Thursday, January 13, 2011

Couponing 101, Part 2

You may not be a Kroger shopper and I apologize in advance. My experience is limited to Kroger and CVS, but the techniques for couponing for any grocery store are going to be similar, just with a little twist.

Things to know about coupons:

  • While you may feel or sense from cashiers at your grocer that coupons are a pain, know that you are actually making grocery stores money. You think I’m making this stuff up? Just look at the fine print on any of your coupons. Grocery stores turn in all coupons to manufacturers, who then pay out the face amount of the coupon PLUS 8 cents (sometimes this varies, check your coupon if you are curious) per coupon back to the grocery stores. Never again feel like you aren’t doing some good by using your “Q’s.”
  • Most stores take internet-printable coupons and newspaper insert coupons in addition to their own store coupons. Check here for grocery and drug store policies. Some stores, like Kroger, even have digital e-coupons that are sent straight to your discount grocery card and are automatically taken off the total when you purchase.
  • You can get great deals at drugstores and some of that may actually be food. I know, I was surprised too. But, I’ve even gotten two bottles of good olive oil for free at CVS before. It can be done!

Things to know about shopping at Kroger:

  • Kroger doubles most coupons $.50 or less. You’ll see it at the bottom of your coupon as a “bonus” coupon.
  • If there is a deal for Buy 5 for $5, you do not have to buy five to get the discount, you can simply purchase one.
  • You can stack e-coupons and any one paper manufacturer’s coupon. I’ve seen and done this many times. Example: Dawn Hand Renewal Dishwashing Soap is on sale for $1.48. There’s a Kroger e-coupon for $.50, plus you have a $.50 newspaper insert coupon that doubles. You get your soap for absolutely free, plus $.02 in overage! Please check your local store, as not every store will honor both together.

Things to know about shopping at CVS:

  • Extra Care Bucks. These are not instantly off your total, but printed at the bottom of your receipt for use on your next purchase. The way to use them off your one shopping trip grand total is to break up your items into different transactions so that you can use them for the next transaction’s grand totals. Sometimes the ECBs are so low it may not be worth it, but if you get back a $10 ECB and have other things you want to purchase, it may just be worth your while.
  • A note about ECBs: In all of the CVS stores I have gone to, the ECBs will print out for the total before coupons. What does this mean? If you have to buy $10 worth of something to get back $3 ECB, the computer is only looking for the total amount to be $10 even before coupons. An example of this would be CVS offering $3 ECB on $10 Pantene product purchase. You get 3 bottles of Pantene at $3.99 each. I have a B1G1 Free coupon, plus a $2 off one product coupon. Before coupon total: 11.97. After coupon total: $5.97, plus $3 ECB to use next time.
  • There are limits to utilizing ECBs. You may have to get out your CVS circular to see the particulars for each deal, but for the most part CVS only lets you do one ECB deal per item, give or take, especially offers with larger dollar amounts. Once you’ve purchased, you can see at the bottom of your receipt if it says “limit reached.” So, don’t go out and try to buy 15 Pantene products thinking you’ll get $15 back in ECBs, and disappointed that you only got $3.
  • In some stores, there is a coupon kiosk where you can scan your card and extra coupons will print out. While I’ve used this and had coupons print out, none have ever been worth my while. However, that doesn’t stop me from still scanning my card each time to check out what deals may be in store.

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