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?
- I shared about many eCoupons available in Get some Coupons.
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.