Welcome back to the Couponing Basics series.
So far, we have covered setting a good foundation for saving and coupon misconceptions. Now that you’re doing smart stuff with your money and feeling good about using coupons, it’s time to delve in to gathering all those great money-saving coupons.
I’m going to divide coupon sources into two arenas: (1) The Sunday newspaper, and (2) everything else.
Coupon Inserts from the Newspaper
Approximately 50-75% of the available coupons come from the newspaper. If you are serious about saving money with manufacturer coupons, I strongly encourage you to get at least the Sunday paper delivered to your home.
We pay $1.75 per week for the whole week, and my coupon savings alone are usually at least $8-$10 per paper. If my family didn’t enjoy reading the paper (aka the sports section) anyway, then I might look at a Sunday-only subscription. (Note that a few cities actually deliver the inserts on Saturdays.)
There are typically at least two inserts in the Sunday Paper – one Red Plum and one Smart Source.
Sometimes there are bonus inserts, including the Proctor & Gamble insert, which comes out once a month; the General Mills insert, which comes out roughly quarterly; and the Pepsico insert, which also comes out quarterly. Walmart and Target will occasionally have coupon inserts as well, although these tend to be regional.
To find the best deals on newspaper delivery in your area, I suggest that you start by plugging your zip code into the Discount Newspaper Finder.
But what happens when you want more than one copy of a certain coupon? You may have noticed that often times the best deals require you to have multiple copies of the same coupon. There are several ways to get additional sets of inserts:
- Buy extra copies of the Sunday Paper – especially at the Dollar Store. In Kansas City, the Dollar Tree sells the Sunday paper for $1. I know a number of readers get their extra copies at Menards.
- Ask your neighbors/friends/family for their unused coupon inserts. Before my stepmom got into couponing (yes, I’ve even infected her ;-)), we used to get their inserts.
- Purchase select coupons or whole sets of inserts from coupon-selling websites such as The Q Hunter. There is a small fee for processing and handling, as well as the coupons themselves, but many hard-core couponers swear by this method.
- In addition, I’ve had readers tell me that they:
* pick up the extra unclaimed copies from their apartment building’s lobby
* find extra copies in their building’s recycling bins
* get the copies out of the public library’s newspapers (with the librarian’s permission, of course).
I’ve even heard of people dumpster diving for coupon inserts, though I personally wouldn’t recommend it!
The one thing you must NOT do is steal the inserts. This probably goes without saying, but coupon insert theft – whether from a neighbor’s paper or a stack of papers at the store – is shamefully on the rise.
Speaking of which, if you should ever get your Sunday paper and find the inserts missing, give the circulation department a call. They should be more than happy to send out a new copy – usually the following morning.
Coupons from Other Sources
After the newspaper, the next biggest source of coupons for me is the Internet. There are all sorts of sites that host printable coupons, including Coupons.com, SmartSource.com, RedPlum.com, and SavingsStar.com.
Most of the time, printable coupons, whether hosted on a coupon-printing site, or a manfucturer’s site, have a limit of TWO PRINTS per IP address. So, for example, if you are printing a coupon from Coupons.com, you simply use the back button on your browser to grab a second copy. If you try to do that a third time, it will tell you that you have reached your print limit.
Additionally, coupons are coded with a maximum number of total prints. The higher the value, the faster the coupon seems to go – so don’t wait on printing the hottest coupons.
While it might be tempting, you should never (ever, ever) photocopy a copy – this is actually coupon fraud. If you want more than two copies of a coupon, you can legally (and ethically) use a different computer. We have three computers at my house and for really good coupons, we print two copies from all three of them!
A few other sources of coupons that are worth mentioning here as well:
- Store coupons – Whether you need to load them onto a store loyalty card, or print them off of your computer, many stores offer store coupons. These are great because you can stack them with manufacturer coupons for added savings (I’ll be covering stacking in a later post – so if you don’t know what I mean, don’t worry about it!) Ask at your favorite local grocery stores if they have a store coupon program. And you can find store coupons online for stores like Target and Whole Foods.
- Peelies – As their name implies, peelies are those manufacturer coupons that are attached to the product and peel off to reveal the coupon. You can use these on your original purchase, or you can save them to use another time. The only thing you shouldn’t do with peelies is take them off a product you aren’t planning to buy!
- Blinkies & Tear Pads – Blinkies are the name for the coupons that come in those blinking red coupon boxes attached to the shelves at the grocery store. Typically, manufacturers put these out for new product releases. You can take more than one coupon from a blinkie /tear pad, but just don’t clear them out.
- Home Mailers – I sign up for just about every freebie I can find, because in addition to free samples, I often get awesome high value coupons, too (read more about freebies here).
- Magazines – Most magazines have coupons in them – from Oprah to Disney Family Fun. Of course, my favorite magazine for the coupons is All You. Before you recycle any magazines, be sure to flip thru and look for coupons!
Between newspapers and all these other sources, you should soon have a growing pile of coupons – good thing I’ll be covering coupon organization next week!
In the meantime, I’d love to hear about your favorite sources of coupons. Did I miss any?