Coupons: What Are They And Where Do I Start?

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What are coupons and where do I start |


So you’ve done it!  You have made the decision that you want to use coupons to save money.  That’s great!  But – you have no idea where to even start.  It can seem daunting to figure out this crazy coupon world which is filled with it’s on language and methods.  I’ve broken it down for you below, so you can get on the path to saving money!

What is a coupon?  Simply put, a coupon is a voucher that customers use to save money.   You clip them and then take them with you to the store so you can save money.

Where do I find coupons?  They can be found through many resources including your Sunday newspaper, on-line and your favorite magazines.  You may want to refer to this Where To Find Coupons post as I list out several ways for you to find your coupons.

How do I actually use a coupon?  You purchase the item(s) listed on the coupon (make sure you purchase the quantity listed).  When you get to the register, you place your items on the counter as usual.  You then hand the coupon to the cashier. He or she will scan (or manually enter) the coupon.  The amount that it says you will save will be deducted from your total bill.

Example:  Your total bill is $20, you have a coupon to save $1 off of the purchase of 1 item.  The cashier will scan it and then your total will be reduced to $19.

Can I use a coupon on every item I purchase?  You have to look at the coupon to understand the amount you can save as well as the number of items you need to purchase.  You can then only use one coupon per item.

Example 1:  The coupon is for $0.50/2 (which means $0.50 off of 2 items).  You will need to purchase 2 items and then you can use the coupon.  If you purchase only one item, you can not use the coupon.  You also can not use 2 of these coupons only on 2 items.  In order to use 2 coupons, you would need to purchase 4 items.

Example 2:  The coupon is for $1/1 (which means $1 off of 1 item).  You can purchase just one product and use the coupon.  If you purchase 2 items, you can use 2 coupons.  Purchase 3 and use 3, etc.

What does it mean to double or triple a coupon? Some stores offer double or triple coupon discounts.  That means that the face value of the coupon is doubled or tripled.  There may be exclusions to values which will not be eligible for this discount.  You will need to check your store’s double or triple coupon policy to know for certain.It is very important to note that stores pay for double or triple coupons and do not get reimbursed.  That is why they sometimes have limits listed within their policies.  Make sure you locate your store’s coupon policy and keep it with you when you shop.

You will also need to carefully look at your coupon as some of them include an acronym of DND/DNT on them.  This means, the coupon will not be doubled or tripled in value.  The store reserves the right to go ahead and override this feature, however, the store is not obligated to increase the value.

Example 1:  The store offers double coupons up to (and including) $0.50.  If your coupon is for $0.50/1 product, they will actually increase the coupon value so you save $1/1 instead.    In this case, the store will be reimbursed only $0.50 for this coupon as they have chosen to double the value at their store.

Example 2:  The store offers triple coupons up to (and including) $1.  If your coupon is for $0.50/1 product, they will increase the coupon value so you save $1.50/1 instead.  In this instance, the store will be reimbursed for $0.50 and they are agreeing to the additional $1 savings at their own cost.

Example 3:   The store offers double coupons up to (and including) $0.49.  Your coupon is for $0.50/1 product.  This coupon will not be doubled.

What happens if the coupon savings is more than the product price? Will I get cash back?  If the value of the coupon exceeds the product price, most stores will manually adjust the value down.  At this time, Walmart will actually offer cash back (they are one of the few stores to do so).

Some coupons may clearly indicate that you can not receive cash back and the value will need to be adjusted down, so make sure you carefully read your coupon.

Example 1:  The product price is $0.99 and the coupon is for $1/1.  The store may adjust the coupon value down to $0.99 and not deduct $1 from your total.

Example 2:  The product price is $0.99 and the coupon is for $1/1 and you are shopping at Walmart.  Walmart will deduct $1 from your total and if your total amount due ends up being a negative, they will give you cash back.

Do I pay sales tax on my total before or after my coupons?  This depends upon where you live.  In most states, you pay sales tax on the pre-coupon total.  I live in Missouri and our state law says that we pay sales tax on the post-coupon totals.   You will want to check your state laws to know for certain.

Now that you know the basics, make sure you read our other articles which can provide more money saving tips!