Coupon Newbie Guide
Welcome Coupon Newbies!
If you’re new to couponing or confused by all the coupon jargon, you’ve come to the right place! As a long-time couponer, I understand that getting started can be overwhelming. That’s why I have put together this guide as a way to introduce you to the world of couponing and saving money.
First, if you’re a visual learner, be sure to check out the Hip2Save YouTube Channel. You’ll be able to see all of my favorite videos listed at the very top and you can browse through all of the different categories of videos (like How to Coupon, Deal Shopping, Get to Know Me, & more!).
Here are a few videos that may be helpful:
- How Coupons Saved My Life
- How To Save On Organic & Natural Products with Coupons
- Canned Goods: Warehouse Shopping vs. Grocery Store Shopping
- How To Pay It Forward By Couponing
- What to Buy at the Dollar Store
- How To Creatively Save Money & Time on School Lunches
HIP TIP: Be sure to subscribe to my YouTube Channel (click on the Subscribe button in the top right) so you can be the first to learn about newly released videos.
Where can you find coupons?
- Sunday newspaper – In Sunday newspapers, you’ll often find these coupon inserts – RetailMeNot (RMN), SmartSource (SS), Proctor & Gamble (P&G), and occasionally bonus inserts depending on your area of the country (Parade Magazine, USA Weekly, General Mills, Target etc).
- Internet/Printable coupons – There are TONS of printable coupons available online! Not only can you often find coupons for your favorite brands on their websites and/or Facebook pages, but you can also find loads of printable coupons on printable coupon sites. Here are my favorite coupon sites: Coupons.com, RedPlum.com, and SmartSource.
- Coupon mailers from unsolicited companies or from a manufacturer – To get these, be sure to sign up for your favorite brands newsletters and/or rewards program (if they have one).
- In magazines – Lots of magazines often have coupons inside. To name a few, Better Homes & Gardens, Good Housekeeping, Weight Watchers magazine, Parents magazine, and more!
- Inside products or on the box of a product – Often you’ll find surprise coupons inside a product package or on the actual packaging, so be sure to always look.
- Loaded to your savings card – Many stores now offer digital coupons that you can save to your store/rewards card.
- Store Weekly Circulars – Often stores will have coupons available right in their weekly ads, which makes it very convenient for you to save!
- In Store Coupon Savings –
- Blinkie or Tear Pad – coupon from a small blinkie machine or pad
- Peelie – sticker type coupon on product itself
- Catalina/CAT – coupon on back of store receipt or printed after receipt
- Here are the various Sunday Newspaper insert abbreviations:
- GM = General Mills
- P&G = Procter & Gamble brandSAVER
- RMN = RetailMeNot
- SS = SmartSource
*Date for insert is typically in very small print on the spine of the insert.
- Other Abbreviations and Money-Saving Terms:
- $1/1 = Save $1 Off One Item Per Coupon
- $1/2 = Save $1 Off Two Items Per Coupon
- B&M = Brick & Mortar Stores
- B1G1 or BOGO = Buy One, Get One Free
- B2G1 = Buy Two, Get One Free
- BOGO 50% = Buy One, Get One 50% Off
- CATALINA = Coupons That Print Along With Your Receipt
- CRT = Cash Register Tape
- DND = Do Not Double
- DNT = Do Not Triple
- EXP = Expires On
- FILLER = Item Purchased to Reach a Minimum Total in Order to Get a “Deal”
- GC = Gift Card
- H2S = Hip2Save
- HTH = Hope That Helps
- IP = Internet Printable
- ISO = In Search Of
- IVC = Instant Value Coupon
- MC or MQ = Manufacturer’s coupon
- MIR = Mail In Rebate
- MM = Money-Maker
- NED = No Expiration Date
- NLA = No Longer Available
- OOP = Out of Pocket
- OOS = Out of Stock
- OYNO = On Your Next Order
- POP = Proof of Purchase
- PSA = Price Starting At
- STACKING: Using Both a Store Coupon and a Manufacturer’s Coupon on One Item
- TMF = Try Me Free Offer
- UPC = Universal Product Code – Those black straight lines with numbers under them
- WYB = When You Buy
- YMMV = Your Mileage May Vary – Deal may work for someone else, but it may not work for you.
- Pick one or two stores and learn as much as you can about each store(s).
- Join the store’s savings card/loyalty program, if available.
- Access the store’s weekly ad circular online or in-store. Check Hip2Save.com every Saturday for the full coupon match-ups for Target, CVS, Walgreens, and Rite Aid (we do all the work for you!).
- Find out about the store’s rain-check policy and senior or military discount program, if applicable to your situation.
- Get a copy of the store layout from customer service or make your own aisle-by-aisle map of the store – very helpful and a huge time-saver when you are organizing your coupons and making your shopping list.
- Know the store’s coupon policy, if available, and keep a copy with you.
- Use our store guides for helpful information on the most popular stores at Hip2Save.
- To build up your coupon stash, purchase or get duplicate Sunday newspapers from friends and check Hip2Save for the latest printable coupons. You can also easily search for coupons you’re looking for in our handy Coupon Database! Some of our favorite sites for free printable coupons are Coupons.com, RedPlum.com, and SmartSource.
- Ask yourself these questions before clipping a coupon and don’t save the coupon if you answer NO to all of these questions:
- Will my family use the product?
- Even if I snag it for free, will it get used?
- Can it be donated?
- Coupon organizers can be simple & economical! A few ideas are –
- A standard white envelope.
- Homemade coupon box with index cards as dividers.
- A three-ring binder with divider pages for categories.
- You can arrange your coupons alphabetically, by category, or keep your coupons unclipped and file by date of the coupon insert. The only downside to the coupon insert method is that you won’t have all your coupons on hand to snag unadvertised deals or clearance bargains.
- Coupons have varying terms which state what items qualify for the discount, what size(s) you need to purchase, and the date the coupon expires. Some coupons may say “Do not double,” but if a retailer doubles or triples coupons as part of their store policy, the coupons will usually double or triple automatically at the register at the store’s expense.
HIP TIPS BEFORE YOU HEAD TO THE STORE
- Remember to check Hip2Save.com every Saturday for the full coupon match-ups for Target, CVS, Walgreens, and Rite Aid (we do all the work for you!). You can even select your favorite deals from our match-ups and create a printable list to take with you to the store!
- Download our free Hip2Save App compatible with iPhone, Android, and Kindle devices – the app provides instant access to Store Guides, Coupon policies, and the weekly match-ups! There’s even a handy Budget feature in the app that allows you to keep track of your spending on-the-go.
- Speaking of budgeting, decide on a grocery budget and bring cash – not a credit card or check – and a calculator to the store. With cash only, there is no temptation to put extra items into the cart. Use the calculator to check deal scenarios and to track the total of your items (if you have the time & interest!).
- Plan to purchase only what is on your list unless you find a freebie.
- Keep in mind that sometimes a smaller quantity item is a better deal. With a coupon, for example, you might be able to get a travel-sized item for free. With several coupons, you can stock up for free or super cheap – just go for the smaller size package.
- Plan to look for unadvertised sales and clearance items. If you have a coupon for an already heavily discounted item, the cost can be free or very little.
- Don’t be brand loyal. Try new products and be open to purchasing products you wouldn’t normally use.
- Make couponing work for you! Clip at night in front of TV; get the kids involved and make it a fun activity; team up with friends & family!
- Take baby steps, be positive, and remember: Every coupon used is money saved!
COMMON COUPON NEWBIE QUESTIONS
What does it mean when a coupon states “one per purchase”?
The fine print on coupons can be confusing. The phrase “one per purchase” means you can use only ONE coupon for each item it applies to. If you want to purchase multiple items for the same deal, you will need multiple coupons (unless the coupon prohibits this – check the fine print).
Keep in mind that some stores set limits on how many identical items you can purchase with matching coupons. If you’re unsure, look for the store’s coupon policy and/or talk with the store manager. As an idea, P&G coupons have a limit of 2 identical coupons per household per day.
What is the difference between “a purchase” and “a transaction”?
A “purchase” is a single item and a “transaction” is an entire order from start to finish. In other words, a single transaction can include one or multiple purchase(s).
What does “stacking” mean?
Stacking coupons means combining two or more coupons (typically a manufacturer coupon and a store coupon) for added savings on a single item. Make sure that both coupons have the same product description and size so that they can be used together for one purchase.
What does BOGO or B1G1 mean exactly?
BOGO and B1G1 mean exactly the same thing – “Buy One item and Get an item of equal or lesser value for Free.”