Couponing 101 series

How to read coupons…knowing the fine print


Hi, Y’all!  
Here is the last addition to my Couponing 101 series.  Today’s post is about, “Learning how to read coupons!”

Knowing how to read and understand is the coupon is a very important part of couponing.  Not all coupons are created equal and different coupons have different rules and limitations to them.  If you want to make the checkout process as simple and pain-free as it can be keep reading for tips on how to read and understand coupons.

Know the limits

Different coupons have different limits as to how many products can be purchased to how
many coupons can be used at once, per transaction.  This is an important factor is planning your shopping trips and being able to use your coupons.  Most coupons will say, “Limit (4) like coupons per transaction”.  Meaning, that you are able to use up to (4) of the same coupon, if you are buying (4) of the same items, per transaction.  If you have more than (4) coupons, then you will need to do another transaction in order to use your coupons.  Some coupons may say, “$2.00 off of (3) Pizzas”.  You must buy all three pizzas to get the $2.00 off and you are unable to use another coupon on those pizzas; unless it is a store coupon.

P&G coupons that come out once a month, are sometimes only a limit of (2) like coupons per transaction.  If you have (2) coupons for toothpaste and (2) coupons for shampoo, you can use all four because you only have two like coupons for each product.
I have also seen coupons, a recent Aveeno coupon comes to mind, that was a limit of (1) coupon per person.  I was not able to use two coupons on two Aveeno lotions, as I had exceeded the coupon limit.  That was not a good shopping trip and it was due to me not reading the coupons fine print…another lesson learned the hard way.

Knowing the Expiration Date

Yes, most coupons expire.  So you do need to pay attention to this detail as well.  The length of time before coupons expire varies greatly.  Some only last for two weeks and some last for six months.  Most stores will NOT accept expired coupons (some stores will accept expired store coupons up to a certain time frame, it never hurts to ask).  The expiration date is usually in the top corner of the coupon, right above the fine print of the limitations.  Once they expire, they are no longer worth anything so you have two options: You can either throw them away or find a  military base to send them to.  Military persons that are stationed overseas can use expired coupons up to six months after the expiration date.


Store VS Manufacturer Coupons

There are two major types of coupons: Store coupons and manufacturer coupons.  Store coupons are coupons put out by a specific store and can only be used at that store (some stores will take competitor coupons; check their store policies for more information).  A manufacturer coupon can be used at any store that accepts coupons.
It will say on the coupon, usually in the top left corner, if it is a store or manufacturer coupon.  You can stack the two types of coupons to add to your total savings.  If an item is on sale for $5 and you have a store coupon for $1 off and a manufacturer coupon for $1 off, you will get a total of $2 off and pay $3 out of pocket.  Stacking store and manufacturer coupons play a big role is saving the most money.

Read the Description…Not the Photo

The photos on the coupons can be very deceiving.  They will usually show a picture of the most expensive item that the coupon is valid for, in hopes that you will buy that item.  But when you read the wording, it will tell you exactly what you are able to use the coupon on.  A coupon may have a picture of a 64 oz bottle, but if you read the coupon, it may say, “Valid on ANY size..” therefore you can get a smaller bottle and still get the full amount of the coupon off the product.  This also works the other way too, it could say, “Valid only on 64 oz bottle…”.  So make sure you read and pick up the correct item.

Printable Coupons

There are many sites you can print coupons from:

printable-couponThere are some rules to follow when printing coupons online.
You are only allowed to print (2) coupons per device.  If you need (4) of the same coupon, then you must print from two different sources; ie laptop/desktop, phone, tablet, a family member’s computer, or the library.  You may print them either in
or black & white.  I personally print in B&W to help save on ink.
They can not be photocopied or duplicated, each one needs to be printed from a printer.  Each printed coupon has a unique barcode on it, and companies will know if it is not legit.  We don’t want this, as then store may start to limit or just flat out refuse printed coupons.  Please don’t abuse this privilege.  Most of my coupons are printables.

ExtraCare Bucks aka ECB

 ExtraCare Bucks is CVS’s reward program.  When you buy qualifying items, then you get ECB’s printed on your receipt.  They range from $1.00 to $10.00.  You can use these just like cash on almost anything in the store.  I usually only purchase items that will give me back ECB, unless it is something I really need.  This is how I get my total out of pocket down to almost nothing at CVS.


The biggest part of learning to coupon is understanding how the coupons work and what you can combine together.  If you have any questions please feel free to ask, I’d be happy to help!  Also, if any of the lingo or wording in this post sounds like a foreign language to you, check out my previous post about “The Couponing Lingo“.

Stay tuned for my next couponing 101 post on rebate apps!

Happy Couponing Y’all!


2 thoughts on “How to read coupons…knowing the fine print

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