If you are new to couponing this is the place to be!! If you have been doing it for a while this will be a refresher course for you.
When checking out at the register I often get nervous. Why? Well, there are many things that could go wrong. Will the cashier refuse my nicely cut out coupons? Did all the small, fine print match the items I am currently purchasing?
Coupon 101 – The Basics
A manufacturer’s coupon is a piece of paper with a discount for a specified product printed on it. The coupon can be used at most stores that carry the specified product. To receive your discount you must purchase the product and give the cashier the coupon. The cashier will scan the coupon and the coupon amount will be automatically deducted from your purchase. You then pay for the remainder of the purchase.
Coupons are a contract between yourself, the store & the manufacturer. Coupons may only be used once. You may not buy ten boxes of cereal and scan the same coupon for $1 off cereal ten times. The store will only be reimbursed for the single coupon you scanned – they will then lose $9 for the nine additional times you scanned the coupon. (which reminds me, don’t copy coupons. It is illegal)
You may use one coupon per indicated items purchased. If you have two coupons to save $1 on one box of cereal, you can buy two boxes and use both coupons. The coupon will say “one coupon per purchase.” This means you may not use both $1 coupons on one box. If you purchase two boxes then you may use two coupons.
You may not use two coupons on one item. There are a few stipulations to this rule. You can, in fact, use a coupon labeled “store coupon” and another coupon labeled “manufacturer coupon”. This is act is called “stacking” Stores like CVS, Target, ShopRite & Price Chopper will allow you to stack your coupons. (please remember to double check your store’s coupon policy prior to stacking any coupon). Some stores may not participate in “stacking”
Coupons may not be copied. Copying coupons are illegal (again). You can obtain multiples of coupons in legal ways like buying multiple newspapers. If printing your coupons off the internet, the print limit will always be two. However, if you have multiple computers you can print multiple copies.
Read the wording of the coupon and ignore the picture! Manufacturer’s usually put a picture of their most expensive product on the coupon to make you think that is what you have to buy. If you actually read the terms of the coupon, it will usually say “save on ANY brand xyz product.” That means you can buy even the least expensive product and still save with the coupon!
You can use a coupon on an item that is on sale or clearance too! Occasionally I will have a store clerk tell me otherwise, but it is usually cleared up with a chat with a manager or a call to corporate.
We have all heard about Double Couponing by now. Please check your store’s policy to make sure they are providing this promotion. When you redeem a double coupon (providing your store participates), the store will give you two times the face value off the purchase of that item.
For example, if you have a coupon for 25 cents off dish detergent, you will get 50 cents off your purchase. Most stores will double coupons up to a face value of 99 cents. If the words ” Do Not Double” appear on the top of your coupon, your store will not double. You can usually find any doubling restrictions next to the expiration date.
If a product rings up higher than advertised or they miss one of your coupons, let them know! I always read over my receipt before I leave the store to make sure everything is correct. Any mistakes over $1 are pointed out to customer service. You may be thinking that $1 does not seem like much, but let me put it in perspective. If you visit 3 stores per week and each store overcharges you “just $1″ at each visit then you are being overcharged $156 per year (that’s 3 weeks worth of groceries for some people!). It is usually more than $1 though, and rarely takes more than a minute at customer service. Stand up for yourself!
If you are using coupons correctly then shop with confidence. Many times the cashiers are just misinformed. Be calm and confident when you explain why you CAN use the coupon. If the cashier still doesn’t accept it, ask nicely to speak to a manager. It is your money and you should not feel bad about being a smart shopper!
If you are unsure about a coupon, it is much easier to call the store and speak with a manager (always get their name), or check their coupon policy prior to shopping. Believe me, this will save you a possible headache at check out.