Couponing 101

We are happy you found us. So you are interested in saving more at the Store, lets start with a few Basic Tips. 

First off - Read Your Coupons! I always say "Reading is Fundamental" because it is just that. As a responsible couponer, it is our duty to Coupon Correctly. More and more stores are tightening up their policies or changing how many "like" coupons they will accept. Some stores locally to me no longer accept printable coupons, due to fraud. 

 The coupon world has changed drastically over the past few years. So we like to promote clean and correct couponing. 

Just because a Coupon Scans for an item doesn't mean it is correct.  Read the coupon. If their is a size restriction on the coupon. Please use it for the size intended. The manufacturer puts out coupons for certain sizes. Sometimes it may "work" on a different size and people take advantage of it. But the retailer will not get paid back for that coupon. Which makes honest couponers have a harder time saving, because the policies will continue to change and stores will no longer allow us to save how we can. There is no such legal thing as "balanced couponing" I don't care how you say it. If you use a coupon for something other than what it is intended for - it is simply Coupon Fraud. 

 You can save 50% or more at the store doing it correctly. Believe me, lots of us couponers do it every week. 

Where to get coupons -

The Sunday Paper is always a good place to start! Usually most places have the Smartsource insert, Red Plum insert and Proctor & Gamble insert inside of Sunday papers. (depending on the week) - Print coupons - Print coupons - Print Coupons - Print Coupons

All of those links are at the top of the blog 

Check store websites. Most stores offer Digital Coupons. These are typically Manufacturer coupons and cannot be used with paper coupons. But are a great way to save if you do not have a printer available. Sign up for accounts on store websites and simply clip the offers you would like to use. I recommend checking the store sites frequently. Especially on Sunday Mornings when they update the coupon offers for the week. 

Check companies websites and Facebook pages for coupons also. Sign up for newsletters when available from companies. Frequently they will send exclusive member coupons via email!  

*Create a separate email account just for couponing, so you do not get bombarded with emails from companies in your regular email folders. A lot of times when you sign up for companies newsletters, you will receive great coupons in emails too!
You can print two of the same coupon per computer most times (unless the coupon resets) so if you need multiple prints, make sure to take advantage of libraries or ask friends & family to print for you. Do Not Copy printable coupons. It is for one illegal, but also the stores do not get reimbursed for these. Manufacturers set budgets for the coupons that are released. By copying printable coupons, this does make manufacturers less likely to offer great deals and we want to continue to get great deals, right? 

Look for Tearpads or Blinkie Machines with coupons in front of products in stores also. DO NOT take the whole tearpad. Always be courteous and leave some for others! Not everyone has the chance to get coupons the same way, so try to remember the next person shopping may need that coupon to save for their family too.

Order Clipped coupons for multiple coupons too. Many sites are available for this. We havea few we recommend.

Coupon Talk & Lingo -

Some of the crazy language us couponers speak, only we can understand! But simply it is a lot of abbreviations!

SS = Smartsource Insert (usually found in the Sunday Paper) or printable

RP= RedPlum Insert (found in certain papers or mail)  or printable website

PG = Procter & Gamble insert (usually found in Sunday Paper)

BOGO = Buy One Get One sales or coupon deals

B2G1 = Buy Two & Get One sales or coupon deals

Blinkies = Little boxes with blinking lights in front of product with coupons dispensed from them.

Catalina = Coupon that prints at checkout from separate machine than receipt, with either $ off your next purchase or coupons for your next purchase. Also known as a Cat.

CRT = Cash Register Tape (coupons printing at bottom of receipt  ex: CVS)

DB - Database

ECB's = Extra Care Bucks  (basically money back for purchasing certain items at CVS that you use towards future purchases)

Envie - Envelope full of coupons

EXP = Expires (in reference to date of coupon expiring usually)

FS - Free Shipping

GC = Gift Card

HBA - Health & Beauty Section

IM = Instant Message  (depending on what you are using to message people)

IMO - In My Opinion

Inserts - coupon booklets from Sunday papers or in mail  (Red Plum/SmartSource/PG)

IP - Internet printable

ISO = In Search Of  (when searching for a certain item/coupon)

IVC = Instant Value Coupon (or as I call them In Ad coupons  Ex: Walgreens in ad coupons to use in store on items)

MFR - Manufacturer Coupon

MIR = Mail in Rebate

MM = Money Maker!  (Deals where after coupon/sale/ECB whatever you are making money back!)

NLA = No Longer Available (a coupon that was available to print previously but now is not available, so check your binders for it!)

OYNO = On Your Next Order  (when you get a coupon at checkout for $$ off your next purchase)

OOP = Out of Pocket  (what you actually paid after taxes, coupons, etc)

PEELIE = Coupon found stuck on product that can be peeled off

PG - Procter & Gamble Coupons

PM = Private Message 

PSA = Prices Starting At

Q = Coupon  (simple way to put it!)

R or REG = Regional Coupon  (some areas get different coupons than others, one reason I order from other areas)

RC - Rain Check for an item out of stock

RP - Red Plum coupon  (insert or printable)

RR = Register Rewards,  Coupon given at checkout for a certain amount of $$ for purchasing certain products, to use on future checkouts

SRP -  Suggested Retail Price

SS - SmartSource coupon (insert or printable)

STACK = Stacking both a store coupon and a manufacturer coupon to save more (ex: CVS coupon machine coupon used with a Sunday Paper Insert Coupon)

STAMPS = Trading coupons usually for a certain amount of postage stamps

TEARPAD = a pad of coupons found on a display or in front of item

UFT = Up for Trade  (when you are wanting to trade a q for another q)

UPC = Bar code found on product

WAGS = Walgreens nickname!

WYB = When You Buy

YMMV = Your Mileage May Vary  (certain stores/managers will not have the same deal as another store, so it may vary if you get a certain deal or not)

-FIRST RULE OF THUMB - Do NOT throw out your inserts or coupons!  Most of the time, there will be sales coming up for items in the inserts that are in your most recent Sunday Paper or Mail. If you toss them out, believe me you will be kicking yourself later. I learned this the hard way at first. 

Simply keep them in a binder, envelope, box - whatever is best for you to organize!  Then when the time comes and you need that insert from lets say 3 weeks ago, you know where to find it and run off to save!

My second rule of thumb - try to only purchase products that are on sale and you have a coupon to help you save more!  I live by the rule "No Coupon, No Buy". This helps me eliminate excess spending a lot of the times. Try to schedule meals, based on what is on sale that week at your local grocery stores. Don't buy things just because they are free or cheap if your family wont use them. Donations are great. Many places need items in the area. But don't get items you dont need if you dont plan to donate. 

MY third rule of thumb - never leave home without your coupons! I used to only take mine when I was planning on going grocery shopping. But how many times do you have to make stops for a gallon of milk, for example, and then see a deal and think "If only I had my coupons with me". This is why I say to always take them with you. At least in the car, you can always run out to your car if you see a hot deal!

This is always a tricky one -

Per Purchase vs. Per Transaction - Your coupon may state "Limit one per purchase" or "limit one per transaction"

-Per Purchase refers to each item you are purchasing. You may use one coupon per item you are purchasing, whether it is 20 items or 2 items.

-Per Transaction refers to your total purchase. Like with P&G coupons you may only use 4 of the same coupon per transaction.

Store cashiers love to confuse this one and it can be an argument at checkout. Just be patient and explain the difference.

10 for $10 sales - 

This can be tricky, well not really. At Kroger you do not have to buy 10 items to receive the price. The items are just $1. It is really a marketing ploy to say 10 for $10. The item is a $1 and simply that. So buy 1 or buy 10. 

However at Meijer when a 10 for $10 get the 11th item free sale is going on, you do have to buy 11 items for the price and discount. 

This is why it is important to know the store policies and rules. Each store does it differently. 


Kroger offers Mega Sales frequently. They may be Buy 4 & Save $4 or Buy 5 & Save $5 etc. You have to buy the number of participating items to get the discount. It doesn't have to be the same items, you can mix and match participating items to get the discount. 

Make sure you are keeping count of participating items as you shop. Seperate them however works best for you. Or tab it on a piece of paper as you go through the store and put items in your cart. 

If for some reason you missed an item or it doesn't ring up right. Simply go to the Customer service desk and explain that you did not get the discount. Most times they will let you grab another participating item and attach it to your receipt to recover your discount. 

If an item is Out of Stock - Simply ask for a raincheck.  Some stores will only give rainchecks for items in the Ad. So keep that in mind. 

*I take a picture of the sales tag and head to the Service Desk. That way I can show the size and correct item to get the Rain Check written up properly. 

*How to Shop at CVS -

In order to get the prices in ad - you must have a CVS Extra Care Card. (If you do not have one you can sign up online or in store)

Always scan your card at the CVS coupon machine (Big Red Machine) for in store coupon savings that can be stacked with manufacturer coupons! SCAN, SCAN, SCAN until the message "No Coupons Available" pops up on the screen. Sometimes I can scan my card two to three times and get a pile of CVS coupons! You may use these coupons with Manufacturer coupons you get from the Sunday Paper, Internet, etc. This "Stacked" coupon transaction helps lower your cost out of pocket!

  ** PLUS - Sign up online and get special coupon savings online. As well as emails sent to you with savings and coupons. I frequently get 20% off coupons that go great with ECB deals!

An ECB is an "Extra Care Buck" that prints at the bottom of your receipt. Every week different items will be available to purchase and earn an ECB in the process. You can then use the ECB to help pay for future purchases in store. (exclusions apply) Make sure that your ECB's do not exceed your total spent at the end of purchase. If this is the case, grab a candy bar or small item to make up the difference, so you do not lose any value of your ECB!

Sign Up for the Beauty Club and earn $5 Extra Care Bucks  every time you purchase $50 in participating products. (Note - this is $50 before coupons!)

Get 2% back for your out of pocket purchases! Every Quarter you will be given ECB's for 2% of your quarterly spending, rounded down to the nearest dollar amount.

CVS has the 98% purchase rule - So if you need to spend $10 to earn $3 ECB, for example, and the products you have total $9.95 you will still earn the $3 ECB. Because it is rounded up from 98%.

Double check the bottom of your receipt. Even if the Ad states a limit of one ECB per purchase, sometimes it is actually more. Check the bottom of your receipt to see if it states "Limit Reached" or if there is a total to earn towards the next ECB. This is how you will know if you can get another ECB on a specific deal.

How to shop at Walgreens -

My best advise for Walgreens is to purchase products that earn Register Rewards by using Balance Rewards to pay, this lowers your out of pocket expenses while earning the Balance Rewards.

Then use the Register Rewards for transactions that earn Balance Rewards.

You cannot earn Balance Rewards in a transaction that you use Balance Rewards to pay with. So try to use the Register Rewards to pay and lower the out of pocket expenses while earning the Balance Rewards. 

Look for sale items that earn Balance Rewards weekly. For every 1,000 pts it converts to $1. You can redeem $1 at a time.Most of the time the cashier will not ask you if you want to redeem. So you may need to let them you wish to redeem points. 

1 comment:

Dave in Indy said...

In some areas, someone delivers the coupons and Sunday ads FREE without having to subscribe to the Indy Star. Do you know how to sign up for that?