wanted some tips on what to do and some links to sites that offer coupons and help with couponing.
There are several ways you can coupon.
1- You can continue to grocery shop in the same way you always have, except you begin to use coupons on items you usually buy.
2- You can use coupons to try new products.
3- You can watch sales and purchase items when they are sale and you have coupons. Because these items are less expensive then normal, you are able to purchase more than just one of these items. You can then store the extra items so that next time you need that item you have it on hand. Over time you will spend less money because you are buying things at a better price. (Or this helps free up grocery money for items that dont frequently go on sale but that you like to splurge on.)
There isnt really a right way or a wrong way to coupon. You can use coupons in whatever way you are comfortable. I usually try to do #3 but the year after my twins were born I could only handle doing #1.
Where to get coupons
Most major Sunday newspapers have coupons each week. You can also find coupons online; however, be cautious of the sites that you visit. Recently, I have had 2 family members get viruses from coupons.com. There is also a lot of fraud surrounding coupon sites. I try to visit only well known sites such as the manufacturers, Smartsource.com, Redplum.com, and grocerysmarts.com. Some of the manufacturers have websites for the individual product names such as General Mills, Kraft, Yoplait but they may also have a website that brings all the products together such as eatbetteramerica.com. Many grocery stores have websites that offer coupons as well. Many websites will require you to sign up to receive coupons. To protect my email address and not be bombarded with emails, I created a new email account exclusively for my couponing. I can sign up with companies but I dont have to look through their emails everyday. Before I go grocery shopping, I check my coupon email account to see if any products that are on sale have sent me an email or coupon.
Some couponers like to cut out and/or print every coupon they come across. I find this exhausting. I know what items my family likes and what they dont. I only cut/print coupons for those items. If an item is new, I will cut one coupon and purchase it when it goes on sale. This allows me to try the new item at a better price and then I know if I will purchase it again.
Pinchingyourpennies is a great resource for any couponer. You can search deals by state. Each state has a forum. I dont know how the other states forums work but the utah forum has a thread for each store each week. The administrators list the good deals and rank them on a 5 star rating system. If you are unsure if a price is a good deal or not, these forums are a wonderful help. They will also list any coupons that are available for the sale items.
Every store has different policies. Some don't accept online coupons. Some accept competitors coupons while others don't. Some match prices and other don't. Don't be afraid to ask the store employees if you have questions, but please dont be rude to them. They will be more willing to help you if you are kind and patient with them.
Remember that there are others who like to purchase good deals as well. Be considerate of others and don't clear the shelves by buying the entire stock when an item is free or almost free. Purchase what you honestly can use and leave the rest for the rest of us. : )
I hope this helps those who are new to couponing. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me.