The Ultimate Guide on How to Coupon and Save Money

Looking for ways to save money? Couponing may be your answer.

Although there are several ways to save money out there, couponing is one of my favorites ways because 1) it’s easy to learn and 2) it really works!

When I say it’s easy to learn, I mean that there is actually a secret formula out there that tells you how to maximize your savings. If you follow the formula, then you’ll be on your way to saving money each year. 

You can buy your brand-name shampoo and conditioner or your favorite brand-name paper towels or your favorite brand-name cereal, all at a lower price.

Sounds too good to be true right? 

But I’ll be sharing with you what this secret formula is today and how you can save money on groceries and household necessities. 

First, let’s talk about what couponing is. 

Disclaimer: The following information is based on MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE ONLY and may differ from other individuals. It is not to be taken as professional advice nor do I guarantee you that you will save hundreds of dollars. The amount of money you can save is dependent on when and how you apply coupons. This post may contain affiliate links, please see additional information for details.

What is couponing?

Couponing is the action of using coupons (or vouchers) to pay for an item less than its retail price. This voucher allows you to be entitled to “X” amount of dollars off the product. 

For example, when you use a $1.00 off coupon for a box of cereal that is $3.99, it means that when you pay for your cereal at the cash register, you will get $1.00 off of your $3.99 cereal. Total amount saved = $1.00, total amount paid= $2.99.

You can find coupons in your weekly newspapers, online, through a store’s website or app, through Coupons.com, and so much more. 

With all these savings opportunities right in front of you, it’s hard to not take advantage!

The best part about couponing is that you can maximize your savings by combining it with other saving tools.

The Secret Formula

Over the course of several years of couponing, I learned that when you want to save the most that you can, the only way to do so is to apply the secret formula.

COUPONS + SALES (WEEKLY ADS) + STORE REWARDS + CASHBACK APPS = BIG SAVINGS

There are four parts included:

  • Coupons
  • Sales (weekly ads)
  • Store rewards
  • Cashback apps or websites

Coupons

The first thing you want to do is to find coupons for items you want to buy. It can be toilet paper rolls, paper towels, dish soap, bathroom cleaners, personal care items, etc…

Coupons are available from various sources:

  • Weekly ads you get in the mailbox
  • Coupons.com
  • At a store’s website or app
  • At the brand’s website – For example, Brawny.com for paper towels or Proctor & Gamble, pgpro.com (for brands such as Bounty, Febreze, Dawn, Downy, Cascade, and Comet)
  • Or from email newsletters from local stores or pharmacies you shop at

Let’s break down the anatomy of a paper coupon:

Type of Coupon

The type of coupon lets you know whether it is a manufacturer’s coupon or a store coupon.

You can use a manufacturer coupon at any retail store carrying the product.

As for a store coupon, you can only use the coupon for the store that is listed there. For example, if you see TARGET COUPON listed here, then you may use this coupon only at Target (other exceptions may apply). 

Expiration Date

This is the expiration date of the coupon. You have a certain amount of days to redeem this coupon until it is no longer valid. 

My favorite coupons are those with no expiration date. It is rare but you will find some like this and if you come across them, save it! You never know when you will need it.

Amount You Can Save

You will see how much you can save on the product in this section. It usually stands out the most on the coupon and will be the first thing you see. 

I would recommend reading the fine print under this amount carefully because some coupons apply to a certain type of brand. For example, you have two brands of Bounty paper towels: the Bounty brand and the Bounty Essential.

The Bounty brand is best remembered for its GREEN packaging and the Bounty Essential is remembered for its YELLOW packaging.

If the coupon is ONLY for the Bounty Essential brand, then you cannot use it for the regular Bounty brand (green packaging).

Product Image

This section will show you which product(s) this coupon may apply to. It’s nice to have a visual when you don’t know how the product looks like.

Rules and Regulations

The most important part about a coupon is the rules and regulations section, also known as coupon policies, coupon rules, restrictions, etc..

If you want to know how many coupons you can use per transaction, this part will tell you the details. 

For example, some coupons restrict the use of more than 4 COUPONS in one transaction. Which means that you can only use 4 coupons that are identical under one receipt. 

Think of transactions as receipts. Each time you pay for your items, you receive a receipt right?

If you have 8 identical coupons, you may be able to break it up into TWO transactions (4 coupons under each receipt). This is possible if the cashier or store allows you to do so. If not, you may have to use the remaining 4 coupons at a different store.

You may also see something that says, “One coupon per product purchase,” but don’t feel alarmed. This just means that this coupon can only be used for ONE product at any single time, not one coupon per transaction.

If you have two coupons for Dawn dish soap (with no other restrictions), then you can stack both coupons if you buy two Dawn dish soap (one coupon per bottle of Dawn dish soap) under one transaction. 

Example:

🧼 = Dawn dish soap at $1.00

📃 = $0.25 off coupon, one coupon per product purchase

(🧼🧼 + 📃📃 = Total paid $1.50)

(1.00 + 1.00 + 0.25 off coupon + 0.25 off coupon = $1.50)

Other information you will see in this section include instructions for the Consumer and Retailer on how to redeem or receive reimbursement. 

Bar Code

The bar code is self-explanatory. The cashier needs to scan this code in order to apply the coupon towards your transaction. 

Sales (Weekly Ads)

The second part of the formula is to combine coupons with weekly sales. 

If your local pharmacy is running a sale on Scott bath tissue and you have a $1.00 OFF coupon for Scott bath tissue, you can combine the sale with the coupon for additional saving. 

For example, if the original price on Scott bath tissue was $10.00 and the store is doing a sale for $8.00, then you’re already saving $2.00 from its original price. 

With the $1.00 OFF coupon, you are saving an additional dollar from its original price. Total amount saved= $3.00, total amount paid= $7.00. 

Weekly sales are the best time to apply coupons because without any effort, you’re already saving money on products that your local store is running a special for. 

Most stores issue their weekly sales on Sundays. If you receive newspapers on Sunday’s, then expect to see them there or if you don’t receive newspapers, download your local store’s app or the Flipp app for an overview.

Store Rewards

The third part of the formula include store rewards. 

Let’s say you’re shopping at Walgreens and you have a Walgreens account. As a member, for each dollar you spend, you earn points. 

When you build up your points to a certain amount, you can redeem it for cash off your purchases. 

If you shopped enough to earn $5.00 rewards off your next shopping trip, you can combine it with your coupons AND your store’s weekly sales. 

Using the previous example, you already know you can save $1.00 off your Scott bath tissue. In this same shopping trip, perhaps you need some laundry detergent, shampoo, and dish soap. 

These items happen to be on a sale as well and what do we have here? More coupons! Yep! 

Combine all your coupons along with the items on sale and use your $5.00 rewards towards your purchase at checkout.

Overall, you just saved yourself some good money on basic needs!

Need a visual? Let’s look at the example below.

But that’s not all – you have another saving tool you can use!

Cashback Apps

The last part of the formula is cashback apps. 

Cashback apps are becoming a trend and you’ve probably heard of some of the popular apps such as Ibotta, Checkout 51, Rakuten, Paribus, or Dosh. 

They have become a popular way to earn cash back on your online or in-store purchases and can be combined with coupons, weekly sales, and store rewards for maximum savings. 

For example, with the Ibotta app, you can earn cashback on eligible items after making a purchase.

Here are a few ways how you can do so:

  1. Shop online straight within the app at participating stores (Walmart, Target, Walgreens, CVS, etc..)
  2. Upload your receipt to your app by taking a picture of the receipt or scanning the QR code
  3. Connect your local store’s rewards card number

After the app verifies your purchase, you can expect to see “X” amount of dollars appear in your account. 

Creating an account with any of the cashback apps is free, which is what we all like right?

The Drawbacks

I believe couponing is one of the greatest ways to save money within a short time period and if you put your mind to it, it can become an effective way to reduce spending.

However, there are a few drawbacks I must share with you about couponing. 

Time-consuming

Couponing is a time-consuming process because it requires you take some time to sit down, plan, research, and compile all your coupons in one place. 

If you don’t have at least 30 minutes to an hour to do this, it may not be for you. 

It can be addicting

You may not believe it but couponing can become addicting. The more money you save, the more you are motivated to shop, shop, AND shop.

When I first started, I thought it was a fun activity to do on the side but as I became more involved, I started to see myself every week looking at newspapers, weekly ads, and online deals. 

At this point, I was beginning to look like a professor with papers all over her desk doing some 10-year research.

You may end up spending more than you save

If you’re not buying only what you need but more of everything that is on sale just because it’s “cheap”, you may find yourself spending more than you save.

Why? Because you probably don’t need some of the stuff you purchased.

As a reminder, only buy what you need and not because it’s cheap.

You don’t want to stock up a whole closet of laundry detergent that will take a year to use because it may end up collecting dust. 

Conclusion

The biggest takeaway about couponing is that when you follow the secret formula, you are more likely to maximize your savings.

COUPONS + SALES (WEEKLY ADS) + STORE REWARDS + CASHBACK APPS = BIG SAVINGS

It’s easy to learn and works well for any family hoping to cut down monthly costs. 

Finances will always play a major role in our life and if you’re not making money, you can be saving money.

Although it can be a time-consuming process, it is rewarding and can be a huge lift on your financial burden. 

If you found this post helpful, please share it with family and friends who can find it helpful as well!

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