Secrets for Honest to Goodness Couponing Series | Part 1
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I looked up and saw my total on the cash register…$200!?! I pulled out my credit card…again. Coupons are a great way to keep more of this money in your pocket, but where do you even start?
As a parent, saving any money you can is a huge help in providing for your family, especially during the holiday shopping season. Even if you don’t need to, you can collect the money you’ve saved to donate or put towards a family vacation. I decided to share some of my couponing secrets with you; and, since I have so very much to share, I decided it would be best to split it up into categories and share over time. Since knowing where to find coupons is pretty important, that’s where I decided to start this series.
When you really start looking into it, there are loads of places to find coupons. Sometimes they are easily missed. To make it easier to sift through this extensive post, I’ll break this up into sections for paper, printable, digital, and cashback coupons with sub-categories for manufacturer and store. In fact, you may want to bookmark this post and read it over a few visits. For now, you can start by looking at the bold sections of the list, then read their descriptions later.
For the most part, people are looking for grocery coupons, so most of this post references those. I will not limit it simply to food and paper goods, but will also include discounts in general. Excluding purchasing newspapers, magazines, etc., most of these programs are completely free to sign up and use.
This post was a lot of work to pull together and I hope you find this post extremely helpful. I would very much appreciate your use of the links in this post in return as a handful are affiliate or referral links. Save this post and come back to use my links when you need to print coupons, reference a cashback site, or try something new.
These coupon locations may be more obvious, but not always. Be on the look out for hidden coupons.
- Newspapers (most newspapers, like USA Today, have coupons in the Sunday paper and occasionally in the weekday papers; note that newspapers will not contain coupons on holiday weekends.)
- Magazines (some great ones include All You, Family Circle, Better Homes & Gardens)
- In the mail (Sometimes you will get stand alone coupon fliers, sometimes it will be in your junk mail, sometimes you may get value packs which are envelopes full of coupon and deal offers. Tip: write to your favorite brands to tell them how much you love their products and they just may send some coupons your way!)
- Other mailed coupons (sometimes you can get coupons in the mail from P&G Everyday, check all free samples that are mailed, sign up for mailed free product coupons from social media giveaways, etc..)
- Bricks coupons (sometimes when you go to print an online coupon it will bring you through Bricks Coupon Network. These coupons give you an option under “help” to have your coupons mailed to you, if you can wait for them to arrive; I have had to do this multiple times when I’d run out of ink in my printer.)
- Rewards programs (certain brands have rewards programs where you can save up points to earn free product coupons! I will touch more on these in a later post, but a few that you can earn mailed coupons include Coca-Cola, Huggies, Old Orchard, and Kellogg’s.)
- Clipping services (now, buying and selling coupons is illegal, but this found a loophole in that you pay for the service and get a pile of all the same coupons pre-clipped; I am personally against using these, but you can decide where you stand for yourself.)
- The cosmetics counter in drugstores (when I worked at Walgreens, we were given manufacturer coupons for various products and we kept them behind the counter for those who needed them.)
- Coupon bins in-store (this really depends on your local store, but I have seen coupon bins at places like Walmart and military commissaries.)
- By the products (sometimes there will be shelf hangers or coupon dispensers near products; some people will even leave their extra coupons on the shelf by the products HOWEVER, make sure you check the expiration date and product specifications, because some people also use this as a place to dump their trash.)
- On the products (these come in all different shapes and sizes from hanging tags to stickers to coupons inside the packing for our next purchase–I once found a coupon inside a bag of cheddar cheese cracker snacks. Tip: if you can take the coupons off prior to checkout, do that; some you have to leave on for the cashier, so take note of which and remind the cashier as they are often overlooked.)
- At sample booths (sometimes when stores have sampling events they will even give you coupons for those products.)
- Printed at checkout (you have probably seen these before; they are manufacturer coupons printed based off of your purchases. Many people just throw them away, but look through them first because you may find some treasures like money off any purchase or even free products!)
- Review programs (programs like BzzAgent or MomsMeet will sometimes send you free products, free product coupons, or discount coupons in exchange for reviewing and sharing about the products you test.)
- Random free fliers (coupons are not always in fliers, but occasionally you will find one hidden in a brand pamphlet or local flier.)
- Promotions from other brands (sometimes brands will partner up, so you will find coupons for different products placed in your shopping bag, stuck to a product you purchased, or offered in some other manner. The key is to always be on the lookout for coupons.)
- Blog giveaways (enter blog giveaways like the ones I run occasionally to get free product coupons mailed to you!)
- Your credit card company (at least my credit card company, Discover, does this. Now and then I will get random manufacturer or store coupons in the mail from them.)
- Friends and Family (need a coupon, or maybe an extra because you only got one? Ask your friends and family if they have any they will not be using! You might be surprised how many people just throw out their coupons.)
- Coupon inserts (occasionally, amidst the manufacturer coupons, you will find store-specific coupons.)
- Magazines (certain magazines will partner with or run ads for products at specific stores and provide a store coupon.)
- In the mail (a lot of times if you have shopped at a specific store before or you are signed up for any of their programs they will send coupons in the mail now and then. You can also find some occasionally in junk mail.)
- In product samples (sometimes when you get product samples through a specific store there will be store coupons inside the package.
- In their ads (while most don’t print coupons straight to their ads, some, such as Walgreens and Michael’s, will.)
- In-store (some will be on stands near the front like Walgreens or Lowe’s Home Improvement, some will have kiosks where you scan your card like CVS, sometimes you can get coupons from by or in the pharmacy at drug stores.)
- Rewards programs (some stores like, Toys “R” Us,have rewards programs where you earn points towards later discounts and often send coupons out of the blue.)
- By the products (some stores, like the military commissary, will hang store-specific coupons near items on the shelf.)
- On the products (occasionally you will find store coupons/discounts stuck onto products. In my experience, this has happened at Harris Teeter when certain bakery or produce items are just about to reach their sell by date.)
- Printed at checkout/on receipts (those coupons that print out occasionally will give you money off your entire next purchase at that specific store rather than just a manufacturer coupon for a specific product. Sometimes they even give you discounts at other stores. You can also find coupons printed at the bottoms of backs of your receipt; some of these receipt coupons you will need to complete a survey for to get a discount or free products.)
- Random free fliers (get a free flier in the mail or handed out to you? Often these free fliers have coupons for local businesses.)
- Baby, wedding, and birthday registries (a lot of stores, like Target, will give you coupons at the time you sign up as well as an overall discount coupon at the completion of your registry! These work only on occasion-specific or registered items. Sign up only if you need to.)
- Your credit card company and store credit/debit cards (my credit card company, Discover, does this. Now and then I will get random store coupons in the mail from them. Store credit/debit cards also reward your loyalty by mailing exclusive coupons.)
There are tons of places to get coupons online, it’s crazy.
- Commonkindness (this is mostly for organic food items; it will also donate to your charity of choice.)
- Hopster (you can actually complete challenges and upload receipts to boost your coupon value!)
- Target (manufacture coupons are labeled.)
- Wounded Warrior Project (offered one time a year; each coupon used supports WWP)
- Save In Store
- Coupon Cabin (look under coupons, narrow it down to “printable coupons”, then shop by category or just browse.)
- Everyday Saver
- MomsMeet (sign up for an account and have access to exclusive natural brand coupons. Look for the “Coupon Center” tab at the top.)
- P&G Everyday
- Rock the Lunchbox (this may be a temporary site, but for now it has coupons for a few organic brands.)
- Healthy Essentials (Johnson & Johnson products)
- Betty Crocker (and Pillsbury, and all other General Mills sites. These sites often offer a select few coupons at a higher price than the same coupons on other generic printable coupon sites.)
- Kraft First Taste (Kraft brands)
- Pork Be Inspired (once in a while you will find a coupon here for money off of fresh pork.)
- Family Unit PG (military commissary savings, service members and family only)
- TheCouponBookSavings (currently taking a break, but subscribe to their newsletter to know when they’re back.)
- Email newsletters (sign up for your favorite sites and they will sometimes email you coupons or coupon alerts!)
- Store websites (many stores have a coupon tab on their website where you can find a mix of store and manufacturer coupons–an example would be Walmart. Walmart will also occasionally have landing pages featuring specific products with a coupon.)
- Brand websites (looking for a coupon off a specific product? Check that brand’s website for a coupon tab.)
- Loyalty programs (as I mentioned above, some brands have rewards programs where you enter codes to earn free things. Some, like Pampers, offer printable coupons and discount codes. I will share a list of loyalty programs in a later post. Tip: look inside product packaging for a code to enter.)
- MyPoints (print coupons and earn points towards rewards. More on this below.)
- Social media (you will find that most brands have social media accounts like Facebook and Twitter. Follow them or check them when you need a coupon because they will occasionally post printable coupon offers!)
- InboxDollars (print coupons and get $0.10 back for each coupon you redeem. You will also get a $5 bonus when you sign up through this link and activate your account and another $0.50 bonus when you complete your profile. They even let you earn more by completing surveys and offers, not just coupons.)
- Google (so a search for the product you are looking for, i.e. “Gerber baby food coupon.” Don’t print just any coupons you see, especially those under “Images.” If used correctly, however, you can often find coupons for specific products–ones that are not listed on Facebook pages or brand websites or coupon networks. Keep in mind, some posts with coupons will be old and no longer valid.)
- Coupons.com (on occasion.)
- Redplum (on occasion.)
- Target (store coupons are labeled.)
- Store websites (look for a coupon tab then look for those labeled as a store coupon.)
- Coupon Cabin (look under coupons then printable then search by store.)
- Email newsletters (sign up for newsletters from your favorite stores, like CVS, and sometimes they will send you coupons!)
- Loyalty programs (some stores also have loyalty programs where you can earn discounts for shopping, such as Best Buy. These discounts may be mailed to you, as mentioned above, or emailed to you to print or show on your mobile device.)
- Social media (follow your favorite stores on social media like Facebook and Twitter. Sometimes they will share coupons for specific products in store or even discounts off of your total purchase.)
These are things like load to card coupons and mobile coupons. I will break them down for you below. Note that most all load to card and digital coupons will be store-specific.
Load to Card
These will load to your card and automatically be deducted at the time you purchase the given item. Tip: keep a list on your mobile device or printed to show the coupons loaded as they do not always come off as they should.
- Cellfire (for select stores)
- Coupons.com (some coupons can be loaded to your card.)
- Redplum (some coupons can be loaded to your card.)
- Everyday Saver
- P&G Everyday
- Commissary Rewards
- Harris Teeter E-Vic
- Review programs (I am not sure what all stores have these, but Harris Teeter has something called Try & Tell where, if you are one of the first to sign up through their Facebook page, they will load a coupon for a free product to your card; you then purchase that product and go back to leave a very quick review.)
- Rite-Aid Load2Card
- Target RED Card (this is not exactly coupons, but if you pay with your Target RED debit or credit card you will get 5% off of your entire purchase.)
- Amazon.com (they actually have coupons that you can clip and add to your account so you get a discount when you purchase those specific items through your Amazon account.)
- I am not going to list all of the stores with load to card coupons, but check out your local retailers to see which have coupons that can be loaded to your rewards card!
These are coupons that you can be scanned from your smartphone for an immediate discount with no paper waste.
- Text message alerts (some stores, like Staples, offer SMS programs that alert you on your phone of special discounts and mobile coupons.)
- Target Mobile (text message program where you can get messaged links to mobile exclusive discounts for everyday items, baby items, and sometimes more.)
- Target Cartwheel for Android or Apple (load your favorite discounts to your Cartwheel account and get percentages off the items at the time of purchase. If you do not have a mobile phone, you can use their website and print your offers barcode.)
- Find&Save (I’ll talk more about this below, but you can actually grab mobile coupons for your favorite stores right on the app. Use the code CRKS when you sign up.)
- Foursquare (most know this app as somewhere you can publicly “check-in” to stores and restaurants, but what most don’t know is that you can get coupons at some locations. Search for nearby locations using the “savings” filter to find places with current promotions and coupons.)
- App coupons (many stores have QR codes you can use to download apps in-store and get coupons on your mobile device.)
- Craft stores (Michael’s, Hobby Lobby, JoAnn Fabrics, etc. have mobile coupons on their sites as well as on their mobile apps.)
I won’t bother to label these by store or manufacturer because they are all different. Instead I will explain with each cashback program.
Download these apps to your smartphone to start saving!
- Ibotta (complete challenges like watching a video clip or learning a fact then purchase those items at the store. Scan the barcode, submit your receipts or add your rewards card prior to purchase depending on the store. Earn bonuses for completing certain challenges, sharing with friends, or for buying certain combinations or amounts of products. You can even shop online through their links to earn cash back. Cash back is paid via PayPal, Venmo, or various other offers. Cash out is currently at $10.
- Checkout 51 (earn cash back for purchasing various items and even for completing certain challenges like downloading an app. They offer a “pick your own” produce cash back offer as well where you get to choose the produce item you’ve purchased. Each receipt over $60 can also be entered to win free groceries!) Cash out is currently at $20 and is paid via mailed check.)
- Shopmium (earn cash back for purchasing various items or for referring friends. When you refer a friend they will receive 100% cash back on a Lindt Chocolate bar—i.e. Enter the referral code “YCHUEAWM” and YOU will receive a FREE chocolate bar. Cash out currently has no limit and is paid via PayPal or bank transfer which you can select in settings.)
- Snap (save coupons to your “shopping list” before they go out of stock. Coupons range from cash back on specific products or product combinations to any brand meat or produce to magazines. Sometimes this one gives me errors when I look at my cashback totals or try to refer friends, but it may just be my phone. I can access my account easily on the computer.)
- Find&Save (this is a new one to me but I’m hooked; I have already cashed out and it is one of my favorite apps to date. Cash back changes every day and each offer runs for a few days or so. They have percentages or dollar amounts off at specific stores and each has a minimum receipt amount you must spend for cash back to kick in. Stores include everything from groceries to clothing to electronics to restaurants. Again, offers change daily. They also occasionally offer cash back when you purchase specific items. Submit your receipt through the app. Cash out is currently at $25 and payment is through PayPal. You can also look at local store ads right in the app! Use the code CRKS when you sign up.)
- Shopkick (rather than having coupons, this app lets you check into stores and discover products to earn points that can be redeemed towards gift cards! For instance, I kept checking into Target and Walmart and scanning items as I walked the store and earned a $5 Target gift card after a few trips. You can also use this app to look for deals.)
- TopCashback (this site is mostly for earning cashback on your online purchases; however, they sometimes will have in-store offers on the app. Cashback is paid via ACH, PayPal, and Amazon.com gift cards. Earn a 2.5% cashback bonus when you redeem as an Amazon.com gift card.)
- BerryCart (earn cashback on natural product purchases. Learn facts to save the coupons, buy the products, then upload your receipts and within 24 hours they will send your cashback which can be redeemed through PayPal or gift cards.)
- Shrink (earn cashback and points on first-time purchases of natural products. After that, earn points for every purchase or by completing challenges. Unlike the others, each brand offers its own rewards and points cannot be combined or exchanged between brands; however, there are some that are generic to the Shrink app as well. Cash out is currently at a $10 minimum and can be redeemed via PayPal or Venmo. You can get a $1 bonus for using my link to sign up.)
- There are a few others I have used in the past, but I’ve not loved them; the ones above are my favorites.
Load to Card
These are programs that have you register your rewards card information to earn cashback later.
- SavingStar (pre-load these to your card before you shop or scan and submit your barcodes and receipts. Some coupons will only work at specific stores. Purchase the items selected, using the rewards account registered or submitting if not registered, and you will get cash back. Watch for “Healthy Offers” for discounts on produce and “Freebie Friday” offers that give you 100% cash back. Cash out is currently at $5.00 and may be redeemed to your bank account, PayPal, Starbucks card, AMC, U-Promise, or American Forests.)
- Upromise (this one is a little different. Register your grocery rewards cards, add coupons to your card, then the money you earn can be put towards college savings, pay down eligible student loans, or you can request a check. Cash out limit for this is currently at a $10 minimum.)
- Gas rewards (some stores will allow you to earn gas points when you make purchases. I consider this cash back because you earn it over time when using your rewards card, and can redeem for money off of something you will be purchasing regularly anyway, leaving extra cash in your pockets!)
- Shell Fuel Rewards (this is like the one above, but not connected with a specific grocery store, but rather a specific gas station. Use your card when shopping at select partnered retailers, buying gift cards, paying with a linked credit card, or shopping online through their site and your card will be automatically loaded with the gas discounts you have earned.)
Do you already know what you’re purchasing in store? Does the site offer ship-to-store or same-day pickup? Take advantage of this and place your order through your favorite cashback site then pick up your order in store. It will save you money and even some time. If you need to purchase more that cannot be ordered online, you can do your shopping when you are already there to pick up the rest. I recommend looking under each before purchasing through the links so you can find the link with the most cash back, sticking with your favorite site (some will match cashback from other sites.)
- Ebates (shop through your Ebates site to earn cashback on your online purchases. You will also find coupon codes here. Payments are sent out quarterly by mailed check for accounts with a rewards balance of at least $5.)
- ShopAtHome (shop through your ShopAtHome site to earn cashback on your online purchases as well as earn rewards points towards gift cards. You will also find coupon codes here. They have a 110% cash back guarantee that they will give the most cash back by matching the amount you’ve found and giving you 10% more. Cash back is currently at a $20 minimum and will be sent via mailed check.)
- Discover Deals (log in to your Discover Card account then use their links and pay with your Discover card to earn cash back on purchases online. Cash back can be redeemed for rewards, gift cards, bank credit, or statement credit.)
- USAA MemberShop (use your registered USAA credit or debit card to shop online through their MemberShop and earn cash back on your purchases. If you shop with a non-rewards USAA credit card, USAA debit card, or a non-USAA credit or debit card (online only), your rewards will be mailed by check quarterly as long as your account has a $10 minimum rewards balance.)
- SavingsCatcher (this is a program for Walmart where you can enter your Walmart receipts online or in their app and they will scan local circulars to find any lower prices on the items you purchased. If they do find a lower price, they will match it and send you an e-gift card with the difference.)
- CouponCabin (create an account, click on “cashback” and shop through the links on the site to earn cash back on your online purchases. Payments are sent monthly via mailed check, PayPal, or a donation to your charity of choice.)
- Upromise (this one is a little different. You can shop on this site, just like on others, then the money you earn can be put towards college savings, pay down eligible student loans, or you can request a check. Cash out limit for this is currently at a $10 minimum.)
- SavingStar (shop online through your SavingStar account and earn cashback on your purchases. Cash out is currently at $5.00 and may be redeemed to your bank account, PayPal, Starbucks card, AMC, U-Promise, or American Forests.)
- Mr. Rebates (this is a new one I found recently and I have not tried it yet. Earn up to 30% cashback on purchases when you shop online through their site. Cashback is paid via PayPal or mailed check. The minimum account to cash out is currently $10.)
- MyPoints (shop online through your MyPoints account and earn points on your purchases. Points can be redeemed for gift cards, cash or donations, or travel miles.)
- TopCashback (earn cashback on online purchases made through your account as well as cashback in-store at select stores. Cashback is paid via ACH, PayPal, and Amazon.com gift cards. Earn a 2.5% cashback bonus when you redeem as an Amazon.com gift card.)
- FatWallet (earn cashback on purchases made online through your account. Cash out currently has a $10 minimum and there are various ways to request your cashback.)
- Swagbucks (shop online through your account and earn “Swagbucks” on purchases made. Swagbucks are points that can be redeemed towards products, gift cards, or donations.)
- BeFrugal (shop online through your account and earn cashback on your purchases. Cash out is currently at a $25 minimum and paid via PayPal. Get a $5 bonus when you sign up through my link.)
- Extrabux (shop online through your account and earn cashback on your purchases. Cash out is currently at $10 and paid via PayPal, credit card credit, mailed check, or donation. Use my link and earn a $5.00 bonus right away.)
- InboxDollars (shop online through your account and earn cashback. You will also get a $5 bonus when you sign up through this link and activate your account and another $0.50 bonus when you complete your profile. They even let you earn more by completing surveys and offers and printing coupons. Cash out is currently at a $30 minimum to request payment.)
- Paribus (this is a new one I am just looking into and trying out, so I can’t promise anything, but it seems to have some good reviews. Register the email account your online or in-store receipts are sent to and they will check to see if the price drops on any of your purchases. If it does, they will give you the difference, minus the 25% they keep for doing all the work–you will need to enter your credit card info for this; get this price down to 0% for referring friends. Your first one is totally free.)
I don’t recommend just signing up for credit cards to get cash back, but if you have a card, do check to see if they have a cashback program. As with any credit cards, please make sure you are responsible in your use of it and you read all terms ahead of time. One tip I use is to treat my credit card just like my debit card or cash so I don’t go over a certain amount and I pay it off right away. Debit cards connect with another account and draw immediately from there, usually with no fees, unlike credit cards.
- Discover Card (my favorite! I earn all sorts of cash back on things I’m already purchasing and take advantage of the bonus 5% cash back offers. You can redeem this for products, bank transfer, gift cards, or statement credit. Use my link to sign up and you can get $50 cashback on your first purchase within 3 months.)
- USAA Preferred Cash Rewards World MasterCard (earn cashback on every purchase made with this credit card, no limits, cashback credited annually.)
- SavingStar American Express Card (earn cashback on all purchases you make using this credit card. Cash out limit is currently at a $5 minimum and may be redeemed to your bank account, PayPal, Starbucks card, AMC, U-Promise, or American Forests.)
- PayPal Business Debit MasterCard (sign up for this card and register for a cashback rewards account and earn cashback on purchases made when you run your debit card through as a credit card. Cashback will be credited to your PayPal account the following month.)
- Ebates Cash Back Visa Credit Card (use this credit card to earn cash back on purchases made, above Ebates online cashback if you shop through their site. Cashback is paid quarterly via mailed check for rewards account balances over $5.)
- Upromise MasterCard (this one is a little different. You can use your Upromise MasterCard to earn cashback, then the money you earn can be put towards college savings, pay down eligible student loans, or you can request a check. Cash out limit for this is currently at a $10 minimum.)
Most coupons expire. If you find yourself with a pile of expired manufacturer coupons, DON’T THROW THEM AWAY! Troops overseas can use coupons expired up to 6 months. GO HERE to learn more about how you can help military families overseas with your unneeded coupons.
Thanks to coupons, I don’t have to see those big numbers on my grocery total anymore, and I’ve even cut it down at other retailers, gas stations, etc.! So, what do you do with all this extra money in your pockets? Well, don’t spend it all in one place; my advice is to treat yourself to something small (maybe a specialty coffee or tea) then to stick the rest into a savings account or in a vacation jar, or maybe even look into investing it!
Be sure to bookmark this page so you can reference it any time you need it and don’t forget to share this post to help others! *Hint* most computers have a “keyboard shortcut” for adding bookmarks online. Just hit “ctrl” and “d” and it will add it right away!
As I mentioned at the beginning of the post, I am planning to turn this into a series to share my couponing secrets. The next post I am planning is all about coupon policies, laws, and the anatomy of a coupon. Don’t worry, I’ll get to how to use them and finding great deals later on. These posts take a while to write up, so I do not have a tentative date yet. And, well, honestly, I’m pretty scattered-brained so we need to consider some leeway for my forgetting to post the next one. Subscribe to my newsletter for free to be notified of new posts. You know you totally want to do this.
Know of any great coupon or cashback sites that aren’t listed here? Share with me in the comments! (Please do not include deal blogs; this is a resource for actual places to find coupons and cashback.)
-How would you rate yourself as a couponer? Newbie? Amateur? Intermediate? Avid? Pro? Extreme? Did you learn anything new from this post? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!Know someone who could use this? Hit the “share” buttons below! Be sure to follow Arts & Crackers on social media (buttons at the top right of the page.)
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