A Beginner’s Guide to Couponing

“I could be using this money on so many other things!” 

I’m kind of frugal with certain things. Clothes, decor, and food are typically where I look to get the most bang for my bucks

Two of the best skills (I think) you can pick up as an adult is learning to budget your money, and how to find a good deal and save some extra cash. It can be exciting to save over $100 on something just because you did a little research for about 15 minutes looking for coupons. 

AND here’s my last pitch to get you to on this couponing train:

You can easily do it on your phone. 

You don’t have to get a subscription to every newspaper our there, or spend hours looking through coupon books from different stores. (I mean you can, and it would probably save you a lot more, but that’s time consuming). 

Couponing can mean a few things now a days; using coupons, offers, or special event deals to pay less that you normally would. 

Read on for the basics on couponing. Where to find deals, how to get them, and how to use them to get the best deal possible. You can combine tips as you find most convenient for you.

FAQs about couponing:

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

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

There real question there is: is it really a hassle, if it’s going to save you money?

And lastly, if you use it faithfully, heck yeah you’ll save quite a bit. It’s a little in different places, but it adds up. Why do you think they made shows about this stuff? You can do all of the following, or some, it’s up to you. But the more you do, the more you save (just sayin’). 

The Basics

Apps for savings

This is my favorite 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, but it should be given the wonderful reviews I’m giving! 😛

Ibotta: I’m sure you may have heard of this app, and it’s loaded with different places that offer cash back on purchases. I tried it before and found it limited, but their most recent updates have expanded on offers. They have everything from food to clothing, to restaurants, pharmacy, etc.

To save, you just have to keep your receipts, and take pictures of them  through the app. They even have beer and wine offers (ones I use most). 

Just to give you an example, this week there was a $5 cash back offer when you spent $40 at H&M. They also offered 10% cash back at Buffalo Wild Wings, and Groupon. 

Not tempting you yet? 

Checkout 51: This app is more for grocery trips, but they also have categories for beauty and wellness, among a few others. It also works with cash back on purchases. I like this one because it will have a lot of name brand offers I like to use. 

RetailMeNotMost of you will know this 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! 

Groupon: 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, this app does better on traveling packages than some of the other they sell, but my friend LOVES it for spa-related offers too. 

This is what I used to book a lot of hotels when I want to go visit a specific city. usually if you 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 (also this was during their off-peak season, but it was well worth the wait!)

Ebates: If you online shop, this app/website is a must.

Here’s how it works: start on their website, find your store, 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.

I used this a LOT last year for Christmas shopping, and got about $40 dollars back, which I spent on an extra gift for the hubby. 

Store specific: Just like how Target has the Cartwheel app, other stores might have savings apps specifically for that store. This can also  apply to food too. I know Chipotle always has app offers. 

*Note on the cash back apps*: 

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

2. 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 put into my account/paypal, without doing much ;).


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 of these are manufacturer’s coupons (directly offered by the brand, not a store). 

*Note on coupons*: 

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. 


Paper options (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. 

Email offers

This one is one of my favorites. 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. My recommendation is to create an email account just for these, so you’re not bombarded and overwhelmed with offers on your regular email account.

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! 

BONUS: 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! 

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! 

Additional 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.

Now get out there and shop & save! 

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