RSSSuper-Couponing Tips By Jill Cataldo
The latest tips and advice in couponing and all money-saving pursuits from renowned coupon expert Jill Cataldo.
Manufacturer coupons are the engines that drive the couponing train. Most coupons you find online or in the newspaper inserts are of this variety, and the companies that issue these coupons reimburse the retailers at which the coupons are used. Very few of them have restrictions requiring them to be used at a specific store. But what happens when a manufacturer coupon shows one store’s logo and you attempt to use it at another?
I read your column regularly and perhaps you can help with this. I had a Catalina coupon, the kind that prints out at the checkout. It had been issued at Kroger and was for $1.00 off any two half gallons of a popular brand of soy milk. The coupon had “MANUFACTURER CPN” and the expiration date printed at the top. At the right side it said “REDEEM AT KROGER.” There was a bar code on the coupon. It was not a Kroger store-only coupon (I know what they look like) and it did not say redeemable only at Kroger. But I wasn’t shopping at Kroger – I was shopping at a different supermarket instead.
Last week, a reader asked why larger-sized clothing costs a few dollars more than standard sizes. I explained that it isn’t due to the extra fabric used to make the garment – the extra cost covers the price of the scrap fabric left over when the garment’s pieces were cut from the cloth, as the scraps are too small to use for additional garments. It’s the cost of making, and buying, larger sizes.
As consumers, we love to get a deal on the things we need – not only groceries but clothing too. I think I’ve turned clearance clothing shopping into an art form, especially for my children! I’m the one hunting on clearance racks for summer clothes in November, when I can pick up tank tops, shorts and swim trunks in the $2-$3 range. When April and May roll around, I’m buying winter coats for the next season, and so on.
The danger of being an exclusively clearance shopper is that I tend to lose touch with what things “really” cost when they’re not on sale. I’ve done a good job of buying ahead for my kids’ needs each year since they were born. They’ve always got a full wardrobe the next size up hanging in their closets (clearance tags hanging proudly from each item) – all purchased for $3 or less.
I like to save money on clothes just as much as anyone else does, so let’s talk clothing prices. Specifically, reader Blake would like to know why larger clothing sizes cost a few dollars more than the standard sizes.
When shopping for shirts, whether t-shirts or casual button down shirts, I can wear XL, but for comfort I prefer to buy XXL. Why do the companies that make or sell these shirts price XL and XXL $2 more than the S, M and L sizes? Is there that much more material used from L to XL or XXL? It seems that they are discriminating against us larger sized consumers. I am not fat, but I am over 6’ tall, have a very slight belly and weigh about 250 lbs. It would be nice to lose some weight, but …”
We couponers are a passionate bunch of money-saving enthusiasts, and while most of my columns discuss couponing in one form or another, you might be surprised by how many readers don’t shop with coupons. I’ve been receiving a lot of email lately from non-couponers who enjoy reading about saving money. Saving on the things we buy appeals to everyone, whether you’re an avid couponer or someone who simply wants the best price possible with minimal work to get it.
I’ve long advised readers to figure out the “best” prices for the things you buy – the lowest prices for which you see your favorite products on sale. Once you know that the best price for a gallon of milk is less than $2, or the best price for a single roll of paper towels is less than 50 cents, you can seek out those prices at stores with the lowest prices. Reader Dennis shares his perspective:
The topic of product “shrink” – when manufacturers reduce the size of a product while keeping the selling price the same – continues to be a hot one. I’m irked by this trend, but I had no idea how incensed my readers had become with smaller sizes. You guys have been busy reading packages, comparing labels, ounces and volume. And you should – it’s your money, and you should make informed purchases.
Here’s a new roundup of reader mail from my readers regarding product shrink.
Two weeks ago, I found a skincare product worth around $40 on clearance for $13. To make the deal sweeter, I had a $3 off manufacturer coupon. Score, right? Well, yes and no. This was the only item I was purchasing, so my total with 7 percent sales tax should have been $10.70. However, my total was $10.91. I was a little irritated to find I’d been taxed on the pre-coupon total! While it was only 21 cents additional (and I got a smoking deal on the skincare) it made me wonder if this is happening all over the place and I just have not noticed it before. With all the coupons I use on a regular basis, it would really add up!
With regard to taxing on a pre-manufacturer-coupon total, could the government really be requiring stores to collect tax on something that isn’t included in a purchase? Essentially, I paid tax on money I didn’t even spend. Please share your thoughts on this, if possible.
I’ve followed your blog for several years now, and do quite well with couponing. However, lately, I seem to be unorganized! I follow your clipless method and only clip what I am going to use that day, then carry an envelope with the clipped coupons. Sometimes the items are sold out, so I am left with extras. I then put those in another envelope labeled “extra” and try to remember to check this first. Also, I have an accordion file next to my computer into which I put peelies, printed coupons, mailed coupons, etc., but almost never know or remember what’s in there. Do you keep a written list of these? I would love to know how you organize those, so I’m not constantly throwing out great coupons.
In a recent column, I featured an email from a reader named Brian, who stated that he never used coupons because he “felt cheap” when using them. This column generated a lot of email from coupon fans – and why wouldn’t it? If you’re reading this column, it wouldn’t be much of a stretch to infer that you’re interested in saving some money.
While the stigma of using coupons still exists in some circles, the surge in coupon use that arrived in 2008 fueled couponing into the mainstream as a hip, fun and frugal thing to do. But, some people still don’t see it that way. They’re afraid (gasp!) that someone will see them using that little piece of paper and paying less.
Last week, I received a pair of interesting emails. As a consumer who finds myself constantly straddling the line between a consumer’s coupon issues and navigating the industry’s practices, I found both of these emails interesting, and I imagine you will too.
I have read your column for a while and I have to ask, whose side are you on? People need to save all the money they can right now but whenever a question of ethics comes up, or maybe, a ‘could we do this’ and use this coupon in a way that makes it a better deal, you always take the side of the stores and the brands. What about us? If you are really devoted to helping save money you could share some information about ways we could save even more. Instead you are more of a right way to use coupons guru.
Paper, plastic or reusable? Reusable shopping bags have exploded in popularity, and many stores offer discounts for using your own bag versus using store-supplied bags.
I’ve amassed quite a collection of reusable grocery bags (more on that later in this column!) and I like using them for several reasons. In addition to receiving discounts for bringing my own bags, I find that the reusable bags are stronger – important to me as I often am toting heavy groceries downstairs to my pantry. It only took one glass bottle of maple syrup to rip through a plastic, disposable bag and shatter on my garage floor for me to remember to bring my bags with me on each shopping trip. Now, I keep a “bag of bags” in my vehicle – five or six reusable bags stuck inside another reusable bag – so that they’re always ready for the next shopping trip.
Reader Carl is having some issues with reusable bags though. Here’s his email.
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