(Photo credit Ariel da Silva Parreira)
OK took a detour (AKA “life happens”) and now we’re back on track to finish off my October Coupon Lessons series in early November. (Don’t worry; there are only three more after tonight!)
Today I want to talk about how to be a good couponer. Specifically, to make sure you are aware of the basic rules of how coupons work and give you some food for thought when it comes to those gray areas.
Basic Rules of Couponing
Let’s start with the clearest list of things you should and shouldn’t do when it comes to using coupons.
Buy the item(s) specified and the quantity specified. Many coupons want you to buy a certain size or variety – so pay attention. If the coupon says 32 oz or larger detergent, don’t head to the counter with the 20 oz bottle. Now I’m not suggesting you would do this intentionally – I truly believe most mishaps like this are an oversight. I just want to spare you and your cashier the hassle at checkout.
Don’t use coupons past their expiration date.While it seems like a no-brainer, I’ve noticed more cashiers scrutinizing coupons lately for their dates so obviously people are still doing it – unknowingly or not.
Use one manufacturer coupon per purchase. If you are buying a jar of pasta sauce, you may use that $0.35-off-1 coupon you have, but please don’t attempt to use two $0.35-off-1 coupons for that same jar. Can’t do it. If you are buying two jars of pasta sauce, you may use both $0.35-off-1 coupons.
Honor the manufacturer’s fine print and/or intentions wherever possible. Most coupons will state “limit one coupon per purchase.” This could also be stated as: “limit one coupon per item purchased.” Please note that each item is considered a purchase (hence, two items – two coupons). However, occasionally you will find coupons that read “limit one coupon per transaction” or “limit one coupon per household.” Some of the newer coupons for the diabetic glucose monitors state that they are intended for those living with diabetes ONLY. Always be sure to take a moment to read your coupons to ensure you are following the coupon’s instructions.
Do not use a coupon you know or suspect to be fraudulent. Unfortunately, fraud does exist in the coupon world. Most of the time, the coupons to be wary about you’d be able to identify with a little common sense. For instance, be skeptical of ANY FREE coupon you could simply print from the Internet. True FREE coupons usually require registration and arrive to you via snail mail. Many times they will have holographic images or something special to help prevent duplication. Other printable coupons to be leary about: any that have no/sparse “fine print,” no expiration dates, or other high value coupons (such as $7 off toilet paper, etc.).
Store Coupon Policies
Now, besides the above rules which are just plain given for coupons you’d choose to use anywhere. But most stores you shop at will have additional guidelines you must follow. Think it just sounds like a lot of boring rules? Think again!! Knowing a store’s coupon policy can do the following two things for you: 1) show you new coupon and savings potential for that store, and 2) give you confidence when presenting stores with coupons. (Bottom line: policies are good for you!)
Some of the things you will want to know about your stores:
– Can you use a store coupon with a manufacturer’s coupon for the same item (called “Stacking”)?
– Can you use Internet coupons?
– Does the store accept competitor coupons?
– Can you use two coupons for a “buy one, get one” sale?
– Can you use coupons on rebate items? Clearance items?
It’s important to find out as much as possible about coupons you can use at the stores you shop at regularly to ensure you are saving as much as possible.
Where can you find coupon policies? Here are a couple of my thoughts.
First, pay attention to those store ads! Rite Aid is great for this. On page 4 of this week’s ad, they tell you to use the $3 coupon from the Sunday paper on the toothbrush there’s also a $2 rebate for so you can get it for free. Walgreens ads also often make remarks such as “see Sunday paper for additional coupon savings” – even just above Register Reward deals. The stores understand savvy shoppers will combine coupons with sales.
Second, I was able to dig up a few helpful resources for you tonight. I’m just focusing on stores that I assemble scenarios for. If you are wondering about a store you don’t see listed, check with their website. If that doesn’t get you anywhere (quite possible), consider emailing the store and asking outright.
Walgreens Coupon Policy FAQ(thanks, Hot Coupon World)
Rite Aid Corporate Coupon Policy(thanks, Deal Seeking Mom)
Target Coupon Policy(thanks, Deal Seeking Mom & Krazy Coupon Lady)
Albertsons Coupon Policy(thanks Krazy Coupon Lady)
Fred Meyer Coupon Policy(thanks Krazy Coupon Lady)
I encourage each of you to print and carry these policies with you when you shop. That way if there is a dispute, you can (in your most polite & respectful way, of course) produce it for the store manager or cashier in an attempt to resolve the issue. In most cases, it should clear the matter right up.
Now that we’ve talked about the hard and fast rules of couponing, tomorrow I’m going to touch on soft skills. You guessed it, etiquette. And unfortunately, there are a LOT of rude and obnoxious couponers out there and I want my readers to be the exact opposite. And if you are a rude and obnoxious couponer, please do me a favor and do not ever not never tell anyone you follow my blog.
On that fun note, have a great night!