P&G: Proctor and Gamble insert
RP: Red Plum insert
SS: Smart Source insert

RR : Register Rewards at Walgreens (good for $$ off during next visit)
$1/1, $1/2 : 1 dollar off 1 item, 1 dollar off 2 items, etc.
2/$1, 3/$2: Buy 2 items for 1 dollar, buy 3 items for 2 dollars, etc.
B1G1 : Buy one item get one item free
B2G1: Buy two items get one item free
Beep: The register beeps when a coupon is scanned to signal the cashier must take further action, like entering a price
Blinkies : Grocery/drugstore coupon dispensers with blinking lights
Catalina: Catalina coupons print from a separate machine by the receipt printer
DND: Do not double
Ea.: Each
ETS: Excludes trial size
Exp.: Expires
GC: Gift Card
IVC: Instant Value Coupon, Walgreens' store coupons found in ads and monthly booklet
MIR: Mail-in rebate
OYNO: On Your Next Order
OOP: Out Of Pocket
OOS: Out Of Stock
Peelie: Coupons that are peeled off a package, commonly found on milk and diapers
PSA: Prices starting at
Rain Check: Promise from a store to sell an OOS product at a sale price when it is back in stock. Must ask for a rain check to receive one, generally from a manager.
RR: Register Rewards, Walgreens' Catalina coupons that are good for a dollar amount off OYNO
Q: Coupon
Stacking: Using both a manufacturer's coupon and a store coupon on one item
UPC: Universal product code, bar code
Tearpad: Pad of coupons attached to a display, shelf, or refrigerator door.
WYB: When You Buy
YMMV: Your mileage may vary – each clerk/manager/store may be different


Why coupon?

To save money of course. Some find couponing to be emotionally rewarding as well.

What is couponing?

Matching coupons with stores sales, rebates, and other promotional offers to get the lowest possible price and to stock up on much needed supplies.

Where can you find coupons?

  • Sunday newspaper – Coupon inserts (RP, SS, P&G, and occasionally bonus inserts depending on your area of the country: Parade Magazine, General Mills, Target). 
  • Internet: printable coupons – There are a vast array of printable coupons – on printable coupon sites and manufacturer’s sites. RedPlum, SmartSource,and
  • Coupon mailers from unsolicited companies or from a manufacturer with whom you have signed up in the mail or online.
  • In magazines – in particular, All You Magazine
  • Inside products or on the box of a product
  • Loaded to your savings card, if available, or to your cell phone
  • Coupon trains – Circulate and swap coupons, through the mail or in person, with family and friends. My favorite is Coupons and Things by Dede!
  • Writing to companies- I frequently write to companies and give them legitimate feedback on why or why not I love their products (Eg. Saggy, leaky diapers, etc). I always include all of my contact information and rarely request coupons, but I usually receive high value coupons by mail anyway! Read more information about writing to companies for coupons from a previous post HERE!
  • Store Weekly Circular or In-store –
Catalina/CAT - coupon on back of store receipt or printed after receipt
Blinkie or Tear Pad – coupon from a small blinkie machine or pad – typically near the relevant product
Peelie – coupon on product itself

There are several different types of coupons. Something for all beginning couponers to realize is that you may use ONE manufacturer coupon and ONE store coupon per item. When doing so, I recommend always using the manufacturer coupon first. Otherwise, the register will sometimes beep which leads to flustered cashiers.

1. Manufacturers coupons: These are the coupons that you typically get out of the Sunday paper. Peelies, blinkies and coupons that you get in the mail are also normally manufacturers coupons. These are the most common type of coupons. You can also receive coupons by writing to the Manufacturer. Read how to do so here! The store does not take a loss if you use a coupon. They are reimbursed from the manufacturer plus $.08 for handling, and it got you to come into their store. Don’t ever let a cashier make you feel bad for using a coupon!

2. Store coupon: A store coupon is a coupon that is issued by the store. At the top it says the name of the store and usually has their logo. These coupons are reimbursed by the store themselves. Store coupons can be combined with a manufacturers coupons. This makes for an awesome deal! Combining 2 coupons with a store sale usually results in FREE items. Always give the cashier your manufacturer coupon before the store coupon to avoid register beeps!

3. Loyalty coupon: These coupons are the ones you scan at the register to receive sale prices and promos. They are basically just another type of store coupon. You can add as many as you like. They do not double or triple and they do expire. When you check out you don’t have to do anything but swipe your card and they automatically come off!

4. Printable coupon: Manufacturer coupons can be printed from a few different sites. I usually get mine from,, Coupon Network and, however there are others out there. Once my coupons have printed, I always hit the back button to print a second copy.

5. Catalinas: (CCM) These are also called “check out” coupons, they are handed to you by the cashier with your receipt. They are incentives to shop with that same store again and buy the same products. Not only are Catalinas coupons but they can also be like cash. You might get a reward that you can use on your next purchase like cash. Hy-vee and Walgreen’s print out catalinas, however catalinas from Walgreen’s are usually known as Register Rewards. The phone number for the Catalina company if you have a problem is 1-888-826-8766.

6. Phone coupon: These coupons are coupons that arrive to you via text message, of course. Sometimes, you must be able to access the internet in order to use these coupons though. These coupons work a lot like e-coupons. They are usually do not double or triple, and they do expire. When you go to check out, you simply show the cashier your text message, or let them scan the barcode on your phone. I receive a number of phone coupons and they come in a variety of forms, they also come at all sorts of different times (some come once a week, but most come once a month). I phone coupons from Target, Redbox and Hy-Vee, to name a few.
Spotting a Fake coupon:

Spotting a fake is actually more for the stores than you, but you need to learn how to make yourself aware of how to spot fake coupons so that you don’t find yourself printing off a fake coupon. It’s also helpful to be able to point out why your coupon is NOT fake to a cashier.

While you may be able to print your coupons off in black and white or in color, I would recommend you print in color. If you print your coupons in black and white, you risk the store not taking your coupon, so I would simply not print any in black and white anymore. Especially since if they do not take them you can’t really go back and print them again. I know that ink is expensive, but I would much rather get a great deal on something, so I am pay the extra money for color ink cartridges. (I usually find good deals on Amazon and use my free Amazon gift cards for these!)

Grab one of your printable coupons. The number one, easiest way to it take a look at the top right hand corner. See the expiration date? Behind it should be small yellow dots, this is a security watermark. Also, many coupons have another watermark below that one. If it is a Smart Source printable they do not have the yellow dots but a larger watermark behind the amount you are saving.

Also, when showing cashiers and managers how to know if they are photocopied or a fake I point out that the serial number in the 2-D bar code at the top right are always different. If I had copied these coupons they would all have the same number! But, I usually have 2 of the same coupon because you can print them twice, and I can show them that they are different numbers.

If they really want to above the bar code at the bottom it actually tells the retailer how to go online and authenticate the coupon. It tells them to not accept without the dot-scan barcode below the expiration date.
Here is some great information from their site:

What if a store won’t take my coupon?
Please let us know, ( and we’ll send them information to help better inform them about printable coupons. They want you to have a positive experience; they just may not know the facts.

We also encourage you to refer them to the Retailer Resources on this site (the URL is printed on most coupons) and/or contact their corporate headquarters. Sometimes local stores are not aware of their corporate policy to accept printable coupons.
Finally, call their customer service line and let them know you want to use your coupons at their store.

Do’s and Don’ts
There are a lot of online coupons out there. You may come across offers that appear to be legitimate coupons, but you aren’t sure. Here are some simple guidelines on how to verify and get the most from online coupons.

You should never see the actual coupon on your screen, only an offer to print it.

Real coupons require special software to print proper barcodes and limit the number of prints of each coupon.

Print coupons only from the brand website for the products you are interested in, or well-known savings sites like or major websites that you trust.

Avoid coupon-swapping sites and websites that post images of coupons.

Never pay for a coupon.

Don’t make or use copies of coupons or printouts of scanned images of coupons.

Be suspicious of printable coupons for a free product or one that seems too good to be true. It probably is!

It makes retailers angry to receive fake coupons! As a result, they end up deciding on their own to not take internet printables. However, if it is a large chain store each individual store CAN NOT decide to do this for their store only. They have to follow corporate policy. So don’t let them make you feel bad or not take your coupon. This is where you have to know your rights. It has been hard for me to learn to stand up for myself with a cashier and manager. I am always nice and polite, but I don’t let them make up rules or tell me that I can’t use a coupon when I clearly can. I do always try to be sure that I have legit coupons though!

For more help getting started refer to my previous posts:
*Are Samples Worth it?
*How to Build a Stockpile
*Shopping at Wal-Greens
*Why didn't My Register Reward Print?
*Rainchecks 101
*Stockpiling VS. Hoarding
*Writing to companies for coupons
*How many coupons can I use in different scenarios?
*Target Shopping
*More Tips for Getting Started
*How to Read a Deal
*Couponing FAQ Part 1 - Avoiding the 5 top "Newbie" Couponing Pitfalls
*How to save on Meat and Produce
*30 Ways to Lower your Grocery Bill WITHOUT Coupons
*Amazon's Subscribe and Save
*Does Clipping Coupons Really Pay Off?