Thursday, January 22, 2009

Couponing Basics: Shopping Time!

Now that you've collected your coupons, gotten them organized, and learned the lingo, it's time to put those coupons into action! But don't assume something is a good deal just because you have a coupon for it. Here's how to make sure you're getting your groceries, toiletries, and household items as inexpensively as you possibly can:

Match Coupons With Sales

This is the biggest help in maximizing your coupon savings. If you see a coupon for an item, that means that the manufacturer is trying to promote that product. But another way manufacturers promote products is to offer special sale prices on them. If you hang on to a coupon long enough, chances are that item will go on sale. When you combine the sale price and the coupon, a once expensive item suddenly becomes very inexpensive. For example, let's say you needed some shampoo. The regular price is $3.99, but you have a coupon for $1 off. You decide to wait for a sale, and sure enough, it goes on sale buy one get one free. Since most stores' buy one get one free sales ring up half price, that makes the shampoo $1.99. You use your coupon for $1 off, and now you only have to pay $.99 for the shampoo.

Know your store's coupon policies

Many grocery stores double coupons up to $.50, and some will double coupons up to $.99. That makes your $.50 coupon actually worth $1.00. Something that may have been an "okay" deal very well may end up being a great deal with a doubled coupon.

Some stores will only double coupons if you are purchasing a certain dollar amount worth of items. Some stores will not accept printable coupons. Make sure you know ahead of time what each store's policies are so you don't end up frustrated because you had to pay more than you expected.

Stack coupons when you can

This goes along with knowing the store's coupon policies. Some stores offer store coupons that can be used along with a manufacturer coupon on the same item. Examples of these stores are Walgreens, Target, CVS, and Publix. If an item is on sale for $3 and there is a $1 store coupon and a $.75 manufacturer coupon that would double to $1.50, you would only have to pay $.50 for that item.

Bigger is not always better

Before I started using coupons, I always looked at the price per ounce to make sure I was getting a product as cheaply as I could. That usually meant that I bought a bigger size package since the price per ounce usually came out cheaper. But when you use coupons, it is often a better deal to buy several smaller sized packages. For example, let's say you were looking at rice, and you had a $.50 coupon that would double to $1.00. The big bag of rice was $1.99, and the small bag was $.99. If you followed the habit of buying a bigger size, you would spend $.99, but if you bought the smaller bag, you would get if for free! If you had several copies of the coupon, you could get several bags for free.

Look for clearance items

Most grocery stores, drug stores, and even Wal-Mart will put items on clearance when they have been discontinued, damaged, or are soon to go out of date. These items may be in a special location or they may be left on the shelves and marked with a special tag. If you have organized your coupons, you will be able to quickly look to see if there are any coupons that can be used on the clearance items, making them free or very inexpensive.

Ask for rainchecks

What happens when you go to the store planning to get a great deal, and they are out of the item you wanted? Ask for a raincheck. You will be given a piece of paper telling what the sale price of the item was, and when the item is back in stock you can purchase it at that price and also use your coupon for it.

Shop the drugstores

You can get all your household's toiletries, medicines, and beauty products for pennies when you buy them at the drugstore. CVS, Walgreens, and Rite Aid each have their own programs that, when used correctly, will save you literally thousands of dollars each year. In the past 2 weeks I have published extensive information about the CVS and Waglreens programs.

1 comment:

  1. Hey, this is a great primer. Thanks for writing it! I especially like the point about how coupons can make smaller packages a better deal than bigger ones.


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