Monday, September 7, 2009

Building Your Coupon Collection

As you might imagine, becoming a "super shopper" requires building up a nice collection of coupons. There are quite a few ways to get some great coupons, and I found that once I started looking for them, they're a lot more common than I thought they were.

1) Newspaper inserts: Probably the most common source of coupons is the Sunday newspaper inserts. Without these, you will definitely miss many great deals! However, not all inserts are created equal, so the trick may be finding the best inserts (or at least the coupons from them). If you are in or close to a big city, that city's paper will likely have better coupons than the local one. We get the Chicago Tribune instead of our local paper for that very reason. You might also want to try a coupon clipping service like The Coupon Clippers (see link in my sidebar and/or read my post about them here) if you want to get multiples of a few specific coupons without buying the whole paper.

2) The Internet: A second common (and rapidly growing) source of coupons is the internet. More and more companies are posting printable coupons on their websites or on coupon printing sites. One of the most popular sites is (see the link in my sidebar); others include and I also recommend checking company websites to see if they have coupons clearly posted somewhere. And, sign up for e-newsletters from the manufacturers of products you use; many companies email printable coupons as part of their newsletters. Another thing to remember when printing coupons is that most of them are set to print a certain number per computer; if you hit the back button on your browser after printing the first one, it will often let you print one more. Most printable coupons print with a unique code on each coupon, which is designed to prevent fraud. Under no circumstances should you photocopy a printed coupon - this is considered fraud.

3) In-store Dispensers or Displays: Be on the lookout for special displays or dispensers in many stores. Many stores have red "blinkie" machines that dispense coupons. I have also found booklets and tearpads of coupons on shelves or special displays. Some of these are amazingly great coupons!

4) In or on packages: Many manufacturers put coupons on their products, often in the form of peelies (basically stickers) or hangtags. You may also find them printed directly on the packaging (like on a cereal box) or stuck inside a box.

5) Magazines: Some magazines such as Good Housekeeping, Glamour, Cosmo, and Woman's Day often contain coupons. One relatively little-known magazine that often has some great high-value coupons is All You; it is only available by subscription or at Wal-Mart. If you see a copy, it could be worth your time to check it out and see what coupons are in that month's issue.

6) Home mailers: Now, when I say "home mailers," I'm not talking about the Valpak kind of things that come in the mail - I'm talking about coupons that manufacturers send you. Many companies send out mailers with some pretty high-value coupons. I have received several mailers from Proctor & Gamble that contained coupons for a free bottle of Cascade Crystal Clear Rinse. The best (and often the only) way to get on companies' mailing lists is to ask them, so check out the manufacturers of the products you use and see if they send periodic mailings to consumers. Also, if you email companies and tell them how much you like their products, they will often send you some high-value coupons; if you try this, be sure to include your address. I usually also take that opportunity to ask them to add my name to their mailing list.

7) Winetags: Another source for some great coupons may surprise you: Winetags. Many liquor companies issue coupons for non-alcoholic products, such as meat, produce, or ice. These coupons are sometimes hanging on bottles of alcohol, but stores also sometimes just set them out in or near the liquor section. What may be even more surprising is that some of these coupons do not require an alcohol purchase, but this varies a lot by state. I am fortunate to live in a state where there are a lot of NAPR (no alcohol purchase required) winetags, and I have found quite a few really good ones (the most recent was for $3 off any grill meats). If it is indeed an NAPR winetag, the back of the winetag will say so, often in fine print. Before you redeem a winetag, however, I will warn you that some cashiers have never seen them before and aren't sure what to do with them. If you're not also buying the alcohol, they usually beep because they can't be coded for every possible kind and brand of meat or produce or whatever kind of product they're for.

8) Electronic coupons: Several stores now have coupons that can be electronically linked to your store loyalty card and will come off instantly at check-out. Kroger and Safeway affiliates (including Dominick's) have partnered with three sites that offer e-coupons: Shortcuts, P&G eSaver, and Cellfire. When you sign up at these sites, you can choose which coupons you want to load to your loyalty card(s), and those coupons will be available for a set amount of time. Jewel also offers avenu coupons. You do not get to choose what avenu offers are added to your card, although they are supposedly customized for you based on your past purchases.


  1. Have you ever run into a store that doesn't take Internet coupons? Our local grocery store has a "no Internet coupons" policy. Just curious if this was happening anywhere else.

  2. I don't think any stores around here completely ban them, but our Kroger is picky about them and cashiers at a couple other stores have questioned them but ultimately let me use them. Kroger doesn't accept internet coupons for 75% or more of the item's value.

    In the last year or so, there have been several high dollar value coupons that spread around the internet (some legitimately, some not), were printed a lot, and then denied by the manufacturer and/or third-party publisher when stores submitted them for reimbursement. It seemed like around the time that those kinds of things became more widespread, more stores started becoming more suspicious of internet coupons. In some places, I think a few people may have spoiled it for everyone. It's definitely unfortunate and frustrating. I'm sorry your store doesn't take them!