There are several different ways that you can start a nice stash of coupons. I started out just getting the local newspaper on Sunday's. Then, I realized my husband's office got the Sunday paper and were (shock!) throwing the coupons away!!! Obviously he started grabbing those for me. Then I got really lucky, and both my father & father-in-law started sending me coupons from their papers. (This makes absolutely no sense because they often spend almost as much in shipping as I would on buying extra papers, but they love me and realize that coupons make me very happy! The great part about this is that they're both in different newspaper markets and often get coupons that aren't distributed in my area. So if you have a family member who's willing to save them up and send them to you once a month it might be worth the work!)
Next, I slowly started printing coupons. At first it was a hassle. It was a pain to register for all the different sites that have coupons, and I hated passing on some of the information (i.e. name, dob, address) to people I didn't know. However, I did start signing up for coupons from companies that I felt were reputable i.e. http://smartsource.com/ , http://print.coupons.com/, http://eatbetteramerica.com/. I also only signed up for companies that I found through couponing blogs that I felt confident about. After reading certain blogs (MoneySavingMom is a favorite!) I kind of got to know the blogger, and if they felt safe posting the coupon link I generally trusted their judgement. (All that being said, don't ever sign up for a coupon if the deal doesn't sound quite right to you. Use your common sense and discernment to choose reputable sites to register on when hunting down deals.)
Also, I came up with inexpensive ways to print coupons. First, I watched for deals to stock up on paper (back-to-school season is great for this). I also started hunting down deals on printer cartridges and cartridge refills. The best deal I've found lately is through Walgreens. They offer ink jet refills for $12.99 all the time, and run some kind of discount on that about once a month. The best part is that each of their refills currently come in a box with a “50% off ink jet cartridge refill” coupon that doesn't expire until 2010! (There are probably less expensive ways to get refills & ink cartridges out there, but it's just so easy to run it into Walgreens, and a lot of times they fill it for me while I wait).
I also started signing up for certain coupons through the mail. If companies like General Mills, Nabisco, or Suave had a deal to send, I hurried over to their sites to register for the coupon. I've also registered for all the Publix's mailers (check them out here http://www.publix.com/clubs/ClubsAndPrograms.do). So far this has added a nice little pile to my coupon box, and a lot of these are higher value coupons than you might find in the Sunday paper.
Hopefully this will help you start your stash! I've found that having both printed coupons and newspaper coupons works for me, but if it just seems like way too much work, just print the coupons as you see the deal and it will definitely save you some time! On Thursday I'll be posting more details on Publix's coupon policy.