I started couponing almost 5 years ago, way before that TV show that makes us all look like mustard hoarding nuts. I would be at the store every Sunday morning to purchase my arm full of papers. Not to mention, I kept my eye on Ebay for the hot coupons I wanted, and ordered from clipping services.
What was I thinking?
There's no need to pay for coupons.
There are several ways to get some for free!
Tear Pads, Stickies, and store displays
Just walk around the store and you will find scads of coupons. Enlist your children to help you keep an eye out.
Doctor and other professionals offices
Seriously. I find some awesome ones at the kid's pediatrician for lotions and fever meds. Occasionally, they have free samples too!The Post Office is another place I've found coupons.
Directly from the Manufacturer
Occasionally, I've had some dud products. One time, I bought a pack of Huggies diapers for Baby Girl where the tabs kept ripping off when I first put them on her. Arg. I sent a (NICE) email to Huggies, explaining the problem, they sent back wanting some of the codes off the pack, a couple weeks later, I had 2 free diaper pack coupons, and 3 free wipe coupons in my mailbox. Oh, happy day! (as for the defective diapers, I did keep using them. Duct tape really does fix everything ~snort~) I've emailed companies to sing the praises of their product and most of the time, I'm rewarded with some coupons.
Sign up at Product testing sites
One of my favorite sites is BzzAgent. Not only have I received some products to try, I've got coupons to use and handout. These come in handy if you participate in a coupon swap(more about that in a bit). If you would like an invite to sign up for Bzzagent, drop an email to hntersmom(at)yahoo(dot)com and put bzzagent in the subject line!
Join/Organize a coupon swap
Have friends and family that coupon? Organize a swap. This is a great way to get rid of ones you will never use for ones you are needing.
Join a couponing group
They are all over Facebook if you don't know anyone local. Many people particpate so you can find different coupons, since they are regional. If you can't find one, make one.
Start a coupon train
Have friends and family that coupon but don't live nearby? Start a coupon train. They are easy to start, you just need some coupons, a list with the order to send it in, and a few rules(like it needs to be mailed onto the next person within a certain number of days, etc)
Gather inserts from friends, family, neighbors, coworkers
You would be surprised at the number of people that don't coupon. Or they don't use all of them and then they get tossed. Offer to pick up what they don't want!
Post an offer to pickup inserts on Freecycle, Craigslist
For safety sakes, meet in a public location
Look for Coupon Swap boxes
I don't see these very often anymore. If you frequent a place, like a community center or a small grocery store, ask if you can set up a box
Grocery Rewards/Discount programs
Signing up for a grocery discount program can net you some coupons. It's a happy day when I see the mailing from Dillons because it usually includes a coupon for a free product. My kids joined one grocery store's kid program and they get coupons for a free small cake and free half a gallon of ice cream to use in the their birthday month.
Points Programs: My Coke Rewards, Pampers, etc
If you are going to use the product anyways, you might as well collect the points to cash in for something useful. I've been a member of My Coke Rewards since it started. Joseph can easily go through 3 cases of soda a week so my points rack up fast. I also get the occasional points from my mom. You can enlist friends and family into saving them also if they don't want to bother with them. If you have a community soda available at your employment, ask if you can keep the lids and box codes. Set up a bowl by the recycling for everyone to drop their code in. You can even do like me and, ahem, pick up the strays lying around.(I do send it all to recycling so in effort, I am heloing clean up) Not only can you get coupons for soda on My Coke, but I've also cashed in on coupons for free boxes of crackers, Minute Maid juice boxes, and even Mcbites from Mcdonald's. Gift cards and magazine subscriptions are my other 2 favorite ways to cash in points.
Free samples in the mail
Almost every free sample I have requested, has come with a coupon!
Product websites, Facebook page, etc
I only do this method if they physically mail you the coupon, not for ones you have print yourself.
I'm sure there are dozens more ways to find coupons. These are just a few I know of that can get you started. I do buy the occasional paper, but now the coupons that I will use have to have a value twice as great as the cost of the paper for me to even buy it.
Notice I didn't include internet printables in this. To me, you have to pay for the ink so technically, it's not free.
What's your favorite way to score free coupons?