Beginner Couponing: How to Start Saving Money Today

Are you new to couponing? You've come to the right place! Grocery Coupon Network is here to help you get up to speed and start saving like an expert in no time!

Let's save some money together!

Coupon Bootcamp

The Basics

Coupons are classified into two basic categories:

Manufacturer and Brand Coupons

Manufacturer coupons are a great way to save money on groceries and brand name products. Some examples of brands that have great coupons include:

We offer these kind of brand-related coupons all the time. So be sure to check in with GCN before you go out on your next shopping trip.

You can also find these coupons in local and national newspapers (as “inserts”), direct-mailers when you sign up with the brand's website for mailings, coupons in magazines, package inserts, through surveys, mail-in forms, and often accompany samples that you receive in the mail.

When used right, manufacturer coupons can literally save you hundreds dollars.

Want to know the big way to save? Manufacturer coupons can usually be used in conjunction with in-store coupons on the same product adding additional savings.

Store and Retailer Coupons

Retailer or "store" coupons work similar to manufacturer coupons and are a great way to save money. We have entire sections of the site dedicated to finding coupons and sales at your favorite stores, which include:

Retailers also usually post deals and special offers online or in their store newspaper ads, direct mail, or in local newsletters.

Be sure and keep your eyes out for retailer coupons around special events and holidays. During these times, you can really take advantage of in-store deals.

Where Can I Find These Coupons?

  1. Online Printable Coupons – Online printable coupons can be found in our coupon gallery
  2. Sunday Paper Inserts
  3. In-Store Circulars:
    • Catalina - coupon on back of store receipt or printed after receipt
    • Blinkie or Tear Pad Coupons – coupon from a small blinkie machine or pad -
    • Peelie – a coupon that is pulled from the actual product
  4. Mailers – coupons from retailers or manufacturers that arrive in the mail

The Lingo

Abbreviations used across our site and in the couponing community:

  • P&G = Proctor and Gamble
  • SS = Smart Source
  • RP = Red Plum

For example: $2/1 One A Day Vitamin Product, exp. 12/31/11 (RP 12/04/11). This coupon is in the Red Plum insert from 12/4/11

$1/1 or $1/2 = $1 off 1 item; $1 off 2 items, etc.
2/$4, etc = two items for $4
BOGO, B1G1, B2G1, etc. = indicates Buy One, Get One Free, if it's different than that, should specify.

For example: B1G1 1/2 off would be Buy One, Get One Half off

ECBs = Extra Care Bucks from CVS
EP = Everyday Price
Exp. = Expires
GC = Gift Card
MIR = Mail in Rebate
NLA = No Longer Available
OYNO (my fave!) = On Your Next Order
OOP =Out of pocket (often used in a RR or ECB scenario)
RR = Register Rewards from Walgreens
Stacking = Using a manufacturers and store coupon together
WYB = When You Buy. For example: Save $3 wyb 2

How Do I Begin Couponing?

Couponing can save you a lot of money, and if you start small, you can keep your sanity too!

Many people start couponing and soon give up because they feel overwhelmed with clipping coupons, sorting, finding sales and getting stressed because they don't know if a price is a 'good price' or a 'great price'.

So take baby steps and keep it fun.

Step 1 - Start tracking prices of your regular items.

You will see sales for the same product at lots of price points, and you will soon learn what's a great sale price, typically 50% of the regular shelf price.

Step 2 - Get coupons!

Here's where to find coupons:

  • Sunday Inserts - 2+ copies if you can
  • Grocery Coupon - printable coupons
  • Facebook deals offered by your favorite brands
  • Blinkies, Peelies, Catalinas found at the store
  • Swap with your friends!

Step 3 - Organize your coupons

Ask yourself these questions when going through your coupons:

  • What should you save or clip?
  • Is it a product your family will use?
  • If it was free or almost free, would you use it?
  • Could you donate it to a food pantry or animal shelter?
  • Clip coupons you know you will use on products you regularly buy
  • Save coupon inserts, write date of insert with a Sharpie on cover. You can then refer to these inserts, like when grocery coupon network posts a deal.

Step 4 - Pick one store to start with

When starting couponing, start with the store you shop at most frequently for groceries. Once you get a hang of their policies and deals, you can branch out to other stores.

  • Print, read and save the store's coupon policy
  • Sign up for emails, club cards, etc
  • Look at that stores weekly ads and online for sales, coupons and offers
  • Match your manufacturer and store coupons with store sales. (see coupon stacking video for more info)
  • Don't be brand loyal - Your couponing possibilities are much greater when you are willing to switch brands with a sale.
  • Go to the GroceryCouponNetwork website often for sales and coupon matchups.
  • Pay attention to size restrictions - if there are no restrictions, you can often find travel sizes for little $ or free.

Step 5 - Plan your trip and stick to your plan

  • Clip or pull coupons you are going to use and put in envelope
  • Write down prices and sizes of products or circle in ad.
  • Bring the store's ad and coupon policy with you (sometimes checkout folks aren't familiar with the stores actual policies - such as whether the store accepts double coupons or not)
  • Give yourself enough time, don't rush
  • When you feel confident, branch out to another store and repeat
  • Have fun, don't stress!
  • Do the best you can and every week you will learn something new
  • Don't get freaked out about what you could have done better
  • Every coupon you use is money saved!

More Information About Couponing

Once you get started, you'll get the hang of it. It might seem overwhelming at first, but we're sure you'll be hooked in no time once you see how much money you're saving.

Be sure to check out our collection of short and sweet couponing videos to help you along the way. Our couponing experts shared their secrets to coupon glory.

Happy couponing ~ We're glad you're joining the GCN gang!

Click, Print & Save!
Clip Coupon
Save $3.00 - Glad Trash

Save $3.00

Glad Trash

on any ONE (1) Glad Kitchen Trash Bags Mega Pack 13 Gallon, 80 Ct+

Clip Coupon
$0.50 OFF - LYSOL®

$0.50 OFF


any any (1) Lysol® Brand Products

Clip Coupon
Extra 50% Off Sale + 40% Off Regular-Priced Styles - Banana Republic

Extra 50% Off Sale + 40% Off Regular-Priced Styles

Banana Republic

See site for details.

Clip Coupon
Buy 1, get 1 free* - CVS®

Buy 1, get 1 free*


on select Nature’s Bounty vitamins.

Clip Coupon
35% Off H&R Block Software Products - H&R Block

35% Off H&R Block Software Products

H&R Block

Click through to get started.

Clip Coupon
$2.00 OFF - Clearasil®

$2.00 OFF


any ONE (1) Clearasil® Product

Clip Coupon
Save $1.00 - EXTRA® Refreshers

Save $1.00

EXTRA® Refreshers

on any ONE (1) EXTRA® Refreshers bottle

Clip Coupon
SAVE $3.00 - Eucerin®

SAVE $3.00


ONE (1) Eucerin Body or Baby Product

Clip Coupon
Save $2.00 - NIVEA® Body Lotion

Save $2.00

NIVEA® Body Lotion

on any* ONE (1) NIVEA® Body Lotion, In-Shower Lotion, or Creme Product (6 oz. or larger) *Excludes

Clip Coupon
SAVE $1.00 - Kelloggs®

SAVE $1.00


on TWO Kellogg’s® Frosted Mini-Wheats®, Raisin Bran® and/or All Bran® Cereals

See All Grocery Coupons >

What's New

Save $1.00 when you buy TWO (2) Post® Honey Bunches of Oats® cereal (any flavor, 13 oz or larger)