Discount Coupons - the savings 'in your hand'

Discount coupons enable the bearer to purchase an item at reduced rates upto an expiration date (as opposed to a store ‘sale’ where the price is cut for everyone). It’s not difficult to find coupons – the weekend newspaper has tons of them, and you’ll start receiving lots in the mail too. Many people enjoy searching for and gathering coupons for future use, even if they don’t need to buy something right away. I remember my uncle spending several lazy hours on Sunday mornings, cutting out offers and discounts from the local newspaper.

Here’s a rundown on discount coupons, as shared by our readers:

  • Coupons can either be in physical format or electronic. Traditionally, we think of coupons as paper vouchers with a unique serial number and bar code. In the era of online shopping, however, a ‘coupon’ can be just a numeric code, which you enter while electronically checking out to get your discount.

  • Always check to see if your coupon is issued by the manufacturer or the retailer. Manufacturer coupons can be redeemed widely and can often be combined with other offers. This may not be the case with a retailer coupon.

  • Read the fine print. Some coupons enable a discount only when you charge the purchase to the the retailer’s co-branded credit card – which you may or may not have or want.

  • Watch out for minimum spend requirements i.e. the discount kicks in only after you spend a minimum amount of money.

  • Similarly, watch out for maximum allowable quantities. For example, the discount might be valid only on say 3 packs of razor blades per customer.

  • Don’t spend too much time searching for coupons. After a point, the savings are not worth the effort. Plus, many stores won’t allow you to combine discount deals, so you really need just one per product or store.

  • When you receive a coupon in the mail, or cut it out from a newspaper, just throw it in a cookie jar. Then when you go shopping, check the jar for relevant offers. Keep cleaning the jar periodically for expired coupons.

  • Don’t feel forced to use a coupon if it means buying up too much of a product that you won’t need. That’s exactly what the retailer wants you to do!

You don’t have to be a ‘passive’ coupon-collector, gathering and waiting for the right coupon to show up. Instead you could actively search for relevant coupons, whenever you decide to buy a product. There are several sites on the internet that keep track of deals and discounts and thus act as coupon-aggregators. These sites don’t sell the product themselves, but allow you to obtain an electronic or paper coupon on demand (paper coupons have to be printed out). The coupons are accessible without charge, since the aggregator usually makes his money from the retailer. Some discount coupons are in the form of a ‘cash-back’. Namely, that you buy the product undiscounted but receive a rebate subsequently.

Here are some recommended sites for coupons, announcement of store sales, deals and offers at different discounters, and cash back arrangements

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