Couponing 101 The Basics!

If you are new to the “couponing world”  here are some tips to help get you started:

Where to find coupons:

How to organize your coupons:

  • I organize my coupons in a binder using baseball card holders and have them alphabetized by brand, I also organize them so each letter has 2 pages, pg 1 is all coupons expiring this month, pg 2 is all coupons expiring next month and after.  I also keep a few pages that are the 4×6 photo album sheets in the front and assign them stores that I regularly shop at like target, walmart etc so when I find a deal I can pull the coupon put it in the store spot and when I get ready to go shopping pull my coupons and make a list from that!    There are many more methods than this but the goal is to make your coupons as organized as possible and find the system that works best for you!

Shopping with coupons:  Your goal is to buy items only when they are on sale AND use a coupon with them to maximize your savings!  Starting a small stockpile of items that have long expiration dates with items that you use or continually buy is a great way to see your monthly bills shrink.  Make sure you are buying the items at the lowest price you can and that when that lowest price hits you buy as much as you need to last your family for 3-6 months, or the time between sales.

I suggest you pick 1 or 2 stores to focus on in the beginning, possibly a Target or Walmart and then a grocery store.  Learn those stores policies, sales cycles, and discounts and then move on to learn other stores. You can print store policies here  I suggest you print out the policies and keep them in your binder or car.

One of the most complicated stores to shop at is Walgreens ( or Wags for short), BUT it can produce BIG savings:  Here are a few tips when shopping at Walgreen:

  • Stack Walgreens coupons and manufacturer coupons to maximize savings
  • Take advantage of Walgeen’s Register Reward program
  • Register Rewards are manufacturer coupons that are printed out at the register after you purchase an item.  You can find out what items have register rewards by looking in the weekly store ad.  Register rewards do not “roll” meaning you cannot use a register reward to buy the same item that you got the reward from and expect to get another one.  You CAN use a reward on another item that will give you a reward and get one, though. You can only use ONE manufacturer coupon per item purchased. For example: If you are purchasing four items, you can use up to a combination of four manufacturer coupons and/or register rewards. If you attempt to use more than four, the register will beep. If this happens you can use filler items.  Fillers are inexpensive items, and they allow you to apply more coupons at checkout. Some fillers may include caramels at the front for $.33, gift bags for $.29…etc.. BUT: Walgreens store coupons do NOT count towards your coupon-to-item ratio so walgreens coupons that say for instance 8/$1 pencils are great filler items!

Abbreviations for coupons:

Q= coupon

MQ= Manufacturer coupons

Rp- Red Plum Insert, SS= Smartsource insert, PG= Proctor and Gamble insert, GM= General Mills Insert

Wags= Walgreens

RR’s= Register Rewards (Walgreen’s reward system)

BOGO= buy 1 get 1

oop= Out of pocket (or the amount that they actually paid)

MIR =Mail in rebate

MM= Money Maker

YMMV= Your mileage may vary meaning some may find this at their stores while others may not.

Stacking= using a store coupon and a manufacturer coupon on the same item

ALSO and probably the MOST important here is my post about the “rules” of couponing and how you make sure you are not committing coupon fraud! here

I hope this will help to get you started on your couponing adventure! Check out my other posts on this blog for more helpful information AND remember….there’s a class for that…. I teach Couponing Classes!  A 2 hour crash course on all things couponing, ready to get you out the door and on your way to BIG savings!  Check out the locations and times here

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About iowacouponing

Katie Kitterman owner of Iowa Couponing loves to help others save the hundreds of dollars a month on grocery and household items that she is saving! She posts new deals, coupons, and online finds daily on her facebook group Iowa Couponing that has over 3800 members! She has been featured in the national magazine All You as a Super Saver, the Des Moines Register, WHO Channel 13 news, KCCI Channel 8 news, ABC 5 news and other media outlets for her couponing abilities! She has now taught over 1500 people her couponing ways and can teach you too!
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7 Responses to Couponing 101 The Basics!

  1. Andrea says:

    In the class you taught, you said that Walgreens would take 2 manufacturer coupons for a bogo free item. When I tried to use two to make the item completely free, they told me I can only use one. It was the store on Merle Hay. Has anyone else had problems with this? I used to be able to do this but they got a new computer system and apparently this one will not let you use 2 of those coupons. Thanks!

    • Taking 2 mq coupons with a b1g1 free deal is still in their corp. policy as valid, BUT if the price drops below 0 you can’t use both coupons, that might have been the issue. Also with the new system they are finding a lot of glitches but like I said the wording is still in their corp policy that you can find on or on their website to print out and take w/ you.

  2. Sandra says:

    I cannot find the coupon policy for Fare-way or HyVee….They both have coupons this week. Do you know if they accept manufacturer coupons as well as their store coupons?

    • Hy-vee’s policy is on this website, go to store policies at the top and you will find their corporate policy. Fareway doesn’t have a policy online, but yes both stores will let you stack a manufactuer coupon and a store coupon!

      • Anonymous says:

        Do you happen to know if Fareway price matches as well? Thanks for your class. It was so informative. My boss now thinks I need a coupon intervention:)

      • Yes! Fareway price matches and even usually already has signs up that will say “competitors price” on the item by the shelf too.

  3. Coupon Smart says:

    Awesome article! Couponing can be such a great way to cut down on household expenses….and let’s just admit it – it can be SO fun! :)

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