Beginner's Guide

Welcome to Savvy With Savings!
We are so glad you stopped by. If you're reading this, we are assuming you are thinking of or have decided to jump into the coupon world. Well, lucky for you, that's where we come in. Here at Savvy With Saving you will find all the help you need to get started. In this article we will cover everything from A-Z including: organization methods, where to get coupons, how to use them, and stock-piling.  We know, stock-piling makes it sound like a hoarder's hobby, but we promise you, our suggestions will make sense and you won't have to fill an entire room with toilet paper!

Now, let's get started!

Here is the list of topics we'll cover:
1. Where to Find Coupons
2. Methods of Coupon Organizing
3. Finding Deals & Creating a Shopping List
4. Coupon Lingo
5. Stock-Piling
6. When to Use Your Coupons
7. How to Shop Each Store
8. Giving Back
9. Time To Get Started!
10. Coupon Etiquette
11. A Few Quick Tips
12. The Key

1. Where to Find Coupons
There are so many great places to find coupons and it seems to be growing! How great for us! The more places out there, the more we can save and the more variety of products.

 Your Local Paper- Coupon Inserts come every Sunday with the newspaper. These inserts can include SmartSource Inserts, RedPlum, P&G, and General Mills. SmartSource and RedPlum are the ones we see the most of. P&G is usually released once a month and General Mills is just on rare occasions. Inside these inserts you will find coupons for some of your favorite products. These inserts do not come, however, on holiday weekends. Every week we post what is to come in the next Sunday's paper so you can plan ahead as to how many papers you would like to purchase. View the coupon preview and if there's some good ones you're interested in, it might be worth grabbing another paper or two. Rule of thumb for some is buy 1 paper per person in your home, but I have a family of 6 and I don't do this. The choice is up to you and you will learn what works best for your family as you go.

Printable Coupons- Below are links to websites that offer printable coupons. These are, for the very most, part manufacturer coupons. Some of the sites will ask you to download a printer program. These are safe programs and are simply there to monitor the number of coupons being printed. Each site will let you print a coupon up to 2 times.

eCoupons- ECoupons are coupons that you can select and load directly onto a store preferred savings card. When you swipe your card at the store, these coupons will automatically come off. 

Fred Meyer card:

Safeway card:

Store Coupons- These coupons are provided by the stores themselves. They can be used with a manufacture coupon at the same time. We'll get into that a little more in When To Use Your Coupons. (video values)

Free Samples- Signing up for free samples is a great way to get coupons. A lot of the times a coupon that is unavailable anywhere else will accompany the free sample. We post free samples often, so if it's something you use or want to try, sign up. Below are some sites that have free samples available regularly.

(here you can get coupons, sign up for samples, and for a coupon booklet 4 times a year)

2. Methods to Organizing Coupons
Organizing your coupons truly depends on the person. There are a few ways you can keep your coupons from taking over your house, such as, using a coupon binder, shoe box, file folder, or a good 'old fashioned' coupon pouch. Each of these are generally catagorized by items you use most. I highly recommend writing a list of your top 10 products you use daily for this. If you use a lot of cereal, then cereal should be one of them. Think about household and food items. In this section, I will discuss 2 binder methods.

The first method, Cut and Organize:

Personally, I use this method. I like being able to find everything quickly. What I've done is taken a 3"
3-ring binder and put picture inserts into it. Some people use baseball card inserts but I like having the layout of a 3 picture pocket insert. I use the top pocket for my categories such as: baby, shampoo/conditioner, body wash, canned, refrigerated, cereal, ect. Then, I use the two pockets below for the coupons. I have a section for body wash so one lower pocket is for men's and one for women's.  This is just an easy layout for me, so make adjustments as you need to.

The con to using this method is the time I have to put into cutting all the coupons out. It does take some time, but I like to do it when kids are in bed asleep and I'm watching TV, or I get my kids to help me out. What kid doesn't like cutting paper?!

The pros to using this method is it truly takes a small amount of time at all to organize for a shopping trip. I simply put my shopping list together, the coupons need, and my totals. Then I grab the needed coupons out of their pocket and I'm good to go!

The second method is the No Cut Method:

With this method, you will still need a 3-ring binder. Instead of picture inserts, you will you page inserts. As you get your coupon inserts on Sunday, you will write the date in the corner and put it in a page insert. Try to keep them grouped together by using deviders or by putting all your Smart Source inserts in one, your Redplum in another, P&G in another and then one for printables (coupons you have printed off the internet). This is definetly a faster way to organize than my Cut and Organize method, but this is the only time it will save you time.

The con for this method is that it will take you more time to prepare for shopping. You will have to pull out each insert to cut what you'd like out. Another, is your binder will gain weight quickly! LOL!

The pros to this method is the amount of time to put them in your binder. It will take you a few minutes a week to date and put them in a page insert. It can be very beneficial to those with crazy weeks. Just prepare yourself to spend the saved time cutting for your shopping trips.

3. Finding Deals and Creating a Shopping List
I love finding deals! Who doesn't? To find the best deals out there, it's really simple. FOLLOW OUR BLOG (and others like us)! By following our blog, you will see how simple it is to put a shopping list together.
A. Click on our STORE tab at the top to see the stores we provide deals for.
B. View that stores weekly deal list and find the products you want to purchase. The deals will look like this:
Tide Stain Release $3.99
-use $3/1 Tide Stain Release from 5/12 SS
Total: $.99
C. Now that you've found some items you'd like to purchase, just right click and drag over the text with your mouse to highlight it.
D. Copy the text by right clicking the highlighted area and selecting copy or push Command C.
E. Now, in a blank text document you can paste this text by right click and select paste or by Command V.
Do this will all the items you'd like and you have just created yourself a personalized shopping list with all the coupons needed already listed for you. You will be able to find these coupons easily based on the coupon info. If the post says "5/12 SS" like it does above, that means this coupon can be found in the Smart Source insert that came out on 5/12. If it says "from HERE", all you do is click on the HERE and it will direct you to the site the coupon is found for printing. There's no digging through everything you have or searching the internet. We provide all the info you need to make it quick and easy!

4. Coupon Lingo

B1G1: Buy one get one free

BOGO: Buy one get one—could be free could be 50% off etc.

Blinkie: A coupon that prints out of a machine in the store, usually hanging next to that product

Peelie: Coupons found on products in stores. Usually for a range of products, not just for the product it is stuck to

Tear pad: A pad of coupons found hanging from a shelf or display

CAT: Catalina- A coupon that prints out at the register that is either for money off of your next purchase or money off a certain product. Sometimes they take a while to print, so don’t just walk away from the register!

IP: Internet printable coupon

WYB: When you buy

OOP: Out of pocket

OYNO: On your next order

RR: Register rewards. These are only at Walgreens and work like cash on your next order. It prints from a separate printer and looks a lot like a Catalina coupon.

+UP: A RiteAid reward. These print on the bottom of your receipt

Roll: Meaning you can use one reward/coupon to pay for the same item and get the same reward/coupon back.

YMMV: Your mileage may vary

SSSmart source coupon insert

RPRedPlum coupon insert

P&GProcter and Gamble coupon insert

5. Stock-Piling
Creating a Stock Pile takes time, so if you're in a hurry, take a breath and relax! You will not become the Ultimate Coupon Queen over night. It's sounds lovely, but most likely a fairy tale. A big thing to keep in mind: ONLY BUY WHAT YOU'LL NEED OR USE!

Now that you've found some great deals and you've come home with some great products, where do you put them? It doesn't take a lot of space to store a few things. Keep in mind that products go on sale about every 4-6 months so only buy what you'll use in that time. This is where that top 10 list I mentioned above comes in handy. If these are the items you use the most, then these are the items you want to stock. You just have to get creative with your space.

If you're lucky and have a pantry or a store room, then 'Yay', this will be simple. Organize your shelves to make it easy for you and your family. I personally, like to put canned items on one, breakfast items on another, and personal items on another (shampoos, soaps, toothpaste, ect.). Put the things you use most at eye level. Then it will be easy to see when you need to get more.

If you live in a small space, there's still hope. Think of areas you can utilize the space. Can you add a few shelves in the coat closet, or put a bin under your bed? Maybe ad a wire shelf in your kitchen cabinet to give you a little more room. I've seen people put bins under their bathroom sinks for meds (I do this and label them kids, adult, and first aid), put a shoe rack by the water tank and use it for items not shoes, and I've heard of storing toilet paper under the bed. Get creative, don't let your space scare you, but remember, only buy what you'll use and need. Don't buy because it's a good deal and then wonder where it's going to go. :)

Again, stock-piling takes time. The more you work on a stock-pile the more you'll see your savings. Here's a tip I tell everyone: When first starting out (especially if you work on a tight budget) find the item on sale. Lets say you need cereal and it's on sale for $2 regular price $4. If your coupon can make that cereal become $1 then you could purchase 4 boxes for the price of 1 at regular price. You now have 4 boxes verses 1 and you didn't spend any extra. That's a great way to expand your stock-pile.

6. When To Use Your Coupons
Congrats on getting this far! It can seem like a lot of information, but stick with it! You will reap the reward. Okay, so now the question is: When do you use your coupons?

A lot of people I've talked to think using a coupon is a waste of time. I agree. I use to be this person and never understood why companies every printed them. I thought it was such a waste of paper. It's true to a degree. Think about the times you've taken a few coupons to the store. Let's say you walk away paying $80 and saved $.75. That's crazy, a waste of your time, and it is a waste of paper at that point. Most likely when you did this you purchased the item at full price, so that $.75 didn't really do you anything.  It wasn't until I really started looking that I saw how beneficial using coupons could be for my family financially.

To properly use coupons and see a major savings, this is what you have to do: Don't use a coupon just because you have it. If you aren't in need of the item, then that coupon just cost you money. You spent money just to use a coupon. Instead, save all your coupons, wait for a sale, and go for it! The more you do this, the more you'll see your savings.

Another thing to keep in mind is using store coupons. Store coupon are not the same as Manufacture coupons. They are provided by the store and can only be used at that store. Manufacturer coupons are provided by the manufacturer and can be used at any store. Even if you get a manufacturer coupon from one store, you can take it to another to use it. Store and Manufacturer coupons can be used at the same time for the same product. This is really great when the item you need is on sale, you have a store coupon, and a manufacturer coupon. Let's say I'm at Albertsons and they have Chips on sale for $2 regular price $4. I also have a $.50/1 chip Albertsons coupon (the store coupon) and I have a $1 Manufacturer coupon that I got out of the paper. If I use both the store and manufacturer coupon together, my cost for these chips will become $.50! That's how great coupons can be!

7. How To Shop Your Store
In this section, I am going to direct you to our article on shopping each store. In this article we will give you a quick run through of shopping at the store of your choice. These tips are based off of the stores current coupon policy and may also include some helpful hints we've figured out on our own shopping experiences. Click How To Shop Your Store for this great post!

8. Giving Back
How many times have you been asked to donate to a number of associations or non-profit businesses and think in your head, "I'm barely making it for us. How do I help others?" The answer is quit easy! I have been in this boat myself when we have groups come to church. It never fails they ask for donations and rightfully so. Donations keep them going, but the money in my pocket needs to keep us going.

A great way to give back is through COUPONING! Amazing to think that you saving money and helping your family out can also help others. How? Well, the longer you coupon and grow your stock-pile, the more you'll notice you have some extra items lying around. Some of your items might be close to expiring and you know you wont go through it before it does. Some items might be a new product purchased that you weren't fond of. You might also have a nice stash of samples that have come in the mail. These things can help.

Here's a few things to think about when considering what to do with the above mentioned items. Consider the local food bank. As much as we try giving extra in the winter, never forget people need help year around. Take a bin and slowly fill it with extra food items. When it's full, take it to the food bank. Another option is putting your samples in a bin. When your bin is full, you can donate to a local woman's shelter. These woman are often on the move to a safe house and can use the everyday essentials like deodorant, shampoos, toothpaste, girly items, ect. The small items are light and easy for them to carry.  Another option for these items is something I did with my homeschool group for Christmas. We filled shoe boxes with the essential items and small fun items (of course bought on sale with coupons) for kids at our local Vanessa Behan Crisis Center.  It was a great way to give back. Oh, and don't forget the occasional US Postal Service Can Food Drive, school food drives, and even close friends that could use a hand. With couponing, the road to help others is right before you.

9. Time to Get Started!!!!
You have now read the basics to couponing! Congrats! I'm truly excited for you for making this decision to help your family out. It is a rewarding process and you will love the thrill of your deals. We are so happy to send you out and for your journey to begin. Please email us with any questions at, on our Facebook page, or even here. :)  Share your trips and finds with us and please, feel free to ad a picture or two!

Before you go, the next two sections are some helpful tips to take with you.

10. Coupon Etiquette
I'm so glad you've taken the time to read about couponing. I hope you're ready to go out and start saving. Before you go, please take the time to read the following. It is really important that all couponers work together.

There's a lot of shoppers out there who love a good deal and buy what they can regardless if they'll use it or need it. These shoppers tend to take from other shoppers who truly need that product. What do they do with it? Still a mystery. Don't ever buy something just to buy! This is a scary place to be and probably would be considered boarder line hoarding. Please keep others in mind when you shop. If you think something is a great deal, most likely someone else does too, so please don't take all the store has. If you're planning on donating your purchase, I ask you to go on the last day of the sale so those who need this item personally, who might be struggling financially, can get what they need so they're not left looking at empty shelves. Shelf clearing is a bad game to play and we all face the consequences when stores have to change coupon policies to prevent this. 

Another thing to keep in mind, is to be organized BEFORE you go. I've see too many shoppers stuck in line behind someone who wants to use coupons but doesn't have things ready. This can get very frustrating for the other customers, the cashier, and yourself. If you create a shopping list before you go and have your coupons set out, you'll go through the line much faster and the cashiers and other customers will (most likely mentally) thank you.

When you are first learning, I recommend trying to shop when the store isn't busy. After dinner until about 7 is usually the busy time for most stores. Try going after kids are in bed, first thing in the morning, or maybe on your lunch break. Also, don't use an express line. By chance, if you hold everyone up, the customer behind you won't appreciate waiting when they have very few items. 

Pick the right lane. A rule of thumb for checking out is picking a lane that either you know the cashier (because you go there a lot) or a young male cashier. Young males often are relaxed and get it done. They question coupons less and more likely to make a new shopper feel at ease. Older cashiers can, not always by any means, be harder to go through. They tend to question coupons more and don't always rely on the register to tell them if something isn't right. Now I'm not trying to stereo type, but after couponing for a while, this is something I've run across and a good tip to share.

12.The Key 
The Key here is to make your trip pleasant for everyone. You'll walk away happy, the store will be happy, other couponers will be happy, and other shoppers will be happy. It's a win win! 

Good Luck!