WRAL SmartShopper

WRAL SmartShopper

Thursday thoughts: Couponing Q & A

Posted April 21, 2011

I have received a number of questions via e-mail from readers in the last few weeks. I thought that some of you might have similar questions so hopefully these will answer them.

Question 1:  Faye, I was at your workshop in Fuquay. Where did you say you use your own bags? How much do the give you back for this? - Gail

Answer 1: Target gives you 5 cents off your total for each bag you bring.

Lowes Foods gives you 5 cents in Fresh Rewards for every bag you bring and when you reach $5 worth you get a $5 coupon to use in store.

CVS gives you $1 ECB when you use your Green Bag Tag to shop (which is free after ECB this week). For every 4 times you bring your own bag and swipe your Green Bag Tag card, you get $1 ECB.

Question 2: I was watching the extreme couponing series last night and was trying to figure out something. All the people they showed seemed to know how much the shelf price of the products were before they went to the store and before coupons figured in. Is there a general way to find out store prices other than going to the store and looking? - Ann

Answer 2: Harris Teeter and Lowes Foods both have an online shopping option called Express Lane. You can click on the option from their websites and check the prices there. You don't have to order anything or log in to check prices. I use the Express Lane function many times a week, espeically on Tuesday and Wednesday  when I am making the good deals lists for HT and Lowes Foods.

Question 3: When you say that the store has a limit of 20 coupons that it will double in one day but it will allow multiples of a single coupon up to 4, do these 4 coupons count towards the 20 coupon daily double limit at Lowes Foods? And do Lowes Foods and HT have unlimited not doubled coupons per visit/day?

Answer 3: Yes, the 4 multiples of the coupon count towards the 20 doubled limit if they are within the amount the store doubles (.99 or less at Lowes Foods and Harris Teeter). Yes, you can use unlimited non-doubled coupons but they still limit you to 4 identical at Lowes Foods. Here is the exact wording from their website:

"To ensure product availability for all customers, we limit redemption to 4 coupons for 4 of the same item. For example, if you have five coupons for a specific cereal and have purchased five of the item, we will honor the coupon for up to four of the boxes of cereal."

Click HERE for the link to the Lowes Foods coupon policy on their website.

Question 4: On facebook today, but mostly you tube, it was somewhat of an uproar concerning a lady using a coupon on the wrong size product when the coupon stated another size. A fellower youtuber said the lady was committing coupon fraud, is she right? I for one try to look at my coupons thoroughly and match them up to the right product/size. - Shannon

Answer 4: I am right there with you on this one, Shannon. I totally agree that it is not appropriate to use the coupon on anything other than the wording that the coupon allows. If the product says it's for an 8 oz, it should not be used on a 4 oz container (even if it will scan). It is coupon fraud and I never condone it. I always tell couponers to go by the wording on the coupon to make sure they are using it correctly and not fraudulently.

Question 5: There are never any coupons in the Durham Herald Sunday paper. Do you know why? - Judith

Answer 5: Unfortunately, the Durham Herald is no longer authorized to carry the coupon inserts in the Sunday paper. The best place to get them is the Raleigh News & Observer. Here is a list of other sources I use to find good coupons:

Sunday Newspaper Supplement – I buy one newspaper a week so I have a good selection of a bunch of difference coupons

Coupon Clipping Websites – When I want multiples of a coupon and didn’t get them through trading with friends during the week, I use coupon clipping sites that charge a fee to find and send them to you. The fee is usually around 5 to 10 cents per coupon. If a .75 coupon is doubled to $1.50 at HT or Lowe’s and I paid .10 to have it sent to me, that’s still a $1.40 return on my 10-cent investment. Can’t say the stock market has offered that type of return lately! I usually use www.thecouponclippers.com or www.ebay.com. If you buy from ebay, only do Buy It Now auctions for specific products. Don’t buy a “lot” of 100 assorted coupons. You don’t know what you are getting or how much each coupon is worth.

Friends, Neighbors, Co-workers, Family – Trade coupons with everyone you know. Set up a coupon basket at work in the breakroom or at church. Leave those coupons you don’t want and take those you do. Assign someone to go through the basket each month a remove expired coupons (and send them to our overseas military – click HERE for more info).

Manufacturer’s Toll Free Phone Numbers – If it seems like you can never find a coupon for a favorite product, try calling or e-mailing the company. Many will send coupons just because you asked. This is an especially good technique for high cost organic items and gluten free products.

Product Packages – I have found tons of coupons on the inside and outside of packages. Don’t throw them away until you have taken a good look in the package for any hidden coupons.

Manufacturer’s Websites – Many manufacturer’s offer coupons every day including Pillsbury.com and bettycrocker.com. I post printable coupon links from manufacturer’s every Friday in the Friday Freebies blog post.

Printable Coupon Websites – There are tons of great printable coupons on sites including smartsource.com, coupons.com, eatbetteramerica.com, redplum.com and more.

Register Coupons and Blinkies – Don’t overlook those coupons in the aisles in the red boxes (called blinkies because they used to be in boxes that had a red blinking light). Some are pretty good coupons. The register coupons can be high value as well.

Magazines – There are some good coupons in the All You Magazine offered at Walmart stores. I have a subscription because my niece was selling them as a fundraiser and I couldn’t say no to her! I recommend buying the magazine at the store after you look through it each month to see if it has enough coupons to justify the price. I don’t use every coupon each month and some months there are very few I use. There are often coupons in other magazines as well including Good Housekeeping and Better Homes and Gardens.

In Store Coupon Containers – Don’t forget to look at product displays in the stores. Some of the best rebate forms are found in big displays (especially during Superbowl and Final Four months).

Coupon Swaps - If you are looking for a coupon swap in the Triangle,  there are a number held through a local couponing group started by Smart Shopper readers. You can find out more about the yahoo group  HERE. They are a great way to get multiples of coupons and meet other awesome couponers in the area. They usually meet at local fast food places.

I hope you found these answers helpful. If you have other couponing and money saving questions, be sure to post them here. As I always say, it's your money - spend it wisely!


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  • Nancy Apr 22, 2011

    mollieclaire - you'll be happy to know that the current sale prices on Seventh Generation products continue through Super Doubles at HT starting next wednesday :)

  • mollieclaire Apr 22, 2011

    I'd add on to Question 2: Take a "dry run" shopping trip if you can. Before the walk-through, write down what you want to buy, what the REGULAR retail is and then go home to make your shopping list/match-ups. After a couple trips, you'll be pretty well versed in what the area's pricing is so you'll know when you're getting a good deal.

    Make sure you have the cashiers credit you for each and every bag! I have to do this at Target and Whole Foods on a consistent basis.

    Also, ebay is a good source for coupon lots. We buy a lot of Seventh Generation, Burt's Bees and Tom's of Maine products and I find the easiest way to collect my coupons for those items is to check ebay every once in awhile. You have to make sure the coupons have TWO bar codes like any normal coupon, and inquire if they are able to be doubled, what the exp. dates are, etc.

  • Nancy Apr 22, 2011

    heremeaj - let us know what they say and which store it is too, so that anyone else who gets such a coupon will know what they need to do to get it to 'pass muster' at that store.

    That watermark should be proof enough - who would go through the hassle of creating custom paper to fake a coupon?? ~sigh~ but common sense doesn't always prevail does it?

    Hopefully the manager will see clearly it was mailed to you!

  • heremeaj Apr 22, 2011

    I did not show thw wholw letter but I do have the whole thing. It DOES have a watermark on it and I will take to the manager today. This is my first ever coupon like that in the mail and I did not imagine that HT would not take something a company sent to me. Thanks,I will update you. Nancy, you are always so helpful

  • Nancy Apr 21, 2011

    heremeaj - did you present the entire letter the coupon was printed on? I've seen those types of coupons before, they usually have a watermark paper that it's printed on, showing it was not an internet coupon.

    I would ask to speak to the manager and show him/her where you got the coupon from. I quickly learned when I got those coupons in the mail that were printed in the body of the email paper to take the whole thing in to the store, even with the envelope if you still have it.

    I know they're leary of not getting reimbursed but hopefully the manager will see it's not fraudulent.

  • heremeaj Apr 21, 2011

    I agree with your posts below about taking coupons off products you are not buying. We should all practice the "golden coupon rule" of doing unto others as we would appreciate having others do unto us. It would never be right to take the coupon that should benefit that unit of product if I did not purchase it.

  • heremeaj Apr 21, 2011

    I got a coupon from Newman's Own for one free product up to 8 dollars. It was mailed to me by the company and has writing on the back of the coupon and the letter itself which should indicate that I did not print it myself. The coupon says "manufacturers coupon" on the face and has an expiration date of 6/11. HT refused to take it and said they do not take "free internet coupons" I am confused because this is not an intere coupon. What can I do, and where can I redeem it?

  • Nancy Apr 21, 2011

    earlychd - too many people do that, I see 'signs' of it all over stores all the time :( If you plan to buy the product at that store or another because of a deal somewhere else, taking one shouldn't be an issue but taking them all is just plain WRONG.

  • robertwillis13 Apr 21, 2011


    After looking at my last Lowe's receipt, I think they are now giving 10 cents a bag?!


  • Mommy2Caleb+Carly Apr 21, 2011

    Hey, jkc0426....I am in "Wiltson" too! Welcome to the coupon club!