Combine offers for the best deals

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“Dear Jill,

I love to use coupons. The problem is that I don’t know where to find them other that the ones that we get weekly. I use digital coupons and manufacturer coupons that come with the paper.

I started to read your column and I would love to use the coupons the way you do. So, I think the fact that I can’t find enough coupons and I don’t know how to combine them is my problem.

I read your words and I think to myself, ‘How do I do that?’ I don’t know what you mean when you talk about ‘$2-off-two’ coupons, and on top, you get money back. How?

Thank you for educating us!”

Paula G.

You’re already on the right track looking for coupons both online and in the newspaper. Getting coupon inserts from the newspaper is important to being a successful couponer: Coupons from the newspaper often have higher values than digital counterparts, and the newspaper is one of the most economical ways to get a steady supply of coupons every week.

The internet also is a great source of coupons. Coupons.com, SmartSource.com, and RedPlum.com are three of the most popular and reputable websites for printing coupons. They do offer different coupons than you’ll find in the paper. Typically, each coupon on these sites has a print limit of two. Take advantage of this – it’s always nice to have multiple coupons on-hand to stock up during a sale. Your store also may have coupons available on its website or via a store app.

There are two different kinds of coupons. Manufacturer coupons are issued by the brand itself. A retailer, as the name indicates, issues store coupons. When a shopper redeems a manufacturer coupon, the store can send it in to receive reimbursement for that coupon’s face value.

A store coupon, however, functions as a lower sale price within the store. This is the reason a shopper can combine a store coupon with a manufacturer coupon — what shoppers call “stacking” coupons. While a store and manufacturer coupon can be stacked together, it’s important to remember you cannot stack two manufacturer coupons together on the same item. This is a violation of a coupon’s terms, and the register will not accept it.

While many coupons are for one product, such as $1 off laundry detergent, others are valid on multiple products, such as $2 off two bottles of juice. In couponer shorthand, these coupons may be referred to as “$1-off-one” and $2-off-two.” To use a $2-off-two, you’ll have to buy two of the same item.

A common question I often hear from new couponers is this: If I have two $2-off-2 coupons, can I use both of them on two items? No. To spend two $2-off-two coupons, you’ll need to buy four items, because each coupon looks for the presence of two qualifying items to scan correctly at the register.

To save the most money, I like to pair high-value coupon offers with cash-back offers in the store. Both supermarkets and drugstores offer these sales. For example, a national pharmacy chain recently ran a “Buy Three and Get $3” sale on toothpaste. The toothpaste was on sale for $2.99 per tube. Without coupons, I would pay $8.97 and get $5 back. That’s $3.97 for three tubes, or about $1.32 per tube.

That, of course, is without coupons. The same week this sale was running, the newspaper inserts had a $2 coupon for the toothpaste. I buy four newspapers each week, as having multiple identical inserts helps me stock up during sales like these. With three $2 toothpaste coupons, I paid $2.97 for three tubes, and I got $3 back for my next shopping trip! This made all three tubes free after coupons and rewards.

With sales like these, the “cash back” you receive is typically in the form of a coupon or store loyalty card reward. It functions just like cash, so I’ll use it on my next trip to the same store.

 

Jill Cataldo, a coupon workshop instructor, writer and mother of three.

 

By |February 22nd, 2017|

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