Friday, August 6, 2010

Financial Drama Part: II- Using Coupons

Using Coupons

Ok, so we've talked about the general rules/details of coupons and how to keep them organized so.... now for the fun part! Let's talk about how to use them! Below is the basic information you need to use your coupons effectively. There are a ton more details that I could bore you with, but I won't do that (today anyway).

Generally, I do not consider purchasing an item unless it is at least 40% off PRIOR to coupons. If an item is on sale and you have coupons, you can often walk away with items and only pay pennies (literally) on the dollar, even less (Yes, as in FREE!), or you can even be paid to buy something with coupon overage!

There 2 main types of coupons: Manufacturer and Store. As you would guess, manufacturer coupons are distributed by the companies who make the product and they are redeemable at EVERY retailer. Store coupons are distributed by the retailer (in partner with the manufacturer), and they are only redeemable at the retailer which issued them. (There is an exception to this one, and I'll talk about it in a minute.)

The easiest way to know which is which is simply to look at the face of the coupon. Most will note next to the expiration date if it is a Manufacturer's coupon, and store coupons will always state the store from which they were distributed. A lot of manufacturer coupons will say, "Redeem at ________" or "Redeemable only at_________." These are still manufacturer coupons, and you are not required to use them at their "preferred" retailer; it's just another form of advertising and marketing. If you get stuck and you're not sure what you have, there is a little trick I like to use. Above the barcode, there is a serial number. Manufacturer coupons begin that serial number with a 5 or a 9. No 5 or 9? That's ok, because you are the proud owner of a store coupon!
Manufacturer Coupon

Manufacturer Coupon with Preferred Retailer Logo

Store Coupon; notice there is not a 5 or 9 offset before the serial number.

If you have store coupon, you are in the prime position for "stacking." What is stacking? Well, stacking is using a store coupon on top of a manufacturer's coupon for the same item (Great for saving!). Again, be sure to check your local retailer's policy, but most stores I have shopped at allow coupon stacking. Keep in mind though, you cannot stack manufacturer coupons together and you cannot stack store coupons together, it must be a combination of one store and one manufacturer.

Remember when I mentioned the exception to the store coupon usage? Well, here it is: Always check with your local retailer to see if they accept competitor coupons, and if they do, who do they consider as a competitor? In this situation, for example, you may be able to use a Publix store coupon at Kroger if Kroger considers Publix a competitor. The best scenario for coupon stacking comes when your store allows you to stack a store coupon, manufacturer coupon, and a competitor coupon. Again, please check with your store prior to attempting to use competitor coupons.

Another coupon perk is the magical world of doubling or even tripling manufacturer coupon values at checkout! Many retailers have their computer systems set to automatically double or triple manufacturer coupons under a certain value (Usually $0.50 or $0.99) when scanned. This means that a coupon for $0.50 off can be doubled to a total of $1.00 off when used at a retailer who doubles! Just a side note: Some manufacturer coupons state "Do Not Double or Triple" at the top, and in this situation, the retailer can choose to manually override the doubling or tripling. This is another scenario to ask about prior to plopping a stack of coupons on the counter and expecting them all to double.

Manufacturer with Do Not Double

That just about covers the basics! Questions or comments? Just let me know! Check back in tomorrow for more information about how to use coupons effectively!

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