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So many stores…so many coupons…where do I start?!
If you’re new to couponing and are feeling a bit overwhelmed, fret no more. I’m here to tell you which stores are the easiest to shop and give you a few tips to help all you coupon newbies out there.
These are the stores that sell everything from spinach to bicycles. Walmart and Target are the big guys, and you’ll want to start at either if you’re a complete coupon virgin. Remember the one-manufacturer-coupon-per-item rule and you’re halfway there.
Some of the best items to buy at Walmart are trial-size products that are normally priced around $1. When a coupon doesn’t have a size restriction, buy the trial-size — you can often get it for free!
- Use one manufacturer coupon (printable or from the newspaper) per item.
- When you see a rollback, sale, or clearance price, use a coupon to save even more.
- If your coupon is worth more than the sale price, Walmart will give you the overage back in cash.
- Use the Savings Catcher app to price match competitor prices after your purchase.
- Check for rebate-app offers from Ibotta, Checkout 51, and Fetch Rewards before you shop. Buy a qualifying item and submit a photo of your receipt into the app for cash back.
HOMEWORK: Read 17 Walmart Couponing Hacks You Need to Know.
Target is the perfect store to start your couponing adventures. Why? Because you can practice stacking coupons and discounts almost every time you buy an item.
- Use one manufacturer coupon (printable, Circle, digital, or from the newspaper) per item; up to four like coupons per transaction.
- Print Target store coupons at coupons.Target.com and use one per item you purchase (up to four like coupons per day).
- The Target app is free and offers percent discounts and digital manufacturer coupons. To redeem offers, have the cashier scan the barcode in your app.
- Price match competitors at customer service — including Amazon prices that aren’t from a third-party seller.
- Use one manufacturer coupon, one store coupon, one Circle offer, one mobile coupon, and a rebate-app offer on the purchase of a single item.
HOMEWORK: Download the Target app and read How to Coupon at Target. Also text TARGET (827438) to receive Target mobile coupons and watch the KCL Target page — we’ll tell you about special mobile coupons that are available and how to get them (usually for baby and grocery items).
⭐⭐High-End Grocery Stores
I’m talking about stores like Kroger and its affiliates, Safeway, Harris Teeter, and Albertsons. If you don’t use coupons at these stores, you may end up with a high food bill. Luckily, nearly all high-end grocery stores take manufacturer coupons (one per item) and some of them even double coupons.
- Sign up for the free loyalty or club card.
- Add eCoupons or digital coupons to your loyalty card that can be redeemed by entering your phone number or scanning your card at the register.
- A lot of these stores also offer in-ad store coupons that can be used on top of manufacturer coupons. Check near the store entrance or in the Sunday newspaper. Each of these stores also has some printable or digital store coupons. They can be hard to find among all the manufacturer coupons, but they’re there. Check the specific store website or app to find them.
- Use rebate-app offers on top of coupon savings.
HOMEWORK: Get to know your local high-end grocer by reading the Couponing 101 section on your store’s KCL page:
CVS, Walgreens, and Rite Aid have some stellar deals — especially for paper products, personal care items, detergent, and baby diapers — but may be a little overwhelming for the newest coupon users. If you’re up for the challenge and want an accelerated course in couponing, shop a drugstore. Here are the basics:
- Sign up for each store’s free loyalty program. It’s the only way to get checkout coupons and in-store credit (aka rewards points) that can be used like cash for future purchases.
- Use one manufacturer coupon (paper or digital) per item.
- Each drugstore offers their own store coupons (in the weekly ad, site, and app) that can be used in addition to manufacturer coupons — typically one per item, but check the coupon’s fine print. Both Walgreens and Rite Aid allow multiple store coupons per item. At Rite Aid, you can use two and each store coupon has to be a different type (one 48 and one 49), but at Walgreens, the sky’s the limit.
- Use coupons on top of points promotions. Some points promotions (example: “Spend $25 on qualifying products, get a $10 store coupon”) are valid for several weeks, so you can qualify after multiple shopping trips. Your card will keep track of purchases and points for you.
- If a sale item is out of stock, ask for a rain check. Often, the item is restocked before your coupon expires, and most stores will honor the sale price once they get more product.
RELATED: 7 Golden Rules for Smart Couponing
⭐No-Frills Grocery Stores
No time to coupon? You’re gonna want to shop at one of these stores. WinCo, Aldi, and Food 4 Less are just a few warehouse-like, bag-your-own grocery stores. While WinCo and Food 4 Less accept manufacturer coupons (one per item), Aldi does not. No-frills grocery store deals are usually good without them, though. To save the most:
- Shop the bulk-food section for fresh-ground nut butters, honey, spices, and candy.
- Skip the toiletry aisle; you’ll find better prices with coupons at the drugstores or big-box supermarkets.
- Buy bread from the bakery; store-brand loaves are often cheaper than the name-brand stuff.
HOMEWORK: Use rebate apps the next time you shop one of these stores. Often, you can submit the same receipt into multiple apps. Learn more in the Ultimate Comprehensive Guide to Rebate Apps.
⭐⭐Natural Food Stores
If you choose to shop Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s, expect to pay slightly more for your organic and artisan goods. You can, however, use manufacturer coupons at both stores (and store coupons at Whole Foods), which can save you some serious moolah if you use them during a sale.
You’ll have the most luck using manufacturer coupons (one per item) for these brands:
- Blue Diamond
- Laughing Cow
- Bob’s Red Mill
- Hansen’s Soda
- Barbara’s Products
- Lactaid Milk
- Soy Dream
Costco, Sam’s Club, and BJ’s want you to buy a yearly membership in order to take advantage of their low bulk-food prices. And maybe you should if you have a large family, are brand-loyal, and have no time to coupon.
With the exception of BJ’s, warehouse stores don’t take manufacturer coupons, so it’s essential to compare their unit prices with grocery store and drugstore prices when you use coupons. Most of the time, you can get products cheaper at regular grocery and drugstores.
- Cheese, spinach, sheet cakes, and discounted gift cards are great buys at these stores.
- You can buy alcohol, prescriptions, and get an eye exam without a membership.
- BJ’s accepts more than one manufacturer coupon on multi-pack items if the item can be sold individually; however, you can’t exceed the actual retail price when using coupons.
- Use a free one-day shopping pass before buying a full-blown membership to determine if the fees are worth it.
- Look for Groupon and Living Social deals on memberships. They often come with free coupons and extra perks.
HOMEWORK: Read 19 Unbeatable Deals You Can Only Find at Costco.