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Think you’re saving money with coupons? You could be saving even more! Here are little-known, but super easy tips to squeeze as much cash as possible out of your clippings.
We already know it’s possible to save money on groceries, take-out, and even Amazon purchases. Add these hacks and you’ll have even more extra cash for things you really need (like that ultra-comfy mattress topper you’ve been eyeing).
1. Ignore expiration dates
If you forgot to use your coupon before it expired, don’t toss it! “Manufacturers add a grace period to many of their coupons so they’re still viable after the printed expiration date,” says coupon expert Kyle James of Rather-Be-Shopping.com.
They may add an extra day, week, month or more.
Just ask the cashier to scan the coupon’s barcode, which usually contains the information. Have an expired store coupon? Bring it in anyway, says James. “Many stores, like Bed Bath & Beyond, will accept them as a show of good faith to shoppers.”
2. Use these anywhere
Have a manufacturer coupon that says “redeemable at” or “available at,” a specific store, such as Target? Or is there a logo of a store on the coupon? Great news: As long as the coupon does not specifically state “redeemable only at…”, you can use it at the store of your choice, insists James. The reason manufacturers include a store’s name or logo on a coupon is to make their product seem more appealing.
“They want you to think, Oh, wow, it’s available at Target, it must be popular. I need to check it out.” But they’ll be just as happy wherever you use it.
3. Seek out store policies
Assume there are restrictions for certain types of coupon usage because the savings would be too good? Surprise! Some retailers (like Family Dollar and Target) let you use coupons on things like clearance items, so you snag merchandise for free or close to it. Other stores (like Dollar General and Walmart) provide “overages”-when your coupon value exceeds the product’s price and they apply the remainder to your total bill. You can ensure maximum savings by checking out a store’s policy at their website or asking the manager for a copy.
4. Read the fine print
If you’re trying to match the image on a coupon to a specific product, you could be missing out on big savings. “Never assume the picture featured is the only product the coupon is good for,” urges James.
Lots of coupons apply to a range of products in a particular line. For example, detergent may come in powder and pod form, but the coupon will typically feature the most expensive product in the line.
Read the fine print, says James. If the coupon can be used on any detergent in the line, you can decide which one to apply it to for the most savings.”
This story originally appeared in our print magazine.