Fifth Friday Special – Couponing 101 – Lesson 1

It’s finally here!  I’ve been looking forward to this ever since Janis promised to share her genius! I hope that you will all enjoy it and benefit from my favorite couponing guru! Thank you, Janis!

As I mulled over the many topics I could bring to this blog, it seemed only fitting that my first entry would contain things I wished someone had told me when I first started “couponing”……..the little speed bumps I have encountered along the way.   So, here, in a nutshell, is a list of those things, together with my best attempt at explaining and/or clarifying them.

STORE COUPONS – These are coupons issued by a particular store which they will tell you can only be used at that store.   However, there are many stores who will accept another store’s coupon, known then as a competitor coupon. They do this to get your business.   Often, especially at a grocery store, you can get a list of the “competitor coupons” that store will accept, at their service desk.   You may see a notice such as “We accept competitor’s coupons”, in a flyer. One that immediately comes to mind is JoAnn Fabrics, who accepts Michael’s Craft Store coupons. Michael’s will also accept JoAnn’s coupons. In this way, you can find the best price for what you want, use the highest value coupon and save some serious money!

MANUFACTURER COUPONS – These are the coupons you generally clip out of the Sunday inserts or print from a website such as Coupons.com.   They say “manufacturer’s coupon” somewhere on the coupon – generally next to the expiration date. These coupons are accepted at any business that accepts coupons. Some businesses will have a limit of how many identical coupons you may use in one transaction.

TRANSACTION – This is the word used to define what you purchase on one receipt.   Some coupons may say something such as, “Limit of 4 identical coupons per transaction”. If you want to purchase more of an identical item and have the coupons for it, you can bring your spouse or a friend to purchase those items with coupons in a separate transaction. They are few and far between, but there are retailers/merchants who will allow you to split your transactions and purchase all the items yourself. Get to know the customer service personnel in your favorite stores. I actually have a manager at my Publix grocery who will close the lane down behind me so other shoppers are not inconvenienced by waiting for all my coupons to be processed. She will then help the cashier to organize them and get me cashed out as quickly as possible.

PURCHASE – Although it would seem a very simple word to define, many merchants get a purchase confused with a transaction. Petco is famous for this. When a retailer makes this mistake, they will try to allow you to only use one coupon for your entire transaction, which may contain several purchases. Say, for instance, that you are purchasing 4 cans of dog food and you have 4 coupons – one for each can. The coupon states that you may only use one coupon per purchase. This is so that you don’t attempt to lump those 4 coupons together for quadruple savings on one can of dog food. This is a very common phrase on nearly every coupon you will ever use.   Clarifying for a confused merchant that your purchase is the can of dog food and your transaction is from the beginning of your register tape to the end usually works but some merchants can be rather ugly about it.

Let me just say now that if you are going to start couponing like you mean it you will have to be able to stand up for yourself and calmly make your point. Knowing the definitions of terms used on coupons and being able to clearly explain those definitions is half the battle.

Great explanations, Janis! I’m going to print these off and take them with me. Maybe that will help me clarify things for the confused cashiers!

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