Thursday, August 4, 2011

Guest Blogger - Rachel Elizabeth Cole

Welcome to Part Two of Couponing is a Verb by Rachel Elizabeth Cole. Rachel has been a writing pal of mine for ages but her coupon savvy ways were news to me until recently ... I have learned much from this Jedi-Coupon Goddess and I hope you do too! Be sure to check out Rachel's Website, too!

I’m sure you’ve seen that show. You know, the one with the crazy coupon ladies who get thousands of dollars worth of stuff for under a hundred bucks? Yup, I’ve seen it too. I bet, like me, your first thought was, “Only in America.” But then I got to wondering, “Can we use coupons like that in Canada?” Well, after a bit of Googling and reading up on the subject, it turns out my gut instinct was right. You can’t. But by using coupons, you can still get some significant savings on your monthly grocery bill. Anywhere in the 25-30% range is typical. I don’t know about you, but at my house that works out to about $150 a month. That’s $1800 a year!

So how do you Extreme Coupon Canadian style?

1. I know it’s obvious, but collect coupons. Lots and lots of coupons. Coupons can be found pretty much everywhere. They come in the newspaper or mail, can be found hanging on tear pads in stores, can be requested directly from the company, they can even be ordered online or printed off with your computer. If you live in an area with curbside recycling, take a walk on recycling day and collect all the coupon inserts people have thrown out in their recycle bins. In my neighbourhood just last week, I found over 20 coupon inserts!

2. Ask your friends to save coupons for you or allow you to order coupons with their address. Make friends with other couponers and trade coupons.

3. Learn what the wording on coupon means. As an example, for years I thought “Limit one coupon per purchase” meant one coupon per shopping trip. But really it means one coupon per ITEM! So if you have four coupons (or ten!), feel free to buy four (or ten!) items! “One coupon per customer” means you’re only allowed one coupon per shopping trip. But most cashiers will just do two transactions for you, saving you a second (and third and fourth…) trip back into the store.

4. Get a copy of each store’s coupon policy and keep it with you. Learn what each store allows and doesn’t allow. For instance, some stores in Western Canada permit stacking (the use of more than one coupon per item). Some stores permit their own store coupons to be used along with manufacturer coupons. And some stores allow overages (the use of coupons with a higher value than the item being purchased).

5. Read all the weekly flyers, not just your usual stores, and take advantage of the best sale prices.

6. Learn to price match at stores that have a better coupon policy and save your gas.

7. Use your coupons on items that are not only on sale, but on clearance.

8. If an item is sold out, get a rain check. When the store restocks, you’ll get the item at the sale price!

9. Forget brand loyalty. So Tide has been your favourite laundry detergent forever? Well, it won’t be for long when you discover you can get other brands (that work just as well) for free or nearly free.

10. Stock up. This really is the secret to using coupons. Don’t just buy what you need as you need it. Think ahead. How much soup or cereal or pasta does your family eat in a year? What about laundry soap or toothpaste or dish soap? Buying now when something is on sale and using coupons will save you money in the long run.

For more information on couponing in Canada visit: Smart Canucks

Happy couponing!

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