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Extreme Couponing 102 - Getting Extreme

In this section we will cover the next level of Extreme Couponing,  Now that we have covered the basics, time to get into the more detailed aspects of Extreme Couponing.  :)  Topics covered here will be:

Section 7 - Double Coupons Explained
Section 8 - Basic Math Skills for Couponing
Section 9 - BOGO Coupons Explained
Section 10 - Is Buying Bigger Always Better?  The Bulk Myth
Section 11 - Understanding Store Pricing Methods
Section 12 -Rainchecks

All these write ups are courtesy of the wonderful people over at  

Section 7 - Double Coupons Explained

The Basics 
Did you know that if you have a $.50 or $1 coupon in many stores it will double? That’s right, that little pathetic $.50 coupon becomes a powerful dollar, that $1 coupon becomes $2, and often times if you buy the item at the right time, that coupon can make the item free or darn near close. Let’s talk about doubling. In principal this seems like a very simple concept, but in practice it can be very confusing. In my personal experience, coupons that have a face value of more than $1 never double. This means that if you have a coupon with the face value of $1.25 or $1.50, it will always stay that amount. If you have a $2 coupon it will always stay $2 and so on. Many grocery stores across the country do what’s called a true double. Any coupon that has a face value of $.50 or below is doubled. So if you have a $.20 coupon, it becomes $.40 at the register. If you have a $.50 coupon it becomes $1 at the register and so on. So what about a $.55 coupon? What happens to it? Well that’s the tricky part of doubling. Coupons with a face value between $.51 - $1 are subject to your local stores policy. Many stores will do an incomplete double, that is to say, if you have a $.55 coupon, they will give you $.45 thus “doubling” it to a dollar. This varies wildly. I have stores that honor the face value of a $.75 and stores that will give me a bonus of $.25.
(My Note: We are very lucky here in New England that a few of our stores will "true" double up to, and including $1 coupons.  Be sure to check at your local store for their specific policy)

Do Why do Stores Double Coupon?

One word, incentive. When stores double a coupon, that specific stores eats that double. But that store also knows that when your in the store, you will likely buy eggs, milk and other essentials along with that item on which you used your coupon. Stores also want to build brand loyalty, so the more you are in that store the more you feel attached to the brand. Have you ever found yourself at a different Wal-Mart then the one you usually shop at, and you are unable to find the things you need? Doubling is about that incentive to get you into the store so you become a loyal customer.

So Which Stores Double?

This also varies from store to store, region to region. In my experience one thing remains constant, drug stores never double a coupon, neither does Wal-Mart or Target. Usually the stores that double are grocery stores.

Finally, How Many Coupons are Doubled in a Single Transaction?

This again varies wildly from store to store. Lets say I have ten $.50 Tide coupons. I want to buy 10 tides because they are on sale. If I go to my local Price Chopper, their policy states that they will double the first 4 coupons that are identical. I have many other coupons in that transaction that will double, but only the first 4 of the tide coupons will double. That means that 6 of the tide coupons won’t double, and I’d be wise to separate the transaction in order to maximize my savings. At other stores, they only double the first two coupons, so in order to maximize my savings; I’d have to split up the tide coupons into 5 different transactions. I could use other coupons that are different, and they would double fine, but only the first two identical tide coupons would double. Some stores have unlimited doubles! My best advice, test each store, find out what their double limit is, if they double and what face values double. Ask the customer service representative, although in my experience they often have no idea, it never hurts to ask!!

(thank you MrCoupon at!)

Section 8 - Basic Math Skills for Couponing want to learn couponing?
Well like everything else in life, you cannot just jump right in and expect to have an understanding of what you are doing. Feel free to ask questions if you do not have an understanding of any concepts we may talk about.

So here is the Coupon Math Virtual Class!

To do couponing and to do it well you need to have a basic understanding of math.

This mini lesson is going to take you through coupon usage for a sample item.

Scenario #1

1. The store you are shopping in does NOT double coupons of any value
2. You want to purchase 2 bags of lettuce at $1 per bag
3. You have 4 coupon to use

  • .55/1 Any Bag Dole Lettuce
  • .55/1 Dole Lettuce
  • $1/2 Dole Lettuce
  • .75/2 Dole Lettuce

4. Which coupon(s) do you use for scenario #1
5. What is your out of pocket costs for 2 bags of lettuce using the coupons you have selected?

Scenario #2

1. The store you are shopping in doubles coupons up to $1 Limit 2 like coupons
2. You want to purchase 4 Pillsbury Refrigerated cookies at $2.50 each
3. You have the following coupons to use:

  • .75/2
  • .50/1
  • .60/1
  • $1/2
  • $2/3
  • .60/1
  • .60/1
  • $1/1
4. Which coupon(s) do you use to get the best deal?
5. What is going to be your out of pocket cost for the cookies using the coupons you have chosen?

Doing the math above is very valuable, especially when you need to follow not only the rules of the store, but the rules of the coupon.

(thank you Moonflower at!)

Section 9 - BOGO Coupons Explained

So let's take a moment and forget about coupons (yes, you heard me!)

If a store has an item on sale B1G1F, who is eating the cost of the free item?


Your receipt may ring up something like this:

Halls Cough Drops $2.50
Halls Cough Drops $0.00

Now let's forget the store is having these on sale for B1G1F, and you have a B1G1F coupon. If you use that coupon who is eating the cost of the Free item?

THE Manufacturer of the Coupon

Now, let's take the best of both worlds. The store is having Halls on sale B1G1F and you have a manufacturer coupon for B1G1F

If you want to use your coupon how many do you have to buy?

Here is the logic:

The store is eating the cost of the first FREE item to get you in the door. The manufacturer is eating the cost of the 2nd item via a coupon. You get both for free, but tax if appropriate.

Now here comes the fun part. In most stores you may use the same number of coupons for each set(s) of items you buy. (by sets I mean you may have 1 coupon of more than 1 item).

So in the above scenario of buying 2 bags of Halls, you may use 2 coupons, even though one of the items is free.

So your receipt would be something like this:

Halls Cough Drops $2.50
Halls Cough Drops $0.00 Free sale from store
B1G1F coupon -$2.50 B1g1F coupon
-$1.00 $1/1 Coupon any Halls product

You are now owed $1

Now they are not going to give you $1 back, so purchase something to eat the cost of that $1. Some stores may not allow you to put that additional coupon on, but most will.

If not, during a b1g1f sale and a b1g1f coupon, you will still get both for free, but not make the extra.

(thank you Moonflower at!)

Section 10 - Is Buying Bigger Always Better?  The Bulk Myth

Why the value size isn't really a value
This lesson will discuss the "myth" of buying in large sizes vs buying smaller sizes. While it is true in some cases it is a better deal to buy the larger size, this is only true if you are not using coupons.

You have a recipe that requires 16oz of Sour Cream
16oz of Sour Cream cost $1.99
8oz of Sour Cream cost $1.09

You do not have any coupons for this item.
For this example it is better to buy 1 of the larger size of Sour Cream.

Example #2
You have a recipe that requires 16oz of Sour Cream
16oz of Sour Cream cost $1.99
8oz of Sour Cream cost $1.09

You have 2 Coupons good for .50 off 1 any size Daisy Sour Cream. Your store does NOT double coupons.

In this example it is better to buy 2 of the smaller size sour cream.
Here is the math:

2 80z Sour Cream @ $1.09 = $2.18
Subtract out 2 coupons @.50 each = $1.18 for 16oz of Sour Cream

If you were to buy the larger size - you would pay $1.49 for 16oz.

In this example buy 2 of the smaller sizes.


Need to purchase a Family Size Bottle of Shampoo around 16oz.

1. You can buy a twin pack of this shampoo at Sams for $3.99 (32oz in total)

2. The same Shampoo at Kroger is $2.49 for 1 bottle (16oz)

3. Kroger also has trial size bottle of the same shampoo (4oz) for .99

You have coupons for .50/1 any size shampoo. Kroger doubles the first 4 like coupons. The rest are at face value.

What is the cost breakdown for #1 #2 #3?
Which scenerio is the best deal?

Hint - Sam's does not take coupons.

(thank you Moonflower at!)

Section 11 - Understanding Store Pricing Models

When you start couponing one of the first things you will realize if you haven’t already is that at Wal-Mart prices are generally constant. They rarely have sales and they occasionally have a ‘price drop’ but for the most part their prices remain the same. Stores like Kroger, Meijer, CVS and others have sales!
So why is this important? Well if I told you that I haven’t set foot in Wal-Mart in over 3 months would you wonder why? Their ‘everyday low price’ isn’t all that low. Stores like Kroger and CVS want you to come into their stores, so they have sales. They will lure inside with great deals, and often those deals can be paired with a coupon making those items extremely cheap or free!!!

Let’s talk about something called ‘High-Low Pricing’. The high price of an item is essentially the shelf price. If I walk into Kroger and buy an item off the shelf not on sale, I’m a retailers dream. Kroger’s shelf prices are generally higher than Wal-marts. This is common knowledge, and is one big reason Wal-mart is perceived to be the cheapest. 

BUT let’s say I’m paying attention. 

I see in Kroger’s ad that they are having a sale. I know from shopping at Wal-mart, that the sale price of that particular item is less than Wal-marts price. I’m doing well. I’m finding something cheaper at Kroger and I’m saving money!!! But wait, its gets even better. Kroger doubles coupons, Wal-Mart does not. (We will talk about this in another lesson) When I check out, I can get an item on sale at Kroger, cheaper than I can get it at Wal-Mart, AND because I have a coupon and it DOUBLES, I’m getting this item for almost nothing!!! Let’s take a look at a couple of examples.

Let’s take Cheerios  
Wal-mart’s Everyday Low Price: $2.50  
Kroger’s Shelf Price: $3.29
Walmart is Cheaper by $.79

Now let’s say Kroger has a Sale on Cheerios:  
Wal-mart’s Everyday Low Price: $2.50  
Kroger’s Sale Price: $2.25
Kroger is Cheaper by $.25

So let’s also add in a coupon and see what happens. Let’s repeat the example and say you have a coupon for $.50 off one box of cheerios.  
Wal-mart’s Everyday Low Price: $2.50 (Minus $.50 Coupon Savings) Final Price is: $2.00  
Kroger’s Shelf Price: $3.29 (Minus $.50 Coupon Savings) (Minus $.50 BONUS DOUBLE Coupon Savings) Final Price is: $2.29
Walmart is still Cheaper by $.29 but its close!

Let’s see what happens when you have a cheerios sale at Kroger. You still have your coupon for $.50 off one box of cheerios:  
Wal-mart’s Everyday Low Price: $2.50 (Minus $.50 Coupon Savings) Final Price is: $2.00  
Kroger’s SALE Price: $2.25 (Minus $.50 Coupon Savings) (Minus $.50 BONUS DOUBLE Coupon Savings) Final Price is: $1.25
Kroger is still Cheaper by $.75

Even without the coupon, Kroger still beat Wal-marts price. But you can now see that combined with the power of doubling, Kroger temporary lower price, along with the coupon savings beats Wal-Mart’s everyday price substantially. If you had never used a coupon and had been paying the $3.29, your savings, when using a coupon and buying the item on sale, is roughly 62%!!! Imagine that savings across the board. Pricing methods are important to your overall strategy of saving money. If you’re a keen and aware shopper, you will be able to take advantage of sales. By using coupons on the store’s low price, you can get many items for free or extremely cheap!

LESSON: Where should I shop, and is Wal-Mart always more expensive?? How do you take advantage of the stores pricing methods?? When there is a sale, is it always a sale? Can CVS be cheaper than Wal-mart and why?
(thank you MrCoupon at!) 

Section 12 -Rainchecks

How many times have you gone to the store only to realize that the hot item that you spotted in the ad or read about on WeUseCoupons was out of stock?! It’s so frustrating and happens all too often these days as more and more people are searching for a bargain. 

What is a rain check? A rain check is a certificate that will allow you to purchase the item advertised at a later date for the sale price! In other words, it extends the sale for that particular item until the store restocks and you can purchase the item. 

Obtaining a Rain Check Generally rain checks are obtained at the customer service desk. Bring the ad to the desk with you and ask for a raincheck there. Different stores issue rain checks differently. Some put them on receipt paper while others hand write them on store cards. Often times if you ask the representative at the desk for a rain check, they will call to the back of the store to check and see if they have any more of the product in stock. Also, double check your rain checks once they are issued. Even the most experienced store employees will get confused from time to time. A good habit to get into is to cut out and staple the advertised price from the ad to the rain check so there are no questions later.

Ask for a substitution If a store is out of stock of an advertised item, you would be surprised to learn that often if you ask, they will give you the advertised price on a different superior item! This happened last week when my local grocery store had Lysol Wipes on sale for $1.50. I had coupons for $1 off two Lysol wipes which would have made them $1 each if I had purchased two of them. They were out of stock, so I asked a manager if he would substitute Clorox wipes instead. He said, "Absolutely." This deal became even better because I had coupons for $1 off one Clorox wipe which made them only $.50 each!! By simply asking for a substitution and being prepared with my coupons, I was able to save even more money. 

So why would you bother with a rain check? After you really get into couponing you will start to notice that coupons are cyclical. Soup coupons come out in winter while hot dog coupons come out in summer. By extending the sale price of an item, you can wait for a coupon to come out! When a good coupon comes out, you can then redeem the coupon with the rain check and get the item for extremely cheap or even free!

Redeeming Rain Checks Be prepared to wait. Each item price will need to be adjusted manually. If you have 10 items then it will take a little extra time at checkout. Also, pay attention! It’s very easy for a cashier who has worked 6 hours to miss a couple of items. Check your receipts! Also, make sure you know your store's rain check policy. I have had a manager tell me I wasn’t allowed to use a rain check and a coupon! After talking to him and being pleasant, I was able to convince him that indeed he wasn’t even aware of his own coupon policy. This unfortunately is all too common. I carry a copy of all my store's policies just in case I have trouble at checkout. 

Hoping the Store is Out-of-Stock! People look at me strange when I say I’m going to the store and I hope they don’t have any Tide! I most likely already purchased Tide with the coupons I had, but want more! It’s part of the overall strategy. If the store is out of Tide, I can get a rain check at the sale price. The sale price will last until the rain check expires, which usually is 30 days from the issue date. (Some store’s rain checks don’t expire but most do.) By stocking up on rain checks I am extending the sale price on Tide, and then can wait until coupons come out to get it even cheaper. If a coupon comes out I can go to eBay or a clipping service and get 30 or 40 coupons, then go to the store and purchase Tide for an extreme discount. Another good way to get rain checks is to visit the store when they are most likely to be out of stock, which is on the last day of the sale. This will increase your chances of the store being out of stock.

What if my Store doesn’t Offer Rain Checks? If you have a store that refuses to offer rain checks and is constantly out of stock, (without stating that quantities are limited) you have the ability to contact consumer protection agencies. For the most part, stores practice good and honest advertising, but there are always some bad apples. If you feel the store is purposeful misleading customers with sales and are constantly out of stock, contact:

Correspondence Branch
Federal Trade Commission
Washington, DC 20580

When contacting this agency, you will need to provide the following information for each incident:
The store name, address and phone number
A copy of the store ad
The date the item was sold out
The store employee (preferably a manager) who refused a rain check
Any other commutation that took place between you and the retailer

Rain checks can be an amazing way to save lots of money when couponing and an important tool when stockpiling! Learning to use them the right way will in the end be well worth your time!
(thank you MrCoupon at!)