Thursday, April 2, 2009

The Quick and Easy Guide to being a Coupon Queen, Part 1

I started working on this yesterday and realized it was too big for a single post. So I've broken this down in to five posts. Let me preface this series of posts by saying that there are lots of sites out there that will teach you how to do this. Most, if not all, of them are done by people who've been doing this for years and can give you a much more comprehensive tutorial. That being said, I think sometimes it gets to be too comprehensive. I know that when I started this about 6 months ago there was so much to learn that I got overwhelmed. So I'm going to try to write up a quick-and-easy guide, rather than a perfect guide. It'll still be too big for one post. But I think I can do it in 5 steps and still keep each step understandable. I hope it works for you.

The Quick and Easy Guide to being a Coupon Queen in 5 basic steps.

Step #1. Rebates. They've revamped them in recent years to make them easier.
  • Drugs stores often have rebate programs where you buy the rebate item, go online and enter some information from your receipt. No mailing or UPC's required. You enter receipts all month and at the end of the month request a check. Very, very simple.
  • Beer and/or wine rebates will pay for things besides beer and wine. Beer rebates usually involve things like, 'Buy some beer and $10 worth of sodas, chips, ice, or pizza and we'll reimburse you $10'. And in some states, the laws dictate that no alcohol purchase is required. Because I live in Kentucky, that rebate simply says to buy $10 worth of soda, chips, ice, or pizza and they'll reimburse me $10. That makes it free. Beer rebates tend to be on party foods, wine rebates tend to be on cheese and crackers. Find out the laws for your state and then check your liquor stores regularly. In most cases, no UPC's are required, just your receipts.
  • Try-Me-Free products have the rebate form on the item you're buying. Those do require UPC's, so read the fine print.
  • When you send for a rebate, they do not normally take coupons into account. If I go buy a shampoo that has a $3 rebate, the rebate company does not care if I used a coupon to buy the shampoo. They reimburse based the fine print of the rebate. If it says $3, they pay $3. If it says purchase price, they reimburse the price that your receipt says you were charged. In most cases, a coupon is part of the payment, not a reduction on what you were charged.
  • Save your receipts each month and when a new month starts, stick last month's receipts in an envelope somewhere. Sometimes you find a rebate form for something you already bought. It's free money IF you have the receipt. If you don't, see if you can remember where you bought it, what day, what credit card you used, and the exact time of day. The store can sometimes print you out a new receipt if you have all the info they need to find it. But it's a pain in the ass, so it's better to save your receipts. And it'll be handy for tax season.
  • The drawbacks: you will need to part with your money for 6 to 8 weeks. And, unfortunately, sometimes the rebates don't work. They get lost in the mail or your rebate check is stolen or you didn't checkmark some tiny little box that you should have or the company offering the rebate goes belly up. But whatever the problem is, the end result is the same. You didn't get back the money you should have. It doesn't happen often. But it does happen. So don't go buying hundreds of dollars worth of rebate stuff each month that you wouldn't normally buy and/or can't afford if the rebate doesn't come. The ideal rebates are for products you'd buy at that price even without the rebate. Like the beer rebates that pay for sodas are perfect for me. I buy sodas anyway. The rebate is just gravy.

Coming next... Step #2: Coupons


She said...

I'm excited for the rest of the series! Yay!

(I do rebates, but my biggest problem is that I rarely go to drug stores. Usually shop at the Supermarket, BJ's and Target!)

Karen said...

Drugstores are more than worth the effort. You know how high their prices on most things are? It's to offset all the stuff they give away for free.