Couponing 101

While the days of sitting around the kitchen table and clipping coupons from the weekly paper ad may be gone, there are still ways to access free coupons and save money on your next trip to the store!

Different Types of Coupons

Store Coupons

This type of coupon is issued by the store directly. These coupons will list the specific store the coupon is valid for. 

Luckily, many stores still send free weekly paper ads directly to your door highlighting current deals and sales, but they don’t often contain actual coupons anymore. However, these days many stores also have a digital download option on their website. 

Seeing what is on sale ahead of time can also help you plan around how to get the most out of a manufacturer’s coupon as these normally don’t have restrictions if an item is on sale already at the store. For example, if the store is having a buy one, get one free sale on bread you would know now is the time to seek a manufacturer coupon for this brand to stack your savings! 

Manufacturer Coupons

This type of coupon is issued by a product’s brand. These coupons will be labeled as a ‘Manufacturer Coupon’. 

Many large brands have free loyalty programs that you can sign up for to receive coupons straight to your email on a regular basis. Most of the time, if you go directly to their website they will have a savings or coupon section where you can sign up or download coupons instantly.

Couponing Apps

There are lots of apps you can download for free on your phone that will reimburse you for certain grocery items.

  • Ibotta: This app works with brands and retailers to help consumers save and combat rising inflation rates. Before you shop, simply find any offers for things you would like to purchase. After you shop, upload your receipt or your loyalty card for cash back. When you are ready to withdraw your cash earnings you can do so using Paypal or through gift cards. 
  • Checkout 51: This app works to save you money on your favorite brands, groceries and even offers fuel rewards. Upload your receipt for cash back offers, use promo codes for savings on your favorite items, and get gas rewards by uploading your receipt when you fill up your tank at participating gas stations.
  • SnipSnap: This app allows you to turn paper coupons into digital coupons to be redeemed in store by taking a photo with your phone.
  • Flipp: With Flipp, you can browse through weekly ads and find deals from more than 2,000 stores. Simply clip your favorite deals to your shopping list and come back to the app when you would like to use the discount. 

Big chain grocery stores typically have their own app as well that may offer coupons and app-only deals to download on your phone. 

ONIE is not affiliated with any of the apps listed above and is provided for general information purposes only. 

How to Use Coupons

Stacking Coupons

Most of the time, you are allowed to “stack” both store and manufacturer coupons to get double the discount! 

Real-world example:

      $3.89 brand name whole wheat crackers

  • 20% off store coupon
  • $2 off manufacturer coupon 

      = $1.11 total

That’s a savings of $2.78!

As mentioned before, it is also a good idea to see what is on sale at the store first through weekly ads so that you can also stack store sales and coupons for extra savings. 

Per Transaction vs. Per Purchase

A common mistake of couponing is misunderstanding the limit of per transaction vs per purchase. 

If a coupon is limited ‘per purchase’, you may use one coupon for every one item that is being purchased. For example, if you have two laundry detergent coupons that are ‘limited per purchase’ you may check out two laundry detergents and use both coupons to save money on these two items.

If a coupon is limited ‘per transaction’ only one coupon can be applied on a single item when checking out. Therefore, even if you have three of the same eligible item during checkout, only one of them will be discounted. Using the same example as above, if you have two laundry detergent coupons that are ‘limited per transaction’ you can only use one coupon for one laundry detergent at checkout. 

When to Use Coupons

Remember, just because you have a coupon, doesn’t mean you need to use it! Sometimes, generic brand options of products are still cheaper than a name brand product with a coupon. 

Real world example: 

  $2.98 brand name italian dressing              VS                   $1.97 generic brand italian dressing

  • $0.50 off coupon                                                         + no coupon

      = $2.48 total                                                                      = $1.97 total


Coupons are a great way to save you money on your next trip to the store. Additionally, couponing and reimbursement apps are a great way to earn cash back on items you are already buying as long as you save your receipt. Although coupons are tempting to put to use all the time, it still doesn’t always beat out the price of generic brands or other sales at the store. Lastly, it’s important to understand the rules of coupons to use them effectively and redeem max savings. 


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