COUPON BASICS: There are 2 major kinds of coupons...Manufacturer coupons and store coupons. The type of coupon it is will be printed on the top of the coupon next to the expiration date. If it is a manufacturer coupon, you can use this coupon at any store that accepts coupons. If it is a store coupon, you need to use it at the store it lists, (unless your stores take competitor coupons) Most coupons will state "one coupon per purchase" Every item you buy is considered a purchase. So if I buy 5 bags of crackers, I have made 5 purchases. Which also means that I can use 5 coupons, one coupon per item. Transaction means your total sale at check out. So if I buy 5 bags of crackers, 2 rolls of TP, and a candy bar, that is 1 transaction. STACKING: Some stores will allow you to 'stack' coupons. This is how you get your big savings. Stacking coupons means using one manf. coupon and one store coupon on the same item, or purchase. If you have a manufacturer coupon for .50 and a store coupon for .50, both for the same product, then you can stack those coupons together for a total of $1 off your one item. It is never OK to use more than one manufacturer coupon on one item. MATCH UP TO A SALE To get even bigger savings, you pair your coupons with a SALE. Basically couponing is like playing a game of cards. You have to hold your coupons until you have a good move to make. Then you play and save. Many people choose to stockpile items when they find a great deal. This is why it is good to have multiples of coupons. If you find peanut butter for .75 after coupons, you use all your coupons and stock up so you never have to pay retail price again. So here's the magic formula: Store coupon + Manufacturer Coupon + Sale + Stockpile = SAVINGS PROPERLY USING COUPONS: SIZE/QUANITY: Pay attention to the wording that is written on the coupon. Obviously if your coupon is $1 off of 2 (or $1/2 in coupon lingo) then you have to buy two items to get that $1 off. However....if your coupon does not specify what size you have to buy, you can purchase any size of that product (even travel size unless it states excluding trial size) Here's an example... My coupon states $1 off any Bounty product. So naturally I would think that I would have to buy a 6 or 8 roll of the expensive bounty paper towel to use the coupon. NOT TRUE! If you go to target, there are Bounty Basic single rolls for just .99 each. You can use that coupon to get your paper towels for free. What if I have 5 $1 off coupons? Then I buy 5 rolls of Bounty Basic and use all 5 of my coupons and get all 5 rolls free! DON'T PAY ATTENTION TO THE PICTURE: It is the WORDING that counts, not the picture. Example: I have a coupon for $1 off any Coke product. The picture shows a 12 pk of Sprite. I do not have to use this coupon on sprite, or a 12 pk for that matter. Wait until you see Coke 2L go on sale for .99 or under, then use your $1 coupon and get it for free. The companies don't want you to know these tricks because they want you to pay for a bigger item minus a dollar or two for the coupon. But if you follow these tricks, you can get many, many items for free. http://community.babycenter.com/post/a25712797/coupon_basics Chain Stores: Basic couponing information for each store with questions and answers from our group members http://community.babycenter.com/post/a23485313/overwhelmed_read_our_cheat_sheet Of the 3 main drug stores (CVS, Rite Aid, and Walgreens) this is one of the easiest to learn. It is a good place to start if you are new to couponing. CVS (like most stores) allows you to 'stack' a store coupon and a manuf. coupon on one item. You can get store coupons online or by scanning your Extra Care Card at the kiosk machine. Extra Care Card: If you go to CVS and ask for an Extra Care Card, they will have you fill out a simple form with your name and address. The program is totally free. If you include your email they will send you huge money saving store coupons through your email. Extra Care Bucks: When you make certain purchases using your extra care card, CVS will give you Extra Care Bucks (or ECB's) that print on the bottom of your receipt. ECBs are paper bucks that you treat just like cash. So clip them and hang on to them. If you lose them, they are gone. You can use as many as you want per transaction/purchase. There are no limits. You can stack these with store coupons or manufacturer coupons. Using Your Extra Care Bucks: When you first start out, you will not have a lot of ECBs to start with. You will end up spending a little bit more OOP (out of pocket) but that's ok. Here's an example from this week. The ad reads: Schick Razors are on sale 8.97, get 4 ECB back. You will pay 8.97 for the razor, but receive 4 bucks that you can use towards your next transaction. This is good for the average consumer, but your goal is to pay as little OOP (out of pocket) as possible. So you could also use a $5 coupon on this deal. 8.97 - $5 coupon = $3.97. Plus get 4 ECBs back. ROLLING: CVS allows you to "roll" your ECBs. Which means using one reward to get another reward in return, or trading paper for paper. Now that you have 4 ECBs to use, you are going to look for items that give you extra care bucks in return. Hopefully the same amount if not more. You are going to trade paper for paper to spend as little OOP as possible! Example: Shampoo is on sale $4.25, get 4.25 ECBs back. I use my 4 ECBs from the razor deal to get my shampoo for .25, and I still get 4.25 ECBs in return. I am now rolling my ECBs. Trading paper for paper. FILLER ITEMS: Filler items are little tiny items you pick up to help you reach your goal amount. If you are buying shampoo for 3.75 and you don't want to lose that extra change when you use your 4 ECB, you can pick up a tiny filler item to reach $4. Like a candy bar or a small piece of candy. COUPON KIOSK: There is a coupon scanner in most CVS stores. It looks like a price check. Scan your card there before you shop, every time you shop. It will give you more coupons to use towards your purchases. TARGET The first thing you should do is get familiar with Target's coupon policy. Target allows you to 'stack' a store coupon and a manf. coupon. You can find target coupons almost everywhere! Sometimes they send out special mailers to your house. Sometimes they are in the Sunday paper. Sometimes you print them out online. As long as they say STORE COUPON on top (and are from target of course), they can be stacked. ONLINE COUPONS: When you go to www.target.com, scroll all the way down to the bottom of the page. In tiny print there will be a link for coupons. You can print coupons off of Target's website twice. HOWEVER... NOT ALL COUPONS ON TARGET.COM ARE STORE COUPONS. They won't tell you either. After they print you have to look up at the top of the coupon. If it has the store logo and it states 'manufacturer coupon', YOU CAN NOT STACK THESE WITH TARGET COUPONS. On the plus side, you should be able to use these at other stores with no issues. GIFT CARDS: Another neat feature that Target has is that if you buy certain advertised products, you get Target gift cards in return. For example: Last week they had SOBE buy 10 at $10, get a $5 Gift card. (like paying .50 a piece) You can also combine these sales with coupons (both manf. and store coupons) to get maxium savings. ROLLING GIFT CARDS: So say last week I got my $5 gift card for buying SOBE. This week if I find another deal I like that also gives me a gift card in return, I can 'roll' my gift card. For example: Pedigree is on sale 10.99, buy 2 and get $5. I do this deal, pay with the gift card I got last week, pay less out of pocket for my dog food, and still have a $5 gift card to use for next week. ((I actually have $30 worth of $5 gift cards that I use from week to week to roll into deals)) Of course you can use these cards to buy anything in the store, because they are just gift cards. But rolling allows you to pay less OOP (out of pocket) Ok, now for the fun part. Here's the best site on the internet (IMO) for Target match ups. www.totallytarget.com If you are new to match ups, here's a simple run down. This site will tell you the weekly deal, tell you exactly what store and manf. coupons to print or what insert to find your coupon in, and give you your final price that you pay. ***If you are really new to couponing, look in our welcome message for more info on match ups, or PMAN*** Don't forget, that even though you leave with a cart full of stuff that only cost you $3, you still have to pay tax on everything. So your OOP may be higher than you expected. WALGREENS Walgreens is a bit on the complicated side. It may take a while to get used to, but for the money you save, it is well worth it. It will be helpful to look over the store policy and do some research. UPDATE: Walgreens has a new coupon policy that you can find HERE. Walgreens (like most stores) accepts one manf. coupon per purchase. They also allow you to stack a store coupon with a manf. coupon. Store coupons come out every Sunday in the weekly flyer so it pays to grab the paper so you can have these on hand. REGISTER REWARDS: Like CVS & Rite Aid, Walgreens gives out rewards for buying certain sale products. These rewards are called Register Rewards (RR) They print off at the counter after you check out. It will have the reward amount, an expiration date of usually 2 weeks, and manufacturer coupon printed across the top. It is important to know thatWalgreens counts Register Rewards as Manufacturer coupons. ROLLING: There is a trick to using RRs. 99% of the time, you cannot 'roll' your RR to purchase the same products. Rolling means using a reward to buy another product that will give you the same reward. For example, if I buy Kotex and get $3 RR, I cannot use those $3 RR to buy another Kotex. You will not receive any reward in return. Also if you buy 2 or more pks of Kotex in one transaction, only one RR will print out. However, if you use your $3 Kotex RR to buy another product other than Kotex, they will print. For example: Transaction #1: Buy Kotex @ 3.99, spend 3.99 OOP get $3 RR Transaction #2: Buy Gillette body wash @ 3.99, pay with $3 RR, spend .99 OOP get $3 RR back Transaction #3: Buy Kotex @ 3.99, pay with $3 RR from Gillette, spend .99 OOP, get $3 RR back FILLERS: Walgreens considers register rewards to be manf. coupons. If you are buying 1 item, using 1 manf. coupon and 1 RR to pay for your item, the computer will beep and it will not allow you to use your coupon. You must buy a filler item to make up for that extra coupon. Filler items can be anything small and inexpensive that brings up your OOP (out of pocket) slightly, but allows you to use both a coupon and a register reward on one item. A pack of gum, a candy bar, something out of the weekly ad that requires you to use a store coupon. Before you check out, count all your coupons and all your items. Your items must match or be more than the number of coupons/RR you are using (store coupons do not count). DIFFERENCES BETWEEN WAGS AND CVS: Currently, you do not need a store card to take advantage of the deals at walgreens. However, rumor has it that this may change. Which means that unlike CVS, Walgreens has no idea how many transactions you have made for each sale. You can go to different walgreens in the same day, multiple times a day to keep getting more register rewards. However, YMMV (your mileage may vary) and some stores may not allow this. CVS allows you to roll your Extra Care Bucks (ECBs), Wags does not. See above example. CVS considers ECBs as Cash. Wags considers RR manf. coupons. If you are using a coupon that has a higher value than the product you are buying (like a $5 coupon on a product that cost 4.99) it is written in the corporate coupon policy that they have to adjust down the coupon. Yes, the coupon will beep, but you are still allowed to use it. Print out the policy and take it with you. MEIJERS Meijers is a really simple store, with some pretty high prices IMO compared to other stores. But Meijers is great because if you follow the sales you can get some great deals. STACKING AND MEAL BOX COUPONS: Meijers accepts both store coupons and manufacturer coupons on one item. Sometimes you can find meijer coupons in the weekly ad. But the main coupons are internet printables onwww.meijermealbox.com. You can print these coupons off as many times as you like. And if you hold these coupons and watch sales, they will automatically put all of their mealboxproducts on sale at about the same time. That means you can go in and buy a ton of sale priced mealbox products, use store coupons, and stack them with manf. coupons to get the lowest possible deal. Ironically, the meal box coupons seem to match the latest manufacturer coupons that come out in the Sunday inserts. DOUBLES: If you are lucky enough to live near a Meijers that doubles coupons, then your OOP (out of pocket) will be even lower! Some stores will double up to .50. Others to .99. Others will double coupons during special promotion weeks. Others will not double. You just have to check in with your local store to find out the policy.
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