RSSSuper-Couponing Tips By Jill Cataldo
The latest tips and advice in couponing and all money-saving pursuits from renowned coupon expert Jill Cataldo.
My recent column about consumers feeling entitled to coupon discounts has generated many reactions from readers. Here’s a sampling.
I read with dismay your recent columns about others who think they have some legal right to discounts and coupons. It reflects the sad state of our once-prosperous country that people have gotten so accustomed to ‘free’ stuff from the government that they now think they can demand the same from private companies.
“Stockpiling” is the term couponers have long used for shopping ahead of sales cycles, then storing groceries and supplies until the next sale. It’s a great strategy for shelf-stable, non-perishable or freezer-stable items because prices fluctuate. Buying at a low sale price, with coupons, ensures that we never have to pay full price. Need another box of cereal? Tube of toothpaste? Roll of paper towels? Grab it from your stockpile versus running to the store and you’re saving big.
However, for some people, the word “stockpiling” has become synonymous with “hoarding” or “buying big.” And, based on some of the email I’ve received, I think we need a new word for what we do! Thanks to extreme couponers, that word seems to be scaring off would-be coupon shoppers:
In your recent column there was a letter from a reader who thinks couponing is all smoke and mirrors and you outlined another shopper’s recent savings. I was that shopper! It takes hard work and attention to detail rather than “smoke and mirrors.” But without examples, I can see where one would be skeptical.
I thought I’d share some examples of deals that all add up to savings. I truly think of this as income from a part-time job. Viewing it that way may help people realize the value of it.
A recent column about saving money on meat struck a chord with many readers. Admittedly, getting coupon deals on meats is a little more difficult, as meat coupons aren’t always easy to find. If you’re purchasing brand-name meats, such as Hormel, Perdue or Butterball, you’ll find coupons available for these products fairly often. But what about saving on ground beef or deli cold cuts? Again, while you may find these coupons at times, more often, you’ll be playing the best-price game of buying these items when their sale prices take a dip. I’m always looking at the per-pound price and trying to stay as close to my personal benchmarks as possible – for me, that’s under $2/lb. for chicken and pork, and under $3/lb. for beef.
Many readers responded with their own great tips. Here are a few of the best:
I was wondering which websites are best to check out the coupon inserts before they appear in the newspaper? The past two weeks the paper has been coupon-free. I would like any tips that you are willing to share.
I would like some advice on redeeming coupons. No matter what store I go to, if I redeem more than a few coupons, the cashier doesn't give me credit for all of them. It has happened so often that now I count them when I hand them to the cashier and count the beeps as they scan each coupon. This isn't foolproof, though.
Other times I have caught the cashier missing my coupons and I have had to go to customer service (often waiting in a long line) in order to get the credit. Cashiers have admitted to me that they knew they didn't scan all the coupons. I am very careful with expiration dates and the number of items that need to be purchased for each one. I think the least a store can do is give me the credit I deserve. This all seems like a lot of work, and I am tired of not being given credit for my coupons. Any advice?
In one of your recent columns, you featured a letter from a reader who stated that she spent $45.81 and saved $47.36 with coupons. I have read numerous articles over the years where people say they get their order for free or for a very low cost. These articles never show what was bought and the coupons used. I have always said this is smoke and mirrors as there is no detail.
Readers continue to weigh in on the pitfalls of mail-in rebates. The anti-rebate emails I receive far outnumber those singing their praises. Here’s a sampling.
I feel like companies make rebate rules hard to follow so fewer people try to redeem them. I recently learned that they can change the rules on the fly, too. I bought a bottle of wine at the store, and there was a printout form to send in for a $3 rebate. The form printed at the register and I filled it out. After I sent it in, I got a postcard that said I didn’t send in the receipt. I didn’t send in a receipt because the form didn’t say I had to! I have done rebates before and know what I’m doing. I called the wine manufacturer and they said they changed the rebate requirements after the offer began. How can they do this when nobody with the original rebate form would know they had to send a receipt? After I complained, they agreed to send me my money, but I am done buying this brand of wine!
You recently wrote about stores getting reimbursed by the manufacturer. As a long-time couponer, it's interesting to learn about couponing from the store and manufacturer's ends. I am very interested in how this reimbursement works. Do the stores hire people to submit coupons to each manufacturer? How many people do this per store? How often do they submit? Consumers never see this behind-the-scenes process and I'm very interested. I hope you know the answers!
Kaori makes an excellent point. Consumers don’t often get to peek behind the curtain of how coupon redemption actually works. We cut our coupons, hand them to the cashier, enjoy saving some money on what we’re buying and then... what happens next?
Has this happened to you? You’re walking down an aisle at the supermarket and you pick up a product you’ve purchased many times before. Dish detergent, deodorant, a cake mix – it looks the same as it always has, but something just isn’t right.
Look closer. The item you know and love has changed a bit. The package may appear to be the same size, but that bottle, box or carton holds less than it used to.
“Shrinking” groceries are nothing new. Half-gallon cartons of ice cream became 1.75-quart cartons, then 1.5-quart cartons. Cereal boxes seem to be on a continual decline, ounce by ounce. One of my favorite cereals has gone from 12 ounces to 9 ounces. Nine ounces barely lasts a week at our house.
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