Thursday, March 19, 2009

In-store Coupon Quest

Last week I talked about various sources to get Sunday paper coupons. However, you don't have to get the Sunday paper or get the coupons from the Sunday paper in order to save money. Head to the grocery store and look around. There are lots of coupons available right there for free!

Look on the shelves or on cardboard advertisements:
  • Blinkies are the SmartSource coupons you get out of the little machines at major grocery stores (and occasionally at drugstores.) "Blinkie" refers to the little blinking light that's supposed to attract your attention to the little box hanging from the store shelf. These are manufactuer's coupons that are useable anywhere, anytime (before it expires). If you like the Kraft cheese, but don't like the current price, go ahead and take the blinkie anyway and use it at a different store that's having a sale or save it for a sale at your regular store.
  • Tearpads, like blinkies, often hang from the product shelves. It's a stack of coupons, glued at the top like a pad of paper. You just take one from the top. Like blinkies, these are useable anywhere, anytime.
  • Booklets which contain coupons for multiple products can often be found during holidays or special events. Look for displays next to popular products for that occasion. For example, a "Holiday Entertainment" booklet might be found in the baking aisle and feature recipes, decorating tips, and coupons for products frequently used during the holidays (cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie filling, etc.) A Super Bowl booklet might be found near the beer, and have coupons for various snack foods and drinks. You can also find booklets at the pharmacy counter, doctor's office, vet, etc. so keep your eyes open!

Look carefully at the products you plan to purchase:
  • A hangtag or winetag is a coupon that hangs from the product (not taped to it), usually from the neck of a bottle. It can be for that product (I found some on bottles of Welch's Juice yesterday for $1.00 off) or a related product (free tortilla chips when you buy 2 jars of salsa.)
  • Peelies are coupons that are stuck to the product and usually say something like, "save $1.00 now." From what I understand, these are generally supposed to be removed and scanned by the cashier at the time of purchase. However, cashiers often don't notice them, or you may have a better coupon with you and you'd prefer to use it, so you may end up with a peelie or two among your coupon stash.
  • A package coupon is one that printed on the packaging or inside the package. To get it, you have to open the product or cut it off the package, so it's not something you would want to deal with in-store before buying the product, but it can save you money on your next purchase! You may even have some at your house right now, and you don't even know it. They can be sneaky. Look under can labels, inside cartons and boxes, and on instruction sheets. Manufacturers don't always make these obvious or add a label to inform you of a coupon waiting inside.

Pay attention when you check out:
  • A catalina is a coupon that prints when you check out. There is often a seperate printer for this purpose. Some are just advertisements, some are coupons. At a drug store earlier this week I got one for 20% my next purchase at PayLess Shoes! I occasionally see stacks of catalinas left by the register that someone didn't think worth the time or effort to pick up. What a loss! Pay attention, people, and grab the free coupons! Sheesh.
  • Register Rewards are given by Walgreens on certain items. It is a seperate slip of paper from your receipt. Do not lose these! They are like cash (except that cash doesn't expire) to spend on any products in the store. Keep them, spend them, and save!
  • Extra Care Bucks are given by CVS when you buy certain items. Just like Register Rewards, these can be used on any products in the store. However, they are printed at the bottom of your receipt, not on a seperate piece of paper. Many people never bother to look at their receipts and just toss them. Money down the drain! Check your receipts. Cut off the ECBs and keep them with your CVS card.

Look around as you leave:
  • Most grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations, etc. have a rack near the front door that says, "Take one, FREE!" It is full of real estate magazines, city guides, and other area-specific resources. These will often have related coupons inside. If you have the time, take a moment to check them out!

Now, those of you who can't coupon because you can't or don't want to get the Sunday paper or pay for the coupons... can you handle this? No upfront costs, no extra trips to get a paper, and hardly any clipping. All it requires is paying attention when you're at the store and organizing the coupons you find. Now, go scour your store for savings!

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