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Score your deals. You have your coupons, they’re organized, you’ve decided to mooch off other people’s hard work (or some other strategy), and have picked out the deals you want to take advantage of right now.
- Make your list. Make a list of which items you’re going to buy, noting any important restrictions (size, item limit, flavor, etc.). You may want to make a note of the coupon combination you’re using: catalina/mf (manufacturer’s coupon)/in-store/doubler or twice-the-value, etc. When I started out, I also noted the final price for that deal (.99/free/etc.). Unless this is the store you always shop at for generic items, STICK TO YOUR LIST! Believe me – buying a few items at higher prices than normal can quickly cancel out your coupon savings.
- Organize before going in. Organize your coupons in a pile in the same order as your shopping list and paper clip them all to your list. Bring your sale ads with you for reference if needed. If you ended up not getting an item, separate that coupon from the rest so you don’t hand it to the clerk.
- Ease into it. The first few times, go when you know the store isn’t busy and explain to the clerk that you’re just trying out coupons. They are typically very nice about it. You hand the clerk your coupons before they’re completely done checking. If they don’t accept some of your deals or coupons they will let you know why. You can just tell them you don’t want that item and make a mental note for future planning. Be polite. And also save your receipt.
Important to know – The best deals I take advantage of often include a manufacturer’s coupon, an in-store coupon, an Albertsons twice-the-value coupon (doubles an mf that is 1.00 or less) and maybe even a store-credit catalina that printed on a previous transaction. Other stores have double coupons as well. The best approach is to email or call the store’s customer service, tell them you’re thinking about using coupons and want to know all you need to about their coupon policies, and take notes! For example, some take internet printed coupons, some only if printed in color, and some not at all.
Manufacturer’s Coupon – The company that makes the product takes the hit for the money you save by using this coupon. These are what print in the Sunday paper inserts. They can also be found in store aisles or even on product packages. Sometimes insert coupons are store-specific (it will show that prominently on the coupon), but usually they apply to any store that sells that product. Coupons you print online are usually manufacturer coupons as well. You can only use one manufacturer’s coupon at a time for a particular deal. Combining coupons is what gets you the best deals though.
In-Store Coupons: The store you are shopping at takes the hit for the money you save by using this coupon. These can be combined with manufacturer coupons to increase savings. In-store coupons can be in store ads in the paper or in booklets in the stores as you walk in.
Catalina – Could be either an mf or an in-store credit toward next purchase. A coupon that prints at the register when you buy a certain product(s). This may be a new coupon for that same or a similar product, or it could be basically a store certificate for a certain amount of money: $3, $5, etc. that you use on your next transaction at that store.
Doublers – In-store coupon (in paper ads or at store) that doubles your savings for an individual mf. Rules vary from store to store. For Albertsons, they are called twice-the-value coupons, they can be used even for coupons that say “do not double” (this is not true for most other stores), and they double only mf’s that are for $1.00 or less. The rules are usually printed on the coupon – just ask customer service (not the checkers – they may not know) if you have questions.
Next Coupon Post: Come home with your loot.