Start Couponing As a Hobby

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Reality shows have featured several individuals who have successfully been collecting coupons and redeeming them. Some "extreme couponers" have been shown with carts of groceries as well as stacks and stacks of toiletry for which they would often pay less than $10. While achieving their level of expertise is probably not doable in the next few days, most people can take advantage of the benefits that are there for the taking with discount coupons. All it takes is to learn the ropes and start couponing as a hobby.

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How Couponing Works

You have probably seen discount coupons in a lot of publications �" in magazines, newspapers, supermarket brochures, the internet, and flyers. They promise a dollar off or even more on certain grocery items for a specified period.

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  • The most common discount coupons cover drugstore items like soap, detergent, toilet paper, or mouthwash. These also cover things like mustard, ketchup, juice, and snack foods.
  • Couponers will cut out coupons from papers or magazines and present these at the store where they plan to make a purchase. Evidently, before going to the store they have a good idea of what items they will be taking off the shelves.
  • The most skilled couponers will collect coupons and file them for use at the best possible time. They will combine a manufacturer's coupon with a store coupon or wait for items to go on sale.
  • When possible, coupons are applied to items that are already marked down or placed on special offer.

The Basics of Couponing

There is lot you need to learn before you can do couponing successfully. Your knowledge of some basic information in couponing will help you master this hobby and open the door for substantial savings in your budget.

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  1. 1
    Kinds of coupons �" When you go over all the different coupons available for your new hobby, you will see that there are two basic types of coupons:
    Store coupons and manufacturer's coupons.
    1. Store coupons �" These are discounts issued by establishments for particular items. These can only be used at a particular store. These coupons are often good only for a specific date.
    2. Manufacturer's coupons - These are issued by the product manufacturer. Only one of these coupons can be used on an item. Manufacturer's coupons always have a barcode which will start with either 5 or 9. Normally, these can be redeemed at any store.
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  2. 2
    Expiration dates �" Coupons have an expiration date.
    You should be able to use the coupon to the end of that day.
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  3. 3
    Important common terms �" Buy one get one, 50 cents off, $5 off every $50 purchase �" all of these terms are important to people who want to make their coupons count.
    Read the fine print carefully, or ask a store clerk if the terms are confusing.
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For example, if you get a store coupon that says "limit 5", it might actually mean you can use a coupon for all 5 items.

Getting Started on Couponing

Hooray for you if you seriously want to start couponing as a hobby. This is one pastime that will save you hundreds of dollars �" even thousands, if you know how to make the most of the bargains that coupons bring. Here are 10 things you need to begin doing:

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  1. 1
    Gather coupons conscientiously.
    There are many sources of coupons. Try buying a local paper and looking for some store coupons there. You can also get coupons from:
    1. Inserts in Sunday papers, and other publications.
    2. Weekly brochures of chain stores. These may be mailed to you or stacked at the door of the establishment.
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  2. 2
    Check with online sources for coupons.
    The internet is a good source of coupons.  
    1. Try visiting the Facebook or Twitter page or the website of manufacturers whose products you buy frequently.
    2. Try looking at,,, and just to see what they have for you by way of coupons.
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  3. 3
    Sign up for the mailing list of manufacturers and stores.
    Many establishments make coupons available this way. Sometimes when you register for a loyalty card, you are asked if you want to be informed about promos and sales. Say yes to this, and say yes to the emails as well.
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  4. 4
    Look for websites that cater to people who do "couponing".
    Most of these sites will ask you to be a member; once you are one, you can get subscriptions to newsletters, bulletins or brochures that get delivered to your mailbox. Needless to say, you get coupons in mailbox and news of deals available in your area.
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  5. 5
    Go through your favorite magazines for coupons.
    A lot of women's magazines, and home improvement publications will contain manufacturer's coupons
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  6. 6
    Don't miss out on coupons inside the store when you shop.
    Sometimes these coupons will be by the doorway, in shelves, or on the check-out counters. Some stores even have machines that print out coupons.
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  7. 7
    Exchange coupons with friends.
    Go ahead and collect whichever coupons you see, even of you are not going to use more than a couple of them. When you have a sizeable stash and you know some friends who do too, get together for coffee and swap coupons.
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  8. 8
    Always read the fine print on coupons.
    Usually, manufacturer's coupons are to be used only once for each item bought.  
    1. If a coupon states save 50 cents on grape juice, and you actually have 3 coupons, you can buy 3 bottles and save a total of $1.50 on all three.
    2. If the coupon says limit 1 per customer, you can only use the coupon once.
    3. Other variations may state: Limit once per shopping trip or per receipt; you may need to ask store personnel how you can best follow what the card says and still have the best possible bargain.
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  9. 9
    Make a priority list of the items you need and have genuine use for.
    Once you have this list, you will know what you are looking for and you will be able to categorize your coupons better.
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Getting Organized

Consumers engage in couponing to avail of bargains, while manufacturers and institutions turn out coupons to boost their sales. Bearing this in mind, a wise couponer should invest a lot of time and thought in looking for coupons for items the family actually uses and rein in the instinct to buy loads of stuff that that will sit in closets or boxes, occupying space.

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  • Use a clear book so you see everything at a glance.
  • Organize your coupons. Classify all your manufacturer's coupons according to product and create a tab on the side for the coupons' expiration date.
  • Do the same for your store coupons.
  • Do not fall into the temptation of buying stuff you don't use. You don't save at all this way.

Couponing can stir up really compulsive behavior. For example, a rabid couponer could easily fall into the trap of buying a dozen shower gels that nobody will use just because his or her coupons allow the couponer to buy them at 99 cents when they normally cost $3. After all is said and done, a shopper would have spent $11.88 for something unnecessary, all the while thinking that they would have spent $36 without the coupon. The shopper goes home thinking about the $24.12 "saved", forgetting that he or she has impulsively spent almost $12.

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Tips, Tricks and Warnings

For a smooth and trouble-free check out, follow the following tips:

  • Buy the item specified on the manufacturer's coupon.
    You are generally only allowed to apply the coupon's discount on the items mentioned. If the coupon says Quaker oats, that's all you can use the coupon for.
  • Watch out for coupons that allow you to use the coupon on any product.
    If you find this type of a coupon, use it wisely. You might want to apply the discount on items that rarely go on sale, or you might want to find items on sale from the same company.
  • Avoid embarrassment and never use expired, altered or copied coupons.
    Examine your coupons carefully so you won't ever go through any awkward moments at the cashier.
  • Ask your frequently-visited-stores about their coupon policy.
    Most stores have their policies about couponing. Be sure about these policies and go though checkout without any problems.
  • Most manufacturers only allow one coupon per item.
    Even if you have three manufacturer's coupons for the same item, you are usually allowed to use only one coupon for one item. Using two coupons for one item is only possible if you double up a manufacturer's coupon with a store coupon �" if the store allows it.

Questions and Answers

Can I print coupons off the internet?

I want to start with my dad as a hobby and I see all these free coupons, you can print but is it illegal?

No, it is not illegal if they are available to print. Copying a coupon is illegal but printing from sites like and are legal. Some coupons will say PRINT ONCE and you can only print that specific coupon once although most of those use cookie trackers and other methods to ensure that the coupon is only printed once. Most stores accept printed coupons but you should always call the store and ask if they accept printed coupons to avoid any miscommunication at the register.

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Is extreme couponing worth it?

Can you make a living with an extreme couponing hobby?. I have tried: I have tried redeeming coupons and collecting points on store cards.. I think it was caused by: I am wondering if you can make a living being an extreme couponer.

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You can re sell unused items on websites like Amazon or Ebay but make sure that there is no prohibition of resale on the label. You most likely will not be able to get enough products to make enough profit to live off though. One of the best ways to earn money is to start a blog about your extreme couponing experiences and techniques and earn revenue from advertisements on your website. This takes, at least, two years to build into an income and you will have to post daily as well as on social media pages you create to keep current and gain followers.

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