Back to Basics

Couponing 101 – Don’t make checkers cry


Photo: ABC news

Couponing 101 Please follow simple basic rules for Extreme Couponing or even couponing every once and a while!

There are many people and sites that insist that the couponer is the main reason why stores stay in business. And by this they teach couponers to feel so empowered that they are the only one in the store and no else matters.

We have always tried to teach people how to use coupons. We feel that it is not an entitlement to coupon but rather a privileged to have the opportunity to save so much and are very thankful to stores, manufactures, managers and the cashiers that we befriend.

We are nobody’s mother, or father (since I am the one typing). We can only ask that we treat those that we shop with and from the same way that we would want to be treated. Just the other day Sarah was at a store she shops at frequently, and the cashier told her of a comment that a shopper had made. She said that a shopper told her that we ” A Thrifty Mom” said to do a transaction that wasn’t kosher. The cahier handled the situtation while thinking to her self, that she knew Sarah and knew Sarah would not of said that.

One thing we need to remember is that we are in a store with their rules. We need to follow proper ethics and be polite and kind with everyone in the store. A good example is when Sarah is at Walgreens, she almost always uses the cosmetic cashier to do her lengthy checkouts. When Sarah sees another person coming to check out there as well, she pulls her shopping cart aside, and insist that the customer go ahead of her. Sarah does this no matter if she just started her check out or is one or two transactions away from finishing. She feels that by allowing a customer who is purchasing normal items and is not trying to roll catalinas to go ahead. It not only shows respect and portrays kindness to the customer, but then the cashier too realizes how kind and thoughtful Sarah is to both the stores customers, and to the store employees also.

Now I know some cashier can be down right rude, and make couponing at nightmare.  But that is a whole different blog post.

One of our long time readers sent us this email below that inspired me to make an additional comments and include this in a post.

I was at Albertsons today and was talking to my favorite checker.  There was no one behind me so we had time to visit.  She told me a story that made me a bit upset.  One day last week she had a customer come through her line that had coupons.  Some of the coupons had been cut in a way that the expiration date was cut off.  My checker explained that she could not take coupons without an expiration date.  The lady then proceeded to throw a fit insisting yes she would take them.  She started screaming, being rude etc.  She informed the checker that “it is people like me who are unemployed and use coupons that are the reason you have your job”. She made such a scene that my checker said she (the checker) was in tears after it was over. Please don’t be this person when you coupon.  If you feel that the checker is wrong, which can happen, calmly ask for a manager.  You can even go to customer service after your transaction is finished and speak with someone.  Being calm and polite does not hurt anyone and will leave you feeling better as well as those you deal with

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Filed Under: A Thrifty Dad, Back to Basics, Coupons 101 part 4

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When I teach my coupon classes I talk about how much of your budget to set aside  for couponing and how to stock up.  When a new couponer watches a shows like Extreme Couponing they are lead to believe that you are suppose to build a massive stockpile in 1 day, using 100’s of coupons and walk away paying nothing.  This “can” be done but is NOT realistic and is more for tv ratings than  to teach you a skill to save you money.

When you first start couponing you will need  to still buy the “normal” things on your weekly shopping list because you do not have a stockpile at home.  What I suggest is to take 10-20% of your budget and set that aside just for couponing.  Then shop like normal with the other 80-90% of your money.  Becuase if you where to put ALL you money towards the lowest stock up deals that week… sure you would get a good deal but you would not have the items needed to create a menu plan for your family.  Slow and steady wins the race when it comes to creating a well balanced  stockpile.

Now what are you going to buy with your 10-20% set aside, you are going to focus on stocking up on the items that are at there LOWEST price point and try to buy multiples.   For example if mayonnaise  is a regular item on your shopping list you are going to pay $3-$5 per bottle depending where and when you shop.  Recently an ad  at Albertsons showed you could get mayo for low as $.49  a bottle after sale and coupons.

Best Foods Mayo $2.99 when you buy 10 $2.49

These bottles do not expire for 8 months.  So stock up when the price is low, and get 8-10 bottles for the same price you would pay for one bottle that is not on sale.  This now gives you the power to mark that item off your list for the next 8 months and you DO NOT have to buy it until it is a price point you are willing to pay. You also get to use that money towards other items like fresh produce or milk… or apply it towards more coupon deals.  The longer you shop this way you will build up a stockpile and you will get to “shop your stockpile” instead of shopping the stores for your  pantry staples.

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Many people worry about using fake coupons. I’m sure at least one point in our shopping adventures we may have used one and never realized it.  Even I worry about it, So how do you spot a Fake coupon?  It is not fool proof but here are a few ideas,

Look at the image – All numbers under the bar code are the same – Flag

The coupon is multiplied over and over 6 one one page???  Most coupons do not publish coupons in multiples – Flag

Look close at the image, they are cut and pasted, how can you tell? look at the edges, one image is higher then the other, one image is offset to the left more then the top row. Do you really think a company that makes millions of dollars would allow a coupon to look so home made? – Flag

No size limits listed on coupon Flag

No watermark printed on the coupon Flag

Only one set of Bar codes Flag

Look over the Counterfeit Coupon Alert at Cents Off This coupon is listed under Doritos.

It was flagged nationally read here – Flag

It was emailed by a friend. – Flag Many coupons turn out to be for just one person. For instance, if a person signed up for discounts from a company. And one day they get a coupon in their email, it is most likely just for that person. They may not have bar codes on the email, but their is usually some form of identification on them. So if your best friend sends you an email with a coupon, see how many flags pop up.

If it is too good to be true – Flag. One coupon like this per magazine, or per newspaper is most likely real. If you get multiple papers sure its real… you got them in a paper and purchased multiple papers… But if you are handed something from a friend, or emailed an image or PDF then its most likely is fake.

So what do you do? Politely tell your friend why you think they are fake, and let them decide for them self.  Sure they probably didn’t make them, they were given them too. But if we all used them and did not tell our friends not to use them then we will all suffer!


Stores make a profit off of coupons. For instance, you use a $1 off coupon. The store takes that coupon, gives you the $1 off out of their own pocket. Knowing that the store will get reimbursed. If it is a real coupon not only will they get reimbursed by the manufacture, but they are also paid on average 8 cents extra to process the coupon and mail it back to the manufacturer. It usually cost the store about 4 cents per coupon to process, pay the book keeper to enter, and submit for reimbursement. So on average the store will be paid $1.08 for that $1 off coupon you used. Minus processing of about 4 cents, the store is reimbursed the $1 and now has a 4 cent profit. It may not seem like much, but multiplied by the millions of coupons used, that is a huge profit for them.

Now if we all allowed our friends to use them, or if we use these fakes our self, then that 4 cent profit is lost, along with paying a book keeper 4 cent per coupon to process it! Not only that but the $1 off coupon is not reimbursable and the store will loose $1 for every fake $1 off coupon submitted by shoppers. And in the image we looked at in this post, the cost of each entire bag of Doritos (because they are labeled FREE)

When stores lose money they will STOP taking coupons all together to save their bottom line. We have all come across a store that has done this, at least for a while! So guard your store, help them make a profit or we will used the privileged of couponing.

Book mark this link HERE to scan over fake coupon alerts

Remember the Doritos coupon from yesterday? There is a $2500 reward for companies or individuals promoting this coupon as legitimate Read Here

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Filed Under: Back to Basics, Coupons, Coupons 101 part 4

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This is a two part post, the second is tomorrow.

This recently came up in a Facebook chat on our page. And it has been a long while since we talked about it here. With couponing and the Extreme Couponing show there has been a large growth of couponing, saving money, and more and more coupon moms. Which is great! With that each of us try and save money at every chance we can get. With the couponing is a seasonal work. Certain times of the year, certain coupons come out from the manufactures. So when that time has come and gone and we miss that coupon, or have used up our portion of the stockpile, we need to find ways to replace those items in the stockpile. But what if the manufacture decides to post pone a coupon? So people make their own coupon. Some may not know it is wrong. So as part of our education here on our site about finding great coupons, we also want to share what not to do and what to watch out for.

Many of us want to share a great coupon. Many times they are too good to be true. I recently was sent this PDF image of coupons. Not that PDF’s are fake, many are, but many legitimate companies do publish them. So how do you spot a fake coupon then? We want to empower you to help yourself and all of the other coupon moms by spotting and not using fake coupons. Why? A fake coupon may be scanned and work just fine  in a store and they would never know it… UNTIL they submit it for reimbursement. Then it is flagged and denied. The store will lose that value of the coupon multiplied by how many it took in. If fake coupons spread like wildfire, like they do, then stores will be forced to stop taking coupons all together, to avoid losing money.

Look at this image. It is the way I received it, minus the big circles that say FAKE… Can you spot all the clues just by looking at the image? Leave a post here telling all the reasons why you think it is fake. Click on the image to enlarge.


Tomorrow we will post all of the answers!

Readers Update***I work for Walgreens, and the last two days I have seen several counterfeit coupons come through that I hope you can warn couponers about. They are for a free pack of Marlboro Cigarettes and $7.50 off Pampers. If you could let everyone know that these are not legit, hopefully it will save some companies some money. Thanks!

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Filed Under: Back to Basics, Coupons, Coupons 101 part 4

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Are you having trouble with old stuff on websites. Does it seem like the info on a website is the same as it was last time you visited, but you know they have posted more then what is on your computer screen? Quite often readers will say that they get our emails and read about our new postings and deals but when they come to the website it is the same stuff as a few days ago. Or maybe you are having trouble printing coupons and cant get the coupon websites to work right. To fix these issues and others, start by clearing your internet cache

To do this is very easy. Thanks to WikiHow,  Below are steps to take for each type of web browser. [click to continue…]

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So often we get emails or comments asking where to get a three ring coupon binder. Well there are a lot of different options. We use a Case-It brand binder. Right now there are some good sales on Amazon for Case-It binders and others:

Case-It binders as low as $17.95

No name binders for a few bucks

Vertical Photo Pages for 3-Ring Binders, Holds 6 – 4″x6″ Photos/Page, 10/Pack AVE13401 or you can get them
As low as $2.58 HERE

These are some great links to help get your self a pro-coupon binder

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Filed Under: Back to Basics, How to organize coupons, Online deals

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