Where to Get Coupons? (Couponing 101)

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The number one question I get asked from newbie couponers is something along the lines of “Where can I get this coupon?”

Coupons come from several sources and in several forms. In addition to Manufacturer Coupons and Store coupons (we covered these in the last class), here are the major types:

  • Insert Coupons
  • Printable Coupons
  • Mobile Coupons
  • Peelies Coupons
  • Hang Tag
  • Blinkie Coupons
  • Tear Pad Coupons

Coupon Type: Insert Coupons

(Photo credit: Beltway Bargain Mom)

The most common kind of coupons that couponers use are from the Sunday newspaper known as “inserts”. Inserts are little thin booklets that contain coupons.

The three most common inserts we keep track of are: P&G (PG for short), Redplum (RP for short) and SmartSource (SS for short).

The schedule for which inserts will be coming out each week is pre-determined in a public schedule. So, some weeks we may receive only a RedPlum, some with all three inserts, and a few rare Sundays with no inserts. Occasionally, some region may receive bonus inserts for Target.

P&G inserts typically come out once a month, and very occasionally twice a month.

Additionally, coupons and coupon values may vary by region. Someone in New York may not get the exact same coupon as a person in Seattle, even though they both got a RedPlum insert from the same weekend. We call these “Regional Coupons” or “Regional”.

For example: Brawny Paper Towel came out. In the Seattle area, they got $2 off two brawny. And in the rest of the country, we got a $0.55 off one Brawny Papertowel coupon.

Coupon Type: Printable Coupons

Printable coupons
Printable coupons are coupons you can print from your computer. Couponers sometimes refer to Printable Coupons as “IP”, which stands for “Internet Printable”. The most common form of printable coupons is hosted by coupons-dot-com.

We have several views into Coupons-Dot-Com coupons on the Free Stuff Finder site:

  • Search Coupons View – You can access this page by clicking on “PRINT COUPONS” from the horizontal site menu. It’s nicer than the coupons.com interface, because it allows you to search.
  • Coupons By Zip View – You can access this page by hovering over “Print Coupons” from the site menu and selecting the “Search Coupons By Zip” from the dropdown. This interface allows you to change zipcode easily and listing out coupons for that zip. Each region may show different coupons.
  • Pre-clipped Coupons – These are linked directly inside blog posts for certain deals. Pre-clipped means that the printable coupon will be selected and ready for you to hit “Print Coupons”. These are nice, because it saves you time from looking for the coupons. And because we can fit 3 coupons on a single piece of paper, sometimes, we pre-clip additional hot coupons, so that you can print 3 coupons instead of 1 on a sheet of paper, thus saving you paper.

If you are printing coupons for the first time, you’ll need to install a “Coupon Printing Program” from coupons.com. Install this program once, and it will work on all web browsers going forward on the computer you’re using. [If the install prompt doesn’t download, try switching to a different browser. ie. Don’t use Chrome, use Firefox for installation.]

To get started, go to this page, and attempt to print one coupon. If this is your first time, the page will ask you to install the software. Once you install it once, you will be set.

Printable coupon stacking example
Printable coupons can be a Manufacturer coupon or a Store coupon. Depending on where you do the printing and the promotion. Most of the time, coupons-dot-com coupons are Manufacturer coupons, but I’ve see them come out as Target coupons before as well.

Whenever there is a valid printable coupon for a specific deal, we will always include a link to where you can print the coupon.

Other Types of Coupons

Mobile Coupons – Coupons that you request or show up on your smartphone in the form of a text message. They are free, but regular text messaging fees still apply. Generally, you text a certain word to a mobile number, and you’ll receive a return text (sometimes with a web link) that contains your coupon.

Peelies – Peelies are coupons that are stuck on the product itself in the store. They are called peelies because you have to peel to take them off. Peelies are usually manufacturer coupons that you peel off at the time of using that coupon at checkout.

Here’s an example of a peelie coupon. I spotted this $2.00 off any Pantene hair products at a CVS store:

Coupon example peelies

Hang Tags – Hang Tags are similar to Peelies in that its a coupon on the product itself. But it’s usually loose and hung by a string or elastic around the product. You generally see these on drink bottles, and other bottles, such as Sunscreen.

Blinkie Coupons – Coupons from a blinkie machine. A blinkie machine is a little box that spits out coupons. They are located along store aisle and usually have a little blinking light. This is why we call it blinkie

Here’s an example of a blinkie coupon machine. Coincidentally, this blinkie machine contains a $1 off coupon, placed over Crest toothpaste that would make them Free after reward dollars.

Coupon example blinkie

Tear Pads – Tearpads are pads of coupons, usually stuck on a promotional display at a store.

In-Ad Coupons – Coupons (usually store coupons) found in the weekly ad for that store.

Digital Coupons – Coupons you load from your computer or mobile phones to your reward/membership cards at various stores. Example: Kroger or Walgreens digital coupons. These coupons are typically Manufacturer Coupons and not store coupons.

Catalina Coupons (Cat) – Catalina coupons are printed on receipt paper and handed to you along with your receipt after you pay. It’s printed from the Catalina machine that sits next to the cashier. Catalina coupons are typically manufacturer coupons. They can be store specific coupons as well (ie. at Target).

Here’s an example of a Catalina coupon printed for me at Walgreens:


There are of course other types of coupons and they can be found in many places. Just start paying attention to coupons and you’ll start to notice them everywhere.

Other places to find coupons: mailer postcards (Like Bed Bath & Beyond $5 off $15 coupon they regularly send), magazines (All You Magazine is known for having coupons), booklets within stores, Free Samples (many free samples we receive, will include a coupon in the package), in your email, at the Doctor’s office, etc.


  • Keep an eye out the next time you’re at a store to see if you can spot any Peelies, Hang Tag, Tear Pad. Or when a cashier hands you a Catalina, make a mental note to say “Hey, That’s a Catalina!”
NEXT: How to Read Coupon Lingo?

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