The Busy Mom’s Guide to Couponing

Posted by on Jan 3, 2016 in Smart Shopper | 38 comments

Guide to Couponing

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

The Busy Mom’s Guide to Couponing infographic, in the sidebar of my blog, provides a quick overview of how to start couponing without becoming overwhelmed. I was asked to add this infographic to my blog and since my blog is about being frugal and saving money I felt it fit in very well. But now I’m going to ask a favour. Would you give me your opinion about it in the comments? I will be leaving the infographic in place for a month and your feedback will decide whether or not I will extend it beyond that time.

All reports indicate that the price of groceries will be going up quite a bit during 2016, therefore starting the year with useful money-saving tips – such as couponing – seems appropriate. Clicking on the infographic will provide the Guide to Couponing details so I’m not going to be repeating what’s included there other than to highlight or clarify some points.

The Busy Mom’s Guide to Couponing:

  • Number 1 of the Guide states – Start Small. It you are new to couponing this is probably one of the best pieces of advice you’re going to get. So often people decide to start couponing and go all out, collecting coupons here, there and everywhere. Of course, this means they quickly become overwhelmed and decide couponing is not for them. That’s a shame because using coupons does save money and it can be done without taking up all your time.  The Guide to Couponing shows you how.
  • Time things right (#4). Buy at the right time. This is one of my favourite ways to save and I’m glad to see it included in the infographic. You can also read more about this in one of my previous posts Maximizing Coupon Value
  • Know each store’s policy. There seems to be a trick to this. I googled Coupon Policy with no result. I next googled Walmart Canada Coupon Policy and there it was. It’s all in the wording. This also works for Return Policy, Shipping Policy, etc. If you aren’t successful the first time, just change the wording a bit. Every store has their own set of policies so what applies to one doesn’t necessarily apply to others. It pays off to know the policies at least for the stores you frequent the most.

If you’re new to couponing or just want a refresher, click on the Guide to Couponing Infographic and the Link Maximizing Coupon Value for loads of useful money-saving information to start the year off right.

Happy New Year, everyone.

Talk to you again next week,


If you enjoyed this post – others will too. Please share.

Would love to have you follow me on Pinterest  or  Twitter or browse my Etsy Store


  1. Like you, Lenie, I buy a lot of store-brand products. However, I do buy brand-name breakfast cereal on a regular basis. It occurred to me, “Why not just go to Google and run a ‘cereal coupons’ search?” Sure enough, lots of hits came up when I did this. So there’s another approach to tracking down coupons that y’all can try.

    • Good morning Andy. You’re right about searching for coupons. I know I’ve received stuff – especially pharmaceuticals – for free doing that so I’m glad you mentioned it. Anything to keep costs down, right?

  2. I’m also not a mother but I’m definitely into saving money

    • I know all about you being into saving money Jason. I’ve received some dandy tips from your posts so am glad you’re finding some value in mine.

  3. My only note on the infographic is that it replaces your site rather than opening in a new window. Other than that–good information on it.

    We are arbitrary about coupons. We use them for standard items wherever possible (deodorant, toothpaste, etc.), but we also shop at Costco a lot. While they don’t take manufacturer’s coupons, we wait until for their coupon book to arrive and try to stick with buying only those items.

    Someone mentioned loyalty cards and we use those quite often.

    While I like Target’s Cartwheel feature, the store rarely lets my cell signal get through, so I can’t usually access it!

    • Hi Rose, thanks for the comment on the infographic. I placed it in the sidebar myself and was quite proud of the accomplishment LOL. Now I’ll have to research how to keep it in the sidebar but have it open in a second window. Seems I’m always learning but since that is something I enjoy it’s all good.
      Where I live we don’t have a Costco unfortunately. I keep hearing rumours that they’re coming to our area but that hasn’t happened yet. Costco and Lowe’s – wish they would hurry up and come because you can save loads and the large sizes don’t bother me, that just means I have to shop less often. One of the downsides to living in the boondocks.
      We had Target in Canada for a while but they couldn’t compete and lost a lot of money so moved back to the States.

      • You Rock, Lenie! Your site is great!
        No Costco? That’s a big bummer. And I’m surprised about Target–such a great store. Ah well…

        • Rose – I love that you think I rock – not bad for an old woman who’ll be 71 on the 20th of this month.
          I really do wish we had a Costco close by – I would only have to shop twice a year and I’d be good with that. We keep hearing rumours that they’re coming but so far that’s all it’s been. Like you say Ah well……

  4. Lenie — I do use coupons. I get them in the mail (today I received two $10 coupons from L’Oreal). I also cut them out of the Sunday newspaper which is loaded with them. Some stores — like J.C. Penney — give you a $10 coupon for every $100 you spend. I bought my sofa bed there (half-price sale) and got over $100 in coupons. It’s a good idea to register to receive coupons online. That way, if you happen to stop in a store and forgot your coupon, the salesperson can click on the bar code in your smart phone.

    Also, shop department stores when they have one-day sales and clearances. The thing with coupons is that you have to avoid being seduced into buying things you don’t need. As my father often said, “A bargain is no bargain if you don’t need it.”

    (FYI, when I clicked on the infographic I did not see the Guide to Couponing). I’d suggest using different images in your posts with new alt text for each one. It will boost your search engine traffic.

    • Jeannette, I’ve read about the Sunday papers having coupons, unfortunately that’s not the case here in Canada. But registering online is a great way to receive coupons and everywhere you shop they ask for your email address so you can get on their email list.

      As for your tip, I wasn’t aware that I could use different alt text for images. I always just used the same one for all of them. Thanks, I’ll be trying that out.

  5. Great tips.

    I am not a mom, but I do like to save money.
    Although, I have wanted to, I have not saved coupons yet. I know I am going to start off using your tips first.
    Thanks for sharing.

    • William, when you start using coupons, go slow and become familiar with the process. Like Jeannette said, register online to receive coupons, that’s probably the easiest way to get started.

  6. I think your guide looks wonderful Lenie! I would welcome a resource like this if I had a family to care for, so I’m going to send a link to your article to my sister. I on the other hand am single and a solopreneur and constantly weighing the time is money issue so I’m be less inclined to invest the time. And then of course there’s the issue of living on a small Island where you don’t have a whole lot of shopping choices anyway. 🙂 You’ve done a beautiful job on this!

    • Marquita, I wish I was knowledgeable enough to take credit for the infographic but I have quite a ways to go before I reach that stage. All I had to do was add it to the sidebar and even that I had to research. But I felt it had a lot of good information that I wanted to share. Thanks for sharing my post.

  7. I tend to use coupons haphazardly, but it would be great to finally get a system down. I do enjoy the targeted coupons Fred Meyer sends and how they give their card users cashback to redeem in the store as well as great deals at their gas pumps.

    • Jeri, so many readers have commented on their haphazard use of coupons so you’re certainly not alone and does it really matter? I think coupons should be used only if they can make life better. I watch for coupons for brand name products but since most of the things I buy are store brand, with no coupons but with rewards, I think it all balances out. We do what we can, right?

  8. Probably won’t be too long before couponing goes compeletely digital. When the so-called Internet of Things results in having chips in everything you buy I can imagine going to the checkout and being able to identify coupons with your phone for anything you have in your cart.

    • Ken, I’m not sure but I think something like that already exists or else you can download coupons to your phone. That may be something for another post.

  9. Oh how I love a good stack of coupons! I used to use a lot more, but now I just do a little at the grocery store. But I still use a lot of the concepts I learned while I was really into couponing, like knowing what things cost, so you know if that “sale” is really a good deal.

    • Meredith, I still save and use coupons and rather enjoy it. Mind you, coupons are for brand name products so you have to be careful that you don’t pay more, even with the coupon discount, than you would buying the store brand. but like you, I do know what things cost so that helps.

  10. I love couponing but haven’t done it in a while. My computer was having issues with a coupon printer. I need to get that sorted out since I’ve found using paper and printed coupons works best for me.

    • Krystle, it seems everyone has their own favourite way to coupon. Something you may want to try – next time you think you’d like to try a new product, especially personal care products, contact the manufacturer and they will probably send you a good coupon to get you to try their product. I’m successful with that about 70% of the time.

  11. Interesting to know that coupons can be a problem for some people. Personally sometimes pick up coupons in supermarkets for products I use and find it easy. And not to forget, it saves a lot of money for me.

    • Catarina, I find that coupons save a lot of money – I’ve even had coupons where I received the product for free. Great for when you want to try a new product. I think it’s when people try and copy those extreme couponers that it becomes a problem.

  12. I admit to rarely using coupons here in the UK. I have on occasions cut out coupons and then found the date had expired.

    We use store loyalty cards – it was rather nice receiving over £30 off of our Christmas shop!

    As Tesco say;

    “Every little helps”.

    • Phoenicia, you may be surprised by how much more you can save by using coupons and downloading store apps. Just for an experiment I’m going to try and keep track this year of the various savings and I’ll share that with you all in 2017. Could be interesting.

  13. I used to absolutely love coupons. I would buy the Sunday paper just to get the coupon section. Now much of what I buy is a lot more specialized and the things I buy usually do not have an available coupon. However, the whole foods market near me has a coupon book every month and I should probably get that before I shop. That way I can look through it and see if there are coupons for products I buy. Then, like you said, I can wait until the product otherwise goes on sale and see if I can get an extra good deal. I’ll give it a try.

    • Erica, you Americans have way more opportunities to save with coupons than we have. You mentioned the Sunday papers – that is something I’ve read about but that isn’t available here, at least not as far as I know. The other thing you can do at some stores is stack coupons which is something else we can’t do. But we do the best we can by buying at the right time and buying the right size product to get the best deal, etc.

  14. Good tips on how to use coupons. I admit I’m pretty erratic about using them. Your advice on building a system to organize is good. It may take some upfront time, but save time down the line. I never developed a good system and wound up throwing out coupons I’d saved because they’d passed their expiry date.

    • Donna, I told Phoenicia that I was going to try and keep track of my savings for the year, using coupons, reward programs and store loyalty cards. I’ll share it next year. Might have some interesting results and possibly even motivate people to make better use of coupons.

  15. Hi, Lenie

    Since we started our family, we use coupons to purchase things as many as possible. We put coupons into our family budgeting. We literally regard coupons as a form of money if you can look at it from different angle.

    Glad that you suggested to start small and be organized. If we are not doing that, we will waste our time which is the most expensive item.

    I believe this post can really help Moms to save money for the families.

    Will Share!

    -Stella Chiu

    • Stella, another way to save – if you want to try a new product, contact the business and ask for a coupon. I’ve had them send me blank coupons that paid for the entire product. Something to think about.

  16. Lenie I do pretty well with using apps and finding coupons online AND being a “preferred customer” at places I shop at regularly. Grocery stores are my biggest savings because with the 2 I shop at the most, I have their barcode code and get notice of things going on sale or – a coupon.

    Love your tips!

    • Patricia, you don’t need my help – those are all the savings I use and it can make a huge difference in cost of groceries. Since the price of groceries are supposed to increase this year any savings at all are going to be welcome. Exception: coffee will be coming down in price.

  17. Great tips. I started couponing when my kids were small over 15 years ago. I wish I tracked how much I saved over time, it would probably be a large number by now. Lenie, I couldn’t see the infographic while on the mobile version of your site. I will check at home later to it. Happy new year.

    • Sabrina, I’m going to try and track my savings this year – that will be an interesting experiment. Thanks for letting me know the infographic didn’t shouw up on mobile. That will be important for the owners of the graphic to know since so much is being done by mobile anymore. I would appreciate if you could let me know how it shows up on your computer. and of course. a wonderful 2016 to you.

      • The infographic looks good. It would be nice if it was a little wider on the sidebar if possible.

        • Thanks Sabrina, really appreciate the feedback.