Now that we've talked about store coupons, I want to move on to that second major category:
These are coupons issued by food and product manufacturers. In most cases, they are providing the consumer (that would be you) an incentive to try their items. You'll frequently notice coupons (especially the "high value" ones) for new items. Manufacturers are hoping you will opt to try the product at a discount and become hooked on their product.
As you become a savvy shopper though, you will learn why it's good to NOT become brand loyal wherever possible. Your goal is to become loyal to SAVING MONEY. Got it?
"How can you tell if it's a manufacturer's coupon and not a store coupon?"
Good question! Here are the things I look for. First, what does it SAY? Does it say Target coupon or Manufacturer's coupon? Next, take a look at the fine print. A true manufacturer's coupon will provide instructions to the retailer where to send the coupon for reimbursement.
"WOAH! Are you suggesting stores I use my coupons at get reimbursed?"
You got it! A common misconception is that stores lose money when you use coupons. Actually, they treat those coupons as a form of payment. They submit them to the manufacturer (usually via a processing center) for their money. So when you use a $1 off coupon for your razor, YOU enjoy the discount, and the store gets paid the $1. Got it?
My primary source of manufacturers' coupons is the Sunday paper. Here are a few I pulled to show you.
Another major source of coupons for me: the Internet. When I first started couponing a year ago, I really questioned if these were "legit." Unfortunately, you will occasionally run into fraudulent coupons, but if you are printing from a major coupon source, such as Coupons.com or SmartSource, you will be fine. More and more retailers are accepting them. In my area, Albertsons, Safeway, Walgreens, Rite Aid, Fred Meyer, Winco, and Target all accept printable coupons. I am careful to only link to coupons I know to be legitimate, so you can feel safe printing and redeeming coupons from my site. You may have noticed I have a "quick print" coupon widget on my sidebar as as well as a "printable coupons" tab at the top of my blog. These are all safe and good to use coupons.
Here is what some of the Coupons.com coupons look like. You just check the ones you want to print. Sometimes up to three will appear on a page (as here). Other times, it may be only one coupon per page with an ad. It really depends.
Once you get going, you'll find coupons about everywhere. How about on the back of your cereal box?
Or on the inside of products you have at home?
How about at those little blinkie machines on the aisles? (Note: these are usually manufacturer's coupons, meaning you do NOT have to use them at the store you find them.)
How about booklets, tearpads, and other flyers you find at the store? At a trip to Fred Meyer a couple months ago, I found a Gardenburger booklet in the frozen Natural Foods section. The booklet had not one, but FIVE $2 off Gardenburger coupons. I've been enjoying using these over at Winco, where their Gardenburgers have been $1.98 (HELLO, FREE!). Besides that, inside the book was a form to send in for a FREE garden tote bag. I recently got it and it's adorable. Pay attention, people! Don't throw this stuff away. Hang onto it, and keep your eyes open! You could be throwing away FREE food.
Oh, these are some great coupons I got just by asking. Here is another idea for you. If there are products or food items your family uses regularly and you're having a difficult time locating deals for, by all means, call that company and ask!
Here is my list of manufacturer's coupons. There are probably many more sources – just keep your eyes peeled!
- Sunday inserts
- Internet printable sites
- On and in products
- In "blinkie" machines
- Facebook (I'm seeing this more and more…I've found some HOT coupons by becoming a "fan" of various companies)
- Tearpads at stores
- Doctor and dentists' offices (usually for OTC medicines and treatments)
- With your reciept at checkout (these are called Catalina coupons)
- In the mail – "junk" mail, promotions from stores, etc
One final note. About being greedy. Don't be. While it might be tempting to snatch an entire tearpad of cat food coupons or stand at the blinkie machine collecting 20 coupons, please be considerate of others! Don't be obnoxious, and use common courtesy and respect. I'm not going to sit here and give you a list of rules to follow, because I think each of you are able to apply good judgment.
Here's what I'd like you to do. A mini-assignment, if you will. Over the course of the next week, see how many different kinds of coupons you notice and can collect. Peruse store kiosks and customer service desks, store aisles and endcaps. Pay attention to what comes in the mail. Look inside packages of razors, cereal, and household cleaners. You might be surprised at what you find.
Tomorrow, I'm going to be talking about different ways you might begin to organize your burgeoning collection of barcodes. So grab your stash, your thinking cap, and we'll dive back in. See you there.