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How to coupon! The most comprehensive Canadian learn how to coupon articles.

How To Coupon

  • 5 Tips to Avoid Losing Your Coupon Binder

    I’ve heard horror stories one too many times. You’re out shopping, coupon binder in tow, and oops – you forget your binder at the store.

    So what do you do?

    You can run back to the store and hope that it’s still where you left it, or that someone found it and brought it to the customer service desk, but from the many stories I’ve heard, you’ll never see that coupon binder again.

    Lose Your Coupon Binder

    Considering coupons are essentially cash, when you leave behind a binder full of those precious slips of paper, if a bad seed spots your abandoned binder, the odds aren’t good that they’ll want to return it to it’s owner.

    And that’s the sad part.

    You work hard to fill your coupon binder full of coupons for dozens or even hundreds of products for you and your family. It would be a huge setback if you lost that binder. So – protect it!

    5 Tips to Avoid Losing Your Coupon Binder

    1. Put your name and number inside

    The very first page in your coupon binder should be your “if found, please call…” page.

    This page should list your full name and your phone number. So, if someone with a good heart finds your binder, they can contact you right away to let you know.

    2. Place it in a bright bag

    When you’re out shopping, place your coupon binder in a bright (neon is best!) reusable bag. Make sure it’s obnoxiously bright.

    It’s hard to forget something when it’s so bright that you just can’t help but see it when you’re looking in it’s direction. Your coupon binder itself should also be very bright in colour.

    3.Place your coupon binder near your purse

    How often have you forgotten your purse at the store? My guess is never, or maybe just once. Losing your purse, with all of your personal IDs and cards inside, can make your heart stop. It’s scary.

    Since coupons are cash, in my mind, losing my coupon binder would feel the same way. That’s why I always keep my coupon binder and my purse together when I’m shopping.

    Since I’m so terrified of losing my purse, I’m extra careful with it when I shop – and if my coupon binder is right there beside it, there is a greater chance that I will remember it when I leave the store, too.

    4. Have your binder ready to leave the store before checkout

    Remove all of the coupons you need from your coupon binder before you go to the checkout lane.

    If you have to dig through your binder when you’re at the cash, you’re not only wasting time looking for coupons that you should already have ready to go, but you’re also increasing your chance of forgetting your binder on the counter while you’re paying for your purchases.

    Instead of this hassle, pull the coupons from your binder before heading to checkout, then place your binder right back beside your purse, so it’s ready to go when you leave the store.

    5. Know what to do if your coupons are gone

    In a worst case scenario, your coupons can’t be recovered. Either you can’t find the binder, or you do find it, but most of the coupons are gone.

    If either of these things happen, you need to have a backup plan for what to do next. The first thing you should do is, if your binder can’t be found, to leave your name and number with customer service, telling them to call you if the coupon binder miraculously shows up.

    Then, it’s time to get to work building your coupons back up again. First, buy a new binder (if needed), then start collecting coupons. Ask your friends & family if they have any extras (but don’t guilt them into giving you their “good” ones!), print coupons from Mrs January, order coupons from online coupon sites, and visit your local stores, looking for tear pad coupons.

    Finally, make note of what you did wrong, and avoid doing it again. Don’t beat yourself up about it if you lose your coupons, but remember the tips above to help prevent you from losing them again.

    Make sure to share this article with all of your couponing friends – I don’t want anyone to go through the anguish of losing their coupon binder!

    Have you ever lost your coupon binder? What happened?

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  • Couponing Tip: Hold on to Your Coupon Inserts

    There are many advantages to holding on to your coupon inserts, instead of just flipping through them and clipping out the coupons you want.

    Hold on to Coupon Inserts

    Even if a coupon insert has coupons for products you don’t use, I still suggest holding onto them because you never know when a sale will come along that you can pair that coupon with – resulting in a free product. Then, you can donate those items to those in need. For example:

    • Pet food & supplies to animal shelters
    • Baby food, diapers, wipes & supplies to women’s shelters
    • Non-perishable food & beverages to food banks

    What I do with coupon inserts: I clip the coupons I plan to use, then file the rest away in a file box that is separated by release date (I also list the expiration dates on the folders that hold the coupon inserts).

    If I ever need one of those coupons that hasn’t been clipped, I just search for the insert by date, clip my coupon and I’m good to go!

    If I were to simply discard the coupon insert when I was done clipping out the coupons I wanted, I wouldn’t be able to snag freebies and great deals for donation!

    Do you hold on to your coupon inserts or do you throw them out after looking through them?

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  • Where to Find Tear Pad Coupons in Canada

    Have you ever tried to find tear pad coupons at your local grocery or drug store and walked out empty handed?

    If so, you’re not alone. Thankfully, you can still find decent tear pad coupons in Canada.

    Tear Pad Coupons.

    Where to Find Tear Pad Coupons

    Unfortunately, coupon tear pads are hard to find these days (I’m totally blaming Extreme Couponing for that!). When you do find some, they’re likely for products you really have no interest in purchasing. All of the “good” coupons are often completely gone within the first week that they are put out (sometimes they are gone faster than that).

    There are a few reasons why you may not able to find tear pad coupons:

    1. You are looking at the wrong stores (check out the list below for the best stores to find coupon tear pads).
    2. You are not looking for coupons often enough.
    3. Other people are rudely taking way more coupons than they need (either for themselves, to trade or to sell on eBay).

    If you want to find more tear pad coupons, you have to be diligent about how often and where you are looking for them. Since couponing has become so popular lately, everyone and their mother is out looking for coupons. And since tear pads are (or, were) some of the easiest to find, that’s what they look for first.

    It’s very rare that I can walk into a grocery store and find a bunch of tear pad coupons. If I’m lucky, I might find 2 or 3 new ones, but that’s about it. Rewind a few years ago and tear pad coupons were everywhere. It was not uncommon for me to find 10-12 new tear pad coupons at one store.

    How to find tear pad coupons:

    There are two ways that you can find tear pad coupons. You can search for them yourself or you can trade coupons with others who may have been able to find them before you could.

    If you want to try to find coupon tear pads yourself, I recommend searching for them at the following types of stores:

    • Health food stores
    • Stores with higher prices.
    • Specialty stores (Asian and Indian markets, for example)

    Avoid stores that don’t fit with the list above, as they get more foot traffic (which means you won’t have as much luck finding coupons there).

    Following is a list of stores that I would suggest checking for coupon tear pads.

    Grocery Stores:

    • Sobeys
    • Metro
    • Highland Farms
    • Logos
    • Foodland

    Health Food Stores:

    • Whole Foods

    Specialty Stores:

    • Rabba

    Drug Stores:

    • Shoppers Drug Mart
    • Rexall/PharmaPlus

    I recommend looking for tear pad coupons at least once per week, if you can manage that, because you never know when there will be new ones in store (personally I have had the best luck at the beginning of the month).

    Don’t forget about couponing etiquette when you do manage to find tear pad coupons. Only take what you will use, and leave some behind for other shoppers. Please do not take entire tear pads full of coupons!

    Which stores do you often find tear pad coupons?

    photo credit

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  • 5 Ways to Make Coupon Organizing Easier

    Organizing Your Coupons!

    Easy Coupon Organizing

    photo credit: dreambodymom

    Organizing your coupons is one of the biggest challenges for coupon users (especially extreme couponers with large coupon collections), making sure that your coupons are always organized is an important task.

    If your coupons aren’t organized, you won’t be able to find certain coupons when you need them, which can result in lost savings.

    Unfortunately, unless you have a good system, coupon organizing can be a challenge.

    Following are 5 ways to make coupon organizing easier.

    1. Clip & file your coupons right away

    When you get new coupons (mail-out coupons, magazine coupons, printable coupons, tear pad coupons), make sure that you clip (if necessary) and file them right away.

    If you can’t clip and file your coupons immediately, for whatever reason, put them aside in a small basket. File them the next time you have a few minutes to spare.

    Whatever you do, don’t let your coupon pile grow longer than one week. If you wait longer than that to organize your coupons, the process will likely seem daunting.

    2. Don’t clip every single coupon

    If you’re positive that you won’t use a particular coupon, there’s no sense in wasting your time by clipping it.

    I do suggest keeping all coupons (so you can still use them if a great sale comes along, or you can trade those coupons with others), but you don’t have to actually clip them and you don’t have to keep them with your “regular” coupons (the ones you do plan to use).

    3. Use a coupon binder

    Although it may seem kind of crazy at first (it’s not often you see someone shopping with a gigantic binder!), but organizing your coupons in a coupon binder is a fantastic way to keep them organized.

    It does take a bit of time to set up, but coming from someone who’s been using a coupon binder for years now, I promise you that it is time very well spent.

    4. Use a file box for coupon inserts

    Clipping coupons from coupon inserts is one of my least favourite things to do. You usually have to rip out all of the pages to get to the coupons, and the coupons are never all the same size.

    An easy way to organize coupon inserts is to use a file box. Organize this box with by insert name and date, with divider tabs.

    For example:

    • Redplum: October 3, 2012
    • Redplum: November 5, 2012
    • SmartSource: October 15, 2012
    • SmartSource: October 29, 2012

    When we do our weekly coupon match-ups, if you’re matching a sale item to a coupon from a coupon insert, we will tell you which insert had that coupon. Then, you can simply go to your file box and search for the name and date of that insert to get the coupon(s) that you need.

    This is so much easier then clipping all of the coupons in the insert, but not actually using them all.

    5. Remove expired coupons regularly

    To keep your coupons organized all the time, make sure you are always removing expired coupons from your stash. I recommend going through your coupons at least once per month and discarding all coupons that are no longer valid.

    Save yourself the embarrassment of trying to use an expired coupon at the store by always checking for, and getting rid of, expired coupons.

    Once you find a coupon organization system that works for you, stay on top if it. The longer you wait to organize your coupons, the more challenging it will be to find what you want, when you need it.

    To avoid frustration, missing out on great deals and the time consuming task of organizing hundreds of coupons at one time, make sure your system is easy. The more challenging it is for you to organize your coupons, the more likely you are to put off doing it.

    How do you organize your coupons?

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  • Do Coupons Make You Spend More Money?

    Is Couponing Hurting You Financially?

    Coupon Questions

    When I first started using coupons, I had a few coupons and one shelf in my closet where I stored my extra products (I wouldn’t have even called it a stockpile). But after more than a year of serious couponing, I had built a large multi-shelf stockpile with plenty of products.

    Having a stockpile is a great way to save money, but lately I have been wondering: “has using coupons and building my stockpile made me spend more money than I would have spent normally?”

    I was going to be all scientific about it and do the math to see the actual spending difference, but around the time I became more serious about using coupons and stockpiling, I went from a single gal to a couple and their dog.

    Since my partner and I were spending more money with more people in the house and more income coming in, that threw all the math out the window.

    So without being scientific about it, this is how I figured out the ways that I avoided overspending:

    I stuck to my budget

    Whether you use coupons or not, it’s important to stick to your budget when shopping. And using coupons won’t actually save you money if you still spend, spend, spend just because something is a “good deal”.

    Before shopping, I made sure to check the sale flyers, so when using my coupons I knew I was getting the best price possible and only stocking up as much as my budget allowed.

    I only bought things I needed

    My stockpile is full of items that we use on a regular basis; toilet paper, paper towels, dishwasher tabs, lotion and juice, just to name a few. Some things you won’t find in my stockpile: cat food, coffee, diapers and baby wipes.

    You won’t find these items in my stockpile because these are items that we do not use. We will not spend money on these items just because we have coupons for them. I would much rather trade coupons or give coupons to others who will actually use those products.

    The exception to only buying what we will use is when I buy items for my donation bin. If I can get a great deal on items that I know the shelter or food bank is in need of, I will pick some up. Of course, still making sure I am staying within my budget.

    Stockpile Groceries in Canada

    I didn’t buy crazy amounts of items

    One thing I have learned is that just because you have 10 coupons doesn’t mean you need to buy 10 of that item. In addition to staying within my budget, I also make sure not to buy more of a product than I need.

    I will admit though, that in the past, I have gone a little crazy on a good deal and bought more than I really needed to have on hand. It was a mistake, and I don’t recommend you do this.

    So do I think that using coupons has made me spend more money? Nope! Have I made some mistakes? Yes. I’ve gone over my budget for the week a couple of times and I definitely bought way too many boxes of tissues on one of my shopping trips.

    Many new couponers make these same mistakes, but it’s okay. We learn from our mistakes and we move on. As long as you are sticking to your budget and not buying items just to use up coupons, you will be saving money and you will have a great stockpile for your family.

    Do you think coupons make YOU spend more money?

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  • How to Read a Coupon

    Reading Coupons.

    Read a Coupon

    For such a little piece of paper, there is a lot of information to be found on a coupon. I consider coupons to be pretty important, and like any important document, you need to read the fine print.

    So if you never have read the fine print, or you have but are still confused and unsure of what some of the information means, keep reading…

    Coupon for Any Product
    Here we have the dollar value of the coupon and the product that it is valid on. The wording says “when you buy ANY Gain Fireworks product”, meaning it is valid on any size and scent variety. Don’t worry about what the picture shows, the wording is what matters.

    Coupon Size Restrictions
    Other coupons will specify the size or flavor/scent.

    Coupon Restrictions
    Right next to the product specifications, you will find any other restrictions of the coupon such as “not valid on trial size”.

    Coupon Expiration Date
    On either the top or the bottom of the coupon you will see the expiration date and the words “manufacturer coupon” (some coupons do not say manufacturer coupon – in this case, you may want to check with the manufacturer themselves to make sure that the coupon was created by them and that it’s valid).

    There is a lot of information here, which is separated for the Dealer and the Consumer/Customer.

    Coupons Dealer and Consumer
    The Dealer is the store. The information for them is this:

    • They will be reimbursed for the value of the coupon, plus a handling fee.
    • They may be refused reimbursement by the company if fraud is suspected.
    • Coupons submitted 3 to 12 months (depending on the coupon) after the expiration date will not be accepted.
    • The mailing address to send the coupon for redemption.

    The Consumer is you, and the fine print has a lot of important information that you need to be aware of.

    Coupon Limits
    “Limit one coupon per purchase” means that you can only use one coupon per item purchased. This means if you have 4 coupons you can buy 4 items.

    This is different than “one coupon per customer“. Even if you have 4 coupons, retailers will only let you use one. If you’re shopping with three other people, then you can use all 4 coupons since you are 4 customers.

    Coupon Usage Restrictions
    “Use of more than one manufacturer coupon per product is strictly prohibited” means that this coupon is not stackable (some stores allow coupon stacking in Canada). The restrictions of the coupon override store policy so even if a store does allow coupon stacking, coupons with this phrase cannot be stacked.

    Sales Tax on Coupons
    This next bit of information is pretty standard and will appear in some form on most coupons:

    • You cannot use a coupon if you are purchasing items for resale.
    • The coupon is void if it is altered or reproduced from the original.
    • You may have to pay sales tax on the item.

    When it comes to sales tax, if you are purchasing an item that costs $3.99 and you have a $2 coupon, you will be taxed on the full $3.99 and then have the $2 deducted from the grand total.

    Chapmans Coupon Taxes
    When you have a coupon like the $4/$5 Chapmans or $1 Colgate-Palmolive call in (you can get these coupons from the company) that will often get you a free product when used during a great sale, you still have to pay the taxes, because it is not a “FREE” coupon (Free Product Coupon or FPC).

    Taxes on Free Product Coupon
    When you have a Free Product Coupon, it is stated on the coupon that sales tax, if applicable, is included in the face value of the coupon. It is “applicable” depending on the province that you live in and their specific sales tax – meaning that you may or may not have to pay sales tax on free items.

    Coupon Restriction No Cash Back
    “No cash or credit in excess of shelf price may be returned to the consumer or applied to transaction.” – This means that if the coupon is valued at $1 and the item only costs $0.50, the retailer is not supposed to give you the $0.50 overage. This only recently started appearing on P&G coupons and so far is the only manufacturer that has this restriction.

    And there you have it, all the coupon fine print decoded. Now, all coupons vary slightly, but most of the information is pretty standard. And remember, if part of the information is missing, it may be a fake coupon.

    Are coupons too confusing with all the fine print or are you a pro at reading them?

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  • All About B1G1 Free Coupons – The Rules

    One question that we are always asked, is how to use B1G1/BOGO coupons. Sales, store coupons, cents/dollar off coupons… how does it all work? What is the right way to shop with these types of coupons and sales?

    B1G1 Free Coupon Rules

    Buy 1, Get 1 Free Coupon

    This is the easy one – how to use a B1G1 coupon. When a coupon states “buy 1, get 1 free”, it means exactly that. You can use the one coupon to buy 1 item and get another item for free.

    Dawn Dish Soap @ $2 x 2 = $4
    - B1G1 Free Coupon
    Final Price: $2 for 2 bottles ($1 each)

    2 Buy 1, Get 1 Free Coupons for 2 Items

    This would be considered stacking, and since most stores and manufacturers do not allow coupon stacking, this is not okay to do. Each B1G1 Free coupon attaches itself to 2 products. If you want to use, for example, 2 B1G1 Free coupons, you need to buy 4 items.

    Dawn Dish Soap @ $2 x 2 = $4
    - B1G1 Free Coupon
    - NO Other Coupon Allowed
    Final Price: $2 for 2 bottles ($1 each)

    Buy 1, Get 1 Free Coupon + Buy 1, Get 1 Free Store Coupon

    Some stores, including Rexall and Target, offer store coupons to their customers. These coupons are not offered by the manufacturer, but by the stores themselves. So at both of these stores, you can use both 1 manufacturer coupon and 1 store coupon per item.

    Dawn Dish Soap @ $2 x 2 = $4
    - B1G1 Free Store Coupon
    - B1G1 Free Coupon
    Final Price: 2 bottles for free

    Buy 1, Get 1 Free Coupon + Cents/Dollar Off Store Coupon

    This is similar to the example above, except we are using cents/dollar off coupons instead of a B1G1 Free coupon. Since both Target and Rexall allow 1 manufacturer coupon and 1 store coupon for 1 item, this transaction would be okay.

    Dawn Dish Soap @ $2 x 2 = $4
    - B1G1 Free Coupon
    - $0.50 Store Coupon
    Final Price: $1.50 for 2 bottles ($0.75 each)

    Buy 1, Get 1 Free Coupon + Buy 1 Get 1 Free Sale

    This one is really confusing to some people (especially store workers), and it’s easy to understand why. The good news is that you can combine a B1G1 coupon with a B1G1 store promotion to get 2 items for free, unless the store policy expressly prohibits it.

    Dawn Dish Soap @ $2 x 2 = $4
    - B1G1 Free Coupon
    - B1G1 Free Sale
    Final Price: 2 bottles for free

    Buy 1 Get 1 Free Sale + 2 Cents/Dollar off Coupons

    This is another tricky one. A store is offering a B1G1 Free sale – can you use 2 coupons on the 2 items you are buying, even though 1 of them is free? The answer is yes, unless the store policy expressly prohibits this practice. Since the store will be reimbursed for the coupons they accept, most will allow you to do this.

    Dawn Dish Soap @ $2 x 2 = $4
    - B1G1 Free Sale
    - 2x $0.50 Coupons
    Final Price: $1 for 2 bottles ($0.50 each)

    Buy 1, Get 1 Free Coupon + Cents/Dollar off Coupon

    This is the one that is misused most often. Can you buy 2 items and use a B1G1 Free coupon plus a cents/dollar off coupon? The answer, I’m sorry to say, is no. Like I mentioned earlier, a B1G1 Free coupon attaches itself to 2 products, so if you also want to use a cents/dollar off coupon, you will need to buy another product.

    Dawn Dish Soap @ $2 x 2 = $4
    - B1G1 Free Coupon
    - NO Other Coupon Allowed
    Final Price: $2 for 2 bottles ($1 each)

    I hope this helps with all of the B1G1/BOGO confusion! The best thing you can do when trying to get the most bang for your buck with coupons, is to abide by all of the rules set by both the stores and the manufacturers.

    When it doubt, call your local store to find out what their policy is. You can also check out our Canadian Coupon Policies page. Happy couponing!

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