Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Day 2: Couponing Ethics & Rules

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If you are going to be a couponer, there are a few common courtesies & rules that you must follow. Unfortunately there are many bad couponers out there that ruin it for the rest of us. But the following basically says "Do the Right Thing." Just in case you don't know what "the Right Thing" is, I'm gonna tell ya!

Rule #1 - Follow the instructions on the coupon. Sometimes this works to your advantage, sometimes it doesn't.

For instance, if the coupon says "$3.00 off any Pampers Cruiser diapers," you must buy the Cruiser kind. Don't try to use it on the Baby Dry ones.
Make sense?

On the flip side, if the coupon says, "$1.00 off any Ivory Bar or Liquid Soap," you can use this coupon on ANY Ivory Bar or Liquid Soap. And if you find it for $0.99 (or even $0.25), you can get this bad boy for free!

Rule #2 - Don't clear the shelves. There's lots of times that there are some awesome freebies. And many couponers buy lots of newspapers or order the coupons online {More to come on those tomorrow!}. If there are only 10 of whatever is free, buy 2 or 3. Don't take all 10. It ruins it for everyone else. Especially since you probably don't need all 10.
Now if there's 50, go ahead and buy 10 :)

Rule #3 - Follow your expiration dates. If you use an expired coupon, the store may not get reimbursed for the coupon by the company. When this happens a lot, the stores get frustrated with couponers & take it out on all couponers, not just the abusers.

With that said, ask the store manager what their policy is. I know that some stores will take coupons expired within so many days. {None in N. KY that I know of}

How do coupons work?
Most coupons come from Manufacturers {called Manufacturer's Coupons}. In this case, the store gives you that money off your bill. They then send the coupons used into the Manufacturer & they are refunded the value of the coupon + $0.08 (or so) for each coupon.
But that only works if you follow the coupon rules.

There are also store coupons. And in that case, the store is giving you that money off.

How to use coupons
This is pretty black & white.
{$ Off Coupons} You are allowed to use 1 coupon per item purchased.ex. You have 5 coupons for $1 off Tide.
You buy 5 bottles of Tide.
You can use all 5 $1 off coupons.

{$ Off any 2 or 3} You can only use 1 coupon per 2 or 3 items purchased.
ex. You have 4 $1 off any 2 Kelloggs Cereal coupons
You buy 4 boxes of cereal.
You can only use 2 of your coupons.

{Buy one Get one Free} You can use 1 B1G1 Free coupon for every 2 items.
ex. You have 2 B1G1 Free Body Wash coupons
You buy 4 bodywashes.
You can use 2 B1G1 free coupons.
And you only pay for 2 of them.

{B1G1 Free store sale & B1G1 free coupons} You will get two items free.
(One from the store, one from the manufacturer)
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Ex. Last week, Walgreens had Clean & Clear Bodywash for B1G1 Free & we happened to have B1G1 Free coupons too.

Now here's where you start to get in the gray areas for most people. What I'm listing below is the way that it should work, but to be honest, this really confuses some cashiers & managers. If you do it this way, the coupon shouldn't beep.

{B1G1 Free coupons & $ off coupons combined}

ex. You have a B1G1 Free Toothbrush coupon & $1 off coupon
You get 2 toothbrushes
You can use 1 B1G1 Free coupon & 1 $1 off coupon
Your $1 off coupon is for the item that are paying for. The B1G1 coupon is for the free one.

{B1G1 Free coupons & $ off 2 coupons combined}

ex. You have B1G1 Free Soup & a $1 off any 2 soups coupons
To use both of these coupons you must buy 3 items.
Your $1 off 2 coupon is for the 2 you are paying for & the B1G1 coupon is for the free one.

ex 2. Now if you have 2 B1G1 Free Soups & $1 off any 2 soup coupons
If you buy 4 soups, you can use all three coupons.

Clear as mud?? :)

{B1G1 Free Sale & $1 off coupons}

ex. You have 2 $2 off Potato Chip coupons
The chips are on sale this week for B1G1 Free
You can use both $2 off coupons. The store will get reimbursed.

This can lead to both items being free or really cheap sometimes!

{Manufacturer Coupons & Store Coupons}

You can stack manufacturer coupons & Store coupons together at most stores.

I think we covered all of the scenarios you may see!

I will say that every store is different, so make sure you are familiar with the store's coupon policy.

Here are the following store's coupon policies. The other stores don't have published policies, but feel free to email & ask questions!

Target
Walgreens
Meijer


Coming tomorrow! Where do you find those coupons? And Organization!

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