Just because he's cute, and I know everyone could use a Camden fix...
Ok. Back to coupons.
There are different types of coupons available. The most common coupons are Manufacturer's Coupons, and they're typically labeled as such at the top, by the date of expiration. The second most common type of coupons? Store coupons. They're to be used at the store listed on the coupon, unless...
You might find a store that accepts competitor's coupons. If you live in Western Washington, you'll only find this at Albertson's. Your best bet is to call around and ASK. You won't know if you don't try, right?? (This is a really good thing, because it allows you to do almost all of your shopping in one place, instead of driving from store to store.) Ask for specifics about what constitutes a competitor. A grocery store might not take your Walgreen's coupon, for example, which is silly if you ask me... because they're certainly *competing* for my business!
Store coupons and manufacturer's coupons can be combined, which is also called "stacking." So, with that being said, here's a (totally hypothetical) scenario:
I find a Safeway coupon for Yoplait yogurt, which is usually about $0.79 when not on sale. The coupon reads, "buy ten Yoplait yogurt cups, get $1.oo off." I also have, in my binder, two coupons (because I buy multiple newspapers) that read "$0.75 off five Yoplait yogurt cups." When I look at the Albertson's ad, I see that Yoplait yogurt is on sale, $0.50 each. It isn't on sale at Safeway... so, I take my Safeway coupon to Albertson's, and I have this:
Ten Yoplait's: $5.00
Store coupon: -$1.00
Manu. coupon:-$1.50 (total of the two coupons)
Total: $2.50, or, $0.25 each.
See why that's a good deal??
Other things to know...
When you use coupons, and use them well, name-brand products are almost always going to be less expensive than the generic variety.
If you're lucky enough to live somewhere other than Washington, you should be able to find a store or two where coupons can be doubled (or even tripled!) on certain days. Call around and ask about this option while you're calling around about stores that accept competitor's coupons.
You WILL make mistakes. It happens. I still make mistakes from time to time... like grabbing the wrong brand of canned chili, or not buying the right size container to fulfill the requirements of my coupon.
Snarky cashiers are everywhere. I drive out of my way to go to the Walgreen's on the other side of town to avoid Penny (yep--that's her real name. Dare you to do something about it, Penny.), the cashier who groans and sighs loudly when I approach the counter with my coupons at the closer of the two stores. Cashiers WILL give you a hard time. That is when it is in your best interest to smile politely and whip out a copy of the store coupon policy, which you have so dutifully scoured the website for--and if it isn't on the website? Call the corporate office and ask them to e-mail it to you.
Cashiers don't understand how coupons work a lot of the time. For example, tons of coupons say "only one coupon per item," or something similar. This DOES NOT mean that you cannot use more than one of the same coupon if you have enough items in your cart. It means, instead, that you cannot apply two identical coupons to ONE item. See?
My other favorite is, "but you'll be getting this item for free if I let you use this coupon!" To which I reply, "yes, I will. But the beauty of the situation is that because this is a manufacturer's coupon, your store will be properly reimbursed for the dollar amount stated." Cashiers like to act as though their paycheck is somehow affected by your $1.00 cereal coupon. Because the world revolves around the cashiers at my local Thirftway, dontchaknow?
It is your job to be well-informed. You are your best advocate--even when it's only about saving a buck at the grocery store!
Ok--tomorrow? Online sources for coupons and shopping help.