I have been couponing a long time - about 12 years. In that time, I've learned a lot, and a lot has improved. I'm not an extreme couponer, though, and I don't want to be. My goal is to buy what my family will use, and some extra for my church's food pantry. Any more than that takes up more storage than I care to use, and also takes too much time out of my week to plan for/shop for. That said, here are the resources I use most to find the deals I get.
If you are a beginner to couponing, I recommend CouponMom.com's tutorials here. She has two video tutorials, and three printable tutorials, all for free. Once you understand these basics, you will benefit from her list of deals for national chain stores like WalMart, Target, KMart, Family Dollar and Dollar General, as well as drugstore deals at Walgreens, CVS, and Rite-Aid. She also has deals for some area grocery stores, listed by state or region.
Next, you should check to see if there are people in your area who blog about coupon match-ups (when coupons that are available match with what stores have on sale, which means, sometimes, a great deal!) I do that by going to becentsible.net's Store Deals page, where you can find bloggers for certain chain stores, or certain stores by your state. Following these types of blogs will help you familiarize yourself with special coupon policies your local stores have, and restaurant and other store deals and events. And because it's a blog, you can read other people's comments which include suggestions, questions, answers, and even sometimes when a store runs out of something. My favorite local blog is http://springsbargains.com/ (the Colorado Springs, CO area). It is truly the best I have ever seen.
Then, consider some of the national blogs for the scoop on free samples, rebates, printable coupons, facebook page deals, and more. My favorites include:
Each one of these has a wealth of insider information, such as what coupons are coming in your next Sunday paper, giveaways and contests, recipes, and more. One could spend a lot of time trying to go about getting every deal that is on these blogs, so it's easy to get sucked in. I prefer to follow them on facebook, and when they post a new entry that I happen to see, I click on it if I'm interested. Otherwise, I skim over it.
In my next article, I'll talk about coupon databases and how to use them.
Click here for "Part 2 - What Is a Coupon Database?"