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Friday, February 07, 2014

How to Make Money Using Coupons

A 'Money Making' Haul
For some reason, though I haven't posted about coupons for a little while now, I've had a few messages from people asking almost exactly the same question this week.  I might not be the brightest bulb in the chandelier, but even I can take a hint!

The question was regarding how I make money on items I "buy" using coupons.  Getting something for "free" is a hard enough concept to get your head around, especially with expensive items, but making money?  Can it be done?

Yes!  And really, it's not that hard.

There are really only two components of the process:  one involves having coupons in the first place, and the other simply requires you to keep a sharp lookout or visit couponing websites that do the scouring for you.

The basic concept is this:  Most stores offer some items each week on a promotion that is designed to get us into the store and, while we're there, pick up other, full priced items.  Those promotional items can either be effectively free or very, very cheap.  What I mean by 'effectively free' is this. . .Almost every chain drugstore (Walgreens, CVS, Rite Aid, etc.) and several other store types have some sort of reward coupon that can be earned on one purchase and then spent, like cash, on another.

For Walgreens, they're called Register Rewards, at CVS it's ExtraCareBucks, and with Rite Aid, they're + Up Rewards.  An Example:

  • Walgreens has a sale price on expensive vitamins for $10 (originally $20, so already a great deal!)
  • But they also offer a $10 Register Reward for that item
  • This means that you'll pay $10 (plus tax because vitamins are non-food) for the item, but get back a $10 Register Reward to use on your next purchase of at least that amount.  That renders the item practically free.

That's a nifty deal as it is. . .and if the item is a food, there isn't even tax to pay, so you really are, in effect, paying nothing.  But if you add in a COUPON, you are edging into profit.  Going back to our Example:

  • If the expensive vitamins are on sale for $10
  • AND you get a $10 Register Reward back
  • AND you happen to have a coupon for $3 off of those particular vitamins
  • Then you have, effectively, earned $3 minus tax for taking a $20 vitamins out of the store
  • Moneymaker!!

But this process, of course, is reliant on what deals stores are offering that week AND whether you have coupons available to match the sale item.  It's pretty rare for a deal of this nature to match a coupon that has only come out in the last Sunday's paper, but it does happen.  Sometimes, even, the necessary coupon is printable right from your own computer.  But the majority of deals like this require coupons from several weeks ago.

So, to ensure you don't miss these kinds of deals, it's best to start saving your coupons (either cutting them all out and organizing in a binder or just labeling each whole coupon insert with the date it came in the paper) and then start looking out for deals.

Two websites are GREAT for showing you where the deals are and where the matching coupon can be found:  www.krazycouponlady.com and www.couponmom.com

Another way to make money on a purchase is a little more difficult on the West Coast, where I live.  Other US store chains double coupons and give overage (the difference between the cost of the product and the value of the coupon), but not many in California do that.  One store does give overage, though. . .and that's Walmart.  Here's an example:

  • Walmart has a sale on Bic Pens for .90 per pack
  • You can a coupon for $1 off any Bic Product
  • For each coupon you use, you'll earn .10 overage, which you can then apply, in the same transaction, to other things you buy, like fruit and vegetables, etc.

Nifty, huh?  The amounts of overage can vary greatly from a very small sum (a few cents) through to well over a dollar per item, but no matter how much you earn per item, if you do this kind of deal enough times in one transaction, those amounts can really add up.  Plus, you get a lot of free stuff!

Easy peasy!  And OH so frugal, too!

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