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How to Coupon: Strategies to Save Big, Retail Experts Say

Couponing is one way to get what you want for less—but is it as easy as it looks?

In 2024, the process of couponing usually looks much different than the circular clipping of the past. Like the shopping it applies to, technology has revolutionized the art of getting a great discount simply by having a voucher in hand or on your phone. Still though, the process can seem intimidating and time-consuming. But for all those ready to save some money without dedicating all their time to finding deals, we've tapped the professionals for all of their knowledge on how to start couponing like the best of them. Read on for the best strategies to save big, according to retail experts.

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How to Coupon

close up on shopper comparing coupons in grocery store aisle
Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock

Why should I start couponing?

With so many shopping options available today that make it easier than ever to find the best price, adding an extra step to the process might seem like overkill. However, experts say that a little effort can help you save money.

"A lot of people have a negative stigma associated with couponing, saying that it's time-consuming and only applicable to a few cents off grocery or personal care items. In reality, spending just a few minutes looking for coupons could result in hundreds of dollars in savings, especially when you apply them to those big-ticket purchases," money-saving expert Andrea Woroch tells Best Life.

How can I start couponing?

If your goal is to save money in the long run, experts say it's best not to dive too deep right away.

"Start small," says Julie Ramhold, consumer analyst with "Don't go overboard and try to dive into the 'extreme couponing' world with binders and whatnot."

This may mean simply finding out what's available from your favorite retailers. "Figure out your preferred stores to shop at and then investigate what kinds of coupon options they have," she advises. "Is there an app you should download? Are there digital or online coupons you have to save, or can you automatically redeem savings by buying the correct item and just putting in your phone number during checkout? Sign up for newsletters from your favorite brands, too, in order to receive manufacturer's coupons you can use at most regular stores."

The best payout for your time might be to look for deals on a big-ticket purchase. "If you're planning to buy a new TV, couch, or simply making a big clothing haul for summer, finding a coupon could result in major savings," Woroch says.

Couponing for Beginners

online coupon on laptop screen

How does stacking coupons work, and what are the limits?

The savings don't always end with the first voucher or code you find.

"Stacking coupons is when you use multiple coupons on the same transaction to maximize savings," says Woroch. "This could also refer to applying a coupon on top of a sale item to score a bigger discount."

She explains that some stores will allow coupon stacking on the same order so that you can enjoy bigger savings. "For paper or printable coupons, you may be able to stack store coupons with manufacturer coupons without limits. However, many stores cap how many discounts you can apply to the same product or order so you have to review the retailer policies."

Most of the time, finding out what's allowed is not hard. "It's worth doing a quick search for '[store] coupon policy' to see if you can find any restrictions for the stores you're shopping most," suggests Ramhold. "Any limits are usually going to be imposed by the retailers, and if you can't find their policies online, it's worth asking an associate when you shop in person to see if they can help clarify."

Who has the best store coupons?

Almost all major retailers offer some kind of manufacturer coupon. However, experts say a few stand out for their consistent deals and ease of use.

"Target is one of the best," Ramhold says. "Especially thanks to recent changes to their Target Circle loyalty program, it's even easier to redeem coupons now."

Many will be redeemed automatically as they're attached to your profile. "Plus, you'll be able to use one manufacturer's coupon and one store coupon per item whether you shop online or in-store," she adds.

Woroch mentions Kohls as also another excellent option for regular store coupons. "They allow up to four coupons to be applied to the same transaction, giving way to big stacking and saving possibilities. As always, there are some rules as to which type of coupons and rewards can be used on the same purchase, so make sure you review their policy online," she says.

The same generous benefits apply to an iconic clothing store, too. "GAP may be the best site to stack coupons, allowing up to five deals to be applied to the same order," Woroch says. "The store posts its current deals on its coupon page to make applying savings seamless."

What are usually the biggest limits to using coupons?

The most challenging part of saving money isn't necessarily knowing how to start couponing. It essentially comes down to your schedule and how much time you're willing to devote to finding discounts and using them.

"Usually, time is the biggest limit because you have to have the time (or make it) to be able to peruse coupon sections at your favorite stores or hunt for them on other sites," says Ramhold.

She explains that, aside from that, the biggest limit to using all your coupons comes in the form of limitations that certain stores put into place. "These can prevent you from using all the coupons or may require that you use them in a specific order to be able to redeem multiples so that the whole thing can be a bit of a headache if you're just getting started," Ramhold explains.

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Tips on How to Become a Couponer

coupon code on cell phone screen

Use special tools to find online coupons.

Arguably, the most significant advancement in saving money has been the ability to find coupons online at the push of a button. Fortunately, you can avoid scouring every retailer's website, thanks to a few handy tools.

"There are browser extensions that hunt down coupons for you, such as Sidekick," says Woroch. "The tool alerts you when it detects a coupon available for a site you're shopping and will test each code for you, taking the work out by copying and pasting different deals to see which one works and then apply the coupon with the biggest discount to your order." She adds that that it also offers a cash back option.

Ramhold says it's getting easier to find reliable online tools. "Browser extensions include things like Honey, but even sites like CNET have extensions for coupons now. Rakuten may be primarily known for cash back, but if you browse the site, you may find coupons, too. And Ibotta is another one that's great for coupons when shopping online—or in person, if using the app," she says

Download your favorite store's app.

At this point, it's hard to think of anything the phones in our pockets haven't made at least a little easier. That includes finding great deals where you shop the most.

"It's well worth downloading apps for your favorite stores as some (like Target) will have digital coupons that will be automatically redeemed when you buy qualifying purchases," says Ramhold. "Or you can save relevant offers before your shopping trip that are usually redeemed when you scan your app during checkout or shop through the app itself."

Use loyalty programs to score store coupons.

Similarly, experts say signing up for free loyalty programs at your favorite stores can lead to even more savings over time.

"They often provide members-only coupons and offers while also allowing members to earn points towards free products or additional discounts," says Trae Bodge, a smart shopping expert at "A couple of my favorite programs are Target and CVS ExtraCare."

Use social media.

Social media may be great for getting news and sharing memes with friends, but it's also excellent for scoring deals.

"You'll find coupon codes as you scroll through your favorite social channels, and you can also find them if you follow your favorite brands and retailers on social media," says Bodge. "If you are a first-time customer, you are likely to save the most as many brands have first-time customer offers."

Check your local newspaper or magazines.

Digital methods are popular, but the old-fashioned way of checking print publications for paper coupons is still a viable strategy.

"You can often find coupons from retailers or brands in these publications," says Bodge. "Of course, you'll need to cut them out and present them at checkout in-store."

She also notes just how crucial it is to read these coupon inserts for restrictions, stacking opportunities, and expiration dates.

Develop a healthy couponing strategy.

Once you learn how easy it can be to save money, you may be tempted to go all-in looking for discounts. But according to Woroch, the best couponing strategy is looking for coupons for purchases you're already planning to make.

"Don't fall into the 'spaving' habit when you buy something because you get a coupon," she says. "Also, look for coupons that will give you a good discount on a bigger purchase. Spending more time looking for coupons for a few cents off a grocery item won't be as impactful on your budget as finding a deal for 10 percent or 20 percent off a new pair of sneakers priced at $100. The time effort is the same, but the savings are much bigger for the latter."

Ramhold adds that it's also essential to be realistic about how many coupons you'll use.

"It's one thing to save a bunch of digital coupons you may or may not use to your Target Circle account, but if you're looking at printing physical coupons or cutting them out of papers, it can get overwhelming if you try to save every single one," she says. "Not to mention, having to sift through all of those at checkout can make some shoppers feel flustered. Instead of saving every coupon you come across that looks even remotely interesting, be honest with yourself about which ones you'll actually use."


Couponing is easier now than ever before, but it still requires some work. Make sure you're using all the tools at your disposal to find store coupons and discounts, including downloading apps, browser extensions, and signing up for newsletters. But ultimately, you shouldn't get too carried away with your new ability to save money. For more money-saving advice, visit Best Life again soon.

Zachary Mack
Zach is a freelance writer specializing in beer, wine, food, spirits, and travel. He is based in Manhattan. Read more
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