If you are new to clipping coupons or have not done so in a long time, it is important to review how coupons can be used, where they can be found, coupon limitations and how to shop ethically and avoid fraudulent coupons.
Couponing is a fantastic way to save money on the purchases that you make every day or on a larger one-time purchase. While clipping coupons can take time, the savings that are offered through couponing can be substantial. Each coupon that you come across will specify a number of things, including the product that the coupon can be used towards, how much money you can save, when the coupon will expire and barcodes that can be scanned or manually entered. By utilizing the tips and tricks that you will find in the sections provided below, you will be well on your way to saving money.
Getting Started with Coupons
If you have never clipped coupons before, you may be wondering how you can get started and how much money you can save online or at a local store. Essentially, a coupon is a voucher that will provide you with a discount on a specific product or offer you a free additional product with your purchase. While clipping coupons is an extra step that must be taken before your purchase, the savings can be worthwhile. However, it is worth knowing that if the savings of your coupon outweigh the value of an item, most stores will reduce the value of your coupon. You will likely receive the product free, but the remaining savings will not go towards the purchase of your other items. There may be some stores that will allow the excess value to be applied to your overall purchase.
How to Read a Coupon
Each coupon that you acquire will offer several key pieces of information that will allow you to determine how the coupon can be used. Important information that can be found on a coupon includes:
- Where the coupon can be used
- The coupon expiration date
- The product description and quantity required when redeeming the coupon
- An image of the product the coupon applies to
- The total amount that you can save when redeeming the coupon
- The coupon limitations
- The coupon barcodes
A coupon that is listed as a manufacturer’s coupon can be used anywhere where coupons are accepted, rather than at one particular store. There are a variety of stores, however, that offer coupons that may only be used within a specific store. If this is the case, your coupon will state so. Store coupons will also generally have a barcode number that begins with the number four.
The expiration date of the coupon will generally be found within one of the four corners of the coupon itself. You can only utilize the coupon up until the printed date that appears on it. If the coupon has been expired for even one day, it will not provide you with a discount during checkout.
The product description and photo that has been printed on the coupon will help you to determine what product the coupon can be used for. It is important to read product descriptions carefully, as some coupons may even specify colors, flavors or other small details. The item that you purchase and the coupon must be identical in order for a discount to be applied to your purchase. Additionally, some coupons will require that you purchase more than one product before a coupon can be redeemed. An example of this phenomenon would be if a coupon was listed as buy two, get one free.
The total amount of money that you can save by using a coupon will generally stand out as most coupons list savings in large print. As mentioned before, you may not be able to use an excess amount of savings towards the rest of your purchase, but that will depend on the store where you choose to shop.
Not every coupon will include coupon limitations, but if limitations are included, limitations can generally be found in smaller print. There are a variety of limitations that can be placed upon a coupon, but the most common is that you may only use one coupon per product that you would like to purchase.
There are two key pieces of information that can be found on a coupon’s barcode. The first portion of the barcode can be scanned at a register that accepts the coupon. The cashier will scan this barcode in order for your discount to be applied. If the barcode is not scanning, or if you are making an online purchase, the number that is listed below the barcode will need to be entered in order for your discount to take effect.
How to Find Coupons
Coupons can be found in a number of places, including online, in magazines, in newspapers and even in local stores. One of the easiest ways to acquire more coupons is by having your local Sunday newspaper delivered to your home. Newspapers are a fantastic way to obtain coupons as you will often find several inserts each week that display a variety of coupons. Another advantage of receiving coupons from a newspaper is that newspapers are a reliable source, so you are not likely to find a fraudulent or invalid coupon.
Another reliable coupon source can be found in your favorite magazines. Most magazines will contain coupon inserts or coupons that are printed on pages in the form of an advertisement. If you already have a magazine subscription, this may be an optimal choice for you as you need not spend additional funds to acquire great savings. Keep in mind that some advertisements and coupons found in magazines may be for specific stores or companies, so be sure to read the coupon thoroughly.
You can generally obtain coupons directly from a manufacturer by subscribing to their mailing lists and online newsletters. While it may take more time to subscribe to each brand that you commonly purchase, coupons that are provided directly from the manufacturer are never fake and often offer free products or substantial discounts. Remember, a manufacturer coupon can be used in any store that accepts coupons.
Coupons can be found and purchased online, which will generally provide you with an abundance of coupon options for a variety of products. Be sure to use reputable websites and avoid auction websites such as eBay as fake coupons can easily be circulated.
Finally, if there is a store in your area that you favor, find out if they have weekly or monthly ads. Most grocery stores, electronic stores and supercenters will have either a printed ad or one that can be acquired online by signing up for a company’s newsletter. While these coupons may have limited expiration dates, they can save you a lot of money.
You can also find coupons using a variety of coupon apps.
How to Avoid Coupon Fraud
When clipping coupons, it is important to shop honestly and ethically. Most coupons can only be used one time and copying coupons can get you into trouble. In fact, copied coupons are generally not even accepted and when attempting to print more than one of the same coupon, the number of times you have printed a coupon will be displayed on the coupon itself. Companies can track the number of times that you print the same coupon and limit your ability to obtain additional coupons by tracking your IP address.
At times, you may come across fraudulent or fake coupons that have been circulated. This includes copied coupons that cannot be used. Additionally, coupons that seem too good to be true, unless obtained from a reliable source, are often fake. While you can still attempt to use a coupon, it is better to be prepared and be aware of this possibility.
When redeeming coupons, it is important to only attempt to use a coupon as it is intended to be used. If a coupon specifies the ounce of a product, the brand or type of product, the coupon will only work at checkout if your purchase matches the exact specifications. As stated previously, keep expiration dates in mind when using coupons. If you attempt to use a coupon beyond the expiration date, it will not work.
By Melanie Henson –