There's nothing like a deadline to make us feel pressured, and that includes the expiration date on a coupon. Don't let a soon-to-expire coupon force you into making a purchase you wouldn't otherwise make.
So how do you know when to use a coupon? Here are five simple rules to guide you.
1. On sale: Use a coupon when the item is already on sale for a low price. Combine a mail-in rebate with a flier coupon or third offer. You can whack the price of a brand product below that of a generic by combining sales prices with coupons.
2. Coupon expiration: While you may be tempted to use a coupon that's about to expire, keep in mind another similar coupon will likely be available soon. Unless it's a free coupon or one that ensures a great deal, don't use it. Decade ago, coupons often were good for six months or more. The same coupon today will likely expire in six weeks or less. That's because stores want you to purchase their product NOW. Don't fall into that trap.
3. Bottomed-out prices: Wait until the sale price is at its lowest possible price to maximize coupon usage. If you shop often enough, you know the prices of your favorite foods and can spot a good deal. If you avoid brand loyalty, you can usually find bottomed-out deals on frequently purchased products.
4. Double up: How do double coupons work? Some grocery stores or manufacturers will double the face value of regular coupons for a limited time, on a particular day of the week, or during a special sale. Stick to stores that allow you to double up and make those grocery coupons go even further. About.com has assembled a detailed listing by state of stores that accept double coupons.
5. Stacking: Stacking refers to combining a manufacturer's coupon with a store coupon, giving you a deeper discount on an item. You can identify manufacturer and store coupons by examining the top of the coupon. Various supermarkets, drug stores, department stores and outlet mall merchants allow stacking so check before you go. Remember to check the disclaimers in sale advertisements and on coupons. Many times stores will not compound discounts.
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