How to Coupon

Digital Coupons may not be Ideal for Extreme Couponers

Posted on Tuesday, July 12th, 2016 at 7:00 am
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Extreme couponers need to be aware of the potential limitations of digital coupons (that paper coupons do not have).There are people who use coupons once in a while. Many others use some coupons every time they go grocery shopping. Then, there are the extreme couponers who put a lot of effort into figuring out how to use coupons in the most effective and money saving ways. The limitations of digital coupons may not be ideal for extreme couponers.

Glitches Can Affect Digital Coupons
Digital coupons can be extremely convenient, but they also have some disadvantages. The digital coupons that get loaded onto your favorite grocery store’s loyalty card could disappear before you use them. Usually, this happens when a digital coupon has expired.

Sometimes, digital coupons disappear due to a glitch. It isn’t common, but it has happened. Extreme couponers might want to rely on paper coupons, that won’t disappear due to a glitch, as they make their plans.

Family Might Use Your Digital Coupons
There was a time when grocery stores had to see your store loyalty card before you could access the savings connected to it. Today, many cashiers simply ask for the phone number that is attached to the loyalty card. This method is convenient for people don’t like to carry a lot of cards around with them.

The disadvantage is that your family members may have the same phone number that you do. This means your spouse might accidentally use up a coupon that you had been saving for your next shopping tip. It also means your teenager, or college student who returned home, could do the same thing.

Digital Coupons are Store Specific
Some digital coupons are store specific. In other words, the digital coupons on your loyalty card for Vons cannot be used if you shop at a different grocery store. This exclusivity could make it difficult for an extreme couponer to make their plans.

This limitation could be worked around, if the extreme couponer doesn’t mind visiting several different grocery stores on one shopping trip. It is harder to save an extreme amount of money if you have to factor in the cost of the gas you burned while driving around.

There is another problem with store specific digital coupons to consider. There are some stores that will accept competitors coupons. All a customer has to do is hand the cashier the paper coupons she wants to use. That same store might not have the ability to accept their competitors digital coupons.

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Millennial Parents Shop with Coupons

Posted on Tuesday, July 5th, 2016 at 7:00 am
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Millennial parents utilize a variety of different kinds of coupons, from many sources, to help them save money.Decades ago, coupon clipping was mostly done by mothers who wanted to save some money on groceries. At the time, the only type of coupon that was available was the paper kind that people had to manually clip from their local newspaper and bring with them to the grocery store. Today, millennial parents shop with coupons, but they do it differently than parents of previous generations did.

How Millennial Parents Save with Coupons

Millennial parents (both moms and dads) are using coupons. They may still get some coupons from the newspaper, but the majority of the coupons used by millennial parents are digital coupons.

Bloomberg reports that millennial parents get coupons from a variety of sources. They use multiple coupon apps. Those apps might include ones that are specific to particular stores (such at Target’s Cartwheel) as well as more generalized coupon apps (like Ibotta).

They also visit websites that are about coupons and saving money. These kinds of websites are an excellent resource for printable coupons, coupon codes, information about sales, and helpful advice about how to combine coupons with sales to get the best deals.

Millennials also use store loyalty cards. Most, if not all, grocery stores offer a loyalty card to customers. People who have a loyalty card are able to access special sales that are only offered to members. Millennials know they can load digital coupons onto their favorite grocery store loyalty card before they shop. Those coupons automatically get used at the checkout.

Pharmacy loyalty cards typically offer a wide variety of coupons. Some can be digitally loaded onto the card. More coupons can be printed out at the store. There generally are offers that automatically appear when a customer uses a pharmacy’s loyalty card at the register.

Valassis found that millennial moms and dads shop more like the people in the Gen X and Baby Boomer generation. One reason why millennial parents are so focused on saving money is because so many of them are struggling with massive student loan debt.

Millennial parents shop differently than do their peers who are not parents. 89% of millennial parent use coupons when they are making their shopping list, but only 78% of millennials who were not parents do that. Millennial parents spend more time on the internet looking for coupons, and use more paperless coupons, than do their childless peers.

Unsurprisingly, millennial parents spend 40% more when they shop than their peers who do not have kids. It makes sense that a generation that started their adult life with student loan debt, and who now has children to feed, will use coupons to cut down costs.

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How Sports Authority’s Closing Will Affect You

Posted on Tuesday, June 14th, 2016 at 7:00 am
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All of the Sports Authority stores, nationwide, are in the process of closing.  How will this affect your coupons, gift cards, and exchanges?You may have heard that Sports Authority has announced that it is going out of business. It will close all of its 450 Sports Authority stores nationwide. What does this mean for shoppers who have coupons, gift cards, or who want to try and get a good deal before the store closes?

The first thing to understand is that Sports Authority is closing all of its stores after it made a failed attempt to reorganize under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The result is that all Sports Authority stores will be closing, forever. You should not expect that they will reappear under a different owner. This is the end.

What this Means for You

Gift Cards
You should make an effort to spend whatever amount is on your Sports Authority gift cards as soon as possible. Wait too long, and you will lose whatever amount is on them (because you can’t use a gift card from a chain store that has closed). ABC News reported that Sports Authority will honor their gift cards both online, and in their stores, through June 28, 2016.

Exchanges and Returns
Do you need to exchange something you bought at Sports Authority for a different size? Is there an item you recently purchased from the store and need to return? Again, you should try and get that done right away. Returns and exchanges will be allowed in the Sports Authority stores (but not necessarily online) through June 28, 2016.

One thing to keep in mind is that the Sports Authority stores are in the process of selling off as much stock as possible. This could cause difficulty for those who want to exchange an item for a different size. Sports Authority may have sold out of your size before you get there!

Sales
It is typical for stores that are going out of business to have big sales. Some of those sales have already begun, and all of them are expected to end around August 31, 2016. Keep in mind that not all markdowns are a great deal. The closer the store gets to the end, the larger the sales will be. Take a close look at the product before you buy it. Everything is being sold “as is” and you probably cannot return it if you find a defect later.

Coupons
Be careful when using coupons. There have been some situations where a person used a Sports Authority coupon – only to have the cashier deny it. The problem seems to be that some coupons have fine print that states the coupon cannot be used on clearance items. Or, the store may be refusing coupons because it is in the process of liquidation.

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Pinterest Might be Adding Coupons

Posted on Tuesday, June 7th, 2016 at 5:54 pm
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Pinterest might be adding coupons to some of their pins.  It appears they are offering the option of adding coupons to retailers who buy ads.Pinterest may have a lot of pins that are about coupons and couponing, but the social media site typically isn’t a place to find actual coupons. That might be changing! It appears that Pinterest is upgrading its ad platform in the hopes of attracting more brands.

People use Pinterest for many reasons. Many people create boards that are filled with pins of products that they want to buy. It isn’t easy for companies to tell if their pin was added to a board because the person intends to purchase that item, or if they wish they had the money to buy it. Some boards are inspirational and serve as a note of a good idea instead of functioning like a shopping list.

Business Insider reported that Pinterest is offering brands a new ad suite. The goal is for Pinterest to attract more brands who want to purchase ads on their platform.

The suite could include digital couponing, sales, and coupons that can be tacked directly onto a Pinterest ad. The coupons could be used to enable Pinterest users to test out a new product or to buy the products that the see on Pinterest.

It is anticipated that the coupons will be digital coupons. This could mean that the Pinterest coupons might be designed for use on retailer’s websites – only. It may also be possible for some of the Pins to connect to a site where a user can download and print out a printable coupon that can be used at a physical store.

Digiday reports that Pinterest may be offering retailers the ability to use “Cinematic Coupons”. It is something that Pinterest says has never been done before. In short, the Cinematic ads are designed to attract attention in a way that other Pins cannot.

Pinterest describes Cinematic Pins this way: “Cinematic Pins are a collection of Pins that use mobile-first animation to reveal a product.” Pinterest suggests that retailers could convert video into a .gif to show their product in action or being used. Or, another option is to use video content or a still image and add a coupon offer at the end.

Right now, it is difficult to tell when you might be able to find coupons on Pinterest. There is no information on the Pinterest website or its blog that mentions the potential addition of coupons. It is possible that the addition of coupons depends upon whether or not Pinterest can attract enough retailers to start offering coupons there.

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Coupons Aren’t As Important As Quality of Life

Posted on Tuesday, May 10th, 2016 at 7:00 am
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Coupon are wonderful - until they start affecting your quality of life in a negative way.We love coupons because they are an easy way to save some money. There are situations, however, where using a coupon is not the best idea. In order to figure out the true value of a coupon, you have to take quality of life into account.

Extreme Couponing
The best thing about extreme couponing is that it can result in great savings. This doesn’t magically happen, though. It takes work! Some people truly enjoy the hours they spend collecting coupons and the effort they put into keeping their stockpile organized.

The trick is to avoid having extreme couponing negatively impact your family’s quality of life. Has your stockpile taken over the kitchen table? Do you spend more time with coupons and your stockpile than you do with your kids? If so, it is time to cut back on the couponing.

Shopping With Children
You have a coupon that will give you a dollar off on a certain brand of cereal. The store in the next town happens to have a sale on that brand of cereal. Combine those offers, and you could save money.

However, you are currently in your local grocery store with your children. The little one is starting to get fussy. The older one just out out of school and is anxious to go home and play. It’s not worth driving to another town, under these circumstances, to save a $1.00.

Don’t Forget the Cost of Gas
You’ve gone through all the sales papers and added digital coupons to your various store’s grocery cards. You made a grocery list that notes which store has the very best price on the items you need. Your plan could result in a significant savings on your grocery bill.

All the driving around, from store to store, is going to burn more gas than if you simply picked one store to do all of your grocery shopping at. The savings you got as a result of meticulous planning could be completely nullified by the cost of the gas you burned.

Cheaper Isn’t Always Better
The name brand cereal, and the store’s brand of the same kind of cereal, probably contain the exact same ingredients. You can buy the less expensive store brand and get the same quality of product at a lower cost.

The cheap gardening gloves that you got from the dollar store, however, are not equivalent to the slightly more expensive ones from the hardware store. Buying the better quality gloves will cost less over time because you won’t have to replace them very often.

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Target’s Cartwheel App Adds More Coupons

Posted on Thursday, May 5th, 2016 at 7:00 am
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Are you using Target's Cartwheel app? If not, there is now one more really good reason to start. Target is adding more coupons to their Cartwheel app!Are you using Target’s Cartwheel app? If not, there is now one more really good reason to start. Target recently added something new to their savings app that will make couponers very happy. They made a change that actually gives you access to more coupons than ever before.

Cartwheel is Target’s savings app. It offers hundreds of coupons from across every category in the Target store. In other words, Cartwheel offers coupons for groceries as well as coupons for clothing, household items, and more.

The coupons on Cartwheel are digital. Those coupons typically give you a percentage off of a particular item. Some of those offers included Target’s own product lines (Archer Farms and up&up). Others were for products were not part of Target’s brands, but that were sold at Target.

Users can look at the offers in Cartwheel and choose the ones that they want to use. When they are done shopping, all they have to do is let the cashier scan the barcode on the Cartwheel app. Shoppers can also use coupons that they clipped from other sources (including the printable coupons from the Target website). Those who have Target’s REDcard can use it as well to stack up the savings.

The more you use the Cartwheel app, the more offers you will receive. You start with a few “spots” where offers will appear. Use the Cartwheel app more to unlock additional offer spots. Put all of this together, and the Cartwheel app becomes a good way for frequent Target shoppers to save money on their purchases.

In April of 2016, Target announced that they had begun testing a new kind of deal on the Cartwheel app. They started offering digital manufacturer coupons that offered a dollar amount discount (instead of a percentage discount). Each of those coupons is single-use, only. Now, you can clip “real” digital coupons inside the Cartwheel app.

To make this work, Target has partnered with Quotient (otherwise known as Coupons.com). They are a third-party provider of digital coupons. When Target first integrated manufacturer coupons into the Cartwheel app, there were about 40 of them offered. That number may change and the coupons offered could vary.

Target points out that iPhone users can click the “share” button to send their Cartwheel list into the Notes app. Target suggests that Android users press and hold the screen once they are in the Cartwheel app for a shortcut to the barcode widget.

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Kohl’s is Closing Underperforming Stores

Posted on Tuesday, May 3rd, 2016 at 7:00 am
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Kohl's is going to close several of its underperforming stores in June.  Is your local Kohl's on this list?You might want to use up your Kohl’s Cash sometime soon. Kohl’s is closing several of its stores that it considers to be underperforming. The original announcement was made by Kohl’s on February 15, 2016. Recently, Kohl’s posted a press release that included a list of the locations of Kohl’s stores that will be closing soon.

Kohl’s has come up with some new and innovative ways to drive sales. They plan to pilot seven new, smaller format, Kohl’s stores in various regions around the country. (The specific locations have not yet been released). They also want to add two additional Off/Aisle pilot stores in Wisconsin.

In addition, Kohl’s will open 12 Fila outlet stores. Again, the specific locations have not yet been released. These new Fila outlet stores will be Kohl’s first entry into the outlet space.

Here is a list of Kohl’s stores that will be closed as of June 19, 2016:

* Arcadia, CA – 7279 N. Rosemead Blvd., San Gabriel, California

* Cypress, CA – 10201 Valley View St., Cypress, California

* Ladera Ranch, CA – 27426 Antonio Parkway, Ladera Ranch, California

* Mira Mesa, CA – 8140 Mira Mesa Blvd., San Diego, California

* Rancho Cordova, CA – 11051 Olsen Drive, Rancho Cordova, California

* San Jose East, CA – 2323 McKee Road, San Jose, California

* Upland South, CA – 233 S. Mountain Ave., Upland, California

* West Hills, CA – 6651 N. Fallbrook Ave., West Hills, California

* Hialeah, FL – 700 W. 49th Thomasville Road, Tallahassee, Florida

* Northlake Mall, Georgia – 4820 Briarcliff Road, Atlanta, Georgia

* Saint Charles, IL – 3840 E. Main St., Saint Charles, Illinois

* Pineville, NC – 9579 S. Blvd., Charlotte, North Carolina

* Princeton, NJ – 200 Nassau Park Blvd., Princeton, N.J.

* Brown Deer WI – 9060 N. Green Bay Road, Brown Deer, Wisconsin.

* In addition, the Kohl’s in Lithonia, Georgia, located a 2929 Turner Hill Road, will close on November 1, 2016.

Kohl’s customers in the affected markets can continue to receive the same exceptional customer service, amazing prices and incredible savings at surrounding Kohl’s store locations, as well as on Kohl’s.com and the Kohl’s mobile app. Not sure where your nearest Kohl’s store is at? You can find out by checking the Kohl’s Store Locator.

Right now, Kohl’s is having a Mother’s Day Sale both on its website and in its physical store locations. The website has a promo code for $10 off a Mother’s Day gift purchase of $50 or more. That offer ends May 8, 2016.

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Whole Foods Revamped their Coupon App

Posted on Thursday, April 21st, 2016 at 7:00 am
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Whole Foods Revamped their Coupon App | FreeCoupons.comWhole Foods was once considered to be extremely expensive. The company has been working on their image and taking some steps to make things more affordable for their customers. Whole Foods has revamped their coupon app.

The Whole Foods Market app can be downloaded for free from either the App Store or Google Play. The app is focused on helping customers to get the most from shopping at Whole Foods. Use the app to find local store information, thousands of recipes, and to create your shopping list.

The update to the app added new, exclusive, digital coupons. The coupons can be used at a Whole Foods store (but not on their website). The coupons are regularly updated. People who use the app should frequently check the coupons it currently offers before putting together their shopping list.

These digital coupons are only available on the latest version of the Whole Foods Market app. (You can probably update the app if you aren’t using the most recent version). The coupons will be offered to consumers who use the app on iPhones (iOS 8.4.1 or later) or Android phones (Android 4.0.3 or later).

Some coupon apps allow users to pick and choose which coupons they want to use on their next shopping trip. There is no need to do this on the Whole Foods Market app. Everyone who uses the app is offered the exact same coupons as everyone else. It doesn’t matter which kind of phone you have or where in the United States you happen to live.

Whole Foods may be trying to catch up to it’s competitors by adding digital coupons to its app. Target has been offering coupons, and special deals, on its app for a long time. Kroger started offering digital coupons in 2010, and Safeway followed in 2012.

The digital coupons on the Whole Foods Market app are easy to use. Pick up the products that you have a coupon for. Show the cashier your smartphone with the in-app digital coupon bar code displayed. The cashier simply scans the barcode. All of the Whole Foods stores in the United States will accept the digital coupons that are on the Whole Foods Market app.

Just like regular paper coupons, the digital coupons on the Whole Foods Market app will have an expiration date. Use them before they expire. When one expires, it will no longer appear on the app. This ensures that all of the digital coupons you see are eligible for you to use.

Photo Credit: wholefoodsmarket.com

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Why Your Coupon from the Tuna Lawsuit Hasn’t Arrived

Posted on Tuesday, April 19th, 2016 at 7:00 am
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StarKist TunaTuna is a staple in many people’s homes. One can has enough food for two sandwiches. There are many other recipes that include tuna. A while ago, StarKist was involved in a settlement that would require it to send coupons to some consumers. There are reasons why you haven’t gotten your coupon yet.

There was a lawsuit called Hendricks v StarKist Co.. The claim was that StarKist was under-filling certain 5 ounce canned tuna products (and that doing so was in violation of state law). The two parties agreed to a proposed settlement.

The settlement offered two potential options to people who were part of the class action lawsuit. A person could choose to get $25 in cash or a $50 voucher for StarKist tuna.

Haven’t gotten yours yet? There are many reasons why. The first thing to be aware of is that the settlement is only for people who have purchased one or more of the StarKist products from February 9, 2009, through October 31, 2014. Those people needed to file a claim before November 20, 2015. If you didn’t file a claim before that day – you won’t be getting anything from the settlement.

The next thing to realize is that even though the two parties agreed to a settlement, that doesn’t mean they are “done”. A judge needs to approve the settlement. In February of 2016, a judge struck down the original proposed settlement over legal issues. Those issues have since been addressed, and a hearing for a final approval is set for April 21, 2016.

People who filed a claim will not receive anything from StarKist until after that hearing. If the judge does not approve the settlement, it will take even longer to receive your voucher or cash from the settlement. A class action lawsuit, like the StarKist one, cannot begin sending things out to class members until after a judge approves the settlement.

It is possible that the judge will approve the settlement. If the judge does not approve it, there is a chance that a new settlement will be made. There is no way to know, for certain, what will happen or what a new settlement would consist of. People who are part of the class action lawsuit are going to have to wait and see what happens.

Those who are in the class action lawsuit might, or might not, be notified about the judge’s decision. In other words, you shouldn’t assume that you will actually receive your $50 StarKist tuna voucher. It is best to consider it a nice surprise, when and if it arrives in your mailbox.

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Chipotle Started Mailing Coupons for a Free Burrito

Posted on Thursday, April 14th, 2016 at 6:21 pm
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chipotleChipotle was once a very popular place to eat. Every since the chain had problems that caused customers to get sick, it has been struggling to convince people to come back. To help encourage people to give the restaurant chain another try, Chipotle has started mailing out coupons for a free burrito.

Chipotle’s first attempt to lure customers back was with a mobile coupon that offered a free burrito. The coupon contained a code that a person needed to present at the register. Chipotle says that 5.3 million people tried to download that mobile coupon. This shows that there are many people who are ready to give Chipotle another try.

In March of 2016, Chipotle started the next phase of its plan to encourage customers to return. Chipotle started mailing out millions of coupons for a free entree. The company plans to mail out a total of 21 million of these coupons. If you haven’t received one yet, there is a chance that one could appear in your mailbox soon.

Did you get one of those coupons? Make sure you check the expiration date on the coupon. That series of coupons expires on May 15, 2016. Chipotle put an expiration date on the coupons for a reason. The goal was to nudge customers to return to Chipotle sooner rather than later. People who get a coupon that offers a “freebie” are likely to be motivated to use it before the coupon expires.

Why would a restaurant that has gone through a period of time where it was struggling to get customers start offering coupons for free food? It seems counter-intuitive at first, when you realize that Chipotle is going to lose profit by giving away free entrees. The point is to make Chipotle’s 2,000 restaurants “look like Chipotle again” – packed with customers.

Chipotle is planning on giving out more coupons this summer. It is difficult to predict exactly what those offers will look like. They might shift from coupons that offer free entrees to coupons that offer a “Buy One, Get One” deal. Or, Chipotle could decide to send targeted mobile offers to people who live in areas where the Chipotle restaurants are lagging in sales.

Overall, this is a smart move on Chipotle’s part. Everyone loves a “freebie”! The coupons for free food could help change the restaurant chain’s reputation from “the place people got sick from” to “the place that I can get free food from”. People will eventually forget about the bad news if they are giving extremely positive news in its place.

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