Tuesday, March 10, 2009

How To Use Coupons

Coupon use may seem confusing at first, but with a little practice, it can become very easy and quite rewarding. Here are some couponing rules and tips.
  • It is smart to have at least two of each coupon available for buy one get one free sales. To do this, you’ll want to purchase two Sunday papers. When printing, you’ll want to back space to print off two copies of one coupon – most printables can be printed twice this way. Photocopying a coupon is fraud – don’t do it.
  • You can use one manufacturer's coupon per item. That means on a buy one get one free deal, you can use two coupons, one for the item you paid for and one for the free one. This is pretty standard, however, some stores won't let you do this on certain items.
  • You can use one manufacturer's coupon and one store coupon on one item. Say CVS has issued a coupon for Colgate and you have a newspaper coupon for Colgate too. You can use both of these on one tube of Colgate. This is called stacking and most stores do allow it. The Commissary, however, DOES NOT allow this.
  • Expired coupons are almost never accepted.
  • Some stores accept competitor's coupons. Publix actually encourages this. Just make sure that your store coupon is considered a competitor before you go to use it.
  • If the coupon says "one coupon per purchase" this means you can only use one coupon per purchase of one item (that you can't use two of the same coupons on one item). This does not mean you have to separate all your orders, though some cashiers will tell you it does. If you are confused by this just give it a while and you will understand what I mean.
  • Prepare yourself to have to separate orders. ~:O)
  • Your cashier isn't likely to give you any overage in cash but you can usually use your overage toward other groceries on your list. Though some stores don't allow overage at all and will scale any coupons that are worth more than your item down to the cost of the item.
  • Most stores do accept printable coupons. However, it is illegal to photocopy coupons and this can cause a particular store to stop accepting printables all together.
  • Coupon rules are dictated by each store and may differ from one store to another. If you feel your store is in error, be sure to mention this to the manager and contact corporate if that fails. It is true that all too often cashiers don’t know their own store’s coupon policies. If this is a common occurrence at a particular store, it is smart to carry a copy of that store’s coupon policy with you.
  • Stay nice no matter what. Rude couponers, even when in the right, are annoying and really make couponing harder for the rest of us.
  • Coupons can be used on trial sizes if they say ‘good on any size’.

Related tidbits -

  • Don’t put yourself in a coupon box (pun totally intended) and feel you have to coupon just like me. Find what fits your family.
  • Giving up brand loyalty will help you maximize your coupon benefits. Also remember that generic brands aren’t always cheaper, especially where coupons are involved. However, like I said above you must find what fits your family.
  • In many instances, such as with CVS and Walgreens, breaking your transactions up into small groups can create substantial savings by allowing you to roll store incentive dollars like Extra Care Bucks or Register Rewards.
  • Remember that when you are just starting to coupon, it may take time to organize your deals each week. This will get faster and easier as you go. However, you may need to set aside a specific time to organize your plan of attack.

Like I said, serious couponers do spend time putting deals together. With practice this can become quite fast and it will save you much dough in the end!

Do you have a couponing tip to add? Please leave a comment with details or a link to where you've written about it!