Tuesday, January 18, 2011

How to get coupons

So now we get to the question, "Where do you find all these coupons, anyway?" Two main places, really: Newspaper coupon inserts (SmartSource, RedPlum, the P&G Brand Saver) and Internet printables.

Newspaper inserts. The obvious. Most papers include their inserts on Sundays. Some, like the Manchester Journal Inquirer, have theirs on Saturday since they don’t publish on Sunday. You can also find “weekend editions” of some papers, like the Hartford Courant, in convenience stores on Saturday. They are less expensive than the Sunday edition, and include all the coupon inserts, but not the weekly store flyers.

Internet printable coupons. These are available from a number of different sites. There are aggregate sites, like RedPlum.com, SmartSource.com, and Coupons.com . Some of their coupons are the same as the ones in the inserts, and some are unique.
Many manufacturers offer printable coupons on their websites. Some that are still stuck in the Stone Age make you fill out a form and then mail you paper coupons. (Which you redeem at Ye Olde Grocerie Shoppe, I guess?) Of those that offer printables, sometimes you can just hit Print, and sometimes you have to give them personal information, which can range from just your email to your address, DOB, and a survey about your shopping habits. I know, I’m a little skeeved about that too. I’ve come up with a few strategies to protect as much of my privacy as possible.

  • Have a separate email account just for giving out to websites. This will keep your regular account from getting bombed with spam on the chance that your information gets sold. (Which every company swears up, down, and sideways they will never, ever do. Yup.) Check it every week or so, since some goodies will get sent there, like more coupons. 
  • Don’t give them your name. Or rather, give them a version of your name that is not related to your bank account, credit card statement, address, etc. I use my husband’s last name. You can use your maiden name, or your middle name instead of your first name, or a nickname. 
  • Don’t give them your birthdate. OK, this one involves actually lying, which might be controversial. But in my mind, asking for my birthdate is intrusive. If their only real purpose is to verify that I’m over 18, then it won’t matter to them if I change the month or the day. 

Finally, companies have started to offer coupons on Facebook when you 'like' them. There will usually be a tab on their page that says something like Special Offer, Coupon, or Promotion.
In each of these cases, the first time you go to print an Internet coupon, you’ll be asked to download a small program. It’s OK, go ahead and install it. (If you’re nervous, go to one of the big sites like Coupons.com first so you know it’s legit.) 95% of Internet printables have a print limit of 2. What the program does is keep track of how many times you’ve printed a specific coupon, and generate unique barcodes for each. You cannot copy or duplicate printable coupons! Each unique barcode can only be redeemed once. Doing otherwise is coupon fraud and most definitely NOT the Not-Crazy Couponer Way! (Coupons offered in PDF format, on the other hand, have no print limits. Copy away.)

Coupon clipping sites. Need even more coupons? There are several websites where you can order multiple copies of coupons from the Sunday inserts. Now technically, you cannot sell or buy coupons. What you’re actually paying for from these companies is a fee to cover their time and labor. Regardless, clipping sites usually charge a percentage of the face value of the coupon. So a $1.00 off coupon would cost from $0.08-$0.10, while a $5.00 coupon would be more like $0.50. Most have minimum and maximum limits on both individual coupons and your whole order.
In the past I’ve tried to wait for store matchups to be posted and then order a bunch of coupons just for that week. Which, as it turned out, was just Crazy. I’d sit there waiting all week, nervously checking the mailbox, until the coupons finally showed up on Friday or, worse yet, Saturday, at which point I’d race out to the stores only to find the shelves already cleared. Argh.
The Not-Crazy Way? Only order bulk coupons for items you buy all the time. For example, in the 1/16 SmartSource insert there’s a coupon for $1/15 cans of Friskies cat food. (Yes, we feed our incredibly spoiled cat wet food.) 15 cans will last us about a week. The coupon expires 4/30, or in about 15 weeks. So I will order 15 copies of that coupon. I also do this with coffee K-cups, almond milk, pasta, and other staples.
You can also order extras of high value coupons, especially BOGO coupons. Just be aware of minimum orders. If you have to order 10 coupons and they cost $0.50 each, and the face value is $5.00, this only makes sense if you’re going to use at least 2 of the coupons.
Some good clipping sites: TheCouponClippers.com, Coupon DeDe, and TheCouponMaster.com. You can also find them on eBay. Be aware that some coupons are regional, so expect some differences in availability and face value.

I will post all this information in a permalink, too! 


  1. Question! Do you try to get multiple copies of the newspaper? It would almost seem like a good investment. (Or do you swipe copies from your relatives who don't care about clipping?) Curious minds want to know!

  2. The answer is yes. :-) I don't buy multiple papers by default, but if I see that it's a really good week, then yes, another $1.50 (or $1.00, if there's still any Journals) is a good investment!
    My folks also save up their inserts and then split them up between my sister and me. Kerri and I go through them and then sometimes we'll swap even further, like I send her the baby stuff and she can send me ones I need.

  3. FYI, another way to get more coupons from coupons.com, is if you go through mommysavers.com. They have a link on the top of their homepage to redplum, smartsource & coupons.com, and if you go through those links, you can print more coupons, even if you reached the print limit going directly through the coupon website.

  4. Shannon - seriously? I did not know that! Thanks!
    (Runs off to go print more coupons)

  5. O.M.G.
    I knew something about couponing that you didn't? Holy shit, I just died.
    Glad I could give you a new tidbit of info!

  6. Hmmm, I just tried it on your formula coupons and it didn't work for me... Bummer! I was able to get 2 from coupons.com and 2 from Similac.com on each computer, but when I went through mommysavers.com it still showed "print limit reached." :-(
    Has anyone else tried this site? Does it somehow know I'm not actually a mommy and it's blocking me?

  7. That is really strange, I do it all the time. Not sure why its doing that to you.