Coupons, refunds and rebates have been around for many years but some people don’t take advantage of them. Now that prices are climbing higher and higher everyday saving money on groceries has become a priority in many homes. Using coupons, refunds and rebates can not only save you money but allows you to try items you may not normally buy.
To save big you must follow a particular plan for shopping, clipping, mailing and following other instructions for refunds and rebates. It’s a little bit of work but well worth it. First on the list is to get as many coupons as possible. Most cities have pages of coupons in their Sunday paper. Upon glancing through them, should you find quite a few coupons you can use, it’s a good idea to purchase an extra Sunday paper or two. This way you have extra coupons to use for products you normally buy at regular cost. There must be several coupons you can use to warrant the extra cost of the paper.
Some grocery stores have a coupon trade center where you can dump the ones you don’t need and pick up a few that you can use. Go online to print coupons or write to manufacturers and ask for coupons. You can also go online and look for coupon clubs that mail an envelope full of coupons around to its members. The member takes what they need, puts in a few they don’t, and sends to the next member. If you have friends who also clip coupons get together every so often and trade. What they don’t want could be just what you need.
Don’t underestimate getting coupons from manufacturers. After once opening a can of cocktail for myself and my two kids, we noticed there were no cherries. Out of curiosity – not to complain – I asked if they could explain to me how they decide on the amount of cherries to put in each can. I told them that I mentioned it only because my kids fight over the cherries and I was curious as to why one can would get none. They sent me a letter explaining the canning process and the percentages of each fruit that went into the mix. To thank me for writing, they sent me (10) fifty-cent off coupons, good for any of their large line of products. When I saw an ad in our local paper stating that a nearby store would be tripling coupons, I drove over and took advantage of the fifty-cent coupons. This particular store would allow the entire coupon to be tripled, regardless of the amount of the purchased product, so needless to say, I got quite a few cans of fruit, vegetables, puddings and other products free.
Organize your coupons. You can purchase an inexpensive coupon organizer or just keep an envelope full of them. Organize them alphabetically, or even better, by store aisle. Place coupons in categories such as meats, produce, boxed items, canned goods and so forth. Organizing the coupons will save you time in the store. Be sure and check coupon expiration dates before going to the checkout. Also check the dates once a month or so to make sure you’re not carrying a bunch of useless coupons to the store.
Most stores send flyers out, through the middle of the week, to advertise their upcoming sales and specials. Take a few minutes to sit down and look through the ads then check to see what coupons you have. If you have coupons for sale items, and it’s something you need anyway, this can amount to quite a bit of savings on your family’s food bill. It’s a good idea to visit two or more stores to get all the deals possible, but don’t spend lots of time and gas money hitting every store in town or you’ll defeat the purpose.
Many towns have grocery stores that double or triple coupons. This means a tremendous savings on your total bill. And, if your town doesn’t double or triple, check to see if stores within driving distance do offer this benefit. Make sure you have enough coupons worth doubling before setting off on the journey. Try to get friends to participate and share the gas cost.
Make sure you understand the terms of the store’s specials of doubling or tripling. Some fine print will specify that you can only double 5 coupons. Others say you can double an unlimited amount but each coupon must fifty cents or less. Most stores will not double free item coupons if you happen to have them. Check the coupon to see if it specifies certain sizes or varieties. Most stores, when doubling or tripling coupons, are very particular about the coupons and will check to see that you made the proper purchase.
Be sure and clip any coupons, good only at that particular store, from the Sunday paper. Although two manufacturer’s coupons can’t be used on the same product, often the store will accept one newspaper coupon in addition to one manufacturer’s coupon, for the same product.
Most stores will not go over the price of the product when doubling or tripling a coupon. For example, if you purchase an item for $1.29 and you are tripling a coupon for fifty cents, the store will only give you the product free; they will not allow you the product plus the twenty-one cents to which your coupon actually amounts. Other stores will allow the extra twenty-one cents which means they’ll automatically take the twenty-one cents off of the subtotal – saving you even more.
While shopping you’ll sometimes notice refund forms hanging by the product. These are free for the taking (one per customer). The refund form usually asks that you send the form, the proof of purchase, and cash register receipt, to receive the stated refund. Some stores have quit hanging the forms directly on the shelf since some shoppers get greedy and take them all. The reason for taking them all is that they can later trade, through clubs, for other refund forms not available in their own area. Although not illegal, it’s irritating to know there’s a refund offer out on something you’ve purchased, but you can’t get the refund because someone else was selfish. As a remedy, many stores place the pads of refund forms in a shoe box and put them in the manager’s office. Ask the manager or a clerk if you can glance through the refund form box. Be sure you only take one of each form that you need.
Coupons and refund forms can be used together. The register receipt shows the actual price of the item and upon sending the receipt and proof of purchase the company will refund you the specified amount of money. So, if a product is $1.50 and you use a fifty-cent coupon, double it for a dollar off, then mail it in for a refund of a dollar, you could be getting paid fifty cents to try the product. Do this on several products, along with the other coupons you’ve used, and you’ve saved a nice amount of money.
The difference between refunds and rebates is usually based on where you purchased the product. Grocery store and household product promotions are usually considered refunds. Electronics, clothing, hair accessories, toys, and other department store item promotions are considered rebates. Again, the form could be hanging next to the product or you might have to ask the manager for a rebate form. Asking to see the rebate forms before shopping has its advantages. If you’re there to purchase a mop, for instance, and there’s a rebate being offered on one, it might be something you’d like to try. On the other hand, if you purchase the mop and then go to the manager to ask for rebate forms, you may have purchased something different than what’s listed on the rebate form. Make sure, before sending for any refunds or rebates, that you’ve done exactly what the form says, have taken note of the expiration date, and have included the cash register receipt.
Some people who are serious about coupons and refund-hunting save the label (for proof of purchase) along with the cash register receipt, for a few weeks in case a refund or rebate comes out in the store. Some rebate and refund forms will state that the item must be purchased between certain dates making it useless to save labels and receipts.
As prices continue to rise consumers continue to hunt for new ways to offset their everyday expenses. Using coupons, refunds and rebates to their full advantage will help you save a considerable amount of money over the course of a year. It’s unlawful to copy coupons, refund or rebate forms so play by the rules, have fun, and save.