How do you get started with couponing?

A reader sent in the following question:

How do you even get started with the crazy couponing? I request samples and sometimes they come with coupons. Like today I went shopping got $90 worth of stuff and spent like $49 after coupons. I really would love to be able to do that all the time and if possible get the total even lower. I just happened to get lucky this time.

Hi Kelly!

Great question! I was in the same position as you were. Saving money here and there, but not having consistent savings. Here is how I got started:

-Pay attention to all the sales. Don't just shop at one store. I used to just shop at Rite Aid, but now I shop wherever I can get a good sale!

-Coupon matchups. I use  for all the coupon matchups, but you can find matchups on many other websites also. Find one that you like the most and check it on a regular basis. Things do change over the course of the week, so make sure you check a few times a week!

-Get lots of coupons! Stock up on newspapers, order inserts, order the coupons you KNOW you will use, go through recycling (if it's allowed), ask stores if you can have leftover newspapers at the end of the night. Make sure you check out The Sunday Coupon Preview to see what coupons will be available that weekend. My family goes through personal hygiene stuff very quickly (shampoo, conditioner, body wash, toothpaste, etc) so those are the coupons I look for! If your family goes through things like cleaning products or juices more, look specifically for those coupons! Also barter and trade with family and friends. My mom always gave me diaper coupons and I gave her cat food coupons.

-Break up one shopping trip into a few separate transactions, especially if you are going to be getting coupons back. For example: Crest toothpaste is on sale for $3 this week, and you get a $3 +UP Reward. Pantene is on sale also for 2 for $7. First, purchase two Crest toothpastes and use a $1 off 2 coupon. You will get $6 in +UP Rewards. (By using the coupon and getting the +UP Rewards back, you are essentially MAKING money!). Use that toward your purchase of 2 bottles of Pantene and pay only $1 for two bottles of Pantene. So you pay 50 cents per bottle. Rite Aid's policy is that you can use the +UP Rewards the next day, so you will have to go a few different times during the week. Check your store's coupon policy.

-Try different brands. Don't always stick to the same brand, because you will end up paying more. Sometimes, a store brand is just as good as a national brand. I have been buying Rite Aid toilet paper (24 rolls for $1.49!!!!). That is MUCH cheaper than one of the major brands on sale, even if I did use a coupon.

-Make sure you keep your loyalty cards and coupons with you! You never know when you can find a good sale!

-Shop the clearance section! Walgreens often has many items on clearance. You can use the coupons on those clearance items.

-Keep calm! Sometimes a cashier will give you a hard time about your coupons. You can always call a manager and refer to the coupon policy. Sometimes that won't work. No big deal! Just go to the next store. It's not worth it to create bad relationships with cashiers. I have specific cashiers that I will go to, just because I've established a relationship with them already. Smile, be polite and always know what coupons you have and make sure they are for the correct items.

-Be patient. It took me about a year to get the hang of couponing on a bigger scale. Just make sure you research, pay attention, know the store policies and if you don't have a major savings, don't get discouraged. Just try again next time!

Have a reader question? Email us at!!!!