Thursday, April 14, 2011

Beginner's Guide: Using Coupons

Now that you have all these coupons and they're all nice & organized, how can you use them to get the best savings?

The first place I will send anyone living in the Minnesota is Pocket Your Dollars, a blog that is kept by Carrie Rocha (she often appears on Kare 11 in the mornings). Anyone else, I like to send to Becentsable's Grocery Gathering to find their state and stores. With Becentsable, Chrissy has a list of links to other blogs that make a list of weekly store deals matched with coupons (you'll find Pocket Your Dollars listed on there!)

No matter where you live, the best way to maximize your savings when using coupons is to combine them with a sale or a store coupon (or possibly both!). Pocket Your Dollars (and the sites listed on Becentsable) all have store sales, deals, or coupons, matched up with manufacturer coupons to help you pay the lowest price.

Now here's a few pointers that I've learned from using Pocket Your Dollars (PYD). Mind you, I would encourage you to explore her website to learn even more (especially the store's coupon policy that she has listed), but here are some helpful hints to get you started...

Roundy's (Rainbow Foods, Copps, Pick N Save) Coupon Policy
- Sign up for a Roundy's card to start earning 5 cents off per gallon at BP per $50 spent at Rainbow, plus getting other store deals that require you to use your card to get the great prices (if you don't like BP, then don't use the cents off)
Double Daze (and Double Double Daze)
- Wednesdays (and Saturdays for now)
- 5 (or 10 for Double Double Daze) coupons will double
- the face value must be $1 or less
- must spend $25 BEFORE sale price or coupons
- if you have more than 5 (or 10) coupons to use in one transaction, hand them the higher value coupons first
- do separate transactions, if you need to, but be aware that some cashiers get cranky when you seem to be backing up their line, so pick your cashier wisely

Cub Foods' Coupon Policy
- will take coupons up to 3 months expired (they still get their money from the manufacturer)
- take Walgreen's Register Rewards after they've expired

- each item can have one store and one manufacturer's coupon
- often times you are offered a $5 gift card when you buy certain items (these can be used on your next trip or transaction)
- items that come in travel sizes you can often get for free (check coupon for size restrictions)
- you can print Target & manufacturer's coupons from Target's website
- Target coupons are often found in the paper
- I have gotten Target coupons sent to my house, though I am still not sure what I signed up for to get them

Walgreens' How-to Guide
- Register Rewards (RR) are catalinas or coupons (they print from a box next to the one that prints your receipt) for money off your next purchase that is sponsored by the manufacturer
- don't use a RR you got to purchase the same thing again (you won't get another RR)
- use a RR to buy something different than what you got it from
- tricky store to get to know, but can get lots of freebies (check out PYD's "How-to Guide" linked above)

CVS's Getting Started
- sign up for their Extra Care Card
- if you use your Extra Care Card, certain items will print out Extra Care Bucks (similar to Walgreen's Register Rewards) at the bottom of your receipt
- less confusing policy than Walgreens, but doesn't have as many deals

- bring a quarter for a cart (you get the quarter back when you return the cart)
- don't take credit cards (only cash, and some debit cards)
- good deals on produce & beef

Menard's How-to
- many items are "free-after-rebate" (or really cheap) where the rebate is a store credit
- use a rebate to buy another item that is free (or cheap) after rebate
- rebate receipts print on the receipt with a number for the form you have to grab at the service desk
- you can mail in multiple rebates in one envelope (saving you postage!)
- if you are only getting "free-after-rebate" items, you have to spend $10 on non-rebated items (if they're really cheap after rebate, then you don't have to worry about it)

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