Coupon Policies Are Not Always Enforced

Have you ever looked at store coupons and seen rules and stipulations a mile long, and said “Forget it” to the whole thing?

Not so fast!

At least if you’re shopping at Dick’s Sporting Goods.

We’ve had a couple instances of very good luck using coupons that, according to the rules on various coupons, shouldn’t have worked.

Two Bikes

Last year, my wife was in the market for a new bike.  I think this was prompted by the fact that my sister-in-law had just got a new bike, and while usable, the aqua green 10-speed from the 1990’s just wasn’t alluring.  We do quite a bit of bike riding during camping trips, so she used birthday money to get her bike.

My sister-in-law actually came up with the suggestion to try to use our Entertainment Book coupon, where Dick’s has a few entries.  I looked at the coupon and it had some brand exclusions, one of which was the bike my wife wanted.  I asked my sister-in-law and she said that they took hers without a problem, even though she bought a bike from the same manufacturer.

Sure enough, when I went to the store to pick up the bike, they took it without so much as a second glance.

We saved $15!

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4 Ways For Beginners To Save With Coupons

There are many different ways to save on coupons.  Many people argue that coupons aren’t worth the time it takes to collect and use them.  Others say that coupons actually make people spend more because they use the coupon as an excuse to buy something that they wouldn’t.

I think coupons are great and that they can be used quickly and in ways that save you money.

Here are a few effective ways to use coupons:

  1. Clip them from the Sunday paper – If you get the paper, look through the coupons.  You’d be surprised to see what’s in there.  Chances are, you’ll find something that you were planning on buying during your next trip to the store.
  2. Look online – Coupons.com and Smartsource.com are great sources for grocery and home care coupons.  If you don’t get the paper, this is a great way to save.  All you need is access to a printer.
  3. Look before you check-out online – If you shop online, there’s a pretty good chance that you can find a coupon for your purchase.  Say you’re buying something from Gap.  Add your items to your cart, but before you check out, do a Google search for “Gap coupon code” and you could find a code that will save you a percentage off or free shipping, all for typing in a few characters!
  4. Keep it simple – Saving money with coupons doesn’t have to be a hard process or involve lugging around a bunch of coupons.  Start with just a couple of coupons here and there, and soon you’ll find that saving money doesn’t have to be complicated or take a lot of time.

What are your favorite coupon strategies?  Have you ever passed up a coupon because it was just too much trouble?

Extreme Couponing (aka Unleash The Inner Crazy)

My wife clued me into Monday night’s showing of ‘Extreme Couponing’ on TLC.  For those who might not have caught the buzz, each 30-minute episode features two stories of individuals (or families) who save outrageous amounts of money at the grocery store by use of coupons.

My wife and I both watched it, and while the savings by each of the two women featured in the first episode was impressive (98% off their bill in one case), the show didn’t inspire us to start following any of the trends in the episode.

In fact, I walked away feeling more annoyed than anything else.

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Shopping Tip: A Legal Way To Get Around Costco Coupon Limits

I’ve posted in the past about Costco coupons, and how they track and combat people trying to skirt the limits that they impose on their monthly coupons.  Many products have a quantity limit, usually the better the deal, the lower the limit you can buy at the discounted price.

One thing I’ve found is that there’s a completely legal way to get around this policy and take advantage of the savings: Call on your friends and family for help.

Since Costco tracks purchases on your account, you can’t simply exchange coupons.  Instead, if you want extra coupon savings, you have to call on those you know to purchase items for you, then collect the items and pay them back.

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Are Internet Coupons The Future Or On Their Way Out?

A local supermarket chain (and I use that term loosely since they only have a few stores) recently instituted a policy that they will no longer accept coupons from the Internet.  This means coupons from Coupons.com, Smartsource.com, Redplum.com or other sites that offer legitimate manufacturers coupons will no longer be accepted.

I’ve heard for a long time that Internet coupons will eventually take more and more market share from the traditional Sunday paper inserts.

Our household uses both.  We clip coupons, and I also go onto the coupon sites once a week and print out offers from there.  We print all of our coupons from one computer so we don’t game the system by over-printing or copying coupons.

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Do You Ever Leave Coupons Behind?

Sales and savings are things that you want to share all the time.  However, I think it would be very odd if I were to talk up to random people in the store and try to promote sale items or say “Did you know there was a coupon for that in Sunday’s paper?”

People can make their own decisions and decide how much they want to save.

One thing I have done, though, is to leave coupons behind that I know I won’t use.  Now, we don’t clip every coupon in the inserts and take them around to the store.  While that would be generous, there simply aren’t enough hours in the day.

However, there are times where it makes sense:

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An Awesome Change By Restaurant.Com

We’ve used Restaurant.com for years.  The way it works is that you buy a coupon that gives you a dollar amount off the meal, and the price you pay for the coupon is way less than the face value.  Typically, you can get a $25 certificate for $10 or a $10 certificate for $4.  Towards the end of the month, they’ll often run 70% or 80% off specials (all you have to do is enter the promo code that they distribute to their e-mail members) so you can get them much cheaper.

We’ve run into very few problems over the years.  One time we had a restaurant refuse to honor the certificate, saying that they had opted out of the program but that Restaurant.com had not removed them from the site, but they later sent us a gift card as an apology.

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