Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Back to Basics--Couponing 101--Where I Get My Coupons, Part 1

  • Who can find a virtuous woman? her price is far above rubies
  • She looketh well to the ways of her household

When I first started blogging, I shared a bit about how I got into frugal shopping, drugstore wheeling and dealing, and couponing. I thought I'd share just a bit about how I coupon and where I get my coupons.

The short answer is: from everywhere!

And the long answer is: from evvvvverywhere!!

I know, it's a pitiful joke, right? Sorry.

I do get coupons from everywhere. From places I never knew you could get coupons, and from places I never noticed coupons before. Once you start, you'll start to notice and find them in places you've never even thought of!

On-line IP (Internet Printable) Coupons

The first place I started getting coupons was various on-line sources, some of which are listed below.

Things you need to know before you start printing internet coupons:
  • Some of the internet printable coupons require that you sign up, giving your name, email, etc. Whatever you do, don't give them your personal email! This bears repeating. Don't give them your personal email! Set up a separate account, you'll start getting tons of emails from all of these sites.

  • Besides name and email, some request an address, and many also ask for a birthdate--some say it's be sure you're over their minimum age, some will send you extra coupons during your birthday month, etc, but in these days of identity theft, I would never use my real birthdate. I use the same wrong date for everything I sign up for, that way I don't forget what date I've used at what site! Don't be scared, just be careful.!

  • Online coupons come in a couple of different formats. While there are still a few companies that use a static pdf. format, most use a coupon generator and will require a download and install of software the first time you print coupons. There are two or three different coupon generators that various companies use, the most common of which are Bricks and Smart Source, so you may be asked to download software more than once, depending on which coupon generator a site uses.

  • Most coupon generators will allow you to print a particular coupon twice per computer. If you have access to multiple computers, you can print additional copies if you choose to, and these are still legitimate coupons. It is NOT legitimate to make copies, even high definition color copies, of an internet coupon. Remember those coupon generator/printers you downloaded? Every coupon printed legitimately will have a unique barcode on it. Don't try to cheat the system--it's not only illegal, it's unbecoming to a woman of virtue.

  • Some stores do not take internet coupons--because of the fraudulent activity I mentioned above. Many are just now becoming educated about the unique bar codes--know your store's corporate coupon policy. You can read about experiences with Walmart here and here. I've never had a problem since that time, but I carry a printed copy of the Walmart corporate coupon policy in my coupon binder at all times.
And now, on to the good part:
  1. Coupons.com can be accessed from the blue widget on my right sidebar. These are updated regularly, at least monthly, sometimes more often. Generally these are good for 30 days after the date you print, and can usually be printed twice per computer. Some manufacturer's limit the number that can be printed daily, weekly, or monthly, so if you read about a coupon that isn't there when you look for it, it may have reached it's print limit. There are also coupons that are only available in certain locations, so it also makes a difference which zip code you use. You can sign up or "join" the site, but it isn't necessary in order to print the coupons. (If you print my widget, or go the coupon.com site from my widget, and use those coupons, I will eventually get a few cents commission from them. So be sure to click and print and redeem those coupons!)

  2. CoolSavings.com You do have to sign up or "join" cool savings in order to access the coupons. The first time you go to the cool savings site, you will see page after page of free offers and things you can sign up for. If you aren't interested, just make sure you click "no" or "skip" on each page or offer. These will seem to be never ending, but persevere, it's a one time thing you have to go through. Once you get to the end, from then on when you go to the site, you can just click a tab marked "printable coupons".

  3. Redplum.com and Smartsource.com If both of these names seem familiar, it's because both of these companies put out regular newspaper inserts with advertisements and coupons--the coupons on line at their sites are usually different from those printed in the inserts--neither require sign up to use.

  4. Individual product/Manufacturer's website--If there are products you use that you like, enter the product name in a search engine and find their website. Many manufacturer's have newsletters that you can sign up for, and offer coupons that are updated and reset regularly--meaning that if you printed it twice you may get a "print limit reached" message, but they may reset monthly or quarterly. Some will send you extra coupons during your birthday month, and some will notify you when they run contests, sweepstakes, and other promotions. Watch the sign up form, too--you can often print the coupon and still opt out of getting on the mailing list if you "uncheck" the boxes asking for email updates. And if not, you can always unsubscribe later if you want to.
Some of my favorites in this category are:
  • Betty Crocker & Pillsbury They have always have coupons available, and which reset and/or change out every month.

  • Right at Home for SC Johnson products (Zip-lock, Spray& Wash, Pledge, and more)

  • Colgate-Palmolive for Colgate, Softsoap, Irish Spring, Mennen

  • Eat Better America for mostly grocery items, these are usually different from the coupons available at most other internet coupon sites.
Ann at Coupons Deals and More keeps an excellent list of links to manufacturer's coupons, as well as printable rebate forms--look at the subtitles on the navigation bar at her blog. Bookmark her site, you'll want to come back to it often!

There are other coupon sites out there, most of which are legitimate, these are just the ones I use the most.

Be sure to see Back to Basics--How I Organize My Coupons, and coming tomorrow--Where I Get My Coupons, Part 2

Until next time...


  1. Unfortunately this isn't the case in Australia where we hardly ever get coupons as you do in the USA. I just look out for sales and buy more than one item and store in product in the pantry - that is a great way to make quite large savings. T

  2. That was a good tip about not using your actual birth date. I changed it on some of the sites I log onto. Think they'll catch on, since I always use 01-01-1901? Maybe I'll get special discounts for being the oldest user!

  3. You're right, Jo, about watching sales to save money--I try to combine coupons with a sale if at all possible, but a good sale alone beats poor coupon, any time! I try to stock up when items I regularly use come on sale, whether I have coupons or not.

    Jane--you may soon get a letter from the President on your birthday for being the oldest living coupon user!


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