Couponing 101 :: A Step-by-Step Guide to Saving Money


    It’s Saturday night and I managed to spend $35 on our groceries for the week … and SAVE $67! I am in no way an “extreme couponer,” but I do follow the sales enough to have an idea when something I need will be on sale.

    Here are some tips and a step-by-step guide on how my family combines sales with coupons to save on our shopping trips … which keeps our kitchen fully stocked, our food budget down and our bellies full.

    Tips Before You Get Started:

    • Consider changing your shopping habits to maximize savings. You won’t always be able to find coupons and sales on your favorite brands, so be open to trying new products. Just this week I was able to eat some really good potato crusted cod for super cheap and it was SO good! I would have never tried it had I not had a coupon and found a great deal on it.
    • Coupons can be found in several places. They aren’t just in the Sunday paper anymore – times have changed! Check for savings online, in circulars, the newspaper, magazines and in-store.
    • Stack Coupons to Maximize Savings. Did you know it’s possible to use TWO coupons for ONE item? Stores will accept a manufacturer coupons (coupons from the company selling the product) and a store coupon (coupons from the actual store). Also, lots of stores will accept competitors’ coupons as well. Be sure to check each store’s coupon policy ahead of time, as guidelines may be different.

    Items to Help Keep Your Coupons Organized:

    • Three ring binder
    • Plastic sleeves (this is where you will keep your coupons)
    • Dividers so you can organize your coupons (vegetables, pasta, produce, refrigerated, frozen, etc.)
    You don’t want to have to sort through this before you go shopping – keep it organized ahead of time!

    Step 1: Familiarize Yourself with Southern Savers’ Website for Coupons and Deals

    A great tool for beginners is the website, which was started by a stay-at-home mom looking to save money and has grown into one of the top money saving coupon sites in the South. The site posts new printable coupons periodically throughout the day, as well as various deals for different products and stores (including grocery stores, drug stores, national stores and online deals).

    southern savers site
    At the top of Southern Savers’ webpage, there are links to deals at different grocery stores, drug stores, national stores, online deals and all other kinds of frugal tools!

    Step 2: When to Start

    A good time to start is a Monday or Tuesday. Here’s why …

    On Monday, Southern Savers puts out the weekly ad and coupon match-ups for each store. Coupon match ups list items on sale at a store ALONG WITH a manufacturer’s coupon, which allows you to locate the deals and find a coupon for even more savings!

    Create an online account and you’re ready to get started!

    Step 3: Pick a Store and Begin Searching Coupons and Deals

    Although there are a lot of stores listed, don’t get overwhelmed! Pick a store, such as one you are already comfortable with, and jump right in! For example, if you’re already a frequent Bi-Lo shopper, look them up under “Grocery Stores.” Once you locate the store, you can view their current weekly ad, extra deals and items they have on sale for $1 or less. (Keep in mind you may not see the same options for every store in the list, but whatever deals and sales they have available will display.)

    souther savers jump in
    Talk about easy! Whatever deals and sales a store has available will display in one place!

    ** Beware: You may find your favorite grocery store really doesn’t have the best deals in town, so you may have to let go of some old habits and familiar stores.

    Step 4: How to Select the Items You Want

    Go through all the items listed on sale and select what your family needs and wants. It’s best to try to stick with items that include a coupon match-up because those are generally going to be the best deals.

    Some items will have an acorn next to it. Those items are the BEST deals and are at rock bottom prices. That’s when you want to stock up.

    The acorn means it’s at a super low price – time to stock up!

    Step 5: Create Your Shopping List

    Once you select all the items you want from the weekly ad, scroll down to the bottom of the page and click the “Add to List” button.

    coupon listYour browser will open an additional window containing your printable shopping list. The list also contains links to print online coupons for each item (labeled “PRINTABLE” if applicable).

    My shopping list AND printable coupons – all in one place!

    Step 6: Print Your List and Online Coupons

    Now you are ready to print! Make sure your printer is in working order. You don’t want to miss any good deals because your printer is out of ink.

    Step 7: Search Newspaper for Coupons

    Be sure to check the newspaper to see if you can find manufacturer coupons for the items on your shopping list. Ask some of your friends or family if you can have the coupons from their newspaper. If not, buy the Sunday paper, preferably two copies, so if there is a buy-one-get-one free deal, you will have a coupon for both items.

    Also, think ahead to items you may buy in the future. Clip coupons for those items and keep them in your binder until the product goes on sale.

    Step 8: Organize Coupons and Add Up the Cost for Your Trip

    In my coupon binder, I have a section for each store where I keep my list and coupons. You can easily grab these items before your trip and place them in your purse or an envelope so they don’t get lost. Or, take your binder with you.

    After you organize your coupons for your trip, add up the cost. This will allow you to determine if something is truly a good deal or not. (Another great way to save money before you step foot in the store.)

    Step 9:  Research the Store’s Coupon Policy

    When you’re shopping, you will always run into hurdles. There may be cashier who tells you that you can’t use a certain store coupon at their store (for instance, Publix only takes certain competitor coupons, while Bi-LO accepts all competitor coupons).

    I recently took advantage of a buy-one-get-two free deal at a local drug store, and a manager would only let me use a coupon on the product I was actually paying for (which was incorrect). Per their coupon policy, you can use a coupon on free items (which I found out after I left). So I went and got my money back! You always need to have your ducks in a row so when situations like this come up, you’re well informed!

    Step 10: Go Shopping!

    Stick to your list! It can be tempting to buy what you’re used to, but you won’t be able to really see the savings if you’re still stuck in your old shopping ways.

    When I get the checkout counter, sometimes the cashier will see the coupons in my hand and ask for them. Other times I will tell the clerk I have coupons just as sort of a forewarning since the process can take some extra time. Also, it sets the tone for a positive transaction.

    It’s also good to have a nice conversation with the cashiers as well. After all, you’ll be shopping there often and you definitely want a good relationship with the people that work at the stores.

    Be sure to pay attention as the clerk is scanning the coupons to make sure everything deducts correctly. I missed out on a lot of coupon savings in my early days because I didn’t know what to look for and wasn’t paying full attention during the transaction.

    Other Helpful Coupon Sites

    All these sites have coupon match-ups as well:

    Saving My Family Money

    The Krazy Coupon Lady

    And …. that’s it! It may sound like a lot, but once you jump in and get started, it will seem like second nature. Happy shopping (and saving)!

    What tips and tricks do you use to help your family save with couponing?


    simone profileSimone Praylow is a wife and mom to two kids ages 6 and 16 months. She is originally from New Jersey but relocated to Key West and later Columbia. Simone is an avid reader, couponer and blogger. She also enjoys painting when she has a spare minute. You’ll often to find her either on a book or on Pinterest finding yummy recipes for her family. She loves the outdoors, but at heart of is a complete homebody!







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