Still on my blog-cation. Here's an oldie, but a goodie, a follow-up to last week's post about coupons.
Just a quick story about my adorable child before we get started. It is relevant to today's theme though! Monday evening I quickly grabbed our mail from the box as we were arriving home. I noticed a flyer from Toys R Us so I handed it to Hoss. I asked him what it was and he said "Toys Us." He flipped the flyer over to look at it and said "and a coo-pon." Wouldn't you know it, there was a coupon on there. I'm so proud. My 2 year old is now finding coupons for me! (I have also found some coupons stashed in his hiding places around our house. Maybe Santa will have to bring him a coupon binder for Christmas.)
Alright, so last week we discussed how to accumulate our coupon stash and today we will discuss how to use our coupons.
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The most important way to use your coupons is in a combination of a store's sale. I know, I know, I'm being Captain Obvious here aren't I? But sometimes it isn't that simple. And there are some tricks to get the best deal. For example, sometimes stores who are running a buy one get one free sale will honor a buy one get one free coupon for the same item. When you use both you get both items for free (well, you will probably pay tax).
Or, as is the case with Target, some stores will issue store coupons. Depending on the store's policy, you can typically use a store coupon and a manufacturer coupon (the ones found in the weekly newspaper inserts). At the top of the coupon it will state if it is a store coupon or a manufacturer coupon. The coupons which print at the register at Kroger and Meijer say manufacturer coupon so these are not store coupons, even if the store's name is printed on them.
It is always important to know the store's coupon policy. Unfortunately I have had to remind cashiers and even managers of their own policy when accepting coupons. If you do a google search you can typically find most chain stores' coupon policy. Policies do change and just because it is on the internet it may not be totally correct. If you feel necessary you can email the corporate office of each company and request their current coupon policy so you can be up to date. Plus, some stores will leave the final call on coupons to the store manager so you may still be overruled.
A great way to get the best deal is to shop at the stores that will double coupons. For example, the local Kroger and Meijer stores double coupons up to 50 cents. So if you have a 50 cent coupon for Chex Mix and it is on sale for $1, you will get it for free! As Deb mentioned last week, Meijer will only double two of the same coupon. I have noticed from my experience that if you have different barcodes on coupons you can get around this; however, this may not always be the case.
Be organized. There are several different ways people organize their coupons. As was mentioned in the comment section last week, one of the most popular organizational techniques is to use a 3 ring binder with plastic baseball card sheets that your coupons fit into. I do not use a binder. My technique is very different from most people, but it works for me. Plus, I am a creature of habit and I think changing it up now will be catastrophic for me. I find a large coupon accordian type organizer with seperate sections to be useful. I can fit this in my purse so I always have my coupons with me. I do have more than one organizer. My second one separates several different stores so I can keep up with store coupons as well as put coupons I need to use for that store for the weekly deals.
That leads me to another organizational tip. Make a list and organize your coupons before you get to the store. Check out the ad, search through your coupons and separate the ones you will want to use at each store. I used to have regular envelopes which I had labeled for different stores and I would put the coupons I needed in those. I still took my main coupon organizer with me just in case I found a great sale and I needed a coupon to sweeten the deal. Plus, if I have a list, I often will buy less items as I am on a mission to complete my list instead of wandering aimlessly throughout the store.
And the last organizational tip, get your coupons ready before you reach the check-out. This should not be too diffuclt if you have separated these before you reached the store, but even if I have done this I have still missed coupons. I will usually stop in an empty aisle once I'm done with my list and go through my coupons and make sure I have everything I need to use.
Remember that you are always using coupons at your own risk. You are the one responsible for using the coupon and knowing if you are doing so correctly. Unless I feel as if I am being "cheated" I don't always argue when I am using a coupon. I know every little bit counts, but I try to be a courteous customer. (This is the disclaimer statement my lawyer makes me print). (That was sarcasm if you couldn't tell).