Coupon Basics: What Every Couponer Needs to Know
Have you ever used a coupon before? I remember what it was like the first time I used a coupon – I was very nervous! Would the cashier refuse it? When do I give them the coupon? Am I doing this right?
Sometimes I forget that a lot of my readers are brand new couponers! Here are some coupon basics that will hopefully ease the coupon panic on your first couponing trip!
A manufacturer’s coupon is a piece of paper with a discount for a specified product printed on it. The coupon can be used at most stores that carry the specified product. To receive your discount you must purchase the product and give the cashier the coupon. The cashier will scan the coupon and the coupon amount will be deducted from your purchase. You then pay for the remainder of the purchase.
Coupons may only be used once. You may not buy ten boxes of cereal and scan the coupon for $1 off cereal ten times. The store will only be reimbursed for the single coupon you scanned – they will then lose $9 for the nine additional times you scanned the coupon.
You may use one coupon per indicated items purchased. If you have two coupons to save $1 on one box of cereal, you can buy two boxes and use both coupons. The coupon will say “one coupon per purchase.” This means you may not use both $1 coupons on one box. If you purchase two boxes then you may use two coupons. Learn more about this here.
You may not use two coupons on one item. You may not buy one package of diapers and use ten coupons on it. You may only use one of your coupons on the diapers. You may, however, use one store coupon and one manufacturer coupon on one item.
Coupons may not be copied. Copying coupons is illegal. You can obtain multiples of coupons in legal ways like buying multiple newspapers.
Read the wording of the coupon and ignore the picture! Manufacturer’s usually put a picture of their most expensive product on the coupon to make you think that is what you have to buy. If you actually read the terms of the coupon, it will usually say “save on ANY brand xyz product.” That means you can buy even the least expensive product and still save with the coupon! Learn more abut how to read your coupons here.
You can use a coupon on an item that is on sale or clearance too! Occasionally I will have a store clerk tell me otherwise, but it is usually cleared up with a chat with a manager or a call to corporate.
If a product rings up higher than advertised or they miss one of your coupons, let them know! I always read over my receipt before I leave the store to make sure everything is correct. Any mistakes over $1 are pointed out to customer service. You may be thinking that $1 does not seem like much, but let me put it in perspective. If you visit 3 stores per week and each store overcharges you “just $1” at each visit then you are being overcharged $156 per year (that’s 3 weeks worth of groceries for some people!). It is usually more than $1 though, and rarely takes more than a minute at customer service.
Stand up for yourself! If you are using coupons correctly then shop with confidence. Many times the cashiers are just misinformed. Be calm and confident when you explain why you CAN use the coupon. If the cashier still doesn’t accept it, ask nicely to speak to a manager. It is your money and you should not feel bad about being a smart shopper!