This month, since it's National Coupon Month, we're taking a look at how to save more money with grocery coupons. Why? Because each year manufacturers publish more than $250 billion in coupons, yet only about 10 percent are ever redeemed. And one of the main reasons people are hesitant is because they don't understand their store's coupon policy.
Each chain has a different policy, and sometimes the policy can vary from store to store within the chain. For example, the Kroger store in your neighborhood might offer double the value of coupons up to 50 cents while Kroger stores just a few miles away won't double coupons at all.
If you're new to couponing, all of these different policies can be intimidating and may be the key reason you keep leaving your coupons at home on the table when you head out to the grocery store. The easiest way to calm your fears is to pick up the phone and call the store manager. That's what he's there for and he won't mind at all.
Here's what you need to find out:
Does the store double or triple coupons? If so, is there a maximum value? For example, most stores will only double coupons valued at up to 50 cents. If your coupon is for 60 cents of an item, it doesn't qualify for doubling.
Does the store accept digital coupons? Most stores will accept digital coupons but check your store's requirements. Most will only accept printed coupons – not copies. Must the coupon have a barcode? Do they require you to print anything special to go along with the coupon as proof?
Does the store honor the sales price from a competing store? Many stores will price-match their competition but you'll need to bring in the competitor's ad as proof of the price. If the store does price match, will they also allow you to use a coupon for additional savings?
Does the store allow you to stack coupons? In other words, are you allowed to use manufacturers' coupons on items that are already on sale? Can you use your manufacturer's and store coupon at the same time for additional savings?
Does the store accept digital coupons? Do they have a website where they offer their own digital coupons? Can you stack digital and paper coupons for additional savings?
Don't be embarrassed to step up and hand the cashier a handful of coupons, it happens all the time. The manufacturer reimburses the store for the coupon so it doesn't cost the store anything. And the only time it's a problem is if you don't understand your store's coupon policy or you're trying to use expired coupons.
Donna Anderson is a frugal grandmother. She and her frugal daughter, Jessica Crowe, spend just a few hours to save hundreds of dollars off their grocery bill each week. Visit them at TheHappyCouponer.com for weekly coupon match-ups and coupon alerts.
- Never use a coupon unless your product is on sale
- Why it pays to collect multiple coupons
- Don't buy something just because you have a coupon
- What to do when your store stops doubling coupons
- 7 tips to save money before you even start clipping coupons
- Can you really save money with a coupon clipping service?
- Coupon etiquette: Mind your manners while you save
- The low-down on double and triple coupons
- National Coupon Month: Fun facts and actual statistics