How to Read a Coupon
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How to Read a Coupon

Posted on Tuesday, August 13th, 2013 at 7:00 am
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Many people were never taught how to properly read a coupon. Here is a quick guide that will teach you what key information to look for on a coupon.Do you know what information to look for on a coupon? It is a skill that should be taught in school (but rarely is). It seems like it should be so simple, and yet, many people don’t understand what they should be focusing on when they read a coupon. Here is a quick “how to” that will save you some embarrassment at the register!

Tips on Reading a Coupon

What is the value?
Look for a dollar sign. Most coupons are the type that will save you a specific amount of money when you buy a certain product. “Save $1.00 when you buy a box of Cheerios”. Or, the coupon could be for a percentage off the price of something. “Save 20% off your entire purchase.”

Is the coupon expired?
Look for an expiration date. Most coupons will have one (but some manufacturers coupons might not). If that date has already passed, it means that the coupon has expired. You cannot use a coupon that has expired. Your expired coupons can help the troops (and it is easy to send it to them).

Look at the picture.
You found a coupon for a brand that you are unfamiliar with. It helps to look at the photo that is on the coupon. It is a lot easier to find that product if you have a good “hint” about what it looks like. Some coupons are for a combination of products (and you must buy one of each type). Other coupons can be used on many products (such as the ones in the photo).

Read the fine print.
Many people skip this step. It can lead to some embarrassment at the cash register when the cashier announces that you can’t use that coupon like that. Here are key phrases to look for:

* While supplies last
* Offer not valid at (specific locations or in certain states)
* Limited to one item per customer
* Limited to one coupon per customer
* Offer cannot be combined with other offers
* Cannot be doubled
* Must print out entire email in order to use this coupon
* Coupon can only be used on (these specific brands/sizes of products)
* Excludes trial/travel sizes
* Buy one, get one free

Does the coupon have a bar code?
Many stores are refusing to accept coupons that lack a bar code. Some stores won’t allow you to use a coupon if the bar code will not easily ring up at the cash register.

Is it a store coupon?
If you are holding a coupon from Target, and standing inside a Walmart, you probably won’t be able to use that coupon. Some stores will accept competitors coupons, though. Check the store’s coupon policy to find out.

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Good Tip: Saving money is important – especially if you have a lot of expenses like bills to pay, loans to pay off, and all the other things that drain your bank account. Figuring out a way to save money can feel tedious to some, and like a punishment to others. U.S. News suggests that you try one of these money saving challenges. The “No Eating Out for a Month” Challenge This one is self-explanatory. The goal is to avoid eating out for an entire month. This might be super easy for people who enjoy making meals at home. People who really enjoy dining out, or ordering food to be sent to their home, may struggle with this one. It’s worth a try because spending money on take-out is more expensive than buying groceries. The Pantry Challenge This one is a variation of the “No Eating Out for a Month” challenge. The goal is to use up all of your groceries before you buy more. It forces you to try and remember why you bought a food or beverage that you don’t know what to do with, and gives you the opportunity to find a way to use it. The one exemption to this challenge is the foods that have expired. Don’t eat them! Throw them in the trash. The “No Spend” Challenge Make a goal to avoid spending money during an entire weekend. The only exemption in this challenge is that you are allowed to pay bills. This challenge is interesting because it requires creativity. You must be creative and find workarounds for problems that you would typically solve by spending money. You may have a different outlook on spending after finishing this challenge.