What I have learned about couponing, pt. 3

Previous posts in this series:

Part 1
Part 2

I hope some of the revelations I’ve had about making coupons more effective have been helpful to you! I may not be very active in couponing these days, but I can still pass on what I’ve learned.

  1. You don’t have to buy the number specified on a “# for $X” deal. My grocery store frequently frequently advertises its “10 for $10” deal. I know that I used to think you had to buy that number of items to get the price. Not too long ago, I was shopping with my BF and he too thought that you had to buy 10 to get the $1/item price. The good news is that in most cases, you don’t have to buy that many. Seriously. If I wanted to buy one, I’d get it for a dollar. If I had a $1/off coupon for that item…yes, that’s right, I’d get it for FREE! (my favorite!!) This also applies for 2 for $5, 3 for $4, or whatever the deal may be. Now, for the disclaimer: Sometimes the fine print does say that you have to buy the number specified to get the price, but that will vary from store to store. Just ask if you’re not sure! As I said, at my grocery store, you’re free to buy whatever number you want and can still get the deal.
  2. You can use 2 coupons on BOGO free deals. Say what? Let’s say a pharmacy (like CVS or Walgreens) is having a buy-one-get-one-free sale on toilet paper. The tp is $5.99 a pack, and this week, it’s BOGO free. Obviously, you can get two packs of the tp for $5.99 total. Furthermore, let’s say you have two coupons for this brand and type of tp. The coupon is for $2 off one pack. Now, this is the part that blew my mind when I initially learned of its magical existence: you can use both of your $2-off-one coupons, even though one item is priced “free”. You would then get two packs for $1.99 (after taking $2 off two packs). It really gets exciting when you have two coupons that, when added together, equal the cost of the item. That is, if you bought the aforementioned tp and used two $3-off-one coupons, you could get two packs for FREE!
  3. Rebates can work! Let me background this one: When I was growing up, I would read all the signs in the stores as my mom shopped. Sometimes, at office supply stores, I’d see a sign saying you could get an item for FREE. When I pointed it out to my mom, though, she said that it wasn’t free; you had to pay for it and then send in a form to get your money back, which didn’t always work. This lead me to believe that rebate offers were untrustworthy and should be ignored. Once I began couponing and researching about it, I noticed everyone talking about rebates. Apparently, they can work! Now, my personal experience with them is too detailed to outline here, but I can say that the Walgreens EasySaver program is reliable and can be worth a look. Overall, my experience with rebates in general has been excellent–so far. I know that occasionally you can get burned, but if you’re buying something you need anyways, it’s not as much of a risk. How do coupons factor in here? Well, at Walgreens, if you use a manufacturer’s coupon, you still get the full amount of the rebate. That is, if Walgreens is offering a $5 rebate on $5 aspirin and you have a $2-off coupon for that aspirin, you can still get $5 back from Walgreens, thus actually making money from the rebate.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my series on couponing. If you don’t use coupons now, the good news is that you don’t have to throw yourself into it to make these tips work. If you’re already getting the Sunday paper and you want to try these tips, pull out the grocery/drugstore ads and the coupon inserts, and see if anything you already buy is on sale. Or, do as I do, and save time: check out the many blogs run by those hardcore couponers who share weekly deals and exactly how to make them work. Without them, I’d still have the same misconceptions about the usefulness of coupons.

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