24
Oct
2009

Couponing 101

New to couponing? It takes a little while to get the hang of things. but the time you invest will really pay off!

First I want to say welcome!  This site is not just for those that are on a budget. I also feature all sorts of freebies and great online deals to get you the biggest bang for your buck!

The world of couponing can be a little overwhelming at first. If you are willing to dedicate a little time and a little energy to learning the basics, you can easily start shaving 50% or more off your grocery bill each week (and you will probably start buying higher quality products!)

So how does it all work? You want to keep 2 key principles in mind:

1. Buy Low
2. Stock Up

Simple. You want to buy at the lowest price possible for the products that you need. And once they reach that rock bottom price, you simply stock up to last until the next sale!

Once those products hit that low price that you like, well then you add on the coupons and get an even better deal! Once you get the hang of it, using coupons can actually be really fun and very simple to do. At My Frugal Adventures, I hope to make the entire process very easy for you. If you are willing to invest a few hours a week, you should be able to put a few hundred dollars back in your savings account each and every month.

So here are the very basics that you need to get started:

1. TIME. I really suggest you set aside a little time each week and start reading as much as you can to learn about how to pull everything together. I have tons of resources for you listed below.

2. GET A PRINTER and a NEWSPAPER. You will need to start getting coupons! So the two best ways to do that are via the internet (and I post tons and tons of printable coupons each week) and in your Sunday Paper. The coupons will be different and you really want to have access to both types of coupons. This is also the point where you need to consider how much time and energy you want to put into using coupons each week. For our family, I have 3 newspaper subscriptions and that is more than enough. If you have a large family or if you live quite a distance from stores etc.. you might want to consider more newspaper subscriptions- because obviously the more coupons you have the more products you can buy!

3. START CHECKING THE ADS! Then you will want to start watching for the deals at stores that are in your area. I typically do matchups for CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aid, Target, Safeway and Raley’s Bel Air stores. There are lots of others that I post match-ups on a weekly basis- so you can click on the “Stores” tab at the top of the web site to find a store near you.

4. The weekly coupon matchups for each store will tell you exactly where you can find the coupons and will highlight the very best possible deals. So you can just print the deals you are interested in and collect the coupons and you are on your way!

So here at My Frugal Adventures, my philosophy is that you put in a little time and a little energy and you can really save big.

Here are a few articles that might help you get started:

VERY BASICS:

5 Lessons I Learned Using Coupons

What the heck is SS and RP?

Your Guide to Couponing Acronyms

What is a Catalina?

Regional Differences in Newspaper Coupons

THE NEXT STEPS:

How to Determine a Grocery Budget

OTHER STUFF:

How to get free item coupons!
Creating a Price Book (and my personal price book)
Don’t feel like bothering to use coupons? Save at the grocery store without any coupons.

And finally, if you have a few minutes to watch these videos- here are a few topics I have covered:

How to get the best coupons…
How to Save Big at the Grocery Store
U-Promise: Free College Savings Program

{ 56 comments… read them below or add one }

christine October 5, 2010 at 6:38 PM

hello again,
i was looking for your cotact info again, but couldn’t find it. i actually am writing to ask for any info, advice, help, or resources you might be able to refer me to. my community newspaper (a monthly paper) has asked me to do an article on black friday, you know deals and freebies, etc. i am actually fairly new to couponing, but in my circle am known as having it down pretty well. if you could steer me in any direction for collecting info on possible deals i would be appreciative. you may email me if you need further info as i know youdon’t know me and probably would like confirmation of this. thanks for any help, you are the site i visit most for my own personal couponing.

Charlene October 5, 2010 at 6:52 PM

Christine, My contact info is on the about tab and the top of the blog or where the hanging envelope is on the header. For Black Friday- the ads will be leaked a few weeks in advance. You can just look at the ads and start planning- I usually post highlights. One thing is that a lot of the stuff is also offered online. So that is nice because people don’t have to get trampled by the crowds. I haven’t seen anything yet for Black Friday. Probably starting Nov 1st or so that will be leaked. I don’t remember freebies other than the drugstores which have special ads for a day or a few days. Sorry that isn’t much help to you.

Joan Thomas October 17, 2010 at 12:12 PM

Please change my email address to jt2umifrnd@xxxx. I will no longer be using triad.rr.com. Thank you

Charlene October 17, 2010 at 12:30 PM

Joan I edited that so your email isn’t published. I tried to enter you in for the newsletter and it says you are already there. Can you please check your spam folder for a confirmation email that would have been sent? You just need to confirm that you really do want the newsletter and it will arrive each day in the afternoon.

angie clark November 4, 2010 at 11:39 AM

I would like help couponing

Laurie November 27, 2010 at 10:33 AM

I need bicycles Beach bike and boys bike with training wheels

dj December 3, 2010 at 7:40 AM

anyone know of a coupon for the dvd eclipse ?

Melanie Green December 4, 2010 at 7:46 PM

Old Navy currently has a special where if you use your Old Navy, Bannah Republic or Gap you can get 20% off total purchase. Not sure if this will work on line but worth a shot code is STUFFSAVE.

Melanie Green December 6, 2010 at 5:05 AM

Lands End started promo today 25% of everything and free shipping with $50 purchase.
promo code WREATH25 and PIN 2123

Beverly Albrecht January 2, 2011 at 5:33 PM

Can you please sign me up for your My Frugal Adventures newsletter?

Thank you so much. I look forward to getting your emails.
Beverly

Charlene January 2, 2011 at 7:00 PM

Beverly, I signed you up and you should have an email from feedburner in your inbox that you need to confirm. Also just an FYI- aol can be a real pain about newsletters. They block the service provider that delivers them as spam. So you may click to confirm and still not get them and that is just aol not letting them through.

Cindy January 2, 2011 at 9:25 PM

Please sign me up for your newsletter. I did read your earlier post about aol, co I will be on the look out.

Charlene January 2, 2011 at 10:29 PM

Ok done Cindy! Look for the confirmation email.

Juanita Robinson March 3, 2011 at 4:12 PM

I want to join. My daughter inlaw told me about this web site.

Tonia March 7, 2011 at 12:52 PM

Hi Charlene, I’m completely new to couponing and i must admit i’m Totally overwhelmed. The past two weeks I’ve gotten 3 papers each week and i’m stocking up on plenty of printable coupons as well. Maybe it’s the handicap of being a visual learner but i’m finding that i’m not sure what to do next. Getting the coupons seems to be the easy part. I find myself staring at the ad totally confused as to where to start. I’ve created an organizational system to begin with but i’m not sure what to do now. Maybe i’m making it harder than it is, maybe I’ll learn to see it differently but for now, i find it hard to look at the ad and see the potential “big savings” that everyone else sees. Yikes, I feel like I’m hopeless. Help. :)

Charlene March 7, 2011 at 1:16 PM

Ok well I understand Tonia. I am hoping to start a new series that is seriously back to basics for newbies because there are lots of you in the same boat! I decided to make it a priority this week so just keep checking in and hopefully it will help.

Charlene March 11, 2011 at 1:22 PM

Ok William I entered it in. Just look for a confirmation email to click and you are good to go!

William Griffith March 11, 2011 at 1:10 PM

My email address has changed to

Did not know how to submit it

Antoinette Cantu March 25, 2011 at 3:55 AM

I would like to recieve your newsletter.
Thanks
I din’t know where I was supposed to subscribe, I just saw people posting here asking to be sgned up.

Annie March 29, 2011 at 5:51 PM

Hi! I have what is considered a ‘larger family’ ~ a 7 yr old son, 3 yr old daughter & 9 mth old twin boys (: We are on one income and every time we go to the grocery I feel a pang of guilt for not using any coupons. I know I need to use them, but the whole process overwhelms me. Can you help me w/where to start, etc. I know you said get the paper but that is really just another bill for us & my hubby doesn’t think the coupons in it are worth the cost. Thanks for your help!!
Annie

Charlene March 29, 2011 at 7:45 PM

Let’s see. I do believe the newspaper coupons are helpful. You will really need to do some legwork though to get the best possible price- for me the paper here is $1.50. I paid $20 for a year subscription by doing some research and finding the best possible offer for the paper- so I get 3 copies of the paper delivered. Before you do that you can start with just internet coupons. Those will require a printer, ink and paper. I would take things very slow and just start by watching what the sales are at the stores you like to shop at. You should be able to find the coupon matchups and watch to see what items you would normally buy go on sale and are cheap with coupons. You should start to be able to get a feel for how many papers you might want to get and the trick is you need to get the coupons and hold onto them. Many times the sales are well after the newspaper coupons were released so you will probably be like me with a stack of coupon inserts in the closet. That is why it is best to have a subscription rather than just buying them each week- you really don’t know what deals are going to come before those coupons expire.

I would just dip your foot in the water by starting with a few internet coupons for items that you would have purchased anyway- say coupons for diapers. Once you get a little more comfortable and understand how it works, you can start to get more involved.

Jennifer April 10, 2011 at 4:37 PM

I’m a little confused on BOGO items. So if a store has let’s say jell-o pudding snacks on sale Buy one get one Free, and I have $1.00/1 coupon, can I use two of the dollar off coupons?

Teresa Stephon April 14, 2011 at 5:43 PM

Please sign me up for the daily e-mails – Thank you.

Rebecca April 15, 2011 at 8:09 PM

Charlene

I cannot express how helpful your site is!!! i just had my son feb 25th and my husband and i have to tighten our notches on our money belt to afford babysitting, diapers, and formula. I have dabbed in using coupons before but was really amazed after watching ‘Extreme Couponing’ Please sign me up for your newletter. Thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to share with the rest of us!!!

Becky

Rebecca April 15, 2011 at 8:10 PM

sorry wrong email address …lol been up a too long with the baby ..LOL

Dawn Sanders April 19, 2011 at 5:08 PM

Can you please add me to your news letter?

Charlene April 19, 2011 at 5:15 PM

Sure Dawn- you should have a confirmation email waiting for you now.

Kara May 10, 2011 at 8:14 PM

Please sign me up for your newsletter. I’m wanting to start having fun with all the savings! Thank you!

Charlene May 10, 2011 at 8:37 PM

Ok Kara, you should have a confirmation email waiting for you.

kara May 11, 2011 at 2:01 PM

Hi Charlene,

I never received an email for confirmation

Charlene May 11, 2011 at 2:20 PM

Ok I just did it again :) Sometimes they go to spam.

maryjane May 11, 2011 at 5:04 PM

there is no way I can print coupons off the internet when u request a product a person is given every site but the one she wants.what an i doing wrong mj

Gina May 21, 2011 at 7:00 PM

Charlene~

May I just say…THANK YOU!! If not for your article on “How To Begin Couponing” I wouldn’t have known exactly how to get my monies worth. Yes, I use coupons, but it was a $.55 here, a $.40 there, and in the long run I was only saving 50cents – $2. Well, now I’m saving anywhere from $50. – $100. off my grocery tab! And since my husband works at a “Box-Store” grocery store, I get the heads up as to what is about to go on sale. Add that with my coupon and any in-store preloaded club card discounts and WOW! I now have joined a local yahoo group, whose members share coupons amongst one another. Keep in mind this not only helps each other out, but it also keeps the flyers from ending up in our local landfill. THANK YOU again, and I look forward to hearing more from you in the future.

Lisa June 3, 2011 at 8:11 AM

Thank you so much for your easy to understand info:
Here is my question i have foound many Coupon Databases and I am wondering HOW do you go about printing the coupons once you have found the one or ones you need??

Thank you-

mommy Lisa

Charlene June 3, 2011 at 8:14 AM

Lisa, just click where it says “source” at the top. That should pull up a new window and you can print the coupon.

Toni June 15, 2011 at 5:14 PM

Can you please add me to your newsletter. Thank you.

Tina July 5, 2011 at 9:39 AM

Help make it stop!! My inbox is getting slammed, where do I change preference to only receive email for daily deals ONLY. If I enter a contest, I swear I opted NOT to get notification when other’s post. I opened my account today and I had 521 messages! UGH! Please help!
Thanks

Charlene July 5, 2011 at 9:43 AM

Tina, you need to go into the subscription area and click to end it. If you enter a contest there is absolutely no way I would ever have people getting notifications of all the entries. There is a box to elect to get notified and that is what you checked :( You must have read it wrong. You can also go to any post and click on comments and then at the very bottom “manage subscriptions” click that and you should be able to stop them from coming in.

Brian July 18, 2011 at 10:09 AM

Hi Charlene,
I’m new to this coupon thing and I like what I have read…but, I’m new at this and I was reading the price comparrisons that you provide and thats awsome… Although I live in central NY and we don’t have any of those store! Is there anyone or any where to find prce comparisons for the stores in my area. We have : Wegmans, Price Chopper, Tops & Nichols. Any one of the following stores would be much appreaciated! Thankyou in advance. -Brian-

Corita July 27, 2011 at 10:32 AM

I am currently pregnant with my second child I had to quit working because of the pregnancy. Soo, we are definitely on a very tight budget! Reading all your info makes me really want to get into this!! :D
Please send me your newsletters I would love to read them.
BTW this is an excellent site. Thanks for helping all of us moms who are in need! :)

Stephanie August 1, 2011 at 4:56 PM

If I have a coupon for $3off when you buy 5, another coupon for $2 off of 3, and $1 off when you buy 2, is it possible to use all of those coupons in the same transaction if I buy 5 (total) since there would be 5 items and 3 coupons used? Thanks!

Charlene August 1, 2011 at 5:45 PM

No Stephanie just one coupon per item so a $3/5 coupon would be for 5 items.

Mary September 4, 2011 at 6:52 PM

Do newspaper inserts have different coupons than ther websites? I’m already printing out smartsource and red plum online and don’t want to pay for a paper if it’s just the same ones. Thanks!

Charlene September 4, 2011 at 7:29 PM

Mary, occasionally the coupons overlap but the vast majority of coupons you really do need to pay for a paper. You can get tons of coupons online but if you can get a newspaper subscription for a $1 or less a week it will be worthwhile :)

Shunetta Lewis November 9, 2011 at 9:35 PM

A friend and I would love to begn couponing, but reading all of the “how to” informtion, we are a little overwhelmed! Any advice???

Charlene November 9, 2011 at 9:40 PM

Shunetta,

Just start slow and read all you can on the subject. It starts to get easier as you go and really most of this is just common sense. You just have to read all the articles or watch the videos out there are start putting the pieces together. Then pick one store you like and try a few small transactions.

Good luck and be patient with yourself. It takes a little while to get the hang of the process.

Sarah November 15, 2011 at 10:47 PM

I love coupons!! But I dont get how people double their coupons and get things for so cheap. Every coupon I have ever clipped out has said only 1 coupon per item!! Please help me understand this. Thank you bunches :)

Gidget November 22, 2011 at 3:15 AM

hi again, i read somewhere that military persons can use expired coupons for up to 6 months past the date, anyone know where i can send them, its seems so wasteful to just throw them away if someone can use them. thanks so much for your time and all the great work. have a fantastic thanksgiving!!!

Charlene November 22, 2011 at 8:24 AM
Caren November 25, 2011 at 9:20 PM

Hello Charlene, I am a newbie couponer and really need help getting started. I have a ton of newspaper and internet coupons but don’t know where to start. The only store that doubles coupons in my area is Kroger (up to .50) and Kmart only on special occaisions. Any advice? Oh, and just wanted to say thank you for your great website. Could you please add me to your newsletter?
Thank You, Caren

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