Monday, January 19, 2009

Coupon Sources

Everytime I am in the stores, the cashiers or the customers behind me in line, are asking where I get my coupons.

There are 3 types of coupons.
1) Manufacturer coupons from the inserts in the paper
2) Store coupons (read Good at Target only, etc)
4) Manufacturer coupons from the internet

Most people get their coupons from the Sunday papers (or the Early Edition on Saturday) and think that is the only place to get coupons. The truth of it is, coupons are big business. When looking for coupons, there are a few options.

What?? I can BUY coupons?
For sure!!! Go to Ebay right now and type in the name of a product, followed but "coupons". Most sellers on Ebay sell in lots of 10 or 20 like coupons. You are paying for their time to collect the coupons, not the coupons themselves.

Right, but is it worth it?
It can be. Just run the numbers. For example, we have a cat. Our cat needs food. The food he eats is $4.00 a bag at WalMart, $4.49 at Target. Recently, there were $3/1 (read as $3 off 1 bag) coupons in the Sunday inserts. I did a quick search and found a seller that was selling lots of 20 for $2 plus $1 shipping. I paid a total of $3 to save $60 on an item that I need to buy anyways. To me, that is worth it. I will buy it and toss it in a tote to use as needed.

What they are:

There are a number of coupon clipping sites out there. Depending on the site, you can buy whole, complete inserts, just like you see in the paper on Sunday, or you can order individual coupons.

When to use a clipper:
I use clippers when I am looking for a coupon that I don't want 10 or 20 of. Sometimes, I just don't need that many of an item. It is rare though!!!
I also use clippers when I am looking for a bunch of complete inserts. Some weeks the whole insert has great coupons in it for items I use. I then use a clipper for inserts.

Internet Coupons:
Not all stores accept IP's (internet printed) coupons. They are generally "bricks" coupons, which means that each IP address can only print 2 coupons. It is a way of limiting the coupons. However, it also means that they are usually higher value than just the insert coupons.

How do I decide if I should use a clipping service or Ebay?
I generally start with Ebay. But, I like to buy in bulk numbers, so that is why it works for me. Plus, if there are 4 or 5 different coupons that I am looking for, I can look for a seller that is in a neighboring state and order everything from them. Most sellers offer a shipping discount if you order multiple items from them. Plus, the closer the better. Sales are typically only a week long, so time is important.

Prices on Ebay and the clippers are generally very similiar on the "hot" coupons. The higher value the coupon, the more it will cost to buy one.

I do use the clippers if I see a sale on an item at a store that takes expired coupons. It is very hard to find expireds on Ebay, but there are some clippers that keep them instock. Cub Foods currently takes expireds, so if they are running a killer sale, my business goes to the clippers.

What happens to a coupon once it is redeemed?:
Once that coupon is redeemed, it goes to the back cash office and is then sent onto the clearing house. The coupons are tallied and the stores are reimbursed by the manufacturers for the coupons that they turn in. For every coupon that a store redeems, they are reimbursed the face value PLUS .08. So, if they turn in a $2 coupon, they actually get paid $2.08 from the manufacturer. It doesn't seem like a big profit, until you start running the numbers.

Lets say, just for kicks, that a store takes in 1000 coupons a week.
x .08

x 52 (number of weeks per yr)

Still not impressed? Then let's look at the number and apply it to a Big Box chain that has approx 1600 stores nationwide.

1600 x $4160 = $6,656,000 in pure profit for just taking coupons. Now is it worth it? It most definantly is!!!

Sources: (My favorites)

The Coupon Clippers (sells individually clipped coupons):

The Coupon Masters:

Coupons by Dede (sells clipped coupons, complete inserts, and expireds):

IP Coupons:

Some tidbits:
3 out of 4 Americans use coupons.
$300B (yes billion) worth of coupons are printed by mfg'rs each year.
1% of those coupons are redeemed

Okkie dokkie. That is a good lesson for tonight.
Questions? Please ask!!!

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