A Beginner’s Guide to Couponing

 A dollar a day can get you a nice vacay!

I’ve always wondered how some people pay less than $5 for over $300 dollars worth of things. I’ve read a million posts, watched a million videos, and joined all the Facebook groups I could find. 

When I began couponing my original plan was to become one of those extreme savers. But after a few years I’ve found a really good balance where I’m not dedicating my whole free time, but I can still save a significant amount of cash, or at least get some good rewards. I’m definitely not the type who comes home with 7 bottles of shampoo and pays $1.00 for it, but I can confidently say I save a few hundred dollars a year in cashback, instant savings, and rewards.

I call it Casual couponing: Saving on the things you use everyday. 

I’ll have to save all my receipts and evidence and do a whole separate post on it soon for you guys. 

**UPDATE: If you’re REALLY into saving money and also managing it, here’s another guide you might be into: Budgeting Guide.

For those of you who are wondering, you don’t have to dedicate yourself full-time to couponing. It’s simple easy, and you can do a little when you need to. 

Some Couponing Basics

Couponing can mean a few things: using coupons, offers, or special event deals to pay less that you normally would. There’s two types: manufacturer’s and store. One is offered by the brands, and the other is a special discount you can ONLY get at the store named on the coupon. In some places you can combine and use both types on one product, and in other places you can’t, so make sure you find a coupon policy, or you ask before you use. 

Some things I recommend you’ll need for good bargains:

  1. Local newspaper subscription (optional)
  2. Some space to download apps on your phone (must) 
  3. An email account you don’t mind getting spammed with emails

FAQs about couponing:

  • Does it take a lot of time?
  • Is it a hassle?
  • Does it even save a lot of money?

One, it  does takes time, but not more than what you might spend catching up on your Instagram every morning.

Two: The real question here, is it really a hassle if it’s going to save you money?

And lastly, it depends on how you use it. If you’re smart about it, and patient you are bound to save some good money. 

Apps for savings

This is what I consider to be the easiest way to save. Every time I want to go shopping for anything (even groceries), I’ll check in on these apps to see what deals may be going on for what I’m looking to buy. 

**As a note, this is not an ad or sponsored post**


I’m sure you may have heard of this app; It’s loaded with different stores that offer cash back on purchases in a variety of categories. Their most recent updates have expanded on offers. They have everything from food to clothing, to restaurants, pharmacy, etc. This will get you a few dollars back on your grocery trips. If you are like me and like to shop for house needs as little as possible (think 1-2 trips a month), then this is totally worth it. I save at least $20 or so per trip. 

To save: Download the app from your app store. Create an account, and after that, look through the app, and find offers at a store of your choice.


Pick an offer you like, and select it. You’ll be asked to complete an activity sometimes (like watch a 15 seconds video or answer a poll question) to add the offer. Once you have your list of offers, go out and buy the products on your list. Make sure it’s from the store the offer lists too. 


With your receipt, log back into app, claim a product, and take a picture of your receipt so it can be reviewed and your cash can be deposited! 

Checkout 51: 

This app is more for grocery trips, but they also have categories for beauty and wellness, among a few others. It’s not store specific, and has offers by brand.

To save: Once you’ve downloaded the app and created your account, you can see offers by category.


Once you find an offer you like, just hit the little star next to it. It’s added to a list. After you buy the products from the offers, use your receipt and hit the “Upload Receipt” option to claim your money! 


This is one of the bigger savings app. Coupons, in store deals, and cash back offers all in one. They have giveaways too every so often which is never a bad thing to participate in! 

To save: Same as the two options above. Search through the stores, brands, and offers and save what you like! 


One of my friends uses this app to buy discounted traveling packages, and she uses it all the time. I wasn’t really interested, until I began wanting to travel and explore a little more. To be honest with you, I prefer this app when I’m looking for good traveling deals, or just in general savings on things to do more than actual products. 

If you sign up to get their emails, they’ll send periodic offers on a percentage off a hotel booking, and you can save even more! I’ve saved almost $200 off a 4 star hotel for booking through Groupon (this was during their off-peak season, but it was well worth the wait!) 


IIf you online shop, this app/website is a MUST!

Last year during the holidays, I saved over $50 dollars on my Christmas shopping.

To Save: start on their website, find the store you want to shop at (for example Walmart), activate the offer, and now you’ll get cash back from your overall purchase! If you get their button on your browser, you can skip the first step, and when you go to a store’s website, if Ebates can get you cash back, it will give you the option to activate it.

Other Apps: Just like how Target has the Cartwheel app, other stores might have savings apps specifically for that store.  I do this a lot with Food. From Starbucks, Chipotle, Panera, and even to Chick-Fil-A, I’m getting rewards and discounts on all my purchases.

*Note on the cash back apps*

1. READ THE FINE PRINT. Because you may have to meet certain requirements to get the offer.

2. On some apps, you either keep your receipt, or you can use your store credit card and link it to the app (check with each individual app).

3. Offers expire, so keep an eye on that date.

4. Some cash back apps require you to accumulate a certain amount before letting you redeem it (i.e. $20). But it’s always nice to randomly get $20 for shopping ;).


Coupons: Coupons.com is one of the largest websites I use for my coupons, (and they offer an app)! Simply look through what coupons are available, save them, and send them to your email and print them. They also have a linking option where you can link your store rewards card, and apply store coupons to it. Most are manufacturer’s coupons (directly offered by the brand, not a store). 


Paper coupons/offers (mail/newspaper)

A newspaper subscription doesn’t cost too much, and if you faithfully use your coupons, you’ll be able to get your money back. The Sunday paper still offers TONS of manufacturer’s coupons. You may also get special mail coupons from local places near you, so always keep an eye out for those. 

This is also how I find out about sales near me. 

Email offers

This is my second favorite way to save. Signing up for email offers is a GREAT way to get deal alerts and special offers. What I love about these is that they can be customized just for you. With a rewards program, offers are geared towards things you actually buy. I recommend creating an email account just for these, so you’re not bombarded and overwhelmed with offers on your regular email account.

To save: Sign up for stores you shop often at, and look through it from time to time. When you see a good offer, get out there and use it! 

Loyalty/Rewards memberships

If you go to a place pretty often, just take the extra step and sign up for the rewards club. It can be worth it. 

Usually these give you a few perks: 

  • Special discounts for members only
  • Points on your purchases you can redeem later
  • Customized offers
  • Early access to sales

It really doesn’t hurt to get a surprise deal or perk just for signing up. Plus it will often get you mail offers you can also use! 


Glitches happen when prices change incorrectly. These sometimes show a super low value for high priced items. Generally when stores change over their prices and sale items (which happen routinely), they’ll often do it automatically or with a machine.

If you follow prices carefully, sometimes online items will show a price as low as $0.01! 

Sometimes in store, sale items may also ring up at lower prices than advertised. So basically the system glitch in the price may work out in your favor. 

There’s a whole group and blog on this type of couponing, but I’m not really into all the work and monitoring it requires. 

“Maximize your gains” tips

Combine offers

This is what it all comes down to. How you use your coupons/offers.

Wait for a big sale, use an email sign-up offer, and a coupon/cash back offer, and you’re on your way to saving BIG TIME. I like to use cash back and coupons/sale deals combined. They’re the ones that often will get you the most savings. Plus if you get membership points, you’ll be working towards yet another offer later. 

Birthday offers 

Big savings could be lying here. Don’t sleep on it. Here’s my favorite list by Goob over at Hey, It’s Free. It’s the longest and most up to date list I know, use, and love. Save it somewhere. 

Be careful about temptation

I like to use offers only on things I need, when I know I can be flexible on how long I wait to buy it to give it the best chance of the biggest saving. Sometimes you’ll see offers for products you’d never buy. This is how they get to you to spend money you normally wouldn’t. That’s not saving.

Put it on the credit cards

My FAVORITE way to double up on savings and earn credits towards trips and rewards is to pay everything with my trusty credit card. If you have a good credit card with a good % cashback on anything, it’s a good option to pay for your stuff with it. You get the cashback now, and if you pay it right away, you won’t get the interest on it either. WIN!

BONUS TIP: Many don’t know this, but you get a special one time percent off your first purchase when you sign up for an email list. I like to wait for a big sale (like year end, or semi-annual), and combine it with an email sign up offer. So then I get extra savings! Sometimes you’ll get free shipping too. Score! 

Now get out there and shop & save! 

Any other tips you’d like to add? Let me know in comments!