Have you ever gotten to the store to get that great deal and found out you missed something along the way? The deal is no longer available. Your coupon is expired. A piece is missing to get your best savings.
Or, even worse: have you ever gone to a store to get a deal with a coupon and walked away having spent more money than you thought you would because the deal didn’t work? The checker told you that you couldn’t use the coupon or the deal was not available on that particular product.
The best way to assure you get maximize your savings is reading the fine print. In the coupon/saving world, there can be quite a bit of fine print.
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Here are some things to highlight in the fine print so you can get the maximum savings possible.
This may seem so simple, but I can’t tell you how many times I have worked out a deal, gotten to the store, gotten the items and been disappointed because my deal was predicated on a coupon with an expiration date.
Be sure to check your expiration dates on your coupons and go through your coupons on a regular basis to make sure you don’t have any expired ones. But beware here too: read the year on the expiration date – it may be for the following year. Yea! Longer savings!
We ran into this problem recently. I got the Costco mailer detailing the deals and found a few items we wanted to buy. We set up someone to watch the kids and headed to Costco on a Saturday afternoon. As we walked around the store, we noticed none of the deals were available according to the signage. I knew something must be off.
Sure enough, when I grabbed the mailer and looked at it again, the deals we scheduled to START the following Wednesday! Ugh! We ended up buying a few things we would have purchased anyway, but we are going to have to go back later in the month to grab those special savings.
Check the requirements for a rebate very, very carefully to make sure you are complying with all of them before you submit it. You will want to make sure you include UPC’s, receipts, and get them in on time!
Some companies will allow you to re-submit incomplete rebates, but most do not. If you miss out on the savings because you forgot to include something, you will be kicking yourself. Especially considering rebates are often a source of saving on bigger ticket items like appliances.
Also, I rarely shop for anything online without checking to see if there is a rebate available through MyPoints, Rakuten, or Swagbucks. Of course, I always check the fine print to make sure I know what to expect. I kick myself when I forget to do this.
You will want to make sure you understand the coupon policies for the stores you frequent. Knowledge of the basics of a store’s coupon policy can level the playing field – and sometimes give you higher ground – between you and the store cashier.
You will want to find out if the store accepts both a store coupon and a manufacturer coupon for a single item. You will also want to know if the store doubles coupons and when.
Some stores also offer specific shopping discounts for specific demographics on specific days of the week (think senior discounts, happy hours, etc.).
Knowing what happens when an item rings up at the wrong price on the cash register is also handy. It can get you a discount (at least) or get you the item free (at most)!
When you glance at your coupons, they can often all look exactly the same. But there are subtle differences between them that can save you money.
These changes are often highlighted on the coupon, but you will want to be careful to check before taking your coupon to the store that you are using the coupon within the limits. The community of coupon enthusiasts depend on stores continuing to accept coupons. And their participation in coupon programs largely depends on adherence to the guidelines (no fraud).
A Note About Couponing
I have mentioned before in this series, I am no longer the coupon queen I once was. I save where I can and use coupons as I can, but I don’t go out of my way to shop using coupons anymore.
This is not because I have had a change of heart about coupons. It is because I have begun to place more value on my time than my money – at least in regards to couponing. I highly recommend Money Saving Mom as a resource for saving time and money with coupons. She does it all for you!