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5 tips for new couponers

Canadian couponing tips

New Couponer

Couponing has become more and more popular since the very first episode of TLC’s Extreme Couponing back in December 2010. There are now many people with coupon fever! Since this show launched, I have been receiving numerous emails from people, asking how they can start to see significant savings off their grocery bill.

Using coupons is actually very simple, but people make it complicated when they try to replicate the types of shopping trips they see on TV. Please know that the transactions you see on Extreme Couponing are not the norm. Couponers rarely shop to that extreme and see savings that great. It’s just a little bit of TV magic.

However, it is certainly possible to save quite a bit of money using coupons.

If you are new to using coupons and are confused about where to begin, here are some tips for you.

1. Start small

This is the number one piece of advice I give to every new couponer. It’s imperative that you do not try to do too much at once. If you do, it’s likely that you will become overwhelmed, exhausted, and frustrated and will give up on couponing together, before you ever really have a shot at getting it “right”.

Do not try to attempt price matching, coupons, mail-in rebates, and coupon overage for your first (or even second) shopping trip. Start with one thing at a time and gradually start adding in more money-saving techniques as you get comfortable with your new skill.

I suggest doing some price matching first. Do this a few times until you get the hang of it, and then try doing some price matching AND adding in coupons. Only a few coupons at first, though. Slowly add more and more coupons.

Once you are comfortable with coupons and price matching, you can try using coupons that give you overage. Then you can add in mail-in rebates, and so on and so forth.

Keep in mind that it could take months (or longer) before you are completely comfortable at the checkout – and that’s okay! Don’t try to rush it. Doing just a little bit of time is an important step in building your confidence.

2. Don’t compare

Another thing that I always tell first-time couponers is to avoid comparing yourself to others. Don’t try to copy a shopping trip that you see another blogger or friend complete – and definitely do not try to do massive shopping trips as they do on Extreme Couponing (not at first, anyway!).

It takes a very long time to master the “art” of couponing. It’s not something that you can learn overnight. It takes lots of time, patience, and dedication.

Purchase the number of items that you see fit for your family. Just because you see someone else buy 15 jars of jam, that doesn’t mean that you need to do the same (especially if your family doesn’t eat much jam). Only bring home items that you are able to use up before expiration and only store the number of items you have space for in your home.

3. Don’t go overboard

When I first started using coupons and realized how easy it was for me to score so many items for free or cheap, I went overboard and bought way too much stuff. Many things that I bought were items that we didn’t even use.

I remember one instance when I bought around 30 packages of Purina Busy Bones for about $0.50 per package. They were regularly around $4 each, so I was very impressed with the savings and used all of my coupons on this one product.

The problem? We don’t give our dog treats. I ended up paying around $20 (including taxes) for a product we didn’t even use! Spending money on something you don’t need is not a good way to save money.

I learned that just because there are savings available, that doesn’t mean I need to get them all myself. It’s okay to pass on the deals that will not be beneficial to your family. Don’t stock up on an item unless it’s something you know you will be able to use in a reasonable amount of time.

4. Don’t forget the etiquette

Many new couponers are not aware of the “rules” when it comes to couponing. There are lots of people out there using coupons (now more than ever!), and it’s important to be courteous to those people when you’re shopping. Here are some coupon rules (also known as coupon etiquette) that you should be aware of:

  • NEVER take an entire tear pad of coupons from the store. Take a small amount and leave some for others. There should always be at least one coupon left on the tear pad when you leave the store (unless there is only one when you get there!).
  • Do not take coupon inserts from your neighbors’ newspaper. If you are looking for more of these inserts, simply ask your neighbors, friends, and family. Don’t just take them!
  • When you are trading coupons with someone or participating in a coupon train, never send expired coupons, or coupons that cannot be used in Canada (coupons with a US address, for example).
  • Do not photocopy your coupons. Never, ever do this – it’s illegal!

Those are just a few tips about coupon etiquette. Coupons are a privilege, not a right. Please don’t abuse them!

5. Be patient

Finally, if you’re in this for the long haul, expect that it is going to take quite a bit of practice before you really see significant savings. You cannot possibly learn everything there is to know about couponing in one sitting. Remember, practice makes perfect!

There are so many new deals and new coupons all the time, so don’t feel as if you must get them all.

Like I said earlier, learning how to use coupons the “right” way is something that requires quite a bit of time. Don’t go into it thinking you are going to learn all the ins and outs in one month and have a stockpile with a year’s worth of goods in two.

Be patient, and after a while, you will start to see all of your efforts paying off.

Couponing is not for everyone. Well, extreme couponing is not for everyone.

Using coupons to lower your grocery bill is a fantastic way to save money and is probably one of the best things you can do for your budget. Just remember that you need to practice, practice, practice and you will be well on your way in the couponing world!


  1. Carrie

    Very good artical!!

  2. Sharon

    This is helpful. I am just starting. Did one small trip with some coupons in hand, but came out of the store with nothing. Products did not match up to the coupons. Had I’d know then about price matching maybe I could have saved the trip with a different store. But just learning the ropes right now. It is a very slow process especially when you live in a rural area with limited means of income. Thanks for the insights.

  3. Elizabeth

    Thanks for this article, as many people are NEW to not only using coupons, but to you and your site and efforts as well. I like to see how the savings add up by just using a 50 cent coupon, after weeks and months, without even paying attention or dedicating much time or effort to using any coupon (just casual) I have saved $90 in about 6 months, and I am proud of that. What I haven’t been tracking is what the item’s retail worth is (savings) what the money saved is using my grocery club card (Sobey’s/Safeway/Save on Foods), what money I receive in gas coupons (Superstore and affiliates), and money returned to me using my own bags. All of that is significant!
    BTW just a note that you mentioned the TLC show first aired in December 2011, but that would be 2010.

  4. Amie

    People are really jumping on the bandwagon for a show that hasn’t even started yet 😉

  5. Stephanie

    I’m glad you mentioned etiquette when it comes to coupons. I’m new to couponing and recently got burned when I traded with someone on

    I gave her Canadian Tire money in exchange for coupons. I partially blame myself for not taking a closer look at the expiry date on one set of coupons on her list (it had already expired) when I requested it but another set expired by the time she mailed it to me! I consider myself to be an honest person so I’m appalled that she would have done that. I mean, couldn’t she atleast have the decency to tell me that the coupons were expired. I felt like I wasted my Canadian Tire money when I could have just traded with someone else.

  6. Theresa

    It just isn’t possible to do the same thing Americans can with coupons. They have stores that double coupons, allow stacking and have coupons for far more food items.

    I have found HUGE savings on toiletry items and household items like papertowels and dish soap, etc. I ad match and use coupons for big savings on these things.

    Knowing your prices has got to be the biggest thing. Wait for sales to use your coupons.

    Glad more people are realizing that there is no shame in saving their hard earned money by using coupons.

  7. Theresa

    Stephanie that is brutal. So many dishonest people out there.

  8. farming mommy

    I really love the comment about not comparing! I was doing this and it was quite dissapointing.. However I buy alot of different products, but am really watching sales,buying toiletries, feminine products, etc for real cheap now. I love watching my savings account grow and hitting up good deals. I have receipts from the past and look at them now and go wow! This is what any new couponer should be comparing their $ spent to. Look how much you bring home for less than you used to

  9. Mike

    I find price matching very difficult. The flyer that I want to price match will use “selected sizes and varieties” or the product is not at the store I want to shop at.

    One thing I have noticed on all the Canadian based coupon sites is that they use multiple mailing addresses to get more coupons from the various coupon websites. The info is still valid but I will never be able to buy 10 of one item using websaver coupons for example, as I have only one address to mail to and the coupons expire very close to the same date that I can order more.

    I do love sites like this one as I don’t have the time to go searching for all the coupons myself.

  10. Donna

    I have a hard time price matching at walmart. They tend not to stock the shelves on items being priced match. So I moved to price matching at Giant Tiger & No Frills and have never had a problem

  11. Erin Partridge

    I’m new to couponing and I have noticed different wording used on some of my coupons. While I know that most coupons CAN be used on sale items, I am wondering if when the coupon says “not to be used in conjunction with any other coupon offer, promotion or discount” if that includes sales and therefore I cannot use that particular coupon on an item on sale. Does anyone know the answer?

    • Cassie Howard

      This just means you can’t use it with any other in-store coupon or manufacturer coupon. If you couldn’t use it on a sale item, it would specifically state that. For example:

      “Save $1 on any full/regular priced product”

  12. kathy

    Free sample warning..this just happened to me… I did the free sample skin care, after you enter your shipping payment and check out a box pops up and says “wait your order is not complete” there is a cupon box and under that in a separate box it says ” complete my order” if you click on that.. it automatically adds the item from the cupon box to your order. I could find no way to cancel that. Farther down the page there is a faintly coloured and much smaller print line that says no thanks. So my advice is to read everything on every page before you click on anything. Especially if you are on a cell and hsve to scroll to see the whole page.

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