Coupon 101 - Use Coupons

Sunday, April 10, 2011


This is the brief moment in my presentation where I discuss Coupon Etiquette. I try to keep people realistic with their coupons. Coupons are a GREAT way to save money, but for some people who are new to using them almost daily there’s little things to keep in mind. I can’t tell you how many times I get asked why they just can’t photocopy a coupon to use again. EEP!

I use this section as a handout as well.

Be in the ‘KNOW’ about Coupons

It’s always great to save money and everyone wants to save money, right? Here are a few things to keep in mind when you are using coupons:
  • Expect to get items for free; do not expect to get items for a negative amount.
    • Yes, it does happen with coupons to sometimes end the transaction with a negative balance. This usually means the cashier will panic and the ONLY store who will admit that it would be okay to give you money from the till right now is WalMart. (April 2011, you can peek at it here: WalMart Coupon Policy) This little “etiquette” statement is just to keep things in perspective.
  • Do not photocopy a coupon. This is considered coupon fraud and can possibly be tracked back to who has done it.
    • All coupons have a barcode on them. Printed coupons from the internet are also attached to your personal information! Check all the fine print on a printed coupon. It should have a unique serial number, watermark and your zip code on there somewhere. Or at least, most of them do. This is attached to you and can be tracked. I can’t stress enough how much a coupon should NEVER be copied.
  • To get the maximum amount out of your coupons you should expect to complete smaller transactions.
    • This isn’t ALWAYS true, but it does seem to work. I am seeing more stores relaxing on their limits which is helping to allow me to put all my items into one transaction. The biggest stores that smaller transactions work in would be drugstores with rewards given back. Sometimes I only have a $5 reward from them and want to get products that add up to $10 in rewards. Well, I will split that into two transactions so I don’t spend more rewards than I get back per transaction, which keeps my costs down. (More on this later! Hehe…)
  • Coupons are not cash but do have a monetary consequence attached to them. The Manufacturer’s of the product listed on a coupon foot the bill for coupon usage.
    • This is just stated to remove confusion about coupons. The manufacturer’s of the products send out coupons to entice you to get addicted to buy the product. The stores receive an additional $.08 over the face value of each coupon to entice them to accept coupons. It’s all a trickle affect.
  • To get the best use of coupons you will need to break away from product loyalty! (Please keep family allergies in mind when trying new products.)
    • This is so important. When I can use a coupon and try something new for free, I might just do that! Who knows if I will like it or not? And if I don’t… well… it was free or cheap right?
      If this isn’t something you are comfortable with, I do encourage you to at least pick up free or cheap items to donate to your local food pantry! This is an excellent way to bless someone else.
  • Clipping and using coupons takes TIME.
    • Yes! Sometimes it takes more time than people are willing to invest. When I first started using coupons more extensively it would take me several hours to work up deals. Now I have a rhythm. A coupon routine, if you will. Things are more streamlined and I can get my planning done in less than 20min per store now. Granted, this doesn’t include just sitting around clipping coupons, sorting and pulling expired coupons. I perform these somewhat menial, yet very important, tasks while I am doing something else. Watching TV, attending a sporting practice with kids, making dinner, RIDING in the car, etc. Doing something else during these tasks makes them less daunting.
  • You have to have the coupons to get the best deal.
  • The way I do things may not work for you, so please don’t stop there! Find a way that does work. It can be fun to save money with coupons; you will have to take the time and effort to find the way that works for you and stick to it!
    • Please, please, PLEASE remember this statement! In order to accomplish using coupons to the best of your ability for your family, you have to find YOUR way to doing it. Mine might not work for you.
And as a bonus, here is the handout I use for your own records or coupon class you might teach:


Go back to Coupon 101 Main Page


Jack said...

Great tips. I would add though that before printing coupons from the internet be sure the stores you shop at accept them. Our local stores quit accepting internet coupons.

jen said...

Good points. It's easy to get sucked in by seeing people on TV or in magazines paying "Pennies on the Dollar!" for their groceries. It's just not realistic. I have to remind myself that the small amount of money I save every week it worth it when added up over the course of an entire year, especially since my time investment is small.

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