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Guest Post: How to Score FREE Coupon Inserts (AND Food)!

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I’ve received lots of emails from readers recently regarding how to acquire more coupon inserts without having to spend a lot of money. Well, one of my readers wrote a fantastic post in March of 2009 on this very topic, so I thought I’d go ahead and re-post it. Enjoy!

Guest Post by Amanda Allalunis:

For those of you looking for new ways to find coupons (and let’s face it, what money-minded person isn’t interested in more coupons,) I have a nifty new idea that you might like to try. In my town, there are several little coffee shops and diners that sell the local newspapers for customers to read while they eat and relax. One day while I was getting a cup of coffee with my husband I happened to notice many of the customers threw the newspaper away as they left the store and most of them never even bothered to remove the coupon inserts. Because I didn’t relish the idea of digging through the trash can, even for coupons, I approached the owner of the coffee shop with a mutually beneficial idea: I offered to provide the restaurant with a bin to store old newspapers and to take those newspapers to the recycling center weekly. To my surprise the owner of the coffee shop loved the idea, and she even offered to sweeten the deal. If I would agree to take the restaurant’s cardboard to the recycling center once a week as well, she would let me have up to $20 a month in free food and coffee!!!

As of today, I am currently recycling newspapers for six different businesses; and four of those businesses are trading me $15-$20 a month in free food for my services. I’ve been doing this for about 2 months and it has been AMAZING! I usually find at least 10 newspapers a week with full coupons, plus I get about $70 a month in free food for about 2 hours a week of my time! I haven’t purchased my own newspaper since I started, and I often find inserts that are not available in my immediate area – they are brought in by out-of-towners and left to be recycled by me! Not only is this good for my pocket book, but its also good for the environment –a double bonus in my opinion.

If you are interested in trying this neat little trick, here are a few suggestions. First, make sure that you speak directly to the owner of the business and make it clear from the start that you aren’t trying to sell anything to him or her. I found that using the environmental angle when pitching this idea was the most effective. Second, if the business wants you to provide a “recycling bin” for the job – don’t worry about getting anything too fancy. I actually just took a strong cardboard box from the restaurant and wrote “newspapers” on the side. It was fast and, more importantly, it was free. Third, in order to get the most coupons out of the deal, try to collect the newspapers twice a week, the day before the new papers come out, and about two days after they come out. I found that by collecting the papers at these times I get many more coupon inserts and MUCH cleaner newspapers. Finally, while you’re at the recycling center, take a peak into the newspaper recycling bin. You will probably be surprised at the number of clean inserts that you find sitting right on top of the pile!

Hip2Save here: How do you save money when purchasing the Sunday Newspaper? Are you able to snag free coupon inserts?
Join The Discussion

Comments 200

  1. rachel

    How is it stealing when NOBODY lives in the house?! I ASK the people who never pick theirs up BEFORE I take it. I don’t just pick random homes and take their papers.

  2. Rebecca

    out local paper does a deal where I get the daily paper mon-sat and 5 copies of sundays paper delivered to my door for about $12/month. It’s glorious!

  3. flipfloppingmamma

    well….I go and take the recycling to the recycling center on monday or tuesday (we have to take our own into town if we want to recylce) and there are TONS of papers stacked in the bin. You can usually tell which papers are still intact and have the coupons in them. I was told I could take as many as I want!! I usually pick up a couple…I don’t like to dig too deep.

  4. Leigh Anne

    *I’ve* never done this but have read about people doing it. Most local recycling centers seperate the newspapers from the other recyclables. So, if this is the case they do not usually care if you go dig through to gather the coupons.

    Make sure you bring a step ladder with you so you aren’t leaning over a high opening. Also, bring something to put your coupons in, like a crate or cardboard box.

    To be honest, I’d love to do this but my pride won’t let me….YET!

  5. anonymous

    I want to save money, but to spend a few hours of my time every week just to get an extra 2-3 (or more maybe) newspapers is not a worthwhile investment of my time. Walgreens in Chattanooga has Sunday papers 1/2 off with purchase which is $.75…..we need filler items anyways…

  6. Stacy

    My local grocery store (Giant Eagle) sells leftover Sunday papers all week long (or while supplies last) for 75 cents (which is half the price of buying them on Sundays). Not free, but better than full-price!

    • Missy

      Thanks for the tip, Stacy. I shop at Giant Eagle, too. I’m going to contact my local store to see if they do the same thing.

  7. flipfloppingmamma

    I can see this is going to turn into ‘you shouldn’t take it from there!’ kind of thing.

  8. free is free

    Great ideas. I didn’t know the dollar store sold them. I’m gonna check this out for sure. I’ve also asked co workers for their inserts if they don’t use them, but they usually forget after a week. I’m upset because I don’t get smartsource inserts and those seem to be most beneficial for me. I’m gonna spread the word again. Facebook is a good way to tell them!

  9. Nancy

    I just have my sunday papers delivered to my house. My regional newspaper had a deal for Sunday papers, a year subscription for $20 (38 cents a week). So I order two subscriptions and I pay less than $1.00 a week for both.

  10. Lisa

    I can’t remember the last time I bought the sunday paper. My mom gives me hers and she hardly uses any of the coupons!

  11. Anon

    Let’s all remember to be classy people and if you don’t have anything nice to say than don’t say it at all 🙂

  12. erin Fisher

    Lately i have been getting a bag thrown at my house on Fridays that has a Walgreens ad as well as the Smart Source and PG inserts, then on Sunday I get them again in my paper! 🙂 I pay $5/month and may get up to 2 each weekend!

  13. Kim

    I would just feel weird walking around with all those papers. How do you carry them all? That would be a little embarassing. But to each her own.

    I think getting a good deal is one thing. But this is a little excessive.

    • mary Tibbs

      why would walking around with paper make you feel weird? judgmental much?

    • Chantel

      Comment Deleted

      • Me

        Wow – good thing I haven’t run into Kim at the Dollar store on Sunday’s – she’d be freaked out by me walking around with all those papers! Ha ha…

        • shannon

          she sounds like someone i work with…a little high on her horse.

  14. Leticia

    What i did is right next to my house is a box for newspapers I put a note one day for the newspaper guy asking if he wouldn’t mind and had the time to save the inserts for me and i would pick them up on Mondays…..little did I know he said yes…I have been doing this for about 5 months now and it is awesome….i call him up every monday evening after work and pick up my inserts and he goes to the newspaper monday evenings to return the front covers of them…win-win. I do still purchase another newspaper the LA Times since that one has more and better coupons that my local newspaper.

    • Hil

      Curious-what do you mean, there’s a box for newspaperS?

  15. Savannah

    I just put an ad out on freecycle about anyone having sunday paper coupons they didn’t use that I’d pick them up and take what I need and recycle the rest. I have been so blessed to have found a distruibuter for a local paper this way. I actually have to drive about 15 minutes out of town to meet her, but I get anywhere from 10-20 papers. I just started couponing about 2 months ago and have been getting the papers from her for about 1 month. I plan on getting a basket of household and toiltries together for her, as soon as i start stocking up. Its def. been helpful because i was spending about 6+ dollars a week buying from the gas station. I’ve collected all the papers during the month, and deliever all the papers to the recylcing center. Couponing is becoming my way of life and helping our household budget so much and i know it will in the long run even more. I’m a young mom (22 with a 20 month old) and find myself becoming financial sercure if I keep this life style up!! thanks so much for all your help and commitment to your readers COLLIN!! I LOVE HIP2SAVE!!!!

  16. Savnformyzoo

    i thought about goign to our local newpaper delivery area and getting the left over comic inserts, that is where they put our coupons and ads. they are sealed in a bag, which by the way makes me mad because i have gotten several papers they dont have any coupons, when it should.

  17. Ashley A

    I’ve only done this once, but I went to the post office after they had closed and the trash cans were full of junk mail. At the top of the trash cans, I saw some coupon inserts, so I took them. I only took the ones I saw on top because I felt weird digging in the trash at the post office.

  18. westkycouponlady

    OMG at the judgmental attitudes! I freely admit I have a certain amount of “coupon envy” which I’m sure means there’s something wrong with me, but that’s okay. Our local papers have precious few coupons so couponers in this area hit the newsstands and stores on Sunday to buy out-of-town papers. Believe me, if our papers had many coupons at all I would ask at church and probably a few other places around town. The last time there was a $3.00 Surf coupon in the USA Weekend (which our paper does carry) I was on the phone asking people who wouldn’t use the coupons to save them for me. If that’s too extreme; oh well, I combined them with a Kroger Mega-Sale and stocked up for less than $1.00 per box. Thanks to Collin for all her hard work keeping this site up!

  19. Anon

    The best place to look for newspapers…..the AIRPORT! I work at the airport and they have recycle bins just for newspapers. There are soooo many inserts we find… there’s enough for all the co-workers and then some.

    • Dwagnfly

      You have my idea! lol I’m a flight attendant and when I go thru the cabin to collect trash, I save the newspapers and take them to the back of the plane to not only recycle for others to read but the crew enjoys the coupons! The ones in the airport are often collected by the ground agents as passengers often just leave them lying on the seats. Thank you passengers.
      Some hotels we stay at have Sunday papers in front of the doors, usually the pilots don’t want their coupons. So that’s a bonus too.

  20. bonnie79

    I do a walk though every sunday afternoon at a laudry mat 5 doors away from my house. people leave their papers behind in a box…I also go to the coffee house and take their inserts too…these are my neighbors…I know the people that live in my neighborhood and feel comfortable because I’ ve ask them…and they are happy to help me…but i still will buy something at the coffee house (a .50 banana for my 2 year old) or if they are busy i’ll put a little change in the jar…just so i don’t feel like a mooch…

    As for the class no class argurment…I think that these are perfectly fine ways to help your bottom line..It’s more about showing kindness, graciousness, apprecation and confidence within yourself with all your actions while couponing. Now if you can do THAT, your a “classy couponer”.
    and i must admit it’s a little hard to do while your digging in the trash.:) Everyone should do what works for them and be kind to others, even if the “other” can’t find a way to express their feelings with being rude. Lastly, I think everyone that comments should especially be kind to collin and her guest “poster” (is that how you say it? I think not.), because they are putting themselves out there and are just really trying to help all of us. sorry I’ll get off my soapbox now.

    • Missy

      Well said, Bonnie!

    • Jenny

      THANK YOU!

  21. Christan

    I did something similar at a Dollar Tree store in town. I called and spoke with the manager to find out when their newspapers are picked up and it was on friday. So every friday I would drive over and I could have all the inserts that were left from the week. Sometimes I made out really well. It was perfect and I’m going to try it again with another Dollar Store that moved into my neighborhood.
    I may be hitting up my local coffee shop. Too bad I didn’t know about this before my friend closed her coffee shop. That would have been awesome. I may also call the activity center near me.
    Great ideas!!

  22. Kandi V

    In our town, we can buy a paper on Saturday called the “early sunday edition”. it has all the coupons of the sunday paper and only costs 75 cents rather than a buck fifty. If i buy one in the morning and love the coupons, I go back and buy many more-for 75 cents, i consider it a good deal! plus i give my neighbor certain coupons i find and she gives me all of hers in exchange. very cool!

  23. Fawn

    Our Saturday paper has all the same ads/inserts as the Sunday paper, but is half the price at .75 🙂 I think they call it a bulldog edition or something like that. So I buy all my papers on Saturday instead (we’re in Iowa).

    • Lolo

      I live in San Diego and our Saturday early edition of sunday is also called the Bulldog. LOL I thought that was a local thing, but I guess not. LOL

  24. mary Tibbs

    Anybody else think Meredith, Kim and/or NaNa have something personal against Collin? Like a competing website, perhaps one that is not doing quite as well as Collin’s is??

    • flipfloppingmamma

      I think that’s what happened when her website was shut down. I think someone reported her for spamming even though she wasn’t just cause they were mad or jealous. Now look how much better her site is!!!

    • Chantel

      I think they are all the same person!

      A hateful and jealous person!

    • Denise

      I believe some people are unsettled being around those who are helpful. Some visitors come and think there must be something sinister LOL! There are enough real problems in the world without jumping at shadows. Many people are genuinely kind and supportive here and that will always draw fire. Just makes me more motivated to support Collin and the work she’s doing!

      I talk about coupons to lots of people, and many of them offer their extra coupons. One great source is an employee at a grocery store – she does product demonstrations. I get all the coupons they are going to throw away after the demo – about 20-50 booklets each time!

    • Lynne W

      I was just reading and thinking the same thing, thank you now I don’t have to post it! 😉

    • Ashlei

      I have my own website, and the only time I really get comments from a lot of people is when they are griping or something doesn’t work on my website…pretty sad that Collin and people like myself work our bottoms off to help people save money and get rudeness in return! Thanks Collin for everything. I love your site and visit it daily!

  25. Stacy

    Man – I just want to thank Collin for all the time she puts into this blog. One thing we should all know is that it takes time to save money. So, if we spend a lot of time doing it for just us, think of how much time she spends finding this stuff so we can find it in one spot. I personally love this idea and all the other comments that have been given. What may not work for one of us, is anothers goldmine. Just because we may be too embarassed or think an idea is disgusting, doesn’t mean it is for someone else. Let’s try to be postive and help each other and give Collin the respect she deserves for putting herself out there and helping all of us. Geesh!!!

  26. Amanda

    Two things……… I started a coupon basket at work and leave it in the break room. This is an AWESOME way to get lots of the PG coupons for freebies 🙂 I also have an agreement with a lady at work. She circles the coupons she wants, gives all of the inserts to me, I cut out what she wants and return them to her, and I get to keep the rest. Works for me!

  27. Elaine

    I don’t very often post comments, but I want to take the opportunity to say a big “Thank you!” to Collin and Amanda for this post and to the others who made suggestions for finding coupons. Amanda’s post was well-written and clearly presented a way to help the environment through recycling, encourage the shop owners to recycle and also make additional coupons available for herself. Many of the other posts included using coupons to make purchases for donations or gifts, as well. I hope the negative posters will think before they write again and realize that they probably hurt Collin. Again, THANK YOU COLLIN for all you do to help us and our families, and THANK YOU to your husband for his service!

  28. Cara

    I asked at a gas station near our house on a Monday morning if they had any papers left and if they did if they would mind if I took them. They usually have to tear off the front cover of the paper to get a credit back or something but the owner has been so great. Every Monday morning my husband stops in on his way to work and they give us whatever papers they have left over. Some days it is 2 or 3 and sometimes it is 10 or 12. I had used a different gas station but when the management changed the new manager wasn’t super friendly so we just found a new one. It never hurts to ask.

  29. Diana

    They are very stingy with extra papers here. The Sunday paper stays out all week long, and is sold at the regular price. If there are a lot of good deals, I’ll just buy extra papers.
    Currently, I used You send them 25 coupons that you won’t use, and can shop for 25 coupons that you will use. It only costs the price of a stamp.

    • Lolo

      Wow cool I will have to check that out! Thanks for the tip. 😉

  30. Super Dude

    So just checking with Mer and Nana…I follow the paperboy on my bike early Sunday morn and just take the inserts out of all 350 papers in the neighborhood. That way they still have the news in the paper…is that still OK ? 😉

    • Holly

      I love it!! Too Funny!!

  31. Amanda

    I came upon this post late and I knew something was up from the number of comments. I read all of the comments here and I think that it is crazy how people jump someone’s S*** for posting a comment that isn’t all smiles and sunshine. I know it can seem like a buzzkill when someone posts their own thoughts on a topic or situation. What is even worse is when other people chime in with bad attitudes and name calling, Sometimes we have to take the high road, read a comment and move on. Collin is a big girl and I highly doubt she gets offended so easily about what some people may say. ( the lemonade jokes are proof!) Yes, if someone doesn’t like what sort of deals people are getting and questioning things like morals and ethics, they shouldn’t read this blog. In the end we are all just trying to make our way through what can some times be a tough world, and if we find ways to make it just a bit easier, good for us.

  32. Heidi

    My Mom is friends with her local delivery person. After I started couponing, she told us that she usually has at least 10 inserts/ week extra that she has just been putting in the recycling bin. Once she found out I was couponing, she offered to drop off the extra inserts at my Mom’s instead of taking them to the recycler. It has been awesome! Every month or so, I buy her a gas card or a gift card to thank her for her time……

  33. Lynne W

    Just another note on differing opinions. Collin is obviously a generous soul sharing with others her experiences and knowledge and I feel we owe her respect. This Blog is Collin’s and frankly if it were mine, I’d delete the rotten posts. It’s about couponing and it seems like a few rotten apples have a good time passing judgement on other bloggers without reading posts and making assumptions, etc. This is a blog to share our couponing and bargain experiences good and bad and perhaps make some online friends, not to judge and shoot people down for how they collect a freaking newspaper! If you dont’ like it, don’t do it, no one has a gun to your head! Keep it to yourself. It’s a free country and we have free speech, but remember this is a blog and Collin could just delete it and walk off into the sunset if she pleased.

  34. nora

    I love this idea! Great guest post! Way to be creative!!!

  35. Tiffany

    thanks for the chuckle! I love this site! What a great idea….its got me brainstorming. I get 5 newspapers on Sunday through an awesome deal we have here in town – but the whole idea of a business giving you free food/coffee in exchange for doing them a favor – I LOVE it! What a smart idea and kind to share!

  36. Lisa

    I love to visit my local library on Monday morning. They take all the coupons and ad inserts and place them in the recycling bin when they display the Sunday newspapers. I always receive two or three, clean copies of the coupons and ad inserts. I then get a set from my Mom (who would just throw them away) and neighbors that do not want them. Without even purchasing a Sunday paper, I usually have 4-5 sets of coupons for shopping! Yipppeee!

  37. Amber

    The little town where my mom lives just got a brand new Publix (well, about 6 mos. ago). On Mondays, they put out these little folder-type things w/ the left-over inserts from their Sunday papers. They put them by the front door and have a “free coupons” sign near them. Whenever I’m visiting her, I always make sure we go there b/c the inserts are usually from the nearest big-city paper. I’m so jealous of her. 🙂

    I do get a box (really) of coupons from my husband’s aunt and uncle every month or so. They work for a super-market doing the product demos and giving out coupons inserts. Whenever they’re done w/ a particular product show, they save the left-over inserts for me instead of throwing them away). It’s really awesome.

    My MIL also gives me whatever coupons she doesn’t use whenever we visit. I love all the people in my life who make it possible for me to coupon successfully.

    Thanks to you all, especially Collin!

  38. Dana

    Thanks so much for posting this Collin! This was awesome and has totally got my wheels turning. Several mentioned work trades, such as bring free stuff to those who give you coupons. Well I don’t work outside the home, so I wouldn’t have that option. However, my husband does so it got me to thinking about his buddies at work. I don’t think their wives coupon, so my thought was I am going to ask them for their inserts and in return make them some kind of tasty treat. I love to cook and what’s the best way to get to a guys heart, but through his belly. Men love to eat. This is in the making, so not sure how this will pan out, but thought I’d share my idea. What works for one may not work for another. Find what works for you and RUN with it!

  39. Jaime

    I work at the local paper… so I head down to the “dungeon,” as we call it, to get extras. 😉

  40. Jennifer

    My mom works at our local paper. So she always brings me extra inserts a couple of days after Sunday. She says they would just be recycled anyway.

  41. Ty

    I go to the two recycle bins by my house about once every other week. I pick up anywhere from 4 – 20 inserts. I never get in. I just pick through what I can from the little hole in the side. I am a chicken! I get what we need, I am a single mom with two wonderful teenage kids. Then we get what we don’t need. I take bags of razors, soap, shampoo and deodorant to the homeless shelter in my hometown approximately 3 times per year. My kids and I also clean out our closets once per year and donate the gently used stuff. I know it helps, everyone can use a little help through-out the year. It might cost me a little for the extra purchases but that is how I feel I pay back. Thanks so much for the great site.

  42. Vicki

    Oh,My.Goodness! Women, Women! SEttle down! It’s just newspaper inserts! My heavens that is nothing to get feathers ruffled about. And WHYWHYWHY must we ALways announce our opinion(s) so much all the time?! Who cares?! I mean, really. I did not see anything wrong w/this idea. That is so silly. Where do you think these papers are going to go anyway, darlin? 😉 I mean, if someone is doing that (and NOT taking them to the recycle bin, GOD FORBID!) then it is THEIR guilty conscience, NOT YOURS!!!!! :):):) Now don’t you feel better? If you don’t like it, guess what this is still America, by the grace of God, don’t do it! Can I get an Amen?????
    You know, just chill. I don’t like some things my husband does, but I married him, I love him and I like MORE things about him, no I LOVE more things about him than I don’t like. Make sense?
    Breathe folks, breathe…….. ahh….feels good…..
    Bring me some lemons. :0

  43. Renee

    We live in a small town with a little country store. I just asked the owner what he did with the extra Sunday papers that he doesn’t sell. He said he only needed the front page to get credit for them. I asked if he would mind if I came at closing time on Sundays and picked out the inserts. He agreed, and I get at least 10 inserts every week, usually more. All for free! 🙂

  44. Angel

    Love this idea. Something you can do with the recycled papers is check with your local elementary schools. Our have outside recycle containers and the schools are receiving money for recycled products so this is a nice way to give to schools as well as the environment while saving money. Just a thought

  45. Nicole

    My husband works at a hotel and they order Sunday Papers for their guests to take if they want. My husband just takes the add inserts out of about ten of the papers every week and brings them home.
    He started out by just bringing the extra papers home, but then he found everyone was throwing all the inserts away anyway, so he just brings about ten home and then the owner of the hotel actually takes the rest of the inserts and coupons too.
    So… Go to some local hotels. They probably have left over papers and things they will give you on Monday morning. I know it sure has helped me out with my coupons and money, especially since papers are so expensive here.

  46. cjs

    Thanks Collin for the post – looks like your readers had some good tips (and then some…lol). I picked up a few new ideas, and had some laughs.

  47. cjs

    OH, and thanks to Amanda, too, for the March post!

  48. Andrew

    This is a test comment to ensure it is working

    • Mona

      I found a home delievry guy that will give me free news papers when he’s done. I get them mid week but i sometime get as many as 90 papers and share with my friend . In return i always give a goody bag and its a goody bag.

  49. Aliviah

    This is a great idea! I love it! I’ll definitely be looking into places around our area, this would help me and my boy out a lot. 😀 It costs a lot of money in gas to go to all of his therapies and buy things for his gf/cf diet; fixed income is certainly a challenge! lol.

    I’m so thankful for Collin and her site, it’s just wonderful!

    Ohhh…and a funny thing…when I’m at Kroger and go through the self check out aisle…I so pick out the catalinas from the small waste paper basket! lol!! My niece looked at me weird and was like ‘What are you doing?’ I just shrugged and said, ‘Gettin’ mah coupon on.’ hahaha!!

    Everyone just tosses heaps of catalinas in there…just a shame! Someone tossed a Willy Wonka exceptionals catalina in there…$2.00 off a $3.00 bag…I’d forgotten my card already had a $1.00 coupon for that item loaded on it…so free chocolate! Woo hoo!!

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