(This article is courtesy of our friends at www.makeitmissoula.com)

Just as a big game hunter wouldn’t head out to the woods without bullets for the big kill, neither would a couponer head out to the grocery store without coupons for their own version of  the “big kill.”  Coupons are the means by which we save the biggest money.  Without them we could save some money by shopping smart (read here about shopping without coupons) but with them we are saving mega bucks (no, not bucks like deer, but bucks as in dollars.)

Coupons aren’t always easy to track down.  Although, now that I have “coupon radar” (meaning I’m constantly aware of coupons), I’m realizing they are readily available in various places — you just need the inside track to find them!  Today, I’ll give you some tips on places to find coupons.  Unlike big game hunters who prefer not to share their hunting grounds, I’m happy to share my secrets!

Hunting Grounds #1:
The local Sunday paper. Each week the paper provides a variety of coupon inserts.  Usually Redplum, Smart Source, Proctor and Gamble and sometimes General Mills.  These should be your go-to, every week, standard coupons.  Every Couponing Queen / King gets these…sometimes in duplicate.  I have friends, neighbors and family who generously share their inserts with me each week.  Also, remember to check out the Wednesday paper for the local grocery store ads — that is where you will find in-store coupons.  Match those with manufacturer coupons for dynamite savings!

Hunting Grounds #2:
Online coupon cites: There are numerous online sites that offer printable coupons.  You will find a wide variety of coupons on these sites.  My favorite sites are: coupons.com, redplum.com, and smartsource.com.  Retailers have also begun sharing store-specific internet coupons.  Target.com for example, has an easy-to-use coupon site. Albertson’s emails me coupons every week or so.

Hunting Grounds #3:
Company websites: I have found some great coupons for very specific items by browsing a company’s website.  When you get to their homepage, look for a tab that says “coupons” or “promotions.” Places like Betty Crocker, Arm and Hammer, and Kelloggs all have ongoing promotions / coupons.  I also have scored high value coupons from sites like “Wholly Guacamole” for their awesome Guacamole Dips.  Just do a Google search for whatever product you’re wishing to purchase.  And I’ve heard if you send a letter / email to a company telling them you like their product, they will usually respond with a coupon as a thank you for your loyalty!

Hunting Grounds #4:
E-coupons: Several companies such as Safeway now offer coupons that you can download directly to your customer cards. These coupons are all electronic, so there’s no need to clip or organize anything. The discounts are taken off your total at checkout. Shortcuts, P&G eSaver, and Cellfire.com are a few of my favorites. E-coupons are manufacturer coupons so they can’t be combined with paper coupons but they can be combined with an in-store coupon for extra savings.

Hunting Grounds #5:
Mailbox: Your mailbox can be a great source of very rare coupons.  I have a friend who years ago signed up with Proctor and Gamble for quarterly coupon books.  She now shares these golden nuggets with me and let me tell ya…they are incredible coupons!  I also signed up for Target’s mailer and two days ago received a nice little booklet with some awesome coupons.  Sign up with companies for their “special customer” mail-out coupons!  The Val-pak also comes to most local households each month and has local coupons.  You can also sign up to receive free products and samples from lots of different companies, too.  Every 3 months, I get free samples of Proctor and Gamble products, plus they include extra coupons with the samples!

Hunting Grounds #6:
Grocery store: Start eying every part of a shelf in the grocery store and you will find lots of coupons!  Sometimes they are taped on a product, or on a tearpad by the products, or there is a Blinkie machine (named because it has a red light that blinks!).  Keep your eyes peeled because they can be anywhere and everywhere!  Remember just because you may not use it that day, you can take it and save it for another day.  (Please use your manners, though and don’t take them all!)

Hunting Grounds #7:
Magazines: I have found quite a few of my coupons in various magazines.  The best magazine for coupons is All You.  They usually have well over $60 of coupons in each issue.  It really is worth buying or even getting a subscription.  I also have found some good ones in Family Circle, Parade (in the Sunday paper) and Real Simple.

Hunting Grounds #8:
Cash registers: Nearly every time I shop at a grocery store, coupons will print out alongside my receipt. While you often must use these coupons at the store that gave them to you, some retailers will accept competitor coupons.  We call these coupons “Catalinas” because that’s the name of the company who makes the machine.  At CVS, the coupons (or Extra Bucks) print at the bottom of the receipt while at Walgreens the Register Rewards print as a Catalina.  It kills me when I watch people take their receipt and their catalinas and throw them in the garbage outside the store.  That’s like throwing away cold hard cash!

Hunting Grounds #9:
Buying coupons: Once you get the hang of couponing, you may find it is worth buying some coupons. This can get a little controversial because selling coupons is illegal.  The coupon clipping services claim they are not selling the actual coupon, but are charging for the clipping service itself.  I find it valuable every now and then, especially when I know there is a great sale coming and I want to stock up. I’ll buy multiple copies of that product’s coupon.  It saves me the hassle of tracking down multiple copies of newspapers and cutting them all out.  The fee is nominal and still makes for a good deal.  I usually use Ebay but here are a couple other sites:

Mycouponhunter.com
Collectablecoupons.com

Hunting Grounds #10:
Products themselves: Before you toss out a box, be sure to look closely at it.  I have found coupons on the boxes, inside the boxes or on the direction sheet.  I have found coupons that have long expiration dates on things like oatmeal, eye drops, cereal, saline solution, color crayons, rice, and diapers. 

Once you become aware of coupons and have them in your radar, you’ll be amazed at the availability of them. They will be everywhere from the doctor’s office to an envelope in your mailbox — you just have to look around!

My husband has dreams of our sons becoming successful game hunters when they are older.  In the meantime, I’m training them in coupon hunting!  They have really mastered it and have unbelievable “coupon radar” (better than me actually!)!  They are ruthless about hunting for those coupons!   It makes my heart sing when they come running to me, wildly excited and cry out, “We found coouupooons!”  It’s like they just bagged the biggest “buck” ever!