Where do I get my coupons?

23 03 2009

Probably the single most frequent question I am asked goes something like this: “Where in the world do you get all your coupons?”

There’s no mystery to it. Just a considerable time investment. If you want to maximize your savings, but time constraints are an issue, I would pick and choose what works best for you.

Here, then, are my not-so-secret sources:

1. The easiest and most obvious place to find coupons is in the Sunday newspaper. Nearly every Sunday, with the exception of holiday weekends, there are coupon inserts in the paper. This past weekend, there was only one booklet, but there can be as many as four or five. On weekends with a lot of great coupons, I will buy two or three extra newspapers. In my neck of the woods, The Dollar Tree and Walgreens sell the Sunday edition for a buck. You make your money back by using just one 50-cent coupon doubled. That’s a pretty good return on your investment.

2. Ask everyone you know for their Sunday newspaper coupons. You would be surprised at the number of folks who can’t be bothered clipping coupons — even in the current economic climate. Other people will clip a few but happily give you their leftovers. I have one neighbor and one friend who regularly give me their cast-off coupons. Don’t forget to ask your out-of-town friends and family. I have a friend whose mother faithfully clips and sends her coupons from New York.

3. Attend a coupon swap. As many as 25 women (and an occasional man) will show up to the the swap I attend each month. Each of us shows up with an envelope full of all the extra coupons we won’t use. You would be surprised how many great coupons you can find at a swap. You may think we all buy the same products, but we don’t.

4. Invest in a subscription to All You magazine. This publication is only sold through subscriptions and at WalMart check-out stands. Along with the typical women’s magazine fare, All You offers a plethera of coupons. A typical edition will have 40 coupons valued at more than $50, and that’s before doubling or tripling. Many months the magazine will have at least one coupon for a FREE item. The single-copy price is 1.97, but I got a two-year subscription through a school magazine sale for $20. Last year, one edition had three coupons for FREE items from Kraft. This month, the free item was Rimmel mascara. The coupons more than pay for your subscription.

5. Check out the other magazines to which you already subscribe. Many magazines, especially those targeted at women, have coupons in them.

6. Print coupons online. Some of my favorite sites are: coupons.comcouponsinc.com and verybestbaking.com.

7. Check out the website, afullcup.com, register for free and gain access to an unbelievable list of coupons available to print online.

8. Check out the coupons link at freestufftimes.com. It currently lists 283 coupons for various products.

9. Order coupons from a coupon-clipping service. It is illegal to buy coupons, but you can pay someone to find the coupons, clip them and mail them to you. The clipping and handling fee for coupons ranges from 5 cents to 15 cents, depending on the coupon value. Most services have a minimum-order requirement. Early in my coupon career, I ordered coupons on a regular basis but now I rarely do. I can usually get more than enough from friends, through swapping and buying extra papers. If you do want to try a service, I highly recommend Rachel’s thecouponclippers.com. Based in Florida, Rachel has an easily navigable website and is quick and reliable. If you are ordering for a particular sale or triples event, be sure to read her shipping dates so you are not disappointed.

10. Look for coupons in the stores. Companies will sometimes put out pads of coupons near their product displays, hoping you will tear one off and use it. I usually tear off a couple and save them to pair with a sale. Wine tags are another type of coupon found in grocery stores. Click here to read my post on wine tags, which are a great way to get money off on meat, produce, bakery and deli items.

11. Check your library or thrift store to see if they have a help-yourself coupon box. In my area, the Dorcas Thrift Shop in Cary, N.C., has a small coupon box near the front registers. I find great coupons here all the time. Just last week, I found several that will net me free gum and free men’s body wash. I also found diaper coupons for a neighbor.

12. Write to companies complimenting them on a product and asking them for coupons. Flattery will get you coupons. I did this regularly last year, but have not done it recently. To read a great story on this written by Sue Stock, The (Raleigh) News & Observer’s retail reporter, click here.

13. Check the outside (and insides) of the packaging on the products you purchase. Many companies will print coupons on the packages or tuck them inside. A recent great example: buy-one-get-one-free haircut coupons to Great Clips on the backs of certain General Mills cereals. These are still available on store shelves and are worth $13. My family used one of these coupons yesterday, bringing the price of a haircut down to within 50 cents of what we pay at the beauty college.

14. Free sample products often contain coupons. Be on the lookout at your grocery store for demonstrators who will give you a taste of a product and coupons for that product. Or, sign up for free samples online. Along with the sample product, the company typically sends a generous coupon.

15. Online trading boards are another source I use on occasion. I belong to one that is available to subscribers of the refundcents.com site. I pay $1 a month to view this site, which shares deals across the country. It also gives you access to the trading boards. SavvyDollar.org is a North Carolina-based forum, which is FREE to join, where you can also trade coupons. Members of this site are extraordinarily nice and will often send you coupons or rebate forms for a postage stamp.  

Now that I’ve shared my sources for coupons, I can’t wait to hear yours.

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5 responses

23 03 2009
Carolyn in NC

Does dumspter diving count? In the county I live in we take our trash and recyclables to the local dump. There’s a bin just for newspapers. If the level of the papers is up near the top I can easily grab coupons that others just toss. Just in case my mother is reading this, “no mom, I’ve never really dove in the dumpster”. (I do this in the mixed paper bin for General Mills box tops, too.) And when I used to live in the city, I would take coupons out of folks recycling bins (after asking them) when they put them by the curb for pick up. I guess I’m willing to stoop to levels others haven’t thought of yet (or are willing to admit to).

23 03 2009
freetobefrugal

Carolyn, you get points for ingenuity and honesty. I just wish I had a dumpster source…..a bin just for newpapers…that’s a couponer’s dream come true.

26 03 2009
Triple coupon “hidden deals” « Free to be Frugal

[…] talking about coupons from magazines, free samples, product demonstrators, etc. See my post here about my top 15 sources for finding […]

31 03 2009
Clipping coupons assembly-line style « Free to be Frugal

[…] coupons assembly-line style 31 03 2009 As I mentioned in a post last week, I will sometimes buy extra Sunday newspapers when the coupon inserts are especially good. Last […]

8 04 2009
Kristin

There’s also a very organized trading board at Hot Coupon World where you enter your coupons that you have to trade, enter the ones you would like to have, and you can even enter in the ones you want to keep..a little more organized than I am at the moment but I can’t wait to try it out. A friend swears by it. It would be a lot of help to just go to HCW to see the coupons I know I have on hand on the website instead of flipping through my binders, to get prepared for a sale.

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