1. Know your store's coupon policy. Some stores are different in different locations, so if you read what someone in Michigan said about their Publix, it could be completely different than your Publix. I made this mistake when I went to Publix and tried to buy ONE pack of Tyson's BOGO Free chicken patties, expecting to get it half-price and use 1 coupon to get it cheaper. Well apparently in Florida, unlike other areas, you can't get just one for half the price. You have to either get 2 for the full price, or 1 for the full price, so you might as well get two.
2. Check the expiration dates ALWAYS before planning to use a coupon. Nothing is more embarrassing than getting to the check-out line and the cashier telling you the coupon is no longer valid, and then either having to pay full price, or ask to take the item off.
3. Buy 2 Sunday papers. It's well-worth what you'll save. A lot of times Publix will have a Buy One Get One Free deal going on, or Winn Dixie too, where if you have 2 coupons, you can use them. For instance, let's say Betty Crocker's cookie mix is BOGO Free. You can use 2 of the 40 cents off manufacturer coupons from the paper to get 80 cents off, instead of only 40 cents off. I promise, if used correctly, you will always save more than you spent on that extra paper. If not that week, you will the following week, or the week after that. Or if you really can't afford to buy the 2nd one, as sometimes I can't if money is too tight, ask a relative or friend. I'm sure you've got one close by that subscribes to the paper but thinks clipping coupons is a waste of time.
4. If you don't buy any other Sunday paper, get the first one of the month. It's always the best. It has the most store ads as well as more coupons.
5. Always check your paper before you buy it. I sent my husband to the gas station to pick up a Sunday paper, and I was so mad when he got home to find that there were NO COUPONS in it! Someone had taken them out, and probably stuck it in theirs to double-up. I sent him back to the same gas station to get another one, since you can't return the paper. Also a local convenient store (family-owned) got in trouble because they were stealing the coupons out of the papers and keeping them for themselves.
6. Check out store websites for coupons as well. Publix will have some you can print out from time to time, and Target has TONS. This is where you'll really save. Also keep a look-out for when Publix sends you any coupon booklets in the paper or regular mail, and Walgreen's coupon ad in the paper as well. Every store that I know of will allow you to combine a manufacturer coupon with a store coupon, doubling your savings. So let's say Dunkin Donuts coffee is on sale for $6.99 at Target, and you find a $1 off coupon on Target.com for Dunkin Donuts coffee. And then you have a $1 off coupon you clipped from the paper. You can combine them and get $2 off, making it $4.99. This came in handy for me last week, when also for every 3 bags you bought you got a $5 Target gift card. I was planning on getting a few for teachers at my daughter's school for Christmas, so it worked out perfectly.
7. Keep your coupons organized. Everyone has their own preferred methods. I would NOT recommend spending a lot of money on a coupon binder sold off the internet. I've searched for a lot of ways to organize coupons and came across all these binders that cost $20 or more, not counting having to pay separate for the baseball card inserts. When I looked at them closer I thought, "Jeez, not only is that easy to make on your own, but I wouldn't want to split my coupons up the way they are." Right now I'm in the process of making my own coupon binder. Up until now I had been using a small accordion binder I found in the dollar section at Target, but it's become overstuffed and annoying to flip through and find a coupon I need. I already had a 3-ring binder, and I found someone getting rid of a box of toys on craigslist. One of the things listed that was in the box was a few baseball card sleeve inserts. I did originally ask if I could just take the baseball sleeves, but the person really wanted to get rid of the whole box and not deal with it anymore, so then I offered to take the whole box, and just add it to my Red Cross donations boxes (I've been cleaning out the house & have scheduled a few pick-ups). Unfortunately I still need more baseball sleeves, but don't want to spend the $10 that a pack of them is in the store, so I'm kind of in between right now with my organizing them. But I do have all the personal hygiene stuff and cleaning supplies in the binder, which seems to be what I use the most often. For now though, I'll have to flip through the envelope for any food coupons.
8. Print coupons. Coupons.com is the only one that I really use, just because all the other trusted sites seem to be linked to where if you print too many on one site it won't let you print any more on the other, so it seems to be pointless to use the other ones. But I could be wrong. At first I was only relying on Sunday paper coupons, and getting annoyed at all the deals I was missing out on according to other blogs, so I finally sprang for some new printer ink (I just got new black ink & figured I could just pring back and white, and it was about $15) and have already saved in coupons what I spent on the ink.