How to Coupon - Part 41
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How to Coupon

Five Questions to Ask Before Using Grocery Coupons

Posted on Monday, June 29th, 2009 at 11:53 am
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Smart Coupon Lady

Using coupons the right way can save you money

Over the years, using grocery coupons has saved my family thousands of dollars. But, coupons can also cost you money, too, if you aren’t careful. Here are five questions that you should ask yourself before you use that coupon.

1. Even after using the coupon, will your usual brand or the store brand be less expensive?
Check the unit prices and bring a calculator if you aren’t great at doing quick sums in your head (I used to be before having three distracting kids). Many times the store brand is cheaper, even after applying a coupon to another brand.

2. Is the item likely to go on sale soon?

There is nothing better than combining a coupon with a loss leader sale. Sales on grocery items tend to come around on a regular basis, depending on the item. If you keep a price book, you should no if a product is likely to go on sale before your coupon expires.

3. Can you use the item or items before they go bad?

Some coupons require you to purchase multiple copies of the same product or products in combination. If you live alone, do your really need three large jars of mayonnaise, for example?

4. Does the deal require a lot of driving or effort on your part to use the coupon?

If the coupon is only good at Target, but the nearest Target is a 20 minute drive, it might be better to pay a few extra cents at the store just around the corner. If you spend more money in gas than the coupon is worth, then you have lost out.

5. Are there any special promotions coming up when the coupon might be worth more?

Some examples of coupons being worth more later include double or triple coupon days, or in combination with other coupons (buy three General Mills products and get an extra $4 off)? There may also be clearance deals coming up. Have a coupon for plastic wrap? Use it right after Christmas when Red and green plastic wrap gets put on the clearance rack.

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What to Do If Your Store Doesn’t Double or Triple Coupons

Posted on Wednesday, June 24th, 2009 at 4:07 pm
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If your favorite grocery store does not double or triple coupons, then is it still worth doing all of that clipping? How can you get free items without doubling or tripling? Read on, I have some solutions.

First, be sure that your store really doesn’t double or triple coupons. Sometimes stores will double or triple on certain days, or they will offer coupons in their mailed flyers (but not their in-store flyers) that contain coupons that will allow you to double or triple manufacturer coupons.

Shop stores that have other offers, such as allowing you to combine manufacturer coupons or give you register rewards or rebates. Some stores that do this include Target and Meijer.

Pay more attention to loss leader sales. These are items that the store discounts heavily in order to get you in to the store (they are hoping that you will do all of your shopping there). Often combining a coupon with a loss leader will lead to free items.

Look for coupons that have a high face value. Since you don’t have to worry about doubling or tripling up to a certain amount, a high value coupon becomes even more valuable. Look for coupons that are $1 or more off (for people who have stores that double or triple up to $.99, a $.75 coupon is more valuable.

Focus on purchasing items that you would buy anyway. Even $.50 off something that you normally buy is another $.50 in your pocket.

Contact the store manager or headquarters to respectfully ask for a coupon policy change to allow for doubles or triples. You just might get what you ask for!

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What You Need to Know About Your Store’s Coupon Policy

Posted on Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009 at 4:15 pm
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Coupon policies vary greatly among stores and even among locations when it comes to store chains. Understanding the coupon policies for your favorite stores can go a long way to saving you money. You won’t wind up getting any surprises at the check out line, and you’ll be able to take advantage of the best policies.

I find it helpful to keep a quick list of the policies for my favorite stores. This way I can do a quick glance to compare where I should apply a coupon and how to apply it. Also, coupon policies can change, so keeping it all straight in your head if you go to multiple stores can get tiring.

So what are the type of things you should learn about store coupon policies?
Does your store double or triple coupons? To what amount of coupon? Do the doubles or triples occur only on certain days? Can you double or triple like coupons or is there a limit of the number of coupons that you can double or triple on a given trip?

Will your store take coupons that are printed off of the Internet? Not all stores do, and sometimes even when they do, cashiers aren’t aware of the policy.

Will your store take expired coupons. There are very few stores that do, but it does happen.

Will your store take competitors store coupons? Do they issue their own, and if they do, where can you get them? Can you stack store coupons with manufacturer’s coupons?

Beside coupon policies, you also want to be aware of other money saving store policies, such as rain checks and price matching.

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Store Coupons that Stack with Manufacturer Coupons

Posted on Monday, June 22nd, 2009 at 12:39 pm
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Why save with one coupon when you can do it with two coupons?

Some stores will allow you to stack (use more than one coupon on a single product) coupons when you use a store coupon plus a manufacturer’s coupon. A store coupon is a coupon that is issued for use just in that store, while a manufacturer’s coupon can usually be used anywhere that accepts coupons and has the product.

Store coupons are usually found in store flyers, mailed to your home, in magazines, at the store website, and even sometimes in Sunday coupon inserts. Manufacturer coupons are usually found in the Sunday coupon inserts, at the manufacturer’s website or in the mail.

Stacking both a store coupon and a manufacturer’s coupon means that the chances of you getting a product for free are very high. Some stores also give you register rewards or checks even when you stack coupons.

Here are four stores that typically allow you to stack store coupons with manufacturer coupons. Of course you should check with your local store just to be safe before you plan out your shopping trip.




BJs Warehouse Club

The best way to go about stacking coupons is to first look at the store coupons. These usually have short expiration dates and often last just a week. Once you have those coupons in front of you, go through your list of manufacturer coupons and check online to see if there is a matching manufacturer’s coupon. You can check our printable coupon database for manufacturer’s coupons.

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Using Coupons: Size Matters

Posted on Thursday, June 18th, 2009 at 11:42 am
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Fake Coupons with US Coins

To save money, I often buy things in bulk. That usually means getting the largest size of a product. Most of the time this is a good strategy to get the lowest unit price (e.g cost per pound or cost per count). My strategy changes, however, when I have coupons.

When using most coupons it pays off to purchase the smallest size package that is allowable with the coupon. This is true even if the larger size is normally a better deal. By applying a cents (or dollars) off coupon to packages that cost less, you get a greater percentage of savings. In fact, if you apply the coupons carefully, you can often wind up with free products.

I’ll give you a current example. In recent Sunday coupon inserts there have been $1 off manufacturer coupons for both Kelloggs and Kashi cereals. Both of these brands feature cereal bowls, one serving size containers of cereal that come in their own bowls. Apply the $1 off coupons, and you will get these products for free. My first experience with applying coupons to the smallest size of a product happened several years ago, when I was able to stockup on 20 individual servings of oatmeal this way. That was 20 breakfast meals at no cost, something my family was grateful to have.

If your grocery store doubles or triples coupons, you can still apply this strategy. A $.75 coupon doubled will come to $1.50 and tripled will be $2.25. This is usually enough to cover things such as smaller tubes of toothpaste, deodorant and more.

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What are Catalina Coupons?

Posted on Tuesday, June 16th, 2009 at 10:55 am
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If you follow me on Twitter, you may have seen me mention Catalina coupons. Very often, Catalina coupons are high value coupons, so it is good to know all about them.

Catalina coupons are coupons that print out from that little printer at the cash register. They can print out during the time that your purchases are being rung up, or sometimes after your receipt is printed. The cashier should hand you the Catalina coupons when you get your receipt.

Very often, the cashier may either not notice the Catalina coupons, ignore the Catalina coupons or accidentally give them to the person who is in line after you, so it pays to keep an eye out on that machine. You may also find some stray Catalina coupons in your shopping cart or in the parking lot, since many shoppers don’t know what these are and tend to leave them behind.

A Catalina coupon is either a reward for purchasing certain products, such as $4 off your next order if you buy two boxes of General Mills cereal, or an incentive to try a new product, such as $2 off 10 containers of YoPlait yogurt after you just finished buying Dannon Yogurt.

Usually, Catalina coupons specify that they must be used in a specific store (the one where you just did your shopping.) But you can use them elsewhere, if you find another store that takes competitor coupons.

How can you increase the chance of getting Catalina coupons? There are a couple of ways. You can check the store flyers to see if they announce any deals. You can follow me on Twitter, because I’ll post deals that trigger Catalina coupons. You can switch back and forth between brands on the items you buy instead of being brand loyal.

Happy Shopping!

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Coupon Waves

Posted on Wednesday, May 6th, 2009 at 10:33 am
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Syncing up coupons with sales and store promotions is a sure way to save money on groceries and household items. You can even get many free items this way. But it does take some work to match the coupons from the Sunday inserts to the sales in the stores. Well, here is a little trick that will prevent you from having to do all that but still allow you to save a good chunk of your normal grocery bill.

When you get your Sunday coupon inserts, put them in a folder, and envelop or a drawer. First mark them clearly with the date. Then ignore them for four weeks. After the four weeks, take the inserts to the store and shop as normal, using the coupons in of Sunday insert for your purchases. At least 40 to 45 percent of the products in that Sunday insert should be on sale.

Most product manufacturers go on a four week coupon promotion or wave. They start promoting their products through coupons and then follow up four weeks late with promotions in the store. There is a very good reason for this. If you have a coupon, you may try out a new product. Then four weeks later, you see that same product on sale and you are willing to buy it again because you are saving again. And once you buy a product twice, you are more likely to continue to purchase it.

Try this technique out and see if it works for you!


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How to Get Your RedPlum Inserts

Posted on Monday, April 27th, 2009 at 4:05 pm
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In many areas, RedPlum (Valassis) inserts are now rare from the Sunday paper. They may be available in the middle of the week in you local paper or mailed to your home. But if your RedPlum inserts are missing in action, you can contact Valassis to be added to their list. This way, the coupons are sure to be mailed to you.

When you get to the page using the link below, select the drop down selection for consumer, for the answer to what kind of user you are. Then select the drop down selection that says “I would like to start/stop receiving your coupons in the mail.”

Hit next and fill out the form to start receiving the coupons. You can also contact Valassis by phone: Valassis’ Consumer Assistance line toll free at 1-800-437-0479 (8:30am-5:00pm EST).

Click here to get to the Valassis page.

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Coupons, Real and Fake

Posted on Saturday, April 25th, 2009 at 12:01 pm
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The preview of Sunday’s insert coupons is here. Looks like a very good week to stock up. If you receive Red Plum via mail, you may have already received the coupons from their circular.

We have a list of printable coupons, and we also from time to time tell you about coupons you can obtain by mail, with booklets and special offers. We’ll be expanding that area shortly – there are so many great promotions out there.

But today, lets talk about counterfeit coupons – yes, people really do commit fraud with counterfeit coupons – and it impacts all of us who are honestly working hard to save money legally.

Last year, Good Morning America ran a report on counterfeits, and how they actually cause honest couponers to be viewed with suspicion, and treated like criminals. Some stores don’t accept legitimate internet coupons, because they are so spooked by fraud redemptions.

Take a look here at all the counterfeit coupons listed. Be aware that if you attempt to print and use these, you could be arrested for fraud. Do not print these, do not trade them, and certainly do not buy them!

Counterfeit couponing, “beating the system” is a pet peeve of mine – we all pay for the actions of these greedy dishonest people. And it’s not just the people who redeem or sell counterfeits – an entire clearinghouse was found guilty of “coupon laundering” and defrauding major retailers and manufacturers.

Let’s keep it real, people. And let’s keep it clean.

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How to Start a Coupon Club

Posted on Wednesday, April 1st, 2009 at 4:40 pm
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Coupons clubs are a wonderful resource for anyone who wants to use grocery coupons to save money. A coupon club can help you get more of your favorite coupons, learn coupon strategies from more experienced “coupon queens” and have a fun social time with other like-minded people.

While there are plenty of large coupon clubs out on the Internet, starting a small local club can have a lot of extra benefits, such as not needing to mail out coupons, and sharing great local deals.

To start a coupon club, look to the places where you normally gather with other people, such as the workplace, a moms club, a church group, your child’s school or parent association or a neighborhood organization.

Ask around to see if anyone is interested in joining a coupon club. Don’t worry about starting small because word can get around quickly, and you should soon have more members.

You can choose to meet to exchange coupons, or just designate a spot where members can drop off unwanted coupons and browse through coupons left by other members. After a while, you may know which coupons to set aside for which person, such as a particular brand of baby diapers or dog food.

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