Coupon & Refund tips

Time to learn the basics.

Let’s start with coupons. Most people end up saving a few dollars with them, but how would you like to save thousands each year? I do, and so can you. There are clever ways to use coupons. You can actually get products for just a few cents, or even free. I’ll show you how.

COUPONS

SAVE, SAVE, SAVE

Whatever you do, FORGET brand loyalty. Clip coupons for things you use everyday, or would like to try. For example, everyone uses shampoo. Clip coupons for all different types of shampoo, not just one brand-that’s brand loyalty and will cost you a fortune in the long run. Even if you’ve never tried a brand, clip that coupon. Free or cheap shampoo is better than shampoo at the regular retail price. Recently there were Suave $1 coupons, in the Sunday Supplement. Albertson’s had them clearanced for 48 cents. My Albbies was having super doubles/triples, so the coupon doubled to $2. This gave me an overage (profit) of $1.52, which I used towards other products in my basket. I ended up paying $120 for $750 worth of groceries, but the icing on the cake was that I was able to send in for $60 in rebates. This brought my final bill down to $60 for $750 of groceries. Amazing? Yes, but, if I can do it, so can you.

Everyone can save money with coupons, if they can just get out of the mind set of “brand loyalty”. Manufacturers have us believing their product is the “best”, when in actuality, they’re all typically the same. For instance, laundry soap. All detergents clean your clothes, but some are higher priced due to their “brand name”. In example Purex, 100 oz. liquid detergent costs 2.99 and Tide 100 oz liquid costs 6.99. You may have a coupon for 35 c/o (cents off) for Purex and a 50 c/o coupon for Tide, the better deal is the Purex. Even within the same brand name product, the products are the same. Take Tylenol and Tylenol Migraine. If you look at the ingredients, they are EXACTLY the same, but the price is higher on the Migraine formula.

Where to find multiples of coupons

You may be wondering where to find coupons and/or multiples of coupons. That one’s easy. You can find coupons in the Sunday supplements. These are located in your local Sunday newspaper. You can subscribe to the newspaper, or purchase it at a newstand. Get your freinds, relatives, and neighbors to save the coupon inserts for you. If they use coupons, tell them you’ll take whatever they can’t use. There are numerous creative ways to get the extra papers you need. You will want as many as you can get, but, to start, try to get at least 4 extra inserts. Try to do it without purchasing the extras, but if that’s the only way, then that’ll still work. You want as many “multiples” of coupons as possible-you’ll see why shortly. The idea is to get a “stockpile” of products.

Other sources are magazines, SMP aka Specially Marked Packages and online coupons sites. SMP’S will have coupons right on the package. Some will need to be cut from the packaging, while others are peeled right off the packaging. The “peel-offs” can be used for instant savings during your current shopping trip.

Watch your grocer’s aisles for the “blinky machines”. These are the little red machines, with a blinking red light on them, that spit out coupons. The coupons from these machines are usually for items that will go on sale in a couple of weeks.

Catalina coupons are coupons printed right at checkout. These are usually high dollar coupons tied to your purchases. The best ones are marked “good on your next shopping trip”, as they can be used like cash. They are stackable, meaning if you have (10) $1 “good off next shopping trip coupons, that’s $10 off. Get the idea?

You can trade coupons with others that share your same money saving techniques, neighbors, friends, etc. There are literally thousands of places to trade coupons online.

You may also want to purchase coupons online if you’re looking for a particular one. You are usually charged a handling & shipping fee.

USE COUPONS CREATIVELY

  • Use 1 coupon for each item purchased.
  • Use on sale items- say Charmin is on sale for $1.20, I use (10) $1 coupons on 10 products. Each of those products cost me 20 cents. That’s an 83% savings. WOW!
  • If the coupon states “any size” purchase the smallest item. For example: You have a coupon on Charmin for $1. The 4 roll packages are $1.20, the 12 roll packages are $3.99. The best deal is the 4 pack. 20 cents for a 4 pack, or 5 cents per roll vs. 12 pack for 2.99, or 25 cents per roll. (This is where stockpiling comes in).
  • Double/Triple coupons- For those of us lucky enough to live in areas that double or triple coupons, or both, this can help you have extraordinary savings. (More on this later).
  • Don’t purchase things you don’t normally buy, just because you have a coupon, unless you’ll get it free, or really close to it.
  • On clearance items- This is an awsome way to save money. For example, CVS had Caress Body Wash (regular price $4.39) clearanced for 1.25. I purchased 10, used (10) $1 coupons, so 25 cents each.
  • ALWAYS bring your coupons with you. You don’t want to purchase a product you have a coupon for, when you don’t have it with you.

***NOTE***

If a store is out of a product- ask for a RAINCHECK- most stores offer these. This allows you to purchase the product at the current sales price when the merchandise is back in stock, and allow time for you to collect more coupons on the product.

Double/Triple Coupons

Stores that double/triple coupons, double/triple the face value of a coupon. Say you have a coupon for 25 cents. Doubled you get 50 c/o and tripled you get 75 cents off etc. Usually there are restrictions to doubles & triples. They may limit the # of like coupons you can double/triple per transaction, or they may double/triple only certain $ amounts like triple up to and including 39cents and double up to and including 50 cents. This means a coupon for 35 cents will actually triple to $1.05, and a 50 cent coupon will double to $1 off. Anything above 50 cents will be taken off at the amount the coupon is for ie.. $1 coupon taken off at $1.

Always purchase the smallest product. This allows you to get the product for free, or close to it. For instance, I had a 50 cent coupon on Deodorant. The smallest one sells for 99 cents. Free Deodorant.

Combine doubles/triples on sales prices and WOOHOO! Totinos Pizza Rolls were on sale for $1. I used 50 cent coupons doubled to $1= FREE!Also, Hunts Ketchup was on sale for $1- with a 30 cent coupon tripled to 90 cents = 10 cents for ketchup. Stockpiling time.

KNOW YOUR GROCERY CHAINS POLICIES

I can’t say this enough- know the coupon policies of the stores you frequent. Some stores double/triple, or both, accept competitors coupons, put out store coupons that you can use with a m/f (manufacturers) coupon. This makes for some AWESOME deals. Take Walgreens. They had crest toothpaste on sale for 2.29. They also had a $1 store coupon and I used a $1 m/f coupon. My final price was 29 cents. (I’m doing my happy dance).

Grocery Sales Ads

Grocery Chains, as well as independently owned grocers run sales ads every week. Some deals are AWESOME, while others are only meager sales. Most products go on sale every 6-10 weeks. You need to keep track of sale prices for about 10 weeks to be able to find the rock bottom price on each product and which store has that price. You can use a price book for this. I’ll put more up on the site about this at a later date. By watching sales ads, you can plan your shopping trips around great sales. You want to compare the prices of 3-4 grocery stores. If the sales are great, that’s when you want to stockpile. You want to purchase items when it works to your benefit, not the stores benefit.

STOCKPILING

Now we get to the whole reasoning behind collecting multiples of coupons. Would you rather pay $7.69 for a 24 pack of Cottenelle toilet paper, or purchase the same product for $1? This is a no brainer. When you come across a huge deal like this, you want to purchase as many as possible (as many as you have coupons for). If you “stockpile” them, you are no longer at the mercy of the grocery chains. You are now free to purchase products only when they’re on sale.

***NOTE****It does take time to build your stockpile, start slow until you’re comfortable.

Don’t EVER let things run out! Why you ask? You’ll end up paying full retail for something you could’ve gotten for pennies-OUCH! Instead, keep your stockpile full, and you’ll never pay full retail again! I prefer to go to my personal store “my pantry” where I’ve paid little to nothing for items, than to take a trip to the grocery store and pay full retail because I’ve run out of something.

There are certain items you should NEVER pay full retail for:

  • beauty items (deodorant, shampoo, toothpaste, etc)
  • canned foods (veggies, fruit, tomatoes, etc.)
  • cereal (boxed cereal, cereal bars, oatmeal, etc.)
  • cleaning supplies (glass cleaner, furniture polish, etc.)
  • paper products (facial tissue, paper towels, toilet paper, etc.)

ORGANIZE

In order to save money, organization is essential! If you can’t find that coupon, or refund, you can’t save money. You’ll need to decide on a container to hold your coupons. There are several different types of containers you can use.

  • A shoe box
  • A recipe file box
  • A tupperware box
  • An accordian check file
  • A binder

CATEGORIES

Now that you’ve decided on a holder, you must organize your coupons into categories. You can do this by using dividers with the categories written on them. (I’ve put together a list of categories which follows). Replace categories that don’t pertain to you, with ones that do. Place an envelope behind each divider. The envelope will hold all your coupons for that category. It’s important to file your coupons right away. Coupons stuck in a drawer, or expired won’t help you save money. This all may sound overwhelming, and time consuming, but really it isn’t. It will probably take about an hour to do initially. Think of it this way- 1 hours worth of work to save thousands!

  • Baby Items
  • Baking
  • Beverages
  • Bread
  • Canned Goods/Soup
  • Cereal
  • Cleaning Items
  • Condiments
  • Cosmetics
  • Dairy/Cheese
  • Deodorants
  • Facial/Skin Care
  • Feminine Products
  • Frozen Foods
  • Hair
  • Household
  • Laundry/Detergent
  • Meat/Medicines
  • Oil/Shortening
  • Oral Care (toothpaste, etc.)
  • Miscellaneous
  • Paper Products
  • Pasta
  • Pet food
  • Plastic Bags
  • Rice
  • Snacks
  • Seasoning Mixes
  • Soaps

Refunding

Welcome to the world of refunds! You may be thinking that $2 here, $10 here isn’t worth the time, but believe me, it is. It’s the middle of the month and I’ve already received $77 back in refunds. This is a great way to reduce your grocery bill even further. Don’t ignore this cash cow! Manufacturers have ear tagged millions for these programs, but they count on you not fulfilling them. Why not have your cake and eat it too? My refund checks go into a special savings account set up just for them. My family uses this money for vacations. We’ve been able to take some really nice trips, that we normally wouldn’t have been able to. How does a dream vacation sound? New furniture, or whatever you decide. The sky’s the limit.

What is a refund? A refund offers some type of incentive (cash, a free product coupon, or free gift), for sending in the rebate form, upc’s (proof of purchase), and a crt (cash register tape).

It usually takes about 8 weeks to receive a rebate, but it’s a great way to have a steady influx of money in your mailbox. What’s better than going to your mailbox and receiving checks instead of only bills? Nothing!

Where to find rebate forms

  • Grocery store aisles (they’re on a pad).
  • Sunday Supplements
  • Hang tags (they’re around the necks of shampoo, etc.).
  • Magazines
  • SMP

You must save your crt, and upc’s. I save mine for a couple of months, as sometimes a rebate will come out that states, “purchase products between x and x”. This means if I bought the product 2 months ago and it is in that date range, there’s no need to purchase those products again. I just get my old crt and upc’s and send them in with the form.

Organization

I use a large Recipe Box for my forms. The dividers have the months of the year on them. I file the forms by the expiration date, in envelopes, behind each divider. This makes them easy to find.

Keep it Legal!

Make sure to keep it legal. If you don’t, you can actually get jail time. Some things to keep in mind….

  • Check the fine print on coupons – sometimes they have size requirements. If the coupon says on 15 oz. size, then by all means, use it only on that size.
  • Check the fine print on refund forms – they usually state one per person, per household, per address. Do not try to send for multiple rebates when this is stated.
    Check the expiration dates on coupons.
  • Most coupons now say “no P.O. boxes, but if they don’t do not send for multiple rebates with different PO boxes. This is mail fraud!
  • Do not counterfeit free item coupons – you can go to jail for this.
  • Don’t make your own crt’s.

Remember, you can reduce your grocery bill without doing anything illegal. It’s really not worth it. Be honest, and have fun.

The bottom line is get organized, clip coupons, send for those refunds, and you too can save thousands each year!

Originally posted by ‘MSPennyPincherDeals’