Thursday, July 15, 2010

Couponing Part 4 of 4: Using Your Coupons

If you’ve been following along in this little series, you’ve already acquired and filed your coupons, found the deals and clipped your coupons, it’s finally time to use your coupons to save some money! Every store’s coupon policy is different and it will make your life easier (and the cashier’s and the people in line behind you at the checkout) if you’re familiar with the store’s policy before you show up with your cart full of stuff and a stack of coupons you’ve worked so diligently to collect. You would be surprised at just how many “rules” stores can have about coupons… things like the number of coupons can not exceed the number of items purchased, the coupon can not be worth more than the price of the item, the number of coupons a customer can use in a day, whether competitors coupons are accepted, what stores are considered competitors, limits on the number of items that can be purchased at the sale price… it varies so much by store, you’ll save yourself a ton of frustration if you know what you’re getting into ahead of time. If you decide to use there’s a document next to each list that outlines the store’s company policy on coupons, but sometimes the management at a specific store will have their own take on that policy, so it’s best to just ask the customer service desk at your store. You can also check out the store’s website to see if you can find their policy there. If you do find the "official" coupon policy, you may want to carry it with you to the store just so you have some back up if the cashier isn't familiar... you'd be surprised!

Once you know what the store will and will not accept, here are my favorite ways to take the most advantage of using coupons:

Stacking Coupons– Use a store’s coupon (i.e. the ones that they print in their flyers) in combination with a manufacturer’s coupon (i.e. the ones that come in the flyers in the newspaper) on one item. Example: Deodorant is $4.95, the store coupon from their Sunday flyer brings it down to $1.99 and you have a manufacturers coupon from the Red Plum insert in the paper for $1, so you pay .99 for your deodorant.

Buy One Get One Free Deals– This is why I LOVE Publix! Publix runs BOGOs on several items each week and they’ll accept coupons for not only the item you buy, but also the item you get for free. Example: Rice is BOGO and one rice costs 2.00. If you have two $1 off 1 coupons for rice, you can get 2 boxes of rice for free.

Register Receipts/Extra Care Bucks/the coupons that print out at the register at certain stores – Walgreens and CVS both do this type of deal. Check out the weekly flyer and you’ll see that coupons for a dollar amount you can spend on pretty much anything in the store (like a gift certificate) will print out when you purchase a specific item. You can use those register coupons on your next transaction, so make sure to buy all the deals that will give you those types of coupons first, and then buy the rest of your items as a second separate transaction so you can use the coupons from the first transaction. Example: You need to buy toothpaste and cereal. Toothpaste is $4 and you get a $2 register receipt when you buy it, you also have a $3 off coupon for that brand of toothpaste. You have the cashier ring up just the toothpaste, use your $3 off coupon, pay $1 out of pocket, and get the $2 register receipt, which means the store paid you a dollar to buy the toothpaste. The cereal is $2.25, have the cashier ring it up as a separate second transaction, and use the $2 register receipt from the toothpaste to purchase the cereal for .25

Okay, that's it for the series on couponing... any questions? I'll wrap it all up for you tomorrow & then I'll be back to my usual posts, starting with a product review and giveaway!


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