Understanding a store’s coupon policy can help you save more money

Coupons are great for saving money. But understanding how to use those coupons — in these days or rewards points and digital coupons — is really important. And coupon policies changes from store to store.
Coupons are great for saving money. But understanding how to use those coupons — in these days or rewards points and digital coupons — is really important. And coupon policies changes from store to store. MCT

Now that we started a new year, let’s get moving on saving money. This can be an easy process if you are organized and observant. Many times the deals are right in front of you.

Here are some quick tips for saving money along with a breakdown of many area stores where I shop.

First, and I know this sounds like common sense, if you’re printing coupons at home, make sure you have plenty of ink before you start. The cashier needs to be able to read the bar code on your coupon. You don’t have to print in color. Black ink is fine — and less expensive.

Read the coupon carefully. Many times you can use a coupon for a smaller size, allowing you to get it free, but the coupon sometimes is redeemable only on a certain size. If the coupon says buy one, get one free, wait for a buy one get one free sale. It will save you the most money.

For example, CVS will honor a buy one get one free coupon on a buy one get one free sale, making both items free, but you have to pay tax. Rite Aid won’t allow that deal. It’s a good thing to know a store’s coupon policy.

The best way to use a coupon is to stack your savings. Buy the item on sale using a coupon, plus do your best to get loyalty rewards to get triple the savings. Remember, though, store managers have the right to deny your coupons and limit your coupons.

▪  The CVS coupon policy says you can use a store coupon along with a manufacturer coupon, use CVS extrabucks immediately after earning them, and if the extrabucks have an expiration date, they won’t be accepted.

When you register your CVS extrabucks card online, you’ll notice that CVS is now offering digital coupons that you can load directly to your card. If you use a coupon that exceeds the price of the item, the coupon will be adjusted to equal product price.

▪  The Walgreens coupon policy says you can only use that same amount of coupons or register rewards as items purchased. For example, if you are buying five items, you can give the clerk five coupons or register rewards. You won’t receive balance rewards on an item if you use balance rewards to pay for that item.

Also, Walgreens register rewards don’t roll over. For example: If you buy an item for $2 and receive a $2 register reward, you can’t use that register reward to buy that item again and get another $2 register reward. If a coupon exceeds the price of the item, you won’t be able to use the coupon.

Walgreens Balance Rewards points can be used 24 hours after you receive them.

▪  Target’s coupon policy doesn’t allow buy one get one free coupons with a buy one get one free sale.

It’s a good idea to download Target’s Cartwheel app on your phone. Target allows you to use the discount from the app, manufacturer coupon plus store coupon. Target has many text discounts that you can receive on your phone. For example, this week, get $10 off bedding and bath purchases of $50 or more when you text Refresh10 to 827438.

Often, Target will reward customers with a gift card when they make a specific purchase. But you can’t use that gift card to pay for that purchase. Always check your Cartwheel app when you’re in the store. You will be surprised how many times there is a coupon for the item you are buying.

▪  The Kmart coupon policy will, from time to time, offer double manufacturer coupon promotion, doubling coupons with a $2 coupon maximum. When the promotion is offered, it will be advertised in hte sales flier that often appears in the Sunday newspaper.

If you download the Kmart app, you will receive digital coupons that will be downloaded to your Shop Your Way reward account. Always enter a phone number or scan card at the beginning of your purchase. Paper coupons take precedence over digital coupons.

Shop Your Way Points are valid 24 hours after receiving them, and they do expire. Look at the bottom of your receipt for the expiration date.

Kmart has a Friday Freebie coupon that is available to clip to your Shop Your Way Member card.

▪  Kroger’s coupon policy prohibits the shopper from using a digital coupon with a manufacturer coupon.

If you receive a catalina — a coupon printed at a cash register — you can use it to buy that item on the next transaction. Kroger sales start on Wednesdays. The best Kroger deals come when you match megadeals with coupons.

When Kroger has its 10 for $10 deals, you don’t have to buy 10 of the same items. It just means the each item is $1. Always compare sizes and prices of the item before you buy. Often a half-gallon of milk will go on sale for 10 for $10. If you buy two, you get a gallon of milk for $2, much less expensive than the usual cost of about $2.75.

Also, know that if a Kroger sign says buy one get one free, you can buy one item for 50 percent off.

Other savings

▪  During 10 days of the year, all National Park Service sites that charge an entrance fee will offer free admission. Also, if you have a child in fourth grade this year, your family can get a free national parks annual pass that will give you free entry into national parks, national forests, national wildlife refuges and more.

The free days include: Jan. 16: Martin Luther King Jr. Day; Feb. 20: Presidents Day; April 15-16 and 22-23: weekends of National Park Week; Aug. 25: National Park Service Birthday; Sept. 30: National Public Lands Day; Nov. 11-12: Veterans Day weekend.

Deborah Morris’ every-other-week column, The Fru-Gal, can help you get more for less. Go to her website,