Ok, when I first sat down today to write about this topic I was a little afraid I wouldn’t have enough content to talk about. I knew that after 5 years of Canadian couponing I must have learned some “Tricks of the Trade”. Well good news, I have learned a thing or two over the years. So on to the next couponing lesson.
If you are really going to come out ahead by couponing you have to know your pricing. I know this sounds a little obvious, but I quickly found out that I really didn’t know pricing as much as I thought I did. There is nothing more frustrating than standing at a store shelf wondering if the store sale is really a good deal.
I suggest creating a price book. This is really easy to do. Just get a small notebook or notepad and start writing down common items you buy all the time. Beside each item write down the best price you have seen that item on sale for. When you see that particular item again, check your price book to see if that item is a good deal or not. You will eventually get a good feel for what price certain items should be. For example I know without hesitation that $4.99 or less on Royale Bathroom Tissue (12 rolls or more) is a good deal especially since I always have a $1.00 off coupon to use. I know that Nature Valley Bars regularly go on sale for $1.99 so I will never pay any more than that. Get to know if it is truly a sale or just an advertised price. There is a difference. Look and learn what an item should be at regular price and then you will easily determine if if the sale is worth it or not.
Canadian Free Stuff has put together their very own Price Book that everyone can use.
Check out this fantastic new feature by clicking the link below.
Once you start using a price book it will also be easier for you to figure out unit pricing. What I mean by this is you can more quickly see if buying the larger super size item is a better deal or not. Sometimes bigger is not always better. If it is double the size but also more than double the price, it is not a deal. Carry a calculator or use your cell phone for easy calculations. Example Sobeys has Kraft Dinner on sale 2/$1.00 my price book tells me it is regularly .98¢ (so this is a good deal) Wal-Mart has a 12 pack case of Kraft Dinner for $7.97. When you do the math Wal-Mart is charging .66¢ per unit compared to Sobeys that is .50¢ (Wal-Mart is more expensive but still a good deal)
Another trick to remember is what I like call the “double whammy”. Look for great sale prices by looking through and reading your weekly flyers. If you don’t get them delivered to your door you can read most of them on-line at flyerland.ca. Combine the sale price with using Canadian coupons and turn it into a super deal. There is absolutely no reason why you cannot do this. I have never been denied using coupons on sale items. Some people think because some coupons say that it cannot be combined with any other offer that this refers to having the item on sale. What it actually means is that you cannot use another coupon at the same time on that one single item. Also please remember that sometimes buying more than one item and using a “buy 2 and save” coupon is often a better deal than just buying one item and using the single purchase coupon. If you have a coupon to save .50¢ when you buy one item and another coupon to save $1.50 when you buy two item, than the second coupon is the one to use.
Check out this awesome new feature here on Canadian Free Stuff.
We now do all the flyer/coupon match ups for you! It is super simple. Just find your area’s coupon match up section. Then you can check off the store you are interested in and checkmark off all the deals you want to get this week. Scroll down and hit the PRINT button and there you have it. Your entire flyer/coupon match up shopping list printed out and ready to go- AWESOME!!
When collecting coupons from store shelves don’t just take one. If it is an item you buy all the time and the coupon doesn’t expire for a while than take three or even more. However taking a whole pad of coupons is not acceptable - it is just wrong. Don’t take more than what you plan to use yourself or can use in a trade or train. (we will talk more about trains and trades in a future post). When using manufacturer or store coupons don’t pay attention to the picture. It is what the coupon actually says that is important. If the coupon shows Olay Ribbons in the picture, read the coupon, it might say save on any Olay product or it might list 3 or 4 different items that the coupon can be used on. Remember, sometimes there is just not enough room to print more than one picture on a coupon. If a coupon says “save on any size” then remember that includes travel sizes too. Lots of these items are very low priced, so if you use your coupon on these, they will probably be free. If the cashier questions you about this just simply point out that the coupon clearly states “any size”. I will however mention that companies sometimes specify not to be used on travel sizes (I think they caught onto us on this one) lol.
Another hint, is to never run out of the basics. Don’t wait until you really need something and then be forced to pay a ridiculous price for it. For items that don’t quickly expire, buy them when they are on sale and use your coupons. I do this with items such as dish soap, laundry soap, shampoo, tampons etc. Also remember when a store puts a limit on the quantity you can buy, just simply pack up the kids or take a couple of friends with you. Hand out the cash, distribute the coupons and point them in the direction of the sale. Divide and conquer.
Oh just thought of another “trick of the trade” I can’t believe I almost forgot this one. If an item is on sale and you didn’t get there on time and the product is already sold out don’t worry simply head on over to the customer service desk with your flyer and ask them for a rain-check. A rain-check will allow you to get the sale price when they re-stock that item. Remember some stores put a 30 day expiry date on their rain-checks and others don’t. If they still don’t have the item in stock at the end of the 30 days just ask them to extend it or issue you a new one.
An easy trick is to get stores to price match. Price matching is when a store will match or beat a competitors price. In order to do this you will need to first know which stores in your area price match and once you do, just take your weekly flyers with you to the store. Show the cashier the flyer and ask them politely to price match that particular item. This way you are not running around town from store to store and wasting all your coupon saving money on gas for your car. Stores that price match in my area are Wal-Mart, Zellers, Canadian Tire, Future Shop, Toys R Us, Sears, Real Canadian Super Store. I have also read that London Drugs and Save on Foods will do the same.
Speaking of London Drugs, you can really get some savings there. Unfortunately we don’t have one in my province. At London Drugs you can stack coupons. This means that if you have more than one coupon for the same item but they must be different coupons with different bar codes so you can use them all at once. I am so jealous of people who can shop at London Drugs. If there was one here or another company that allowed stacking they would for sure get my business.
This leads into my next point I wanted to make. Get to know your stores’ coupon policy. Just about every store has a set of rules when it comes to couponing. The problem is most cashiers are never trained in this. It is up to you to know your stores’ policy. If you are a serious couponer you will have a copy of each stores policy in the back of your binder. Since policies can change over time make sure to stay up to date. Here are a few to get you started. Canadian Coupon Policies. You can actually e-mail your local stores and ask them their couponing policy. Most will send you an email back with all the details.
Another great tip is to take advantage of mail-in rebates. These also can be found on store shelves, on packaging and on-line. Simply buy that specific item, retain your receipt and circle that item on your receipt. Fill out the mail-in rebate offer and enclose it with your receipt in an envelope and mail it off. I love getting the cheques in the mail. It really does feel like found money. You pay for the product and usually get the full price back, so you really are getting the item for the price of the stamp. I just received a nice rebate cheque for my laptop yesterday. $75.00 back in the bank!
Take advantage of rewards and point systems. Remember there are Air Miles, HBC points, Shopper’s Optimum, Aero Plan Miles, Club Sobeys, etc. Also lots of products offer a points or rewards. Check out Lean Cuisine and Lunch-mates for example.
Oh I just thought of a really good one to add to these. Learn your stores’ “Scanning Code of Practice” What this means is that some stores, depending on their policy, when you or they scan a product at the checkout and that item comes up at higher price than listed in the store or advertised in their flyer you are eligible for a discount. Some stores policy state that if the item scans wrong you will get that item completely FREE! However, if the item is a higher priced ($10.00 or more) they will give you $10.00 off instead. They won’t catch this error, nor will they tell about their rules in regards to this. It is up to you to know your prices and watch as the items are being scanned. I recently was shopping at Fortinos and saw that Maple Leaf Prime Chicken Tenderloins were on sale for $6.99 and I had a $2.00 off coupon. This was enough incentive for me to take advantage of the sale and finally give them a try. When I went to the self-checkout and scanned them they rang up at $8.99 (the regular price) I immediately told my hubby to stop scanning and called the cashier over and explained that they scanned through at the wrong price. I hinted that they should be FREE for not scanning properly. She called for a price check and motioned for her supervisor to come over. They gave me the chicken completely free and I retained my coupon. I sent my daughter to retrieve another box knowing that they would not allow this again (it only applies to the first item when buying multiples) and used my coupon to still get a second box for just $4.99 when I used my coupon. I scored two boxes that would normally be $17.98 at regular price for just $4.99. I love it when this happens.
So to wrap things up – remember don’t use coupons until the item is on sale, get rain-checks for items not in stock, don’t wait until you run out of something to buy it, collect rewards and point, learn your unit pricing and remember buying in bulk is not always the better deal. Read your coupons, look at expiry dates, and most importantly take your coupons with you everywhere. You never know when you are going to find a great sale.
I hope I have been able to help you with these little tricks of the trade I have learned over the years.
I look forward to your comments.
Happy Couponing Everyone!
THIS IS JUST ONE IN A SERIES OF COUPONING ARTICLES I HAVE WRITTEN.