Couponing in the Real World: How to Make it Work for You

We’ve all seen those crazy coupon shows where women cart a ridiculous amount of groceries out of stores for a mere $10.00. Who wouldn’t want to be able to manage that kind of budgeting? There are a few problems with going “extreme” with savings, though.

  • Many coupons available are for unhealthy food items such as candies, cookies, and other items that are ultimately bad for you in bulk.
  • Coupons can be for items that you wouldn’t otherwise buy, making you spend more money than you would in the first place.
  • Buying in bulk can lead to waste when you buy more than you need and items go bad before you can use them.
  • The level of dedication needed for “extreme couponing” can be time-consuming.

Take Inventory for Couponing

Knowing Where to Start

Take the time to really think about what items your family uses on a regular basis. Are there items that you use frequently enough to buy in bulk? Good examples of these could be lunch box snacks, juice boxes, meats, or even bath products such as soap or toilet paper.

One way to know exactly what items your family uses frequently, and to consequently know what you need is to keep a constant stock of what you have. It can be a daunting task to catalog everything the first time, but once you have a running list it becomes easy to keep track of everything. This is also helpful for meal planning!

Grocery Inventory for Coupling








Finding the Right Coupons

Sometimes the amount of coupons out there can be a little overwhelming. However, there are a lot of them out there that can just be avoided. Always go into coupon searching with a plan of action. Have a list of exactly what you are looking for and search for that rather than browsing. Often, when just browsing we can fall victim to “ooh that’s a good deal” syndrome and end up grabbing something we didn’t really need.

Coupon List

Where to Find Coupons

There are various sources for finding coupons available these days. One of the most well-known sources is the Sunday newspaper. However, the internet often provides more targeted resources. There are multiple sites available for searching coupons. Many brands also offer coupons from time to time if you sign up for their newsletters or Facebook pages. In most instances, they will allow the coupon to be printed twice so be sure to get two copies!

Coupon Websites:

  • – Most of the best-known brands will be found on this site. However, be cautious to read the details on each coupon such as locations where the coupon can be used, the amount you must buy to use it, etc. In some instances, there will be certain circumstances that need to be met to use the coupon.
  • – Red Plum is an online version of one of the long-time newspaper inserts. They offer a variety of coupons from the larger brands.
  •  – SmartSource is another online version of newspaper insert coupons that offers a variety of coupons from larger brands. I have personally found that SmartSource tends to offer more coupons from natural brands.
  • P&G – These are printable coupons for Proctor and Gamble brands.

There are other sites that offer coupons, however, I have found them to be less secure and spammy. Therefore, I personally do not recommend them.

Coupon Databases

Some sites have created searchable databases of coupons that take all of the legwork out of finding what you are looking for. There are a few that I prefer and personally use on a regular basis.

  •  – Coupon Mom has a searchable database and a variety of money saving tips and offers.
  • – A Full Cup is my personal favorite. I have found their database the easiest to use and the most complete. They also offer a variety of other money saving tips and offers.
  • – Coupon Sherpa offers printable coupons and promo codes for saving online.
  • – In full disclosure, this site is listed last as it is a sister site of mine. This site offers daily deals, promo codes, coupons, a much more for dorky parent deals.

What happens if you don’t want to deal with all of those coupons, though? Are you out of luck? Join me next week for part two of this post to learn how to think outside the box on savings and ditch those paper coupons for good.

Be sure to follow Ghastly Girl on Facebook or Twitter for updates on all of our posts throughout the week including our new Maker Monday event, and much more!

If you would like, you can also join the Dorky Mama Daily Deals Facebook Group for our Daily Deals stream to catch up on all of the latest steals and deals or add your own from your site!

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Ghastly Girl is a geek lifestyle blogger dedicated to supporting and inspiring other moms with chronic illness.
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  1. robin says:

    UGH I know I should do more coupling, but I have never found a coupon for products that I love. However, I do scour the sale racks, and buy my stuff at discount when I can. Love these ideas as to how to make it work..xoxo Robin
    robin recently posted…Beauty Boxes: Current Top 5My Profile

    1. ghastlygirl says:

      Yeah, it can be so hard. I prefer a lot of organic items which can be almost impossible sometimes. Sales racks are my kryptonite… I LOVE them. Glad you liked the post! 🙂

  2. Helene says:

    I’m such a sucker for a good deal and often just get things because there’s a coupon for it. I should really go to the store with a plan of action and review coupons on those databases beforehand. Thanks for sharing!

    xo, Helene

    1. ghastlygirl says:

      I am the same way! My grandma grew up during the depression and more or less raised me so I think saving money is just ingrained in me, so many of my values come from her. I am also such a scatterbrain ( I always have 80 tabs open in my brain, seriously) Having a plan of attack has made my life so much easier in so many areas.

  3. Laurie says:

    Your organization inspires me to set goals for myself. Great suggestions. Looking forward to how to coupon without paper coupons as these always just end up at the bottom of my purse.

    1. ghastlygirl says:

      awesome so glad I could be helpful! 🙂 I am the same way with the paper ones lol.

  4. Jackie says:

    This was great information. I tried couponing once and I ended up with 10 bottles of hot sauce and that was all she wrote. 🙂 Maybe I’ll give it another go.

    1. ghastlygirl says:

      hahaha yes, I have totally been there. For me it was ramen. I think we still have some of it sitting around from when I went through a stockpiling phase.

  5. Amber says:

    This is so helpful! I coupon often and make it work for me, because saving money is important. Especially now that we own a house.
    Amber recently posted…Hey, It’s OkayMy Profile

    1. ghastlygirl says:

      Thanks! 🙂 It really is so important these days. Owning a house definitely takes a toll on the budget lol

  6. GiGi says:

    I LOVE WHEN I REMEMBER MY COUPONS! IT MAKES ME FEEL LIKE A BOSS! CVS I have to say gives out the BEST coupons too!!!

    1. ghastlygirl says:

      Yes! I think a lot of people don’t realize how good of a deal you can get at drug stores!

  7. I think it’s awesome to collect and use coupons because they help you save a lot of money and stock up on supplies and food that you need at home. These are really nice tips!
    Carol Cassara recently posted…Who you areMy Profile

    1. ghastlygirl says:

      Thanks! It really does help a lot if you get a good system down 🙂

  8. Elizabeth O. says:

    I use coupons from time to time but not like the extreme couponers that we see on TV. It’s a great way to shop when you’re trying to follow a budget!

    1. ghastlygirl says:

      It really does help a lot!

  9. Hra says:

    This post is so useful and informative and these printables are awesome, i definitely download them

    1. ghastlygirl says:

      Awesome, glad you liked them!

  10. MaryAnne says:

    So great tips to start using coupons! I´ve heard a lot of stories and the savings are amazing!

    1. ghastlygirl says:

      Thanks! 🙂

  11. Robin Rue says:

    This is such great advice! I really should start couponing more but I always forget them.

  12. Jodie says:

    It’s all about finding ones that work for you. No use using ones for things you won’t use or stocking up on things you won’t use by expiry dates x

  13. Danielle says:

    I love couponing but it is definitely time consuming. I wish there were more coupon options for fresh produce and meats, too. I always use any of those I come across.
    Danielle recently posted…Save & Earn Money on DealspotrMy Profile

  14. I use coupon every now and then. It’s good to know so many sites available to get coupons. I really like this helpful tips. Thanks

  15. Emma says:

    Such a great idea – who wouldn’t want to save money on things you were going to buy anyway. Coupons can be great for that reason but you’re so right – sometimes you end up buying things you don’t need/want just because they’re on offer!

  16. Nicole Escat says:

    I wish coupons are also work in my area, it’s really helpful to use a coupons.

  17. Josselyn says:

    my mama is such a sucker to get great deals , she is so god at getting the best deals and stuff all the time. and def i’m sharing this post with her

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