Thursday, May 26, 2011

Extreme Couponing Lite: How to Use Coupons

Last week I wrote about where to find coupons. This week I'll focus on how to actually use them.  An important point to remember is that at most grocery stores, discount stores (like Target and Walmart), and Warehouse Clubs (like BJs or Sam’s), you can use both a manufacturer’s coupon AND a store coupon on an item.  Using two different kinds of coupons while an item is on sale is the most effective way to maximize your savings.

For example, this week at Target you can get a free kids toothbrush by using a manufacturer’s coupon -- $1 off 1 in the 4/17 RP insert -- and a store coupon found on Target’s website -- also $1 off 1 -- bringing the normal retail price of $1.99 down to FREE. 

It actually matters in what order you give the cashier your coupons. Generally the rule is to make sure you scan your store rewards card first. After that, it depends on what store you are at. 

At Wegmans, I haven't found that it makes a huge difference, but I usually give store coupons first and manufacturer's coupons second.  Sometimes you'll still get the error beep, but the cashiers are usually able to override the machine.

At Target, I always have issues for some reason. The machine will make the scanning beep whether or not the coupon goes through, and since cashiers don't usually look up when they are scanning several coupons at once, you really have to pay attention to the screen.  You'll have the best luck if you give the cashier the Target coupons first, then manufacturer coupons.

At Walgreens, always give Register Rewards first, then store coupons, then manufacturer coupons. If not, the machine will beep, and you may not get all your discounts.  Also at Walgreens, you cannot have more coupons than you have products in your order. This is possible if you have store and manufacturer coupons for many products. In this case, you need to be prepared to pick out a "filler" item -- it could be a pack of gum, or even a $.10 pencil -- to make sure the item count does not exceed the coupon count.

Finally, the most important tip when using coupons at checkout is to be prepared. Make sure the products you have match the quantities or sizes listed on the coupon. Make sure you have the appropriate number of coupons for products you have in your cart. I always go to store with a list of the items I need as well as the coupons I will use for each product. Preparation helps things go smoothly at the cash register.

And of course, be courteous to the cashier. If you're going to be THAT crazy coupon lady (or man!),  a little bit of patience and kindness for the person who is helping you stay within your budget is always appreciated.



At May 26, 2011 at 9:45 AM , Blogger Amber said...

Yea! I'm just starting to 'get serious' about coupoing and look forward to your tips.

At May 26, 2011 at 10:36 AM , Blogger Sarah said...

I'm so happy you like the series. Anything in particular you'd like to hear about? I know I'd like to write about coupon organization and a play-by-play of my trips. :)


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