Couponing 101

Welcome to the Couponing 101 Beginner's Guide. If you are serious about couponing in 2020 or 2021, this guide is for you. We are going to cover such important couponing areas as gear and time needed. We will also talk about the places where you search for coupons. We will also give some tips about coupon stacking and stores' coupon policies. Dive in!


Couponing may leave you overwhelmed, or even confused. There is so much choice that you may not know where to start. Don't worry. We've been there and we can help.

In this guide we are going to start from the beginning and will cover a lot of couponing tips and tricks. Get ready and be patient!

Before going into the details, let us tell you our story about couponing. When our first child was born, our family had some financial hardships as only one of us was working at the time. Baby foods and diapers were expensive as they are now. Coupons were a way to get a breath of air. Several dollars off each purchase made so much sense and made us feel empowered. So, we've been into couponing ever since. With child two it was so much easier. We knew how to get formula, purees, Huggies and Pampers for less. Yes, with coupons!

Now coupons were part of our lives. As a result, we started the Canadian Coupons site, where we share our finds and provide couponing tips and tricks.

Know Your Goal with Coupons


When you start with coupons, you need to understand what your goal is here. The goal is to buy items at a very low price.

Your strategy can include:

  • waiting when the item goes on sale
  • using a coupon
  • buying in bulk when the item is on sale and you have a coupon

Low price is known as stock price. Stock price is a price point at which you agree to buy a product. You set the goal of never paying full price for common household essentials like toilet paper, paper towel, laundry detergent, shampoo and diapers.

Understand the Types of Coupons


Understanding the types of coupons is an important skill to have. There are two types of coupons: manufacturer and store coupons.

Manufacturer coupons are the discounts offered by the brand. Say, P&G owns several brands like Tide, Swipe and more. When a brand decides to promote certain products in their product line, they offer coupons. Such coupons will mention the brand and will provide details in fine print. These are manufacturer coupons.

Store coupons are the discounts offered by the individual stores or retail chains. Think of Walmart coupons or London Drugs coupons. These coupons can be only redeemed in the respective stores. Such details are usually present in fine print, too.

Coupon Stacking


Coupon stacking is the use of both the manufacturer coupon and store coupon on one item. Sometimes you are allowed to stack both coupons on the same item.

The more interesting scenario is when you are able to stack manufacturer coupons, store coupons, store sales, store rewards, reward dollars and cashback offers on the same item. That's like the Holy Grail! Such a thing doesn't happen too often, though. 

Finding Coupons


At this point you are probably wondering where you can find coupons? Let's focus on these three major forms of coupons.

Printable and digital coupons. You find these coupons on the Internet. They are available on coupon aggregating sites like Save.ca or Websaver.ca. They can also be found on brands' sites like BulkBarn. Fast-food chains are also known to have multiple app and printable coupons: McDonald's, KFC, A&W, Harvey's coupons.

Mobile coupons. There is now a trend for coupons to be fully mobile. These coupons can be only used in mobile apps or on mobile orders.

First-purchase coupons. You may also see the so-called  first-purchase coupons. These are usually digital codes that you can use when you try a service. Such coupons are used by meal box companies, streaming services, and other similar businesses.

Insert coupons. You find such coupons in your mail. They still come with Sunday newspapers or are dropped as flyers or coupon booklets.

Finding Match-ups


Having coupons is just a part of the exercise. You also want to find deals on the items you have coupons for. Look through weekly flyers, check your grocery store's weekly specials (flyer or online). Check online price comparison sites, too.

Find match-ups. A match-up is the situation when you have a coupon for a product that's also on sale.

Coupon Gear


You will need to have this gear to tap in the coupon world.

Printer. You need a printer for printing online coupons. Here is how to find a good printer for your coupons.

Smartphone. Your smartphone needs to be able to install cashback apps like Checkout51.

Laptop or computer. These days printable and digital coupons are more numerous than mail-in coupons. A computer is a tool to find new coupons and save or print those coupons.

Plastic binder with dividers/labels. Whether these are printed or mail-in coupons, you need a place to keep them. A binder is a perfect solution for this.

Computer Literacy


You need to train yourself about how to use Internet browsers: Microsoft Edge, Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox. The main thing to know is how to bookmark coupon sites and coupon pages. These shortcuts help save a lot of time when browsing on the web.

Know how to print coupons from your computer or laptop. This seems basic, but important. Certain coupon sites want your printer to be on before you print the coupons.

Know how to save coupons in different formats. Digital coupons come in several formats. They are mostly PDF files or images. Learn how to save such files on your computer and print them out.

Know how to create folders on your computer. You want to have at least one coupon folder on your computer where you can save digital coupons.

Organize Your Coupons


Organizing coupons for an easy retrieval is an art. Here is what you need to have.

Computer Folders. You can keep your digital coupons in dedicated folders on your computer.

Envelopes. You can start by clipping and putting coupons in envelopes. But envelopes have only that much space. You might need something bigger soon.

Binders. Ideally, you have a binder with labels where you can insert coupons by their expiry date. This method helps find expiring coupons fast.

Know Stores' Coupon Policies


Learn more about the stores where you do your shopping.

Loyalty cards. If your local store offers a loyalty card, make sure to get one. Certain stores may give discounts to loyalty card holders only. 

Loyalty cards (not store or brand credit cards!) are usually free. They work with the store's mobile apps, which allows you to clip more digital coupons.

Double-coupons or double-points. Doubling coupons or loyalty points when the store multiples your coupon or the sale is another opportunity for couponers. During such events you may earn loyalty points when you buy an item on sale or with a special tag.

Stacking coupons. Certain stores in Canada will allow you to use both store and manufacturer coupons per item. Check out with the store.

Competitor coupons. Some stores will accept competitors' coupons. But you need to check the store's policy about that.

Consumer policy. When in store, look at the store's consumer policy - read it patiently. This policy mentions cases when pricing and billing mismatch, returns, and such. This is another area that can offer savings if you are vigilant. It's not about couponing, but it's a good one to know.

Hopefully, you are not feeling nervous about couponing any more. When you use coupons for the first time, the experience may be a little awkward. But remember that you're using coupons to save money for you and your family. There is nothing shameful in money saving.