Couponing 101: The Beginner's Guide to Coupon Usage

Posted: 05/21/11 2:30 PM (Modified: 08/01/14 1:38 PM)

So, you've been reading Couponing 101 and now you're fully stocked with coupons. But, what in the world do you do now? Great question!

I started couponing with no idea what the words on the coupon meant nor the picture but learning how to decipher those things can really land you some great savings. So today, we're getting a bit technical. Come back tomorrow to learn WHEN to use your coupons to get you the best deals!

1. Looks Can Be Deceiving: Most coupons have the largest, most expensive item in the picture so don't pay too much attention to that. While you may see a picture of a $20 bottle of Tide on your coupon, if the coupon has no size restrictions written on it then you can use it for travel size items too. Check out this Tide coupon deal.

2. "One Coupon Per Purchase": If you've ever looked close at your coupons, you've likely seen this before. What does it mean? Basically, it means one coupon per item NOT the entire purchase. Yes, you can have 10 boxes of cereal and 10 coupons to go with them.

3. The Expiration Date: Do you have to abide by it? YES. Stores do have a window of time to get their coupons reimbursed by the manufacturer but if you're sneaking by with a ton of expired coupons, that could mean the store is not getting reimbursed. In other words, you're stealing money from the store which in short is called theft. Now, does that mean you'll always be perfect and never hand a cashier an expired coupon? No, we're all human. But, it does mean that using expired coupons constantly is not ok unless the store has openly proclaimed that they take them on their coupon policies which is not the case in our area. 

In saying that, you can donate your expired coupons to military bases overseas and they CAN use the expired coupons. Check out the Navy base we have donated in Japan.

4. Don't Copy Coupons: Coupon Fraud is a big deal and copying a coupon could lead to some serious trouble. Most printable coupons have bar codes that change every time you print which means, if you did copy them, they'll likely beep at the register. Even if they don't, they won't make it through the coupon clearinghouse which means the store will not be reimbursed for the coupon you just used. Each coupon is equipped with multiple security measures that may pass by the person at the register but not the clearing house.

5. Using FREE Product Coupons: Every now and again you'll get a coupon for a FREE product. Is it real? I did a post about Real vs Fake a little while ago that may help out. While most fraudulent coupons do come in the form of FREE products, there are certainly legit coupons out there for free products as well. The biggest indicator that your coupon is real is that you have signed up for it from the manufacturer directly. If you're only getting an e-mail from a friend, then it's likely fake. However, if the company is truly rewarding you for something you signed up for then you've got a legit FREE product coupon on your hands.

Using coupons is easy and will save you hundreds of dollars a month, don't worry you'll find out how soon enough! Stay encouraged and keep reading!

Old to new | New to old
Comments, page 1 of 3 1 2 3 Next »
May 23, 2011 06:07 am
 Posted by  Anonymous

i am new so hope i can start saving

Jun 5, 2011 09:24 am
 Posted by  mimi

Me too. My husband was recently laid off. I need to start saving now.

Nov 18, 2011 11:43 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

Sarah, a while ago (maybe even before your website redesign!) you posted an article about how to match your coupon to the correct procuct(s) when it is unclear, using the barcode somehow. Is that article still on this site & where can I find it? I remember it being a great article, but I don't think I got to read the whole thing & can't remember the details. Thank you & Happy Thanksgiving!!

Jan 3, 2012 09:28 am
 Posted by  Anonymous

I am really hoping to learn how to save money with coupons. I am disabled and on a very limited income, so savings is very important.

Jan 10, 2012 09:50 am
 Posted by  Mandy

I was recently in line behind a lady that saved almost $50 in coupons; I decided then it was time for me to get busy and start clipping again. I use to do this years ago and saved tons and don't know why I quit but recently have lost my job and with the cost of everything but wages rising see that it is a must to get back in the groove so here goes.....

Apr 24, 2012 10:24 am
 Posted by  Anonymous

I just lost my job and I was the only one working, so I really hope that this works for us.

Aug 26, 2012 04:00 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

is there an article on where to start getting coupons? like from the very beginning? Where do I get a bunch of coupons? HELP!

Aug 27, 2012 11:57 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

Hi I'm wanting badly to learn to do extreme couponing, but don't know how to start. I'm living on a very small income and could really use the help. How do I know if the stores take coupons. Please help if you can? Thanks love the site.

Aug 28, 2012 01:57 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

Check out Sarah's Couponing 101 area of the site. It has great articles to get you started. If you'd like to attend one of her workshops, here is her upcoming events.


Oct 11, 2012 10:45 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

I have been thinking about couponing for months now. The other day I clipped a couple coupons from a magazine and saved a couple dollars. I guess I just didnt think couponing would work! How silly of me. I have become disabled in the last year, leaving my husband the soul bread winner for our 3 children, and the 2 of us. After seeing first hand that I could save a couple bucks with coupons, I am going to give this my best shot! After all I have nothing to lose and my family has a lot to gain. Thank you for this website. I know nothing about couponing and it is helping me gain my confidence that even though I can't work anymore I can help my family financially!

Comments, page 1 of 3 1 2 3 Next »
Add your comment: