Savvy shoppers know that coupons are a great way to save money at a variety of stores, but many do not use them as well as they could. Coupons are available in abundance online, a source that is rarely tapped to its full potential. Once you’re in a store, there is also a correct way to use coupons. Below are some helpful tips for both locating and maximizing your coupons.
The Value of Knowing Your Coupons
The first thing to consider is that there are actually two kinds of coupons. Manufacturer’s coupons are offered by manufacturers for specific products, such as a particular brand of bread. Examples include the coupons in the Sunday paper and the so-called Catalina coupons printed on your receipt after a transaction. The manufacturer reimburses the store for every manufacturer’s coupon used, so it does not cost the store anything to honor the promotion.
The other type of coupon is the store coupon, an offer valid only at a specified retailer. Examples include coupons found in a retailer’s weekly ad or on the company’s website. In general, stores use these coupons to entice people to enter the establishment and clear out any inventory they’ve been unable to move.
You may be wondering why you should care about the two types of coupons, as both serve the same function (saving money). The answer is that many stores accept one coupon of each type on every item purchased, a loophole in the well-established rule that you can use only one coupon per item. This means that you can use two coupons on one item, provided you do your homework first.
Of course, every retailer has its own coupon policy that determines exactly what you can and can’t do. You should familiarize yourself with the specific coupon policy of every store you frequent. Do they accept internet coupons? Do they double coupons? If so, are there any exceptions? Will they accept a competitor’s coupon? Will the store give you credit if coupons reduce the cost of an item below zero? Knowing the answers to questions like these can help you determine which store to go to based on the coupons you have in hand.
Using The Internet To Find Coupons
In addition to the Sunday newspaper and your favorite retailer’s website, you can also find coupons on third-party discount sites. These sites include RetailMeNot.com, RedPlum.com, CouponSherpa.com, and CouponCabin.com. They all scour the Web to bring a lot of coupons under one umbrella, making value shopping easier than it has ever been before.
This does not mean that you should trust the discount sites blindly. While they make an effort to eliminate expired promotions, some still slip through. Promotions may be limited to a specific number of uses or certain geographic area as well, preventing you from using an otherwise valid coupon. Retailers may also take the coupon extremely literally, meaning that a coupon for a 7.5 oz. container will not be accepted for an 8 oz. container of the same product. Therefore, you should always read the fine print before using any coupon.
Many shoppers use a discount site, but you should really try to check them all on a regular basis. Sure, they have many of the same offers, but each also has exclusive deals unavailable anywhere else. It’s also important to download their mobile apps and sign up for their cash back offers, which feature savings beyond what you could get with the coupons on the website alone. Finally, these sites offer blogs with useful money-saving tips. They can be easy to miss, but provide information invaluable to the shopper on a budget.
After checking all of the discount sites, you will probably find yourself with more coupons than you ever had before. It is important to keep them all organized, ensuring that you can find what you need in a timely manner. There are many ways to organize coupons, from placing them in a binder to storing them in an envelope. The important thing is to devise a method that fits into your schedule and allows you to keep tabs on the coupons you have available.
Organization also helps you be courteous in the store. You should always announce your intention to use coupons at the beginning of the transaction, allowing the clerk to make any necessary preparations on their end. No salesclerk wants to go through your massive pile of coupons while three people are in line behind you, so you should hand them only the coupons you know you can use for the current transaction. On the off chance an expired deal found its way into your pile, the clerk may well give you the discount anyway if you are a courteous customer. If you made the clerk’s life miserable, however, they may find a way to avoid honoring even valid offers.
In conclusion, coupons are a powerful money-saving tool when used optimally. Sunday papers, third-party discount sites, and a company’s website are all important sources of coupons, while knowing the store’s coupon policy and being courteous to the salesclerk will help you get the most out of every coupon you find. Happy shopping!