This is Day 2 in the series Meghan’s Guide to Couponing. Yesterday, we looked at The Different Types of Coupons. If you haven’t read that post yet, start there! It’s the foundation for the rest of the series. Today we’ll look at coupon stacking and shopping with coupons.
Coupon stacking is simply using multiple coupons on the same product to get the lowest price possible. But there are rules.
You can’t use two manufacturer’s coupons on the same product or two store coupons on the same product. But you can use one store coupon and one manufacturer’s coupon on the same product. For example, here are three scenarios:
You want to buy one gallon of Tide that’s priced at $10. You have two manufacturer’s coupons for $3 off any Tide. You go to checkout, and the first coupon scans. The second coupon will not be accepted.
You want to buy one gallon of Tide that’s priced at $10. You are at Kroger and have two Kroger coupons for $2 off any Tide. You go to checkout, and the first coupon scans. The second coupon will not be accepted.
You want to buy one gallon of Tide that’s priced at $10. You have two manufacturer’s coupons for $3 off any Tide. Also, you are at Kroger and have two Kroger coupons for $2 off any Tide. You take one of the manufacturer’s coupons and one of the store coupons, and you use them together at checkout. Both ring up, and you get $5 total off your Tide. Yay!
So in Scenario 3, you stacked a store coupon with a manufacturer’s coupon and got a lot of savings.
The rule about not using more than one manufacturer’s coupon for the exact same item is why Kroger and other stores have stopped allowing people to use manufacturer’s print coupons when manufacturer’s eCoupons are loaded on the shopper card and already scanned in at checkout.
Publix, I did some reading on, and apparently they will not only accept competitor’s coupons, but they will also allow you to stack a Publix coupon AND a competitor’s coupon with a manufacturer’s coupon for one item. That’s three coupons on one item!! I will be trying this out soon to see if it’s true, and I’ll update this post to let you know.
UPDATE: Click here to see a list of stores and their couponing policies broken down in an easy to read table. So nice!
Exceptions to the Stacking Rules
When using two manufacturer’s coupons on the same items works.
Although you can’t use two store or two manufacturer’s coupons for the exact same item, sometimes you can stack coupons in a way that gets around it. Here is an example:
Say you want to buy some Pillsbury canned crescent rolls and you have three coupons for 25 cents off a can of Pillsbury crescent rolls and three coupons for 55 cents off any three cans of Pillsbury crescent rolls. You decide to buy 3 cans of crescent rolls.
You take the three 25 cent coupons because they each apply to only one can, and you take one of the 55 cent coupons because it applies to the purchase of 3 cans, and you use them together.
That works because the requirements of the coupons are different. One coupon applies to a single can, which you are buying 3 of, so you can use one per can. And the other coupon requires you to buy 3 cans, so you use one of them, and apply it to the three together as a whole.
Some cashiers will give you a hard time about this, and some do not. Usually it works the way it should, but sometimes the register computers get confused by this and think you’re cheating the system, and the cashiers who don’t know how to override are generally the ones that try to get you to toss your coupon away. I usually stick to my guns, and talk to a manager if I have to. Generally they will show the cashier how to override the glitch, and that’s that.
Buy One Get One Free…But really get both free.
Another exception is buy one get one (aka B1G1 or BOGO) coupons. Sometimes you can use two of these. For example:
Say you had two buy one, get one free coupons for Secret deoderant, and you were buying two identical Secret deoderants. We’ll call them Secret deodorant 1 and Secret deodorant 2.
Secret deodorant 1 gets a coupon to get Secret deodorant 2 for free, and Secret deodorant 2 gets a coupon to get Secret deodorant 1 for free. They cancel the cost of each other out, and you get both free.
I’ll be honest, using two B1G1 coupons on the same two products and getting it to work has only happened for me once or twice, but I read about it working for other couponers in blogs all the time. So it’s worth trying!
Double The Savings
Many stores (Kroger, Publix, Ingles, etc.) will double (or even triple, if you’re lucky) your coupons. Most stores will only double coupons that are worth 50 cents or less. This is true of Publix and Kroger, for sure.
Ingles, I’ve heard will also double coupons that are 50 cents and under, but they have a tricky coupon policy.
So sometimes, it’s more worthwhile to use a coupon that is of lower value. When is that true? I’ll show you:
You want to buy a pack of Stride Gum that costs $2. You have a coupon for 75 cents off of Stride Gum and a coupon worth 50 cents off of Stride Gum.
Since you are shopping at Publix, and they double coupons worth 50 cents or less, you know that your 75 cent coupon will not double. But your 50 cent coupon will double, so it’s actually going to save you $1.
You use the 50 cent coupon, get a dollar off, and pay $1 for your $2 gum. Good for you!
Did you say triple coupons?
Yes, I did. Some folks say Kroger triples coupons once or twice a year, but I haven’t been so lucky as to get to take advantage of that yet.
I know that Ingles does triple coupons two or three times a year as well. I’ve heard that they stagger it regionally. Usually for Georgia (where I live), they will triple coupons sometime in July and again when in January or February.
Since none of us want to miss that opportunity, feel free to just ask your store’s cashiers if they ever triple coupons and if so, when, as you check out. Ask frequently, as they may not know until it is about to happen, or even ask a manager.
I will certainly be looking forward to finding triple coupon opportunities this summer, and I will post about it on my blog if I find out when and where.
Websites That Help You Stack Coupons
There are so many websites online that help you understand which coupons to use, how to combine them, and when to use them.
One that I love, love, love is Southern Savers. Each week, the store fliers for big chain stores across the south are put on this site.
Every item to be on sale for the week is shown, along with where you can find coupons that apply to that item. I will go more in depth about this on another day, but for now, I want to show you this:
Okay. Above is a screenshot of Southern Savers showing part of the current Publix flier and where to find coupons for those items.
You see under the Kingsford Match Light Briquets, that it has both M in red and S in blue next to the coupons? The M stands for Manufacturer’s coupon, and the S stands for Store coupon. The other items do not have any S coupons because there are no Publix coupons available for them right now.
You will also notice that under some of the coupons, there are little notes about how much you will end up paying after coupons. This is great, because it shows you just how much you stand to save if you have the right coupons. Makes it so easy!
Anyway. I know not everyone lives in the southern states. So, you need to just Google around to find your area’s version of this fabulous site. Hopefully someone in your region will be generous enough to have created a site that shares so much about couponing.
Another site that is great is E-Mealz. This site isn’t free to use, but it’s fairly inexpensive (only $1.25/week).
What it does is give you a meal plan: a full set of meals for the week with their shopping lists, recipes, what coupons to use, etc. so you can spend about $75 a week for 4-6 people or $35 a week for two people on groceries.
I don’t use this, yet, but I’ve heard great things about them, especially from moms of young families. It takes the guess work out of dinner and shopping, and it helps you maintain a budget.
And it’s not a regional thing; it should be good for all over the U.S. Not only that, but it covers meal plans that are: gluten free, low carb, low fat, portion control, or vegetarian, in addition to regular meal plans.
But how do you keep track of all those coupons?
Well, that’s where we’re headed tomorrow. Stick with me, and you’ll be saving money in no time.