Welcome to Southern Savers, where finding deals and steals is simple and rewarding!

See I told you, this would help!

Coupon Abbreviations
  • SC = Store Coupon
  • MC = Manufacturer Coupon
  • SS = Smart Source
  • RP = Red Plum
  • PG = Proctor and Gamble
Coupon Terms
  • WYB = When You Buy
  • B1G1 = Buy One Get One Free
  • .75/1 = 75 cents off one item
  • .75/3 = 75 cents off three items
  • EXP = Expiration Date

Going Nuts? I can help you understand coupon terms and abbreviations

This post may contain affiliate links. Read our disclosure here.

A lot of people have saving money on their list of goals for the new year.  Used effectively, coupons can help shave 50-60% off your grocery and household budget.  It doesn’t matter what your family needs are, there are ways to save on anything you buy with coupons!

Here are 5 simple ways to start using coupons this year:

1. Understand the Sale Cycle

Just about everything in a store will go on sale at some point, so why pay full price if you don’t have to?  The cycle differs a little bit based on where you live: in the South, grocery sales run on 6-8 week cycles, and 12 weeks in other parts of the country.

To save the most, we want to watch for sales and only buy at the low price.  An example is cereal, regularly it can cost $4+ for name brand cereal.  When it is on a good sale though you’ll catch it for $1.50-$2.  You’ve saved 50% and haven’t even used your coupon yet!

2. Stockup at the Sale Price

Since we just learned that items are only on sale every 6-12 weeks, its important to buy enough at the low price to get from one sale to the next.  For some products this only means 1 or 2, and for others a little more stocking up is required.  Don’t worry, we’re not talking about hundreds of anything – it will all come on sale again soon (I promise!).

To get an idea of how much you need keep a list for one week of what you use then multiply by 3 to get an idea for 6 weeks or multiply by 6 for 12 weeks.  (Learn what is a low price by using a buy price list).

3. Use those Coupons

When you are shopping and see that great price, now is the time to use the coupon!  You are allowed one coupon per item so that means if you want (5) boxes of cereal and have $1 off coupons you can use FIVE coupons!!  (note that a coupon for $1/2 is the only coupon allowed for both items you buy) That means your sale cereal mentioned above would be 50¢ to $1 after the sale and coupon!!

To gather coupons:
Buy the Sunday paper each week or ask friends and family for their unused coupon inserts.  You’d be amazed at how many people are willing to give up these money-saving gems! Keep an eye out while you are shopping for booklets of coupons in store and get familiar with printing coupons. Having more coupons at your disposal means more opportunities to save! (For more information watch a short video on finding coupons)

4. Focus on A Favorite Store

Shopping with coupons can be overwhelming if you try to get every deal at every store.  Focus on (1) favorite grocery store and (1) drugstore and start paying attention to their sales.  Remember you want to use the coupons you’ve collected only when the item is on sale to get the lowest possible price. So each week go in and buy 6 weeks worth of what is on sale. For the first few weeks you’ll also have things you need that haven’t come on sale, so buy one week of those items. Soon though your pantry will become a wonderful little stockpile and you’ll be able to hold off and only buy items when they are on sale!

Southern Savers covers all of the national drugstores and major grocery stores in the south so you can print out your shopping list and corresponding coupons each week.

5. Get Coupons on Items You Need Now

Sometimes you really need something right now and waiting for a sale just isn’t going to work.  To find a coupon for something try using the Coupon Database.  You’ll be amazed how many coupons are out there!  Or use the item search to search for a sale on just those items you need.

For a more in-depth guide on using coupons check out the Southern Savers Learn to Coupon section. If all the coupon lingo has you lost get more info on coupons with the Coupon Facts page.

    • SydneyC

      After watching the first 10 mins of TLC's Extreme Couponing, I really hope everyone reads your #2 tip well. It will go on sale again!!!! You don't have to buy the whole store!

    • Lynnskitadv

      Great tips! I think the tip focus on a favorite store is really helpful. It makes it seem less overwhelming especially when starting to coupon.

    • Guest

      I find Publix does not follow the cycle compared to Kroger and say Giant eagle.

      I also like to recommend you only need to shop at one grocery store and one drugstore. I saved 4,000 at CVS in 2010 following this.

      Last tip you do not to shop every week too. I try to only shop 36-40 weeks a year is all.

    • I finally watched Extreme Couponing tonight and your tips are definitely needed right now! There's no need to grab 100 boxes of something when you can get it free again in 8-12 weeks. Well, unless you're the Duggars! :)

      I love this series, btw!

    • Debbie

      My grocery store (Giant Food in the DC area) has this written in their policy: “Only 1 manufacturers’ coupon may be redeemed per item.” However, I tried to do what you suggested and tried to use two $1/2 coupons when purchasing two identical items, and the machine beeped on the second one and the cashier said I could only use one. That doesn’t sounds like it lines up with their policy, so I thought I’d ask you if maybe the cashier was wrong and I should be asking customer service to warrant two coupons next time or if there is something in the policy I am not understanding that prohibits this. Can you please help me decipher it? The policy is here: http://www.giantfood.com/customer_service/faqs/index.htm?q=shopping

      • The policy as stated “One manuf. coupon per item” is correct and is what was detailed above. I think you are misunderstanding the post… If you use a coupon for $1 off 2 then each of those two items has a coupon associated with it giving you a discount. You cannot use two “$1 off 2” coupons when only buying 2 items because you have failed to meet the criteria for redeeming the 2nd coupon (you must buy 2 more). The reason your register is beeping when you try to redeem the 2nd coupon is because you have no items to which that coupon can be applied.
        I hope that helps.

    • I have to use two grocery stores (Publix and Winn-Dixie) in Orlando. The meat prices at Publix are just atrocious compared to pretty much every other store where I've been. (I guess they have to make up for all the loss leader BOGOs somewhere). I also noticed that the people who post pictures of their Publix savings trips never have meat. I'm doing the low-carb thing, so meat is a big part of my budget.

      Thankfully, there is a Publix, Winn-Dixie, Walgreens and CVS within 0.5 mi of where I live. Thanks for your hard work!

    • julie

      so … if i read that correctly, if I have a coupon for $1 off 2 boxes of cereal and i want 2, i can use two coupons and get 2 dollars off?

      • Kristina_hanley

        No, you could buy two boxes and use one coupon (.50 off each box) Or four boxes and use 2 coupons. You have to go by what the coupon says. Good luck!

      • momto2boys

        No, if the coupon say $1 off of 2 then you must buy 2 boxes. If you want to use 2 coupons you have to buy 4 boxes.

    • I struggle with getting behind couponing thing, mostly because what I buy, usually doesn't have coupons available. We are on a strict diet due to allergies and ADHD. So The things I buy don't usually have coupons available. But I would love to be able to cut my grocery bill down some.

      • Kelly C

        I have heard (not tried myself yet tho) that if you write/email the companies that make your preferred products and ask if they have coupons, they may send you some.

      • Lisa

        Try it with all of your household and personal care products – you can get a lot of cleaning products, shampoos, deodorants, etc. for free or next to free if you watch for the sales – and if there is a CVS in your area, you can really score some good stuff…Walgreens too! I wasn't complete convinced until I just recently came out of CVS with shampoo, styling product, large package of TP, christmas candy, 2 boxes of tissues and blistex (or carmex – can't remember!) – and spent only $6.03 – and that was covered by Extra Care Bucks so it was only $1.03 out of pocket! Good luck!

      • Marlene

        Apply the coupon concepts where you can – you can find coupons for toothpaste, toilet paper, cleaning supplies (Seventh Generation), laundry detergent (many brands will have a fragrance-free product in their line-up), tampons etc etc.
        That way you'll save money on your household bill which you can use for the groceries for your family's specific needs.

      • momto2boys

        Hi! We have issues with the food dye red #40 and goodness that stuff is in everything! I have spent weeks reading labels and learning what doesn't have it and figuring out what I can get coupons for. Whole foods has printable coupons on their site, which I use for cereal bars and fruit snacks which are impossible to get without red#40 in the regular store. I agree with previous comments….use the coupons where you can, getting TP, toothpaste, soap and paper towels at good deals will free up your budget to get things that you need. Also use the coupon database at the top of the page you may be surprised to find coupons for some of the things you buy. I have noticed a trend toward all natural food dyes and preservative free foods and I hope it catches on to a lot more things!

    • Laura

      This is a great post for newbies – these tips are practical and easy-to-follow. As other readers have commented, it's easy to think that all couponers are like the ones on Extreme Couponing, but that is definitely not the case. It's great to keep things in perspective and realize that sales/coupons do come around again. Plus, you actually get greater savings most of the time by just shopping sales; coupons are just the icing on the cake!

    • Dclutter2dmax

      one of my new years resolutions is to save where i can and this is one area i am trying to explore. i went to walgreens this week and plan on tackling kroger either thursday or friday. is there a better day to go? and i have tried to download ecoupons and it said none were available in my area. is there only a certain number of those like the printable ones? thx for all the info. deb

      • Amy B.

        Hi Deb, if it was the PG ecoupons that said they weren't available you have to register your Kroger card with them before any will show up for you to get. They should all be there once you input your card info!

    • Tammy

      On the buy price list most items do not have a size or quantity. For example what size pack of diapers and what size roll of toilet paper…double roll, single roll?

    • Kim9619

      Thanks for the post. I just watched Extreme Couponing last night and was disgusted at how couponers were portrayed. I wish they would show people that coupon to give like me and my friends do instead of the hoarding that was occurring.

    • kcreviews

      I shop all the drugstores in my town (CVS, RA, WAG) and all the grocery stores too (FL, HT, LF) because they are all so close to my house and I have to pass them taking the kids to and from school. I don't usually go to every one every week, but if I do it's not hurting anything, even if I only get a couple of items.

    • amy

      why is there no deals guide for Walmart? do their items not go on sale? A lot of people tell me it is cheaper to just go to walmart. what have you found?

      • Scottpluskelly

        Amy, I shopped exclusively at Wal-Mart for years, thinking I was saving money. Now that I found SouthernSavers, Publix is my favorite store. Their prices when they have the BOGO sale are less than WalMart (you don't have to buy 2, you can buy 1 and it will ring up half price.) Especially with coupons and the BOGO sale, Publix is much less than Wal-Mart. I went from spending $100 per week there, to now spending $40-65 a week at Publix.

        If they ever do a SouthernSavers workshop near you, it is worth going. She explains all kinds of things to make couponing easier.

        • amy

          I live in Florida- so we cannot split the BOGOs and there is no penny item, and we cannot double coupons. BUT, I love publix and have been saving $. I don't go to walmart anymore either, but i have a few friends who still think walmart is cheaper. when you understand the sale cycle, publix is a lot cheaper!! I just wasnt sure why she does not post walmart prices too. I would love to go to her workshop. I also watched her youtube videos.

          • Mrsraiderfan

            In Orlando they let you split the BOGO offers! But still no penny item or double coupon :(

    • Shelleyschu

      Thanks for sharing these other blogs. I enjoyed watching how to tie a scarf and I'm going to raid my closet to get dressed for my wags trip to search for free finish dish detergent. I will be the coupon fashionista!

    • Cwollard

      i have been rockin out at kroger this week. i got a huge stack of $2 off oral b floss from my dentist. oral be floss is only 1.50 this week at kroger after the p&g deal so i have been makin $2 for ever 4 flosses i buy.

    • C_delcastillo

      I have a question about the buy price list, how does it work exactly?