Monday, August 20, 2007

Some General Coupon Rules

Rule #1
You can use manufacturer coupons in conjunction with store coupons. You can never combine manufacturer's coupons on the same item, though. What is the difference? Store coupons will say 'store coupon' on it, where manufacturer coupons say 'manufacturer coupon' at the top. Those coupons are reimbursed to the store by the manufacturer, where store coupons are given out by the store as a promotion, and they do not get reimbursed. Albertson's, Walgreens and Fred Meyer are a few local stores that have their own store coupons on a regular basis. Here is an example scenario: Smuckers jelly is on sale at Albertson's for $1.99. I have a store coupon for .75 off one bottle, and I also have a manufacturer's coupon for .99 off one bottle. I CAN use both coupons for the same bottle! So my final payment for the bottle of jelly after coupons is only .25! FYI: It is also important to check out your stores to see if they take competitor's coupons. Albertson's WILL take Walgreens store coupons. So use will end up saving more money than you think.

Rule #2
Never, Never, Never, Never photocopy coupons! This includes internet printable coupons (IP's) especially. I know many people who think it is okay to copy them, but it is committing fraud, and you can get in legal trouble. Besides, it makes couponing much harder for the rest of us honest people, because then stores are wary of accepting any printables at all. So do it the right way....print off what you can and call it good!

Rule #3
Regardless of what some cashiers say, it is legal to get things for free by using a coupon. Ignorance is really to blame here. Most people have no idea how coupons work and the good they can do. When some cashiers see that I am buying an item for $1.99 and I have a coupon for that item for $2 off, they think I am committing a crime. It is perfectly legal. What differs from store to store is getting overage for that purchase. Some stores will actually give you the penny back, and other's won't. That is up to them to decide. What is important to remember that as long as you are using the correct coupon for the correct item, you are doing no wrong. Most times they are just jealous!

Rule #4
Watch the expiration dates! Some stores will accept coupons after the expiration, but those are few and far between. Plus, it is embarrassing to try to use an expired one. Save yourself time and stress by planning ahead. Always know before you go into the store what you are purchasing and approximately how much you are going to spend. Nothing is more frustrating than having a cashier miss a coupon or not getting the amount deducted which you should get.

Rule #5
Organization! The most important thing about using coupons on a regular basis is organizing them! The most popular are the binder method and accordion folder method, but be creative and organize your coupons in the way suits you best. Organize by expiration dates, and when the coupons have expired, throw them away or you can send them to military bases. They can use them at the commissary for up to six months after expiration dates. Here is some info on that.

Rule #6
Don't be embarrassed to use coupons. Who cares what other people think. You are saving money. I have been in the checkout line before and have amazed shoppers in line behind me ask me where I get all my coupons and how I shopped like that. It really isn't difficult. If you want to, you can do it.

Rule #7
Always keep every coupon you get, even if you don't think you will use it. This might seem extreme, but it is a must do! I can't even tell you how many times I have come across an unexpected sale at the store and I have a coupon with me for a product on sale or on clearance that I didn't plan on buying, but since I had a coupon for it I got it for free or less than .25! This is especially true with hygiene items at Target. They ALWAYS have that stuff on clearance and if you keep all your hygiene item coupons you can come away with some great stuff for free or really cheap. For example, I have gotten Dr. Scholls lavender foot massage creme for .88 (regularly $4.50) and Jergens facial moisturizer with a slight self-tanner tint for .50 (regularly $6 something). Both items were on clearance, plus I have high value coupons I used on them to save even more.

Check out the link to Coupon 101 on the right side of the blog. It will also answer many other questions you may have.

Happy couponing!

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