A blog about keeping yourself and your expenses lean in Oakland County, Michigan.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Guest Post: Couponing 101 - The Coupon Courtesy of Bargain Blessings

So this is where it all starts for us couponers...the COUPON! I think it is important for us all to understand a little bit about those precious slips of paper we so cherish!

What is a Coupon?
Here is the dictionary's definition:
coupon [koo-pon, kyoo-] -noun
a portion of a certificate, ticket, label, advertisement, or the like, set off from the main body by dotted lines or the like to emphasize its separability, entitling the holder to something, as a gift r discount, or for use as an order blank, a contest entry form, etc.

And here is a couponer's definition:
coupon [koo-pon, kyoo-] -noun

That's right.... coupons equal cash. The more you use, the more cash stays in your pocket! This might seem really basic, but I have to admit that before I started this all I really didn't understand the true value of the coupon.

When I go to the grocery store and my total drops from $106 to $45 after coupons that is $61 back in my familie's pocket! $61 that we can use to take a fun outing for the day, deposit into our savings account, or make an extra payment on our mortgage! Had I not handed over that little stack of coupons that $61 would belong to the store and be forever gone from our bank account!

The Coupon Decoded

So here are what all those little numbers mean on your coupon...

(5)- This number will always be a 5 or a 9. A 5 means that the coupon can be doubled and a 9 means that it cannot be doubled.
(12345)- This is the Manufacturer Code that determines which products a coupon may be used for.
(678)- This is the Family Code and determines which grouping of products a coupon may be use for.
(90)- This is the Value Code that tells the register how much to deduct from your total. There is a chart that these numbers correspond to. For example this "90" means that the coupon has a value of .90. A coupon with a Value Code of 74 is worth $5.
(0)- This is a calculated number used by the manufacturer. It has no real relevance to us couponers.
Note: The above is informational purposes only and should not be used to circumvent the text ($1 off a Jumbo Pack of Huggies) in any way. Couponers should always be ethical and use coupons only as they are intended to be used.

Life of a Coupon

Did you know that there is a whole process that the coupon goes through before and after you hand it over to the cashier?

First, the marketing department at a manufacturer decides that they would like to run a coupon campaign for one or many of their products. They then contact a coupon distributor such as Coupons.com or SmartSource (newspaper insert) and arrange to have the coupon available to consumers. That is how the coupon ends up in our hands!
After you give the coupon over to the store they will send it to a Clearing House which sorts through the millions of coupons to ultimately determine how much is due to the store from each manufacturer. That report then gets sent to the manufacturers who cut a check to the store for the coupons that they submitted.
This is the one thing I wish more cashiers were more educated on! They often do not understand that the company they are working for (The Store) will ultimately be reimbursed for the coupons. I will save more on this for the dealing with difficult cashiers portion of Couponing 201!

Fun Fact

Do you know who the first company to issue coupons was?

Yep! It was Coca-Cola back in the late 1800's! Couponing sure has come a long way since then!

That is it for today's Couponing 101 Post...I hope you learned something! Come back for tomorrows post on Where to Find Coupons!

Thanks Bargain Blessings!
My thoughts: All I have to say is wow, wow, wow how detailed! I learned a lot from this.  You wont' remember it all but due remember that the manufacturer reimburses the store AND gives an $.08 handling fee to the store for each coupon (says so right on the coupon.)  So that is why coupon is cash.  You pay with a coupon, you are getting a discount from the manufacturer and the store still has the same amount of money (well actually they make a little money!) whether you hand them cash or a coupon.  Great point to remember as she said to inform uneducated cashiers!

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