The essentials of couponing

What is a coupon? A coupon by definition is a voucher entitling the holder to a discount for a particular item. What does it mean to the normal man? It means shop more for less! Couponing is the shopaholics holy grail! Couponing has taken such huge proportions that there are reality shows made around it. So, let’s take a quick look at how to effectively coupon and the benefits of couponing.

 The best place to start is by hunting for coupons. You can find coupons everywhere, in newspapers, at shops and stores. Stores publish coupon booklets exclusively. There are dedicated web sites to couponing, that will help you print coupons as well as list the coupons in your area. You could reach out to your friends and other couponers and swap coupons. Some products put out coupons for their products on store shelfs. Some stores have dedicated swipe machines that read loyalty cards and print coupons. Subscribe to store alerts on deals via SMS and emails.

 Once you have your coupons it is time to cash them in. The first thing to know about couponing is that coupons provide more value for money during store sales. The discounts of store sales are compounded when you add the discount value of the coupons. Most coupons have a validity of 10 days to 1 month. It is advisable to have a method to track and organise your coupons or you will end up with a stack of expired coupons. Some extreme couponers even use their computer to help track the coupons they have. Hoarding coupons will help only if those coupons can be stacked.

 Stacking coupons means to use multiple coupons on a single transaction so that you end up getting the product or service for a fraction of the cost. The single most problem to couponing is aggressive staff. Couponing takes a lot of time at the checkout counter, especially when you stack coupons. Not all stores will allow you to stack coupons and sometimes staff will not stack coupons for lack of time. The only defense to such staff is to know or keep a copy of store policy. Some stores will also order out of stock items if you show a coupon for it within the validity period.

 Couponing has a few pitfalls too. You may not find the coupons for your brand. But most in-store brands are just as good. You will not see immediate savings from couponing, but you will find the difference in your savings in about three months.