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Review these couponing basics to understand types of coupons and how they work

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As I mentioned last week, this week marks the first anniversary of my column. Because my first articles appeared as advertisements that were located in different sections of the paper each week, I realize that some of you might not have seen them. So, I thought I would revisit some of those first topics.

My second article’s topic was about getting you to understand what type of shopper you are and explaining that no matter what type of shopper you are, anyone can use my savings strategies to save money – even if you don’t clip a single coupon. Coupons are only a part of an overall savings strategy. Non-couponers could still save 30-40 percent off their grocery bill if they understand the rest of the system. Even the busiest person can still save by doing these simple steps. First, wait for sales of 30-50 percent off retail prices to stock up on pantry items, personal care items and cleaning supplies. Only buy meats during sales and buy extra if space in your freezer allows. Concentrate on buying produce while it is in season because it’s cheaper. Using coupons and taking advantage of doubling is what makes your savings jump to the 50-70 percent range. This is why understanding how sales cycles work and how the products are advertised is important for you. By becoming an informed shopper, you can use that knowledge to use the system to your advantage.

My third article last year was explaining how coupons work. A manufacturer does not create coupons for a product as a kindness to the consumer. A coupon is actually an advertisement. It is a strategy used by manufacturers to get the consumer (you) to notice their products. They might release coupons for several reasons: a national promotion, a change in product size, a new variety or for the launch of a new product. You might also find coupons right after a new batch of product is released. For example, canned tomatoes will go on sale shortly after the fresh tomato season ends so that the manufacturers can start putting the new products on shelves.

When you see those advertisements that contain coupons, keep in mind that the company paid for that advertisement to be in print or even online. When a manufacturer figures out how much it is going to charge for an item, it adds those advertising costs in along with labor, materials and any other expenses. So I often tell my coupon classes that if you don’t use coupons, you are paying more so that someone else can save money when they turn those coupons in.

Also, remember that a store will not lose money on an item, even if you end up getting the item at a steep discount. When a store has a buy one get one free sale, then that item is likely being sold at cost or only slightly below cost as a way to entice you into the store. If you use a coupon during that sale, then the store will get the face value of a coupon plus a processing fee. So a grocery store will actually get 58 cents when it redeems the 50 cents off coupon. As long as couponers follow limitation rules and legally obtain the coupons that they redeem, then most stores have no problem with couponers. If you find yourself being mistreated in any way, there are plenty of local stores more than happy to have your business.

My final review topic is that there are three basic types of coupons; store coupons, manufacturer coupons and military coupons.

Store coupons are a type of “limited” sale, meaning that you only get that special price if you redeem a coupon for it. They are only redeemable at the store that created the coupon or at a store that accepts competitor’s coupons. In this area, Publix accepts competitor’s coupons. The customer service desk will tell you which stores they accept.

The next type of coupon is a manufacturer coupon. It is good at all major stores, even if it has a store logo printed on it. However, if the wording on the coupon specifically states, “Redeem ONLY at Store X”, then you can only use the coupon at Store X or at a store that accepts competitor’s coupons.

Military (also called Commissary) coupons are manufacturers coupons created specifically for DECA facilities. You cannot stack a military coupon with a manufacturer coupon, but at some stores you can stack store coupons with manufacturer coupons. Stacking is a coupon term that means that you can use two coupons on one item.

I hope you enjoyed our little review of my past articles. Until next week, happy shopping!

Learn more

A free coupon class for beginners with Carol Gunter will be held from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 17 at The Augusta Chronicle News Building, 725 Broad St. Seating is limited; to reserve your spot, log on to smartshopper217.eventbrite.com.

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