How To Start Couponing For Beginners ✂️

Wondering how to start couponing for beginners? If you are looking for new ways to save money then clipping coupons for beginners is a great place to start.

I have been couponing for years now, so I wanted to share some tips I've learned along the way. Do you want to know why I get so excited about couponing?

how to start couponing

Here's why I learned how to start couponing — I got this grocery haul all just for $33.35. Today, I'm going to show you how you can get a bunch of food and products for dirt cheap so you can get paid to save.

But first, just know you'll need to download a few grocery store rebate apps like Fetch Rewards and Ibotta. If you don't use these apps you're missing out.

Here's a prime example: Did you know that Ibotta usually teams up with Walmart and a number of additional brands to offer you a free Thanksgiving dinner after cash back through the Ibotta app or browser extension? There's more to it though.

In this article, you'll learn the best way to get coupons, how to get printable coupons mailed to you, and where to get free downloadable coupons online.

Ready to get started saving money on groceries?

Where do you start?

Before you get started with my couponing guide, make sure you have a few things available to you:

how to start couponing
  • Access to a printer for printing coupons
  • A laptop or computer
  • A plastic binder with dividers/labels
  • Access to local newspapers (these have coupons or mailers)

Best way to start couponing

If you've been wondering how to start couponing for beginners, this quick-start guide is for you.

1. Set aside time for couponing

how to start couponing

You'll need at least an hour or so per week to clip some coupons for your grocery haul.

By spending an hour each week, either after work or on the weekends, your savings is really unlimited.

You'll probably also find new ways to save money (by using grocery savings apps for example) along the way.

To chalk it up, you can really save a lot of money by spending just an hour couponing.

So make the time!

Make the time to coupon
If you spend 1 hour couponing you can save at least $20-$50 per week, which means you're essentially making $25-50 an hour. Plus, once you get the hang of it you'll be able to do it much faster but likely save even more.

2. Learn the terminology

how to start couponing

As a beginner, you may come across some terminology that you're unfamiliar with.

You'll want to quickly glance over these terms so you can get comfortable with them so you can learn about all the ways you save and score cheap goodies.

Some of the main terms that'll pop up are below.

Manufacturer’s Coupons
Manufacturer coupons are coupons released by the manufacturer of the product. These coupons say “manufacturer” and should be accepted at any store that accepts manufacturer coupons.
Printable Manufacturer Coupons
Printable manufacturer coupons are the same as manufacturer coupons as shown above, but they can be printed from multiple websites.
Store Coupons
Store coupons are put out by individual grocery or retail stores. They are essentially store sales in the form of a coupon.
Expiration Dates
All coupons will have an expiration which will be generally located on the bottom of the coupon. You'll also want to check for any disclaimer text, if available.
Cash Back
Cash back is a form of incentive offered you for certain products whereby you'll receive a cash refund after making a purchase. You can get cash back by using cash back credit cards or apps that offer free cash back.
Coupon Code
A coupon code is a computer-generated code, consisting of letters or numbers that you can enter into a promotional box on a site's shopping cart (or checkout page) to obtain a discount on the current purchase.

That's pretty much all the terminology you'll need to familiarize yourself with if you really want to get into the coupon game.

3. Find coupons

how to start couponing

You guessed it, the next step is finding the best ways to get coupons.

Thankfully, you can easily find out where your local coupons are no matter where you live.

Generally, throughout the US, coupons pop up in four main places:

  1. Store coupon walls/bulletin boards
  2. Local newspapers
  3. Store flyers
  4. Coupon websites

If you're a Millennial like me, or you're okay with downloading a few apps that'll handle all the work for you — consider downloading/signing up for the best coupon sites (technology things easier).

Coupon sites/apps

Ibotta ($10 signup bonus)
You can probably file this one under “sounds too good to be true, but isn’t.” Ibotta is an app that works with 250 major retailers, including big-box stores, to help you get some money back, retroactively, on purchases you already make regularly. Some users report savings of up to $25 in their first month without changing their shopping habits.
Join Ibotta and Claim $10
Rakuten ($30 signup bonus)
Rakuten functions a little like an outlet store for 2,500 Internet retailers. By making Rakuten your “shopping portal,” either through the web app or a browser extension, you have access to thousands of great deals — up to 40 percent off — on almost anything you can imagine, straight from your retailers of choice. You can also get cash back on your purchases.
Join Rakuten and Claim $10

You can compare all of the best couponing sites here.

3. Get coupons delivered to you via postal mail

As we have covered many of your local coupons can be found in newspapers and magazines. But did you know that you can find coupons a ton of other ways online?

The most effective way of getting free coupons by mail is simply by contacting companies via social media, email, or the companies dedicated customer service department.

Yes, really.

Almost all companies love to receive positive reviews and feedback about their products and services.

So when you reach out to them and show support, most large companies will likely send you coupons to show gratitude or motivate you to give their product a second trial.

Just be sure to keep the following tips in mind before reaching out them:

Reaching out to companies for coupons (keep these tips in mind)
  • The feedback doesn't always have to be positive to get free coupons, you can send negative feedback or reviews with a measure of politeness.e
  • Always try to remain professional and civil at all times, even if they don't offer any free coupons in the end.
  • Specify what you are praising. If you enjoyed something be specific as to what you like.
  • Provide detailed information to the company that's meaningful. If you have a complaint, make it as explicit as possible stating even the specific problem you had. If it is a recommendation, provide details too.

4. Sign up for company newsletters for free coupons

how to start couponing

Many companies which give free coupons send out advertising and deals to their newsletter subscribers which contain free coupons. They'll also give you a free treat if you fill out their customer satisfaction survey.

So head on over to your favorite store's website and simply give them your email address or take their customer salinification survey for a chance of free coupons or a free meal.

Pro tip:
If you're in the market for something specific, remember that you can always buy coupons online. I've done this in the past, by buying coupons off eBay.

Whenever you have a big purchase coming up, just look on eBay for the store name + coupon and you can usually save yourself some money.

5. Use apps that utilize coupons

best money saving apps

If you're keen on contacting companies or tweeting them you just download apps that have digital coupons that you can apply to your purchases.

Using these free coupon apps can save you money on just about anything.

We covered some of these sites earlier but the best ones are as follows:

  • Ibotta can help you find savings on your favorite brands at your favorite stores. You can register today and earn real money. Plus, it saves you time since you don't have to manually clip coupons, it's all done within the app. Plus, you can get a $10 new user bonus after scanning your first receipt.
  • Rakuten lets you find coupons and earn cash back at over 2,500 stores, I love it. You can save online with rebates, deals, promo codes and discounts. They'll give you $30 for joining after you use the app/site twice.

You can scope out the full list here.

6. Mix coupons for ultimate savings

paid to save

You'll want to learn about overage if you get serious about how to start couponing. This occurs when you stack coupons so that you are actually owed money from the register or get a credit towards your current bill.

In order for this to occur, this has to happen:

  1. Combining a manufacturer coupon and a store coupon together
  2. Using a coupon on an item that has been reduced/on clearance
  3. Applying “Catalina” coupons on your bill
  4. Price-matching an item that you're already using a coupon on

Once you get familiar with coupons, you can start strategizing how to stack up multiple types of coupons.

When you check out at some stores, coupons print out with your receipt.

Some of these come from a Catalina printer, and some are tear-offs at the bottom of your receipts.

At Walmart, for example, I can sometimes get as much as $5 off a future purchase of $25 or more. If you can combine one of these with a manufacturer’s coupon and a store sale, you just became an extreme couponer!

Tips to keep in mind

You'll likely run into a few mistakes as a beginner. I know I did and here's what to look out for:

  • Keep in mind that some stores may not pay you actual cash if you are owed a credit. Instead, they'll give you a credit towards your next purchase.
  • If you have an overage or gap in your bill, some stores will require you to fill the gap with an item to make up for the difference.
  • Not all stores will let you stack coupons, so make sure you read the fine print.
  • Not all stores will have the product you have coupons for, so call ahead if your item/product is popular.

My next piece of advice is to stay motivated. Here is a great way to stay motivated and not get burned out:

  • When you're learning about how to start couponing don't be frustrated if you can't walk away with $500 worth of items for only a few bucks.
  • Make some rules for when you're learning how to start couponing and stick to them. This article can get you started but it's a constant learning game.
  • Don't go crazy clipping coupons for things you don't need, that's a good way to combat all your savings.
  • At the end of the day when learning how to start couponing, make sure you're having fun!

How to start couponing? Just do it!

To recap, by using coupons you can save a lot of money yourself, cut your monthly expenses down, and lower your monthly bills.

This is a great way to start saving more, invest your savings, and ultimately grow your wealth and become a coupon junkie!

If you just wanted free coupons now, you could just download apps like Ibotta and Fetch to get started.

While extreme couponing takes some time and effort, even with the smallest effort you can find some great savings.

Take your time and enjoy your savings.

Brian Meiggs
Brian Meiggs
Brian Meiggs is a personal finance expert, and the founder of Smarts, a personal finance site helping you easily explore your best money options. He helps readers follow the smart money in order to increase their earning potential and start building wealth for the future. He regularly writes about side hustles, investing, and general personal finance topics aimed to help anyone earn more, pay off debt, and reach financial freedom. He has been quoted as a top personal finance blogger in major publications including Business Insider, Yahoo! Finance, NASDAQ, Discover, and more.
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