Ok, here are some basic tips and ideas to help you get started with couponing.
Collect coupons: Sunday paper inserts, the blinkie machine at stores, Catalina coupons you get a the register, peelies (Q found on product), tear pads, coupons inside products, printable coupons online and coupons mailed to you directly from the manufacturer, etc.
Once you get the papers you have to get organized!
Sort coupons: I have two main files. My clear one is for food products, blue is non-food household items. Each is divided into categories for easy finding while shopping. I have a Target file, that is only for Target Qs and their MFR match. I also have an Orange Pencil Pouch that I put all my Qs in that I have not sorted. That is sort of my catch-all. lol Go HERE for more (and different) ideas. Then all three files and my assorted other thing (scissors, envelopes etc) go in my coupon bag, that makes it easy to carry into the store.
Food File: Beverages, Dairy, Frozen, Canned, Breakfast, Snacks, Pantry, Meat, Condiments, Candy, Produce, Other
Household File: Baby, Razor, Oral Care, Hair Product, Skin Products, Make-up, Cleaning, Paper Products, Air Fresheners, Kitchen (foil, saran wrap etc), Other
Target File: Today's Coupons, Beverages, Food, Hair / Lotion, Deodorant / Teeth / Shave, Cleaning, Make-up, Paper product, Baby, other Target, other MFR, Other (that one is my Target coupon policy)
My whole inserts go in my large File Folder, divided by date. About every couple months I go through the oldest inserts and toss the ones that have all expired.
Ok, so now you have all your coupons and they are organized! Great! Now, find your deals. Blogs (like this one!) and your store's weekly ad are the best two places to start! What I do is take an envelope (one for each store I'm going to that shopping trip) and I write on the outside what I am getting and how many, then I put all the coupons inside. Now instead of lugging my whole coupon bag w/ me I just take the one envelope.
Checkout: I try and go and do my larger coupon runs when the store isn't too busy. The cashier will be frazzled and less friendly (in my opinion) if there is a long line behind you. Also, don't be afraid to ask for a manager to clarify things if your cashier doesn't want to take a legitimate coupon. And make sure to print your store's coupon policy. This is their rules- They have to abide by it!!