SAVINGS Gal

Coupon Ethics: The Rules of Couponing!
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As a couponer, it is really important to understand how to use coupons ethically! If people use coupons unethically, then it ruins it for the rest of us! Of course I don’t want that to happen since we all benefit greatly from the use of coupons, right?
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The complete responsibility of correct coupon usage falls on the consumer, not the store employee or manufacturer of the coupon. Because of this, you want to make sure you’re following the rules, so here are the basic guidelines for using coupons.
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Read the Fine Print:
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  • Make sure you are purchasing the size, quantity, type, etc. that the coupon intends for you to purchase.
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  • Often, you will see the phrase “Limit one coupon per purchase.” Some retailers unfortunately tend to interpret this phrase wrong and think that it means you can only use one coupon on your entire transaction. This phrase, when properly interpreted, basically means that you can use one manufacturer coupon for each item you purchase. If you have a $1.00 manufacturer coupon for a box of waffles, you can only use one coupon. You can’t stack coupons and attempt to use two $1.00 manufacturer coupons on one box of waffles. If you wish to redeem both coupons, you will have to buy two boxes of waffles. Some stores (like Target) will allow you to stack one manufacturer coupon with one store coupon and that is OK.
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Check the Expiration Date:

  • Most stores will not accept coupons past their expiration date simply because they will not be reimbursed by the manufacturer!

Be Aware of Counterfeit Coupons:

  • Recently someone emailed me a PDF file of a FREE 1 lb. box of Velveeta Cheese and they wanted to know if it was real. That coupon was a scan of a 20-year-old coupon with no expiration date. Using that coupon would mean you were committing coupon fraud! The stores that people used that coupon at will NOT get reimbursed a dime from the manufacturer since it was not a legit coupon! You can read more about that coupon HERE. See a complete list of counterfeit coupons that the CIC has tracked and identified as fraudulent.
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  • If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is! Be cautious of any coupon in PDF version. If it is in PDF file call the manufacturer or store to verify that it is legit. I realize some PDFcoupons are legit and can be found directly on the manufacturer’s website, just make sure it is so you don’t unintentionally find yourself committing coupon fraud.
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Photocopying Coupons:

  • It is illegal to photocopy ANY coupon! It is because of people photocopying Internet printable coupons that some stores will not accept them. Each Internet coupon has a unique serial number in the upper right hand corner. The manufacturer will NOT reimburse a store that has accepted more than one coupon with the same number. Once the coupon has been redeemedit is no longer valid!
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Returning an Item:

  • If you return an item that you purchased with a coupon, that coupon must be taken off your return amount. It is not ethical to return an item to make the money off it. Believe me the stores catch on to this and then that just causes them to scrutinize every coupon and to buckle down on their return policy! I just spoke to Target Customer Relations about their coupon policy and they mentioned that they are aware of people doing this and are coming up with a policy to prevent it from happening. I will talk about this more in my Target Coupon Policy post!

Coupons can be a great tool for savvy consumers like us, but only if they are redeemed properly. I hope you will take into consideration these tips concerning correct coupon usage in mind the next time you head to the grocery store! Happy Saving!

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Couponing 101: A Beginner’s Guide to Couponing!
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This is a basic beginner’s guide to couponing to help you get started on saving your family money and expanding your budget. I know it can seem overwhelming when you first start couponing. I’m not going to lie, it really can be at times! Believe me, there are times I take a break from it because I…well….just NEED ONE! Over time it does, however, get easier. But like with anything, the time invested is worth the reward! You will see a difference in the amount of money you are spending and soon will question why you never couponed before! I know I have many times!

Here is an outline of what I think is the most useful way to organize and make coupons most effective for you!
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Get Some Coupons! You can get coupons from a variety of places including:
  • Online: There are many online websites that allow you to print coupons for free just by signing up. Signing up is free too! Here is a comprehensive list of websites that offer printable coupons.

  • Sunday Newspaper: The most cost effective way of accumulating coupons is by having the Sunday paper delivered right to your house. The nice thing about that is you can decide to only have the Sunday paper delivered. I personally get the L.A. Times because they have the largest amount of coupons in my area. Check your local area to see what is the best newspaper to order. A great place to order your newspaper is through Discount Newspapers.
  • All You Magazine: This magazine is considered the “Couponers Magazine” because it has anywhere between $20 and $50 in coupons per month! The only place to get it in store is at Wal Mart, but you will pay much more than getting an All You Magazine Subscription.
  • FREE Samples: I often post FREE Sample offers. These samples often come with high-value coupons, so sign up if the product interests you and you think you might like to buy it in the future. Here is a list of FREE Samples I have written about!
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Get Organized! There are a variety of ways you can organize your coupons including:

  • Using Envelopes: This is the method I used when I first got started. You would simply make an envelope for each of the categories you have coupons for (beauty products, baby products, pet food, laundry & dish, personal care, etc.) Then store the envelopes in a plastic tub or something you find that works best.

 

  •  Accordion File: This is part of the method I use now! You can purchase the small wallet-sized ones or the larger paper size one. The benefit of using a larger (paper size) is that youcan store your entire insert from the Sunday paper. I suggest filing the entire insert by date (so you will have a section in theaccordion file for each Sunday newspapers coupon inserts). I also suggest waiting to clip any coupon until you are ready to use it. This not only easier, but you are also not waisting time cutting coupons you never end up using.
  • Coupon Binder: This is the current method of organizing coupons that I use! In fact, I have the exact one pictured to your right. I bought it on Amazon, HERE. This is a great method if you are a heavy couponer and have a lot of coupons to organize. In my coupon binder I keep a small pair of scissors, pen, calculator, pad of paper, copies of store coupon policies, and a price book.

 

My price book is a simple list of things that I frequently buy with a price listed next to it that I think is good. That price reminds me of what is a reasonable amount to pay for that item. It keeps me from questioning weather I paid a good price or not.

I use plastic sheets that are made for trading cards (you can buy those at Wal-Mart) to store my coupons in. I separate the sheets with vinyl binder dividers that I have labeled for each category (ie. beauty supplies, pet food, teeth, laundry, etc.). Of course you will need to organize your binder the way that works best for you. I have seen them organized by expiration date and alphabetically too.

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Prepare to Shop! I recommend you making a list and sticking to it:

  • Check the Ads: Sit down with your local grocery ads and see what is on sale. Try and plan your meals for the week around what is on sale.
  • Coupon Match-Up: Obviously the best scenario is to get something on sale and use a coupon for it! Although this may not always be possible, try and match up your coupons to the items on sale in your ad so that you get the best bang for your buck!
  • Write a List: Writing a list and sticking to it will not only make your shopping trip a breeze, but it will also keep you from those compulsive buys (although I still have those every now and then…ok…maybe one per trip). I also recommend paper clippingthe coupons you are going to use to that list.
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Stockpile! There is no real secret to couponing, except for this one! Stockpiling simply means to buy a few extra of those things you use frequently when they are on sale for the cheapest price! This is how you do it:

  • Find a Place to Store: Designate a place, cabinet, etc. to store the extras you will buy. If you have a designated place, it will help keep you organized and keep you from being stressed out about where you will store your extras when you get home.
  • Find the Best Price: Each week when the ads come out, sit down with them and see if something you frequently buy is on sale and then see if there is a coupon that matches up to it. If there is, that’s the time to STOCKPILE t0 save money! It’s that simple!
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It’s important to have good Coupon Ethics too! We have seen in recent past how stores become more restrictive on coupon usage and policies when people do not follow rules and use coupons properly.

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Have you heard of Shell Fuel Rewards? It’s a great way to save money on gas and I know we all could use that type of savings!

First, you need to request a card which you can do online HERE. Then you link all your credit cards to your account to combine Fuel Rewards savings earned at participating grocery and retail locations, restaurants and online merchant purchases. All you have to do is shop at participating grocery stores, retailers, restaurants, Shell stations and online merchants to earn Fuel Rewards savings. Members earn $.10/gal for every $50 spent at participating dining locations.

For now this fuel savings card is only available in the following states (and I’m jealous that California is not one of them):

Louisiana
Florida
Illinois
Missouri
Maine
Ohio
Rhode Island
Wash DC
Nebraska
Utah
Arkansas
Indiana
Kansas

If you are one of these lucky states, be sure to start saving on gas and sign up for the Shell Fuel Rewards Card! It’s FREE to sign up and there is no strings attached.

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Have you heard of Goldstar Events? Goldstar.com offers half-price tickets to the best events, including theater, music, museums and sports! Basically, they share the best of what your city has to offer at a great price. If you’re looking for things to do with your family while on a budget, check them out!

Sign up for Goldstar Events and get live entertainment tickets up to 50% OFF!
*It’s FREE to sign up!

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Target Red Card Savings!

Have you heard of the Target Red Card? You can save 5% OFF every time you shop at Target or Target.com when you sign up and use the Target Red Card. There are two different Target Red Cards:

  • Target Red Debit Card: A Target Red Debit Card can be used at Target stores and at Target.com. It draws right from your existing checking account, so it’s just like writing a check and there are absolutely NO FEES related to this transaction!
  • Target Red Credit Card: A Target Red Credit Card is just like any other store credit card and can only be used at Target.com and Target stores.

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What are the major benefits of the Target Red Card?

  • Get 5% OFF your entire purchase at Target & Target.com!
  • Get FREE Shipping on any size order at Target.com (including Target Online Clearance)!
  • Choose any eligible K-12 school, and they will donate 1% of your Red Card purchases at Target to the school of your choice!
  • No need to save your receipts, you can have them look up your transaction when they scan your Target Red Card.
Here is an example of one of my recent purchases online using my Target Red Card! It’s super easy to save and I LOVE that I get 5% OFF and FREE Shipping (even on clearance!).
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How do I apply for the Target Red Card?

  • Apply In-Store! The easiest way to apply is to go to the customer service desk at your local Target store! If you are signing up for the Target Red Debit Card, just bring a blank check with you because they need that to process your application and link the accounts.
  • Apply From Home! Download the Target Red Card Application and mail it in.
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~Savings Gal~
Because there is more than one way to save.
Check out my other Savings Gal Tips!

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