Couponing Basics


Are You Embarrassed to use Coupons?

Not everyone feels comfortable redeeming coupons or only purchasing products at sale prices. After all, the store or manufacturer is losing money, aren’t they?

Don’t worry, they won’t cancel your frequent shopper card, even if you routinely save 50 – 75% off the “regular” prices. While that Sunday newspaper SmartSource insert reaches 150 million consumers each week, less than 1% of the coupons will actually be redeemed. These coupons are also carefully coordinated with retailers to maximize sales without loss in profits. The industries are looking out for themselves. It’s up to you to look out for yourself, and your family, in protecting your precious financial resources. To do this, you need to put yourself in the right mindset.

Set Aside Negative Emotions

Don’t be surprised if you initially feel self-conscious, uncomfortable, or even guilty “taking advantage” of the deals available to you. Remember, coupons and sales are just a marketing promotion, and are not actually designed for the consumer’s exclusive benefit! They are carefully planned and distributed to encourage you to buy a certain product and spend money now and in the future. Need proof? Just take a look at the one set of marketing statistics coupon publishers use to solicit manufacturers:

SmartSource Coupon Machine. Rewarding consumers with immediate cents-off savings, SmartSource Coupon Machine® delivers a purchase incentive directly in front of your product. The SSCM SmartWrapSM option allows you to cover the unit with your product shot and logo for complete customization. Capitalizing on an unmatched ability to persuade shoppers at the critical point-of-decision, SmartSource Coupon Machine can produce average sales lifts of up to 34%.

That machine blinking and grinding out coupons increases sales of that product 34%…and climbing as more manufacturers use this sales approach. That benefits the manufacturer as well as the retailer/grocery store…but what about you?

Be Prepared — Proactively

While coupons may increase sales by 34%, they can also increase savings by 34%, or more. This is achieved by teaming up the sales, promotions, coupons, and rebates, to reap the highest possible savings. But to do this, you need to be proactive, and prepared!

A few tips to getting started:

  • Plan ahead. Consider the products you and your family routinely use, and create a wish list of items to aggressively search for sales and coupons.
  • Make shopping lists, and stick to them.
    Research and learn regular prices and how they compare at competing stores.
  • Match up your pile of manufacturer and store coupons with current or upcoming supermarket savings club benefits, weekly sales, manufacturer rebates, and in-store rebates.
  • Combine as many offers as are allowed.
  • Keep track of items you use frequently and buy extra if the price is right. If prices are too high, wait it out.

Be Influenced…By Thinking

Coupons are designed to influence consumers. Let them, but for the better! Purchase items if the price after sale, coupon, and other promotions create significant savings.

Don’t assume that every offer is going to save you money. Evaluate each one on its own merits. Stores can raise prices to make sales seem better, and make coupons less of a bargain.

Consider:

It is not uncommon for an 89 cent can of tomatoes to show up in a sales circular as 10/$10. Or for the ad to make it appear that you need to purchase 10 to receive the sale price, when in reality you only need to buy one can. It is very common for a “sale price” to be “reduced” to the manufacturer’s maximum price provided on a “free after rebate” offer. Sometimes the “reduced” price is pushed up higher than the rebate offer, to account for the value of coupons available to consumers. Occasionally retailers play the “bait and switch” game by offering products that do not meet the requirements of specific manufacturer’s coupons, banking (literally) on the consumer to purchase the products anyway. A common example is toilet paper, where a coupon specifies the number of rolls per package, or even number of sheets per roll, and the retailer does not carry that specific package.

These are a few of the “tricks of the trade”. Don’t let them scare you off or dissuade you from finding the best ways to use coupons to save you money. You just need to keep them in mind as you proceed.

Give Yourself Time

The overall goal is to team up the sales, promotions, coupons, and rebates, to reap the highest possible savings. Sound overwhelming? It can be at first. You have to give yourself time to learn how to do this well. Your savings at first may not be huge, but over time they will increase if you are diligent. There is a lot to learn, including tricks of the trade, so don’t psych yourself out as you get started. Just stop, think, and remember: it’s a marathon, not a sprint.

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