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What's a coupon?
A coupon is a ticket or document that can be redeemed for a financial discount or rebate when purchasing a product. Customarily, coupons are issued by manufacturers of consumer packaged goods or by retailers, to be used in retail stores as a part of sales promotions.
A manufacturer coupon is a coupon issued by a manufacturer that offers a free item or a specific amount off the purchase price of one or more of a manufacturer's products. You will see "Manufacturer Coupon" printed on the coupon.
- There are many sources of manufacturer’s coupons.
- Manufacturer’s coupons may be used at any store that will accept them (which includes most grocery, drug, and nationally-based chain stores).
- Stores accept manufacturer’s coupons as a form of payment at checkout as they will be reimbursed from the manufacturer.
- Manufacturers put out coupons to entice you to buy their product.
- Trusted coupon printing sites: Coupons.com, SmartSource.com, RedPlum.com
- Manufacturer websites and their social media sites.
- In magazines and Newspapers.
- Writing or emailing the Manufacturer.
A few tips when writing Manufacturers:
- Make your letter personal. Don't directly ask for coupons and no sob stories. Instead explain why you personally love their product.
- Suggest improvements based off your experience with their product ie.. a new flavor, new packaging suggestion...etc. Companies want to know how they can improve their products for their customers.
- Don't forget to include your FULL mailing information! They can't send you any coupons if they don't know where to send it..!
- Sometimes they say no... But it's okay! Others will say yes and send you goodies, so don't get discouraged.
A Store coupon is a coupon issued by the store and can only be used at that store. The store is giving you the discount. Typically you will see the stores logo printed on the coupon.
- Store coupons can only be used at the store they are intended for. There are some exceptions, some stores may accept competitor’s coupons. (Always check the stores Coupon Policy, still not sure ask an associate or store manager)
- Store coupons normally have a short window of time to use them. The “good through” dates often coincide with weekly store ad cycles.
- Store coupons sometimes will let you buy more than one item. For instance when a coupon reads “limit 4.” This means you can buy up to 4 of that item and get them at the stated coupon price with that single coupon.
- Most stores allow you to stack a store coupon with a manufacturer’s coupon. (Always check the stores Coupon Policy, still not sure ask an associate or store manager)
- Can be found in weekly ads, mailers, in store, Sunday inserts, online at retailers site, even Apps like Flipp.
So how do you tell the difference between a Manufacturer coupon and a Store coupon? Here are three simple things to look for on your coupons:
- look at the description. If it says manufacturer’s coupon, then you know it is and should be able to be redeemed anywhere. (Sometimes there is a store name listed and this can make things confusing.) There are times when it may appear to be a store coupon, when it is not. So when in doubt, look further.
- look for a redemption address. Store coupons do not need to send the coupon anywhere for reimbursement, so there will not be a remit to address listed. However, manufacturer’s coupons must have this data listed so that the store can get their money back.
- Check the barcode. If you see a 4, that indicates that it is a store coupon, but if it shows a 5 that means it is a manufacturer’s coupon (even if it shows a store logo).
Coupons may only be used once. You may not buy ten of the same item and scan the one coupon multiple times. Stores are only reimbursed for the single coupon you scanned per one item.
You may only use one coupon per indicated items purchased. If you have two coupons to save $1 on one item, you can buy two of those items and use both coupons. The coupon will say “one coupon per purchase.” That means you may not use both coupons on one item. If you purchase two items then you may use two coupons.
Coupons may not be copied. Copying coupons is illegal. You can obtain multiples of coupons in legal ways like buying multiple newspapers.
Using a coupon on an item that is on sale or clearance. In some cases you can even use a coupon on an item that is on sale or clearance. It’s always a good idea to check the stores Coupon Policy before planning your trip. Still not sure ask an associate, store manager, or even call corporate.
Always 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 read the terms of the coupon, it may say “save on ANY brand said product.” That means you can buy even the least expensive product and still save with the coupon!
Always read the fine print of every coupon! In most cases, you are able to use one manufacturer’s coupon per item purchased. That means that if you have four coupons that read “save $1 on 1 item” you should be able to buy four of said item and use all four coupons. However, some coupons have fine print that states things such as “limit 4 like coupons in a transaction,” “limit 1 per shopping trip,” and/or “limit 1 per customer.” Make sure you’ve taken the time to read through the fine print to avoid any surprises at checkout.
Check your coupons expiration date! Yes coupons expire, so always double check your coupons expiration dates before heading to the store. Again, you don’t want any surprises at checkout.
Know your stores coupon policy! Thankfully we have the wealth of the worlds knowledge at our fingertips, so put them to use when planning your shopping trips and research your stores coupon policy (I even suggest printing a copy an taking it with you, just in case there's any misunderstandings with their policy at the register) Knowing your local stores coupon policy will help you plan a successful shopping trip! Also check the policies frequently as they do make changes from time to time, so make sure to keep yourself up-to-date.
Just start off slow, start by collecting your coupons and familiarizing yourself with them. Once you’ve accumulated some coupons you can plan your first trip. Don't be in a hurry to build a stockpile, you'll have plenty of time to work your way up to that level. In the meantime, enjoy the process of learning how to effectively coupon and save money!
Commonly used couponing terms and abbreviations:
- BLINKIES - In-store coupons near product, usually from a red blinking box.
- BOGO or B1G1 Free - Buy One Get One Free.
- CAT or CATALINA - Coupon that prints at the register after purchase.
- CRT - Cash register tape, coupon that prints in store.
- DOUBLE COUPON - Coupon that a grocery store doubles in value.
- ECB - CVS Extra Care Bucks earned for purchases.
- FREE ITEM COUPON - A coupon that allows you to get the product completely free.
- IVC - Walgreen’s Instant Value Coupon ( Found in the monthly EasySaver Catalog ).
- IP - Internet Printable Coupon.
- MFG or MQ - Manufacturer’s Coupon.
- MIR - Mail In Rebate.
- MONEY MAKER- A term used when the final price after coupons, rebates, gift cards, and "on your next order" coupons falls below $0.00. When you earn back more than you pay out, it’s a moneymaker.
- NED - No expiration date.
- ONE COUPON PER PURCHASE- Fine print on most coupons states that a customer can only use "one coupon per purchase." That means you can use one coupon ($1 off one, for example) for every item purchased
- OOP - Out of Pocket, in reference to how much “real money” you will pay at the register.
- OYNO - On your next order.
- P&G - Proctor & Gamble Coupon Insert found in the Sunday newspaper.
- PEELIE - Coupon that you peel off the package.
- PSA - Prices Starting At.
- Q - Coupon.
- RP - Red Plum Coupon Insert found in the Sunday newspaper.
- RR - Register Rewards.
- SS - Smart Source coupon insert found in the Sunday newspaper.
- STACKING - Using a store specific coupon with a manufacturer coupon (most stores allow this).
- TEARPAD - A pad of refund forms or coupons found hanging from a store shelf or display.
- TRIPLE COUPON - A coupon that a grocery store triples in value.
- WYB - When You Buy.
- YMMV - Your Mileage May Vary
Let's not forget about Online Shopping Apps and Browser Extension Plugins to help you save even more!!
- Honey is a browser extension that automatically finds and applies coupon codes at checkout with a single click.
- Coupon Paste is a coupon site that offers digital coupons, printable coupons, exclusive coupons and coupon codes. They now offer a free browser extension.
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