Already I have gotten the question - where do I start!? This is all so confusing! And I totally agree with you! This can all be not only very confusing but overwhelming! Here is what I recommend you do to start - pick one store at a time. Don't try to learn every store and try to do every deal at once. Even I don't do all the deals I post - I just don't have time (or energy at 37 weeks pregnant).
If you choose one store and just get good at it - learn the in's and out's and get comfortable, then you will have the confidence to go to the next store and learn that one, get confident and so on.
My recommendation is that you start with Safeway or Albertsons.
If you start with Safeway the first thing you do is get a Safeway club card. You need the actual club card and not the phone number. Use your club card and go here to load the eCoupons onto your card. From this link load the Safeway coupons, Shortcuts, Cellfire and P&G coupons. Then when you go grocery shopping you can match paper manufacture coupons with the loaded coupons. Please see this FAQ post from our friends at Frugal Living NW.
For example, currently you can load eCoupons for Progresso soup onto your club card. If you put two cans of soup in your shopping cart the register will take off $1/2, $.50/2 and $.50/1 for a total of $2 off of two cans, but there is a "paper coupon" out there for $.50 off of two cans and that would take another $.50 off of your purchase. It would look like this:
Progresso Light, Reduced Sodium or High Fiber Soup on sale BOGO
Use $.50/2 coupon from 12/6 Smart Source or 1/3 General Mills insert
Use $.50/2 Cellfire eCoupon
Use $.50/2 Shortcuts eCoupon
Use $1/2 Safeway loaded eCoupon
$2.50 off the price of two cans of Progresso
And it is that easy - for two cans of soup! You don't need to tell the cashier anything or do anything special - just hand over your club card like you normally would and the computer does the rest. Hand over your paper coupons like you normally would when everything is rang up and it will go great! There are numerous other items that this works well for.
When I am loading my card with eCoupons, I don't load everything onto the card because there is a limit. I have never reached the limit so I don't know what it is, but what I do is load what items I know I will use, then go back and load cool stuff, and then go back again and load everything else until I reach the limit - which I haven't done yet.
Albertsons is another great starter store because they often have deals where if you buy so many dollars worth of certain products then they give you a catalina (or CAT) that you can use in the store for more items. For example, right now when you spend $20 on certain items, you get a $5 CAT back. If you do a second transaction then you can use the CAT to buy items that do not go on sale frequently like produce or dairy or you can use that CAT for next weeks grocery shopping trip to bring your out of pocket costs down.
Keep your eyes open about posts that I put up laying down scenarios for Albertsons. Currently there is one running that I have posted here.
I hope this helps get some of the timid people started.
Step one - get a subscription to the Sunday paper. There are valuable coupons in the paper, here is the preview for next week.
Step two - pay attention to the Safway and Albertsons ads that come out on Tuesday because there are "super saver" coupons and Albertsons double coupons that add even more value (and some times in the Sunday paper)
Step three - load your Safeway Club Card with eCoupons so that even a quick trip to the grocery store can be money savings.
Step four - be sure to check back here often! If I can't lay out a scenario for you, then I know all of the websites that can and I will try to help walk you through them.
Step five - relax! They're just coupons. :-) You'll get the hang of it. Just remember to start with one store and one deal at a time. Do what works for you and your family and your needs.
Step six - ask questions! I have some pretty smart folks on this blog and between us we should be able to answer all your questions. There is really no such thing as a stupid question because we all probably asked the same thing when we started. You can email me if you don't want the question publically asked.
Step seven - HAVE FUN! :-) Make a goal for your money savings! Maybe it's paying off that credit card that won't go away or for an all cash Christmas this year or a vacation! But make it worth your while... My goal is so that I can stay at home with our daughter and still be able to take a vacation here and there and to not go into debt doing so. Share your goals with us - we would love to hear them!