Saturday, July 24, 2010

How to Get High Value Coupons and Discounts-Part I

When I share with people about available discounts and high value coupons in a post, or mention a shopping trip, the first comment is generally, "Where do you get these deals?  I never get coupons like that!".

The short answer is,  I ask for them. I take the few minutes to register as a preferred customer at the website of every single store I shop at or that I know carries items my family will like. This takes a few minutes and sometimes requires my filling out a small survey. It also means that I get small amounts of unwanted mail on occasion.

To me though, the upside of this well worth the small hassle and minimal time involved. Just a few of the things that I have received in July include: Two $10 off $10.00 coupons from JCPenny in the mail, a $15.00 off $25.00 coupon for Yankee Candle, a coupon for a free body lotion at Victoria's secret,  a coupon for a free twelve pack of coke, for a free suave shampoo, and fifteen dollars in rewards from the tall men's shop.

Lest anyone think otherwise, I do not use these coupons just to use them. Some expire, and some never get used. Most of the time though, I am able to combine these coupons with clearance deals to get something for free or close to free for a gift. In the JCPenny case, ladies shawls were marked down to $11.00 from $20. On two different occasions I went to the store (as part of my routine), and got a shawl for $1.00 plus tax. Although both of these would have made lovely gifts, my church has "Texas air conditioning", meaning I use either the brown or the black almost every week. In the case of the Yankee Candle, they have an end of season sale, as well as 25 percent off selected jars. My daughter loves Yankee Candles and they are on her gift list yearly. I will combine the coupon and sale and put the candles in Ziploc bags to retain the scent. In the Victoria's Secret case, I will do the same. When I get a free pantie from Vickies Secret I put it away-I generally get a few a year and wrap them in a ribbon as a stocking gift. Even though they were free, I combined the free coke coupon with a BIGIF sale, and am holding off for a sale on the Suave. I keep track of dates, and if I have not gotten a sale by the expiration date, will buy just the one.

Let me say that I do not get huge amounts of spam and that from what I can see these companies are not forwarding my stuff to other sites. I do get emails regarding sales, specials and special invitations (I am not a credit card customer, just a registered member). I make reading my emails part of my routine and can generally tell at a glance if I want to keep it. I have a coupon folder in my email. Some people use a separate email, for freebies and this kind of thing. I have considered this, but I find that since I use Outlook, reading and sending to folders or trashing takes no more time than reading my freebie sites or answering email.

If you want to start slowly and see how it goes, get a special email address and sign up at a few regular stores. Wait a month or so and watch the deals come in, and I'm sure you'll be ready for more. Especially in the current economy, stores need us more than we need them, and they will use any marketing tool that they can to bring in customers. Obviously, when they send me a $10 of $10 coupon, they hope that in addition to that shawl I'll find ten other things that I need. Many people would, perhaps even yourself. But if you can limit yourself to using your deals in combination with sale items and limiting your purchases, you can have lots of good stuff for pennies. Start now to fill that gift closet with ease!!

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