How to Coupon

How to Coupon

Here’s a really helpful planning worksheet to help you plan your shopping trips:  !_Planning Worksheet Calvary Couponers

To save to your computer, right click on the link and click on “save link as”, or “save target as” (depending on your browser)





How to Coupon.  Sounds pretty simple at first, doesn’t it?  But oh can it be complicated!! All those store policies and how they vary from each other, what do those abbreviations all mean?  How do two BOGOs work? On and on…SO many questions to be answered and ingrained in your brain before you can really feel like you know what you’re doing, right? 🙂

Whew…boy do I understand! I was SO totally overwhelmed when I first started couponing. There’s still a lot I can learn since we are humans and constantly learning and growing 🙂

So, a wise coupon blogger told me recently…”Keep it Simple”. So that’s what I’m going to try to do here.  I’ll try to walk you step by step using visual aids and videos I’ve found helpful from YouTube.

Step 1:  Get coupons (obviously) 🙂

A.  The most common place to get coupons is from your Sunday Newspaper.

Every Sunday most newspapers have coupon inserts in them.  The three most common coupon inserts you will find there are:

*Smart Source (most weeks)

*Red Plum (most weeks in SOME, but not all newspapers)

*P&G (Proctor & Gamble) (usually once per month in most newspapers.)

We’ll get to more on this later, but for now, keep in mind that you want to buy newspapers in multiples of two.  That way if you have a BOGO coupon (buy one get one), you can usually use two of them together to get one product totally free (not including tax) !  So…buy them in multiples of two. How many multiples of two depend on many factors that’s totally up to you.  Some say one paper for each member of your household (rounding up to an even number if it’s an odd number of members), some say 6, and so on.  I say it depends on what you want to do with the products you purchase with your coupons.  If you want to just have a couple of each item on hand till the next sales cycle, I’d say between 2 and 6.  If you have room and want to start a nice-sized stockpile, you may want 8-12.  If you are really righteous (and able to do so) and want to donate to food pantries, homeless shelters, church missions, etc. then the sky is the limit.  It’s totally up to you and how far you want to take your couponing.

B. Peelies –  Peelies are just like they sound…they are those coupons that peel

off products on your store shelves.  Keep an eye out for them but just make sure you only peel the peelies off products you are going to purchase 🙂

C.  Blinkies – You know those little machines about the size of a calculator or small cell

phone you see in some stores attached to the shelves and they get your attention by blinking at you?  You can pull a coupon out of there and it spits another one out a few seconds later (especially, it seems, if you walk away and then go back hehe). Watch your stores for those blinkie coupons.  They often have longer expiration dates than other coupons, it seems.

D.  Tear Pads – Sometimes in store displays (like cosmetic counters, etc.) there will be

tear pads of coupons you can take (just make sure to leave some for others)

E.  Catalinas – Catalina. Coupons that print off with your receipt after you check out.

You can use those on your next purchase. They are called Catalinas because the company that makes the machines that spits out those coupons is named Catalina.

F.  Printables – Just like it sounds, printable coupons are coupons that you print on

your own computer. It’s legal, I promise 🙂  You can go to,, and others. Many coupon bloggers (like Calvary Couponers) have their own printable coupons on their blogs and you can access those right on the blogs you visit.  Ours is here: and on the green and purple bar across the top of the page (under the header image and pink tabs).

   Now, you can print TWO coupons per computer (not per printer, but per computer), so if you have two computers, you can print four coupons; if you have three, you can print six coupons and so on…

  * One thing to remember, however, about printable coupons is that it prints a bar code on it with a code that is specific to your ISP.  So, if you copy it and try to use it again, you can get into trouble.  If someone else copies it and tries to use the copies, YOU get in trouble.  Get my drift? 🙂 So be careful of the coupons you print and keep a close eye on those. Also, if you save your expired coupons to send overseas to our troops who can use them for up to six months past their expiration dates, they won’t take printables, and due to the reason I just gave, you shouldn’t  send them anyway 🙂

G.  Store Rewards

These are reward coupons you can receive for purchasing a product or group of products that a given store has a special on that week.

For instance, Extra Care Bucks at CVS.  CVS usually has a number of items in their sale ad every week and, for example, if the item on special is Revlon nail polish, it might say get $5 in Extra Care Bucks when you spend $15 on Revlon nail polish.  You would buy the amount of nail polish that would get you to $15 (using coupons for those, if possible, of course) and when they check you out, along with your receipt would be another print-out that is the “Extra Care Buck” for the $5.  You can save that and use it on your next purchase, or (as many couponers do), you can “roll it”, meaning you can do a second transaction (third, fourth and so on) using your extra care bucks for each transaction.  More on that later… you get the idea.

H.  Mobile Coupons

Store E-Coupons

Many stores have smart phone aps that will offer you coupons you can use right from your cell phone.  You just buy your product and pull out your cell phone to the coupon on your phone and show the cashier.  They will scan the bar code that’s on your electronic coupon and that saves you money ON TOP of your manufacturer’s coupons, and often a store coupon (Target is good for this).  Target is a good example of stacking coupons for the best saving.

Pre-purchase “coupons”

There are a handful of smart phone aps that you can use to check for offers they have at any given time and choose if you’d like to purchase that item or not.  If you do, you can choose the item in the ap (after you have the ap set up) and once you purchase the item, you will receive a credit for the “coupon” value in the venue of your choosing (, paypal, etc.)  A few examples are:

Ibotta, SavingStar, and SwagBucks, among others.

That’s enough for now 🙂

Step 2:  Get our your store ads

Ok, so you’ve already bought those Sunday newspapers and included with the coupons (and that pesky newspaper itself 😉 ) will be a number of store sale ads. (Some grocery store ads come in the mail during the week).

Get out your sale ads and your coupons and look for a good match 🙂 Watch for sales in those ads for coupons that you have cut out and put away neatly organized in your box, binder, file, or what have you.

There are a lot of coupon blogs that have already done this work for you. Just bookmark your favorites (I hope you include Calvary Couponers!) and check them often.  I will list here some of my favorites to get you started:

Southern SaversKrazy Coupon Lady, Hip to Save, Cuckoo for Coupon Deals, The Couponing Coach, Couponing With Rachel, Sisters Shopping on A Shoestring, Coupon Like a Man, Saving with Vetta, CIA Coupon Spy, Couponing with Greg That Dude, The Coupon Prepper, 2LittleDollzDeals, and Coupon Coach Lisa

 Step 3:  Know Your Store Policies (more to come on this, but click HERE to read your store policies)

There’s much more to come, but in meantime, here’s a great video to get you started! 🙂

and a really awesome teaching series here:   Introduction to Couponing:  Getting Started Part 1 by Southern Savers




   Now that you have your coupons, how do you organize and store them?

   There are probably as many ways to organize your coupons as there are people 🙂  However, there seems to be 3 different ways most couponers choose to store their coupons.

1.  Accordian File Method

2.  Binder Method

3.  Whole-Insert Method


Click HERE for Helen’s binder method.



Abbreviation Chart

B2GO = Buy Two Get One Free
BF= Black Friday
BOGO = Buy One Get One Free
CAT= Catalina. Virtual Money or Coupons that print off with your receipt
CRT = Coupon on your Cash Register Tape, aka, your receipt
CS = Customer service
ECB = Extra Care Buck, prints on receipts, and you can use it like Cash at CVS.
FAR = Free After Rebate
GC = Gift Card
GM = General Mills
GDA = Good deal alert
HCW = Hot Coupon World – great website thats is full of information!
HTH = Hope that helps
IP = Internet Printable Coupon
LMK= Let Me Know
MB = mealbox
MFR = manufacturer
MIR = Mail In Rebate
MM=Money maker
MQ=manufacturer coupon
MTS = Moments to Save (Pepsi insert)
NLA = no longer available
OYNO = On Your Next Order
OOP= Out of Pocket. The amount in cash that you spend.
Overage= when an items price is lower than the coupon value and the cashier lets you have the difference toward the rest of your purchase.
Peelie = Coupon found on the package of a product.
P&G = Proctor and Gamble Coupon insert that comes in the Sun. paper.
PSA = Prices starting at
PD – Price Drop
RC = When a store is out of a sale item, get a rain check and you can take advantage of the sale price whenever the item comes back in stock.
RP = Redplum. Coupon insert that comes in the Sun. paper.
RR = Register Rewards. Walgreens form of a Catalina
SS = Smartsource. Coupon insert that comes in the Sun. paper. TP= Target printable
TPD = Temporary price drop
TIA = Thanks in advance
WYB – when you buy
WAGS = Walgreens
YMMV = Your Manager (or Mileage) May Vary, meaning some managers may or may not let you do something



A good source of information for newbies:


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