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Couponing 101 – Basic coupon guidelines

June 4, 2013

I’d like to focus this post on some guidelines for coupon use. These are just some basic guidelines to follow when using coupons.

1) Never photocopy a coupon.
2) Use a coupon for what it’s intended to be used for. I’m sure some of you have run into issues at the grocery store with a cashier saying that the  item you are purchasing doesn’t match the picture on the coupon. That’s not what I’m talking about here. If a coupon says $2/1 ANY  Huggies Diapers, it can be used on ANY Huggies diapers. Now, if the coupon says $2/1 Huggies Pure and Natural Diapers, it can only be used on Huggies Pure and Natural. It’s not valid on any other type of  Huggies diapers. Read the phrasing on the coupon that is next to the  dollar amount. If it specifies that it can only be used on a certain product, it’s only valid on that product. Sometiemes there a few products listed on a coupon  ex $1/2 Kellogg’s  Raisin bran, Frosted Flakes, or Fruit Loops, it can be used on any of those three products when you purchase two of them .
3) Only one manufacturer coupon can be used per item.  Sometimes cashiers do not understand this rule. When a cashier tells you that you cannot use  3 coupons for Huggies when you’ve bought 3 Huggies they are mistaken, unless the coupon is limited to once per transaction, or once per shopping trip, or once per person/household. You can use 3 Huggies coupons  only when you buy 3 packages of Huggies diapers.
 4)Always read the fine print on the coupon, check for brand, quantity and size. Remember that if a coupon is for a specific item(s) , only those items can be purchased. When a coupon  states $1/2 , two items must be purchased. One more thing, if you have (2) coupons for $2 off, and (1) coupon for $1/2, in order to use all three coupons you’d need to purchase 4 applicable items.
5) Don’t use a coupon past it’s expiration date.
6) I am pretty wary of PDF coupons.
These next few are definitely a grey area many reputable bloggers have different opinions on these issues than I do.
7) I personally do not use or endorse any coupon clipping services. For a while I did use  them, but as I did more research I realized that the stores are not getting reimbursed from the manufacturer for them.  If you’d like some more information about this check out Jill Catlaldo’s website, she’s one of the top coupon trainers in America. Here’s the link  http://www.jillcataldo.com/no_more_selling_coupon
8) If a coupon says it can’t be used with any other coupons, it can’t be stacked. Some Manufacturer’s may also say it may not be combined with other coupons or offers.  Both of these phrases mean the same thing. Stacking is using a store coupon in addition to a manufacturer coupon for additional savings. I’ll get into this a little more in a moment
9 ) On the coupon websites (coupons.com etc) some coupons are regional, based on  your zip,  I do not use zips that I am not located at.  While it may seem unfair certain regions are offered higher valued coupons. I only enter my zip code for these coupons because there is a possibility that the stores will not be reimbursed for the value of the coupon by the manufacturer if it was used outside of the region it was intended for.
10) Another hot topic right now is SavingsStar.  SavingsStar is a website with manufacturer coupons that you can load on to your store loyalty cards. Savings star coupons are not deducted at the register,  once you reach $5 in value from SavingsStar coupons you can “cash” them out and get an Amazon Gift Card, Paypal payment, or have them deposited into your checking account.  When SavingsStar first came out, many experienced couponers asked them a question, and their response was very  interesting to me. This is a quote from the  SavingsStar FAQ
*I emphasized a portion of Saving’sStar’s response*.

Do SavingStar eCoupons stack with in-store discounts or manufacturer’s coupons?

SavingStar eCoupons will work whether or not you combine them with other services’ coupons, but they are not intended to be used this way. Generally, manufacturers state that it is against their policies for shoppers to redeem more than one manufacturer’s coupon for the same purchase. Using in-store coupons in combination with SavingStar eCoupons is not a problem.
In the future, we may implement mechanisms to limit the combination of SavingStar eCoupons with other manufacturer coupons.

 

For this reason, I do not encourage my readers to use SavingsStar coupons with a manufacturer coupon. 

Here are some exceptions to stacking coupons.
You can still stack sometimes and definitely save a lot of money. Coupon guidelines have gotten a lot stricter since Extreme Couponing came out, but there are still lots of ways to save both time and money while using coupons.When stacking coupons (using a manufacturer and a store coupon) at Rite Aid, and CVS always double check to make sure that they don’t indicate “no other coupon may be used with this coupon” or ” may not be combined with other offers” or “only one coupon valid for items”. Many manufacturer  coupons are starting to state this in the fine print, so they cannot be stacked with store coupons. I’ll start making note of them when I do my weekly matchup’s on the website. Let me know if you have any questions about this.
I hope this list isn’t overwhelming to you. I’ve seen a lot of coupon misuse since  I started couponing 4 years ago, in part due an emphasis on shows like Extreme Couponing where coupon misuse is very prevalent. My next lesson will be on taking it slow so that you won’t get overwhelmed. 🙂 Like I said earlier, you can save a lot of money  using coupons  and as you do God will bless your efforts with success.
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