Stephanie Nelson | 

Your First Coupon Trip Checklist

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Sometimes the most difficult part about beginning couponing is getting to the store to do that first transaction. But other questions may be lurking in your mind too.

Where do I find coupons? How do I start couponing? What’s the easiest way to coupon?

As long as you know which coupons to use and where to use them, you just have to get yourself to the store. Once you’ve done your first transaction, you’ve already won at couponing.

A graphic showing your first coupon trip checklist

Download your free First Coupon Trip Checklist.


Before you leave home:

1. Pick one store for your first couponing trip.

Two women standing outside of a Target storefront in front of a line of Target shopping carts. Both women are holding Target shopping bags and holding up a product that was purchased there.

This is key if you want to avoid being overwhelmed. Couponing isn’t complex or hard, but you’ll be juggling a few things, and until it becomes second nature (which it will pretty quickly!), you want to set yourself up for success.

If all you have to do is learn one store’s policy, one store’s loyalty program, one store’s slow and busy times, it’ll boost your couponing confidence. That will equal more savings for you as you’ll soon feel like an expert couponing at that one store.

Target is a good place to begin, because it’s fairly uncomplicated and you’re probably already familiar with the store itself. But there are killer savings to be had at drugstores like Walgreens and CVS too. Go with your gut.

Once you learn how to coupon at one store and you’re feeling confident, that’s when you know it’s time to add a second store.

Want to go more in-depth?

How to Coupon at Target
How to Coupon at Walgreens
How to Coupon at CVS
How to Coupon at Walmart
How to Coupon at Kroger


2. Sign up for that one store’s loyalty program.

A person's hands holding an iPhone with the CVS app, a CVS rewards key chain card, and an CVS extracare rewards pamphlet while standing in an aisle at CVS.

Most of the grocery stores you’ll coupon at have a loyalty program or app. You definitely want to get to know their loyalty programs so you can continue to save money on top of your printable or mobile coupons (more on that soon!). Here are a few loyalty programs to consider:

Target: Sign up for RedCard to save 5% on every purchase. Download Target Circle to access coupons.
Walgreens: Sign up for myWalgreens to access coupons and 1 – 5% back on all your purchases.
CVS: Sign up for ExtraCare to get coupons, cash back, and special deals.
Rite Aid: Sign up for wellness+ to get Bonus Cash you can use on future purchases.


3. Download the KCL app.

A woman wearing a mask, holding up a phone with the KCL mobile app displayed on it.

When you download the free KCL app, you’ll find out step-by-step what coupons you need to use on which sale items and where you can find those coupons.

Actually finding items on sale that have a coupon available is by far the most complicated part about couponing, and we do that part for you! Our team of deal finders are inside the stores every day, hunting for the best deals and publishing what we find on the KCL app.


4. Focus on household deals like laundry detergent and toilet paper.

A woman standing in the laundry detergent aisle at Target, reaching to grab a container of Gain off of the top shelf. Next to her is a Target shopping cart with other laundry products sitting in it.

Why? Because these are likely the most expensive items on your grocery list. They’re non-perishable (so you’re safe to build up a supply if you see a great deal), and these coupon deals basically grow on trees.

Think about it — if you’re couponing for just household items like laundry detergent, toilet paper, paper towels, body wash and deodorant, you’ll be saving up to 75% on those spendy items.

It’s going to make your grocery budget feel like it can breathe again!

See all laundry deals.
See all toilet paper deals.
See all paper towel deals.
See all body wash deals.
See all deodorant deals.


5. Only add 1 – 3 deals for your store to the “My List” section of the app.

A person's hands holding an iPhone displaying the Krazy Coupon Lady mobile app's My Lists page in front of a cart filled with groceries.

It’s tempting to think you might as well do 10 coupon deals since you’re at the store anyway. Your time is valuable, right?

Don’t do it! Now, I’m sure in theory, you could figure out how to do all the deals on your first trip, because you’re fully capable. But you’ll be exhausted when it’s over, and the next time you consider couponing, you’ll only remember that your brain was so fried that you crashed when you got home and had to order DoorDash because you were too tired to cook. And all those savings you got couponing got swallowed up when you paid for Costa Vida for six people anyway, so what’s the point of couponing?

That’s the scenario you want to avoid.

Starting out with just a couple deals makes it so couponing feels easy. If it feels easy, you’ll enjoy it. If you enjoy it, you’ll stick with it. It gets easier and easier with experience, and soon you’ll be doing those 10 deals and cooking dinner for six.

Here’s how to add a deal to “My List.”

  • Tap “Stores” at the bottom.
  • Select your store.
  • Scroll through the current deals until you find one you want to add.
  • Tap the little bookmark icon in the upper-right corner of the deal.
  • Your deal will now show up on “My List.”



6. Print the coupons you need, and get your mobile coupons ready to go.

A person's hands, one holding up an iPhone with the mobile app open to the Printable Coupons page, and the other hand taking a sheet of paper with coupons printed on it out of a printer.

Looking at your deals inside the KCL app, you’ll see a picture of the item and below that, a little box with some instructions. Tap any links to coupons inside that box and print them out now, or figure out what you need to download to your smartphone (for mobile coupons).

When you print coupons from (that’s where most of the links go), you probably won’t need to clip coupons from newspaper inserts at all.

Plus, even though you can only get two coupons per account (based on your mobile number), you can sign your partner up for a account and print coupons from their account too, doubling the amount of coupons you can get your hands on!

Heads up — read the coupon’s fine print and print limitations, because some coupons must be used within 24 hours of printing them (this is the case for P&G coupons).



7. Unlock any Ibotta offers you’ll need to redeem after you shop.

A person's hands holding an iPhone with the Ibotta mobile app open about to scan a receipt that is on a table next to two bags of groceries.

If you see Ibotta or Checkout51 offers, download those apps and then unlock those inside the app(s) by tapping on them.

Sidenote: It’s worth it to redeem Ibotta offers even when they’re not related to a specific coupon deal, because it’s cash back on your purchase. It’s so darn easy!

Check Ibotta before you hit the grocery store on any old day and unlock offers for items you planned to buy anyway. Take a picture of your receipt, upload it, and voila! You’ll have money in your PayPal account within 24 hours.

Learn everything you need to know about rebate apps.


8. Put your printable coupons in a small envelope.

A person's hands holding up a small file organizer and a couple of coupons in front of the conveyer belt of a grocery checkout lane.

Most likely you only have a couple printable coupons for this first trip to the store. Stick them in an envelope to keep them together and in one spot.

There are more sophisticated ways to organize coupons, but for now, pretend the envelope is your organizing system.


At the store:

9. Visit your store when foot traffic is lowest.

A screenshot of the Popular times chart for a Walgreens store on Google. The graph shows times throughout a specific day of the week that shows the user how busy the store is expected to be.

A store that’s not busy will have cashiers who are more patient and nobody sighing and rolling their eyes behind you in line.

If you choose a store you don’t normally visit, the easiest way to find out what time to go is by looking at Google.

Find the specific store you’re planning to go to, then scroll down to “Popular Times.” For example, this is what my local Walgreens looks like right now. I know right away that 10 a.m. isn’t the time of day for me to coupon. If I want to go in the morning, I should be the first one there when it opens at 8 a.m. to avoid the morning rush. This Walgreens closes at 10 p.m., so 8 or 9 p.m. would also be great times to go.


10. At checkout, have all your paper coupons ready and your mobile coupons a tap away.

A person's hand giving a stack of printable coupons to the hand of a grocery store cashier in front of the checkout scanner.

Get your envelope out and know where you need to navigate on your smartphone.


11. If one of your coupons doesn’t work, don’t stress. Breathe, then problem solve.

A person's hands holding two packs of Pampers baby wipes, two coupons, and a deal tag for Buy 1 Get 1 50% off in an aisle at CVS.

This is bound to happen at some point, and don’t worry: it happens to everyone! For the most part, cashiers are very helpful and patient (especially when the store isn’t busy!). Double-check the coupon’s expiration date and the quantities of product you must have to meet the coupon’s criteria. If it all checks out, ask them to try again.

If for some reason your cashier is a stinker, it may help for you to know the store’s coupon policy. Here’s another good reason to coupon at only one store until you’ve got it down. You only have to know one store’s policy!

Kindly show your cashier the coupon policy, or ask for a manager.



At home afterward:

12. Redeem any Ibotta and Checkout51 offers using your receipt.

A person taking a photo of a Target receipt through the Checkout51 mobile app's scan feature. On the table next to the receipt are various grocery items including Triscuit crackers and Bounce dryer sheets.

Cash in that rebate app money! Snap a picture or scan your grocery receipt and watch the money add up.


13. Post a brag inside the KCL app so everyone knows you rocked your first couponing trip!

Several purchased items set up on the tailgate of a vehicle and a woman to the right is taking a photo of her shopping haul.

We want to hear about your big success! To post a brag in the app, just tap “Brags” on the bottom right corner and then tap “Submit a Brag.” Tell us as many details as you can, but definitely include how much money you saved!


14. Pick another deal, rinse, and repeat. (And set deal alerts!)

A person's hand holding up an iPhone displaying the Krazy Coupon Lady mobile app in front of a shopping cart full of groceries.

Revisit your store’s page in the app and find a couple more deals you want to try. This is basically the cycle of couponing. Select offers, shop, brag, select more offers. You’re on the road to saving huge amounts of cash.

Looking for a product in particular? Set a deal alert inside the KCL app. Tap “Alerts” at the bottom right corner. Tap “Update Notification Settings.” Scroll through to find what you’re looking for by category, (e.g., “cereal” or “diapers”). Or select the brand you want, like “Tide.”


15. Study KCL’s stock-up price list so you learn what a “hot” deal looks like.

A person's hands holding a highlighter and a print-out of KCL's Stock Up Price List in front of a cart full of groceries.

If you want to, check out KCL’s stock-up price list to get familiar with what a good deal looks like. We organize the products by category and then show prices for good deals (3-month stock-up price), and hot deals (6-month stock-up price).

A 3-month stock-up price is a price good enough to buy three months’ worth of the product (if you have enough coupons!). Six-month stock-up prices are so good, you should buy enough to hold you over for six months, all the while looking for another hot deal on that item in order to keep your family stocked up.

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