Shopping with Coupons | Focus on one Store

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The fourth baby step to Shopping with Coupons: A Beginner’s Guide to Saving. This snack suggests you Focus on One Store.

The most common response I receive is that all of this information is overwhelming. And, it truly can be. Not only are you starting to shop with coupons and a purpose of saving, but then I throw in four different stores to shop plus rules and lingo and…. Um, yeah, it is confusing and overwhelming!

I want you to begin this couponing journey feeling successful and less stressed (by couponing anyway :-). As you begin to break down the rules and lingo, I suggest you just Focus on One Store. To truly understand the rules for this store, definitely:

Request a coupon redemption policy in writing.

  • Email corporate or request a policy from the store management.
  • Keep this policy with you while you shop in the event a process you are following [according to the store's policy] is being challenged.
  • In the event of a management change, be sure to double check the policy you are following. Some stores are giving “management discretion” freedom to vary policies slightly.

A written coupon redemption policy is NOT always easy to get! And, sometimes there are still questions if you are able to get a policy. Here are a few other things to think about as you continue your Focus on One Store:

What types of coupons can be used and redeemed at this store?

  • If the store accepts coupons, they probably accept most every coupon listed in Get some Coupons.
  • IP’s: While more stores are accepting IP’s (since many have the unique bar codes preventing fraud) some stores still do not accept them so be sure to check with management.
  • Catalinas: Some stores will accept Catalinas that were printed from other stores. Again, “some” means this is a YMMV (your mileage may vary) so it’s worth asking.

Does the store have an eCoupon system established?

Does the store double the face value of your coupons?

  • If so, that $.50 coupon really equals $1. This could be the difference of paying for something and getting it FREE!
  • If a coupon’s bar code starts with the number “5″ then it will be doubled automatically.
  • Some coupon language states “Do Not Double.” If the coupon begins with the number “5″ it will double anyway. This is just an automation within the store’s system (and it is ethical just so ya know).
  • Many “Blinkies” bar codes begin with the number “9″ or other number and generally do not double even if the store’s policy doubles the face value of the coupon.
  • These tips are especially important if you use a clipping service or Buying Coupons on Ebay and Clipping Services to purchase additional coupons! When buying for your stockpile, doubling makes a huge difference.

Does the store offer unlimited double coupons?

  • Some stores put a limit on coupons that will double.
  • For example, in my region, Meijer will only double two of the same coupons and all others are redeemed at face value. Kroger, on the other hand, offers unlimited double coupons.
  • Drugstores generally do not double coupons.

Most coupon redemption policies are a 1 to 1 Ratio.

  • The store will allow for 1 Manufacturer Coupon on 1 Item.
  • The exception to this is the use of the eCoupons listed above.

Will the store allow “stacking” of coupons?

  • Stacking is using 1 Manufacturer’s Coupon PLUS 1 Store coupon on 1 item. So, you can use 2 coupons (a store and a manufacturer’s) on 1 item.
  • Many stores do allow this but the registers may beep if you only have 1 items and 2 coupons. Having a small filler is strategic for those purchases. A filler is an inexpensive item that can be included in your shopping trip.

Will the store accept competitor’s coupons?

  • Some stores do and this is another great way to save!
  • Many Drugstores accept competitor’s coupons for Prescription Transfers, just ask!

Not to sound like a broken record, but in the event there is any question, be sure to ask the management for an understanding of the policies. Sometimes they are unaware of the policies themselves so being extra nice while you’re being informative gets you more mileage in the long run :-) It never hurts to build a relationship that can be a good witness to others.

I also want to assure you that once you get the first store down, additional stores you may begin to shop will be easier. You will have the basics down and can just transfer skills those to other stores. Your saving and learning will pay off big time!

Read all of the steps in the Beginners Guide to Saving.

by Savings Lifestyle: Andrea on October 23, 2008

5 Comments

  • JC - October 23, 2008 @ 6:32 pm
    1

    Hi,
    Love your site and just wanted to tell you that there is a $5/20 walgreens coupon on coupons.com valid on 10/24 and 10/25.

  • Emily - October 23, 2008 @ 6:48 pm
    2

    This is a GREAT post – there are a few things in here that are “A-HA!” for me that I never understood (like why some of my blinkies didn’t double, etc).

    And I like the suggestion to focus on one store to start. I started with CVS back in January (since it’s such a good one). Gradually I added Kroger and then Meijer (I only go to Meijer when there’s a really good sale because it’s a farther drive for me). And I keep thinking that I will add Wags to the list but so far I’m chugging along quite nicely with these 3. Maybe someday!

  • kari - October 27, 2008 @ 8:29 pm
    3

    great suggestions! i will start one store at a time!

  • Newbie - January 10, 2011 @ 3:38 pm
    4

    Quick question:
    You say that when you stack coupons, sometime the register will beep and we should have a filler item.. What purpose does the filler item serve? Wont the cashier just say that the coupon is invalid and only allow one to be used?

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