Extreme Couponing: Where Do You Find Coupons?
The question I've been asked over and over again is, "Where do you find coupons?" and I have to be honest -- I didn't really understand the question. Even before I started extreme couponing, I knew where to find coupons -- they're everywhere. I just didn't use them as effectively as I could have. Now that I've been doing this for awhile, I've decided that most of you know where the coupons are -- you really mean something else when you ask that question.
You might mean, "Where do I find coupons for the products I use?" And that's a tricky question because it depends on what products you use and how loyal to specific brands you are.
Let's start with where to find coupons.
- Your first stop should be the coupon supplements in your Sunday newspaper. If you don't subscribe - consider subscribing. Most areas have inexpensive Sunday only plans and it will be worth it for you to have that first, basic source for coupons handy.
At some point you may decide to buy extra papers, depending on the coupons in each weeks' supplements. A lot of coupon blogs and forums will give you a Sunday Supplement Preview so you can decide ahead of time whether you will want to buy extra papers each week. Take a peek at the P&G supplement preview for 5/1 and the Red Plum supplement preview for 5/1. It's important to note that not all regions get exactly the same coupons, every week. For instance, on 4/17 a lot of us had two $3 off Nivea body wash coupons in our supplements -- this was a great deal because that made Nivea body wash completely free at Wal-mart, .04 at Target, and less than a dollar at both CVS and Walgreens. My SIL, the woman responsible for me becoming a couponer, did not get these coupons. She was very sad. I got lucky and received a total of six of these coupons because TW's mom brought two extra inserts home from the assisted living facility so I was able to send my SIL those two high value coupons. A lot of couponers bought extra papers that week because free body wash is awesome.
- I have never bought an extra paper but I'm a big fan of internet printables aka IPs. Coupons.com, SmartSource, and RedPlum are the big three and you will need to allow installation of the coupon printer application in order to print coupons.
You don't have to visit them non-stop in order to get good coupons -- subscribe to a blog who consistently updates readers when new coupons are added to these sites and when you see an update for a coupon that you are pretty sure you'll be able to use - go print it. If it's a really good coupon -- you might want to print two.
There isn't an unlimited supply of these coupons so high value coupons or coupons that are rare will go quickly. A $2.00 off Folgers coupon will go quickly. So will a .30 coupon for Haribo (gummy bears!) One because you'll end up with coffee that's almost free and another because it's a coupon you'll rarely see.
- Another place to find coupons is by "Liking" a company or a brand on Facebook. You don't have to spend three days "Liking" every brand or company whose product you might buy in hopes of finding a coupon lurking there. Again, you should follow a blog or two that consistently updates you when new coupons are available. When you get that update -- go to the page, "Like" them, print the coupon, (if it is a bricks.coupon, you can print two by clicking the back button on your browser three times after the first one prints), and you're done.
Some brands will tell their fans that a new offer is coming on X day at X time -- coupon blogs will tell their readers and at X day and X time, there will be thousands of people reloading those fan pages just waiting for those coupons. Try not to be frustrated if the page times out, or the coupon doesn't load. Be patient -- try every few minutes. Hopefully the server load will ease and you'll get a coupon before the print run expires. If not... don't worry, you'll get another chance!
- Most brands, companies and grocery stores have websites -- and a lot of those offer coupons and trial size products (which usually come in the mail and also include a coupon.) If you are very loyal to specific brands -- go to their site and look for the coupons, promotions, or special offers tab. Sign up for their newsletters and special offer emails. (Some people create a specific email account just for these offers. If you do this, don't forget to check that email. It won't do you any good to subscribe if you never look for the offers that come in.)
Many couponers have found coupon success by writing or emailing companies and asking for coupons. You can find a nice example of how to do this at Living Rich with Coupons.
Don't overlook store coupons (Whole Foods has store coupons available to print, on their website) or store e-coupon programs.
- Some magazines have coupons but the best, by far, is All You Magazine. This magazine is only available at Wal-mart or by subscription. After watching couponers talk about the coupons available in All You for a month, I broke down and subscribed and boy am I glad.
All You's website offers some exclusive to All You coupons on their website -- so be sure to check that out from time to time -- or follow a blog who regularly updates you when new coupons are available.
- Don't overlook the coupons available on the products in your home right now. A lot of coupons are lurking behind labels and on packages. Train yourself (and your family members) to look at the packaging closely before throwing into the recycle bins!
- When you're at the grocery store, look for hang tag coupons, peelies on products, (I hope you don't pull all of the peelies off of products without buying them ... that's worse than shelf clearing, if you ask me), and coupon books at the cash register or customer service desk.
- Last, but not least, find a coupon database that you like. I prefer the one at A Full Cup (probably mostly because it's the one I started using first, so I know how it works) but there are others -- and I don't recommend you pay for any of them. Find a free one.
If you see a product on sale, go to the database and search for it to see if coupons are available -- the databases will tell you if there's a printable (hopefully it will still have prints left), or a coupon from a Sunday supplement or magazine.
If you are out of something and you just need to buy it, regardless of whether it is on sale -- use the coupon database to find out if there's a coupon you can track down for it.
If you're brand loyal -- use the coupon database to seek out coupons for the products you want to buy.
One of the people from a recent TLC Extreme Couponing show said that she doesn't buy the newspaper, she orders her coupons from a clipping service. And I see people on coupon forums talking about ordering clipped coupons (or full inserts) online but it seems to be pretty rare. When I first started, I asked my SIL if she used clipping services and she said that she had - but rarely. So... I tried it.
It's pretty inexpensive but I've also found that the clipping services have very few coupons that I need or want and in the end, it just doesn't seem worth it to me. Which is good since Jill Catldo's post about gang clipping kind of freaks me out.
Gang-cutting is of concern to manufacturers for several reasons. One, if a number of identically-cut coupons are submitted for redemption, the manufacturer may assume that the coupons have been sold to the consumer, either via a clipping service or via Ebay auctions. Because resale of coupons violates the terms that the manufacturer has set, the manufacturer can (and often does) refuse to reimburse the store that submitted the coupons. Even if one single customer legitimately did buy 42 bottles of ketchup, if their 42 ketchup coupons are gang-cut, each coupon will bear the same cut lines, shape and markings as the one before it. If the coupons are identified as gang-cut, they're flagged, and the manufacturer does not have to reimburse.
While I like getting really great deals or even free merchandise, I don't want to do it at the expensive the businesses I'm shopping at. So no coupon purchasing for me -- and no gang clipping in my own house (if I ever decided to buy multiple papers to get multiple supplements.)
Want to learn more about extreme couponing? Join the Extreme Couponing Challenge on the Coupon Lovers group. Read the tips I've posted over the last few weeks and check in on Wednesday night for a new set of tips, inspired by TLC's Extreme Couponing.
I'll be live Chattering/Tweeting the show on Wednesday, at 9:30pm ET. Join me -- it will be fun.
Where do you find coupons? Do you buy multiple newspapers? Beg family members for their inserts? Have you emailed a company to ask for coupons?
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