It’s been a while since I wrote another installment of How to Coupon, so I thought tonight would be the perfect night to get going on another one since I’m a little under the weather.
This topic is probably the most important part of coupon-ing. To be an effective saver, you need to know the ins and outs of store sale flyers and their respective coupon policies.
Company Policies on Coupons
The first step of getting ready to use coupons at a store is to go online and check their company policy on coupons. Some stores only allow a maximum of four alike coupons per transaction. Sometimes stores accept competitor store coupons while other’s won’t. This is information necessary to have in order to plan a shopping trip.
I’ve found that coupon policies are often hidden somewhere on a company’s site. What works for me is Googling “[insert store name here]‘s coupon policy.” I’ve never not found a coupon policy after doing that. If nothing comes up, your store might not accept coupons. Instead, Google “does [insert store name here] accept coupons?” and you’ll get your answer.
Read in full the coupon policy of the store you plan to shop at and make sure you understand everything about it. If you have questions, call up the corporate headquarters or ask a store manager.
Something that happens pretty often is that store employees don’t know their own company’s coupon policy. They just aren’t trained to know this information as it doesn’t often come up. Sometimes even managers or team leaders won’t know – but they’ll usually pretend they do or make something up in order to get you to go away. Occasionally, stores will deviate slightly from the official coupon policy, but only in ways that would benefit you (like allowing a store coupon to be used past its expiration date). I highly suggest printing out the coupon policies of stores that you frequent the most in case a problem arises. If that happens, you can just whip out your handy-dandy coupon policy in order to make sure the store lets you get the savings you deserve.
Sale flyers are my favorite part about coupon-ing! I love getting the sale flyers for Stop & Shop and Shaw’s every week in my mailbox and pouring through them to find the best deals.
As well as allowing you to see what is on sale, reading the sale flyers each week allows you to become familiar with what’s a “good deal” and what’s a “bad deal.” Often stores will advertise a “deal” in order to get people to buy the product, because they think they’re getting a lot of savings. If you know from experience with reading the sale flyers that this product goes on sale quite often for a better price, maybe you’d be better off waiting to buy it until the price goes lower in another week or two.
Make sure you check your sale flyer closely. It will always let you know how long these deals will last. Does the store sales week go from Friday-Thursday or from Sunday-Saturday? These are both very common systems, but vary store to store. I usually try to go to the store on the first day of the sales so that I get to the products before everybody else. Sometimes certain deals will be three days only, or one day only. Those will always be advertised on the flyer next to the price.
One big thing that confuses a lot of people are deals that are written like “2/$6″ or “3/$5.” A lot of the sales will be written up in the flyer like this. Unless it is specifically mentioned right next to the product on the flyer or on a product’s tag at the store, you can buy one item at the same price – you do not need to buy the specified amount. For example, if something is advertised as being 2/$10, it is it is really 1/$5. If you have questions about a certain product, or are unsure if you need to buy more than one of something, as a store employee or use one of the price check machines offered in many stores.
Next up… Creating a Shopping List!