Friday, May 6, 2011

Decoding Coupons Part 1

I'm sure any diligent scrapper knows all about the coupons offered by their local Michael's or Joann's (or Hobby Lobby, or...) craft stores.  They're usually in the Sunday paper  each week, or they're emailed to you if you sign up for their mailing lists.  One of the things I usually notice first is that the store has a blanket sale on "ALL scrapbook items" and usually includes some language like "up to 40% off."  My first reaction is GRRR!  How can I use my 40% off coupon that isn't good on sale prices, when everything I want is on sale?  Then I think, hmmm it's already 40 % off anyway...cool.  Let's go buy some goodies!!

STOP RIGHT THERE! 

Put your wallets away...do it...now!  Let's break down some of the sale language we're used to hearing, and really SEE for ourselves where the good deals are, and when to buy in order to get the most bang for your buck.  When an advertisement says, "up to 40% off all scrapbooking supplies," you need to look at those first two words.  UP TO, means that probably a few of the items or categories might be 40% off.  The rest of it is probably only 25% or 30% off...or less.  Since most craft stores are famous for marking their merchandise WAY up, (come on, $90 for a Cricut cartridge?) then putting it "on sale" every week, you're really paying closer to what the manufacturer intended when you pay the sale price.   So, let's not fall into that pit!
When I started couponing at grocery stores for our food, the first thing I learned was that a coupon alone doesn't really save me any money on an item that is already overpriced to begin with.  The best way to shop with coupons, is to use the coupon once a product goes on sale.  Craft stores are starting to get a little more liberal about publishing coupons that may offer 10% - 30% off your total purchase (including sale items.)  Those are the ones to watch for!  And if the items you want or need are already on sale AND you have a % off your total sale coupon too, that may be a good time to stock up!  Last month, I found a sale on 50 sheet packages of 8 1/2 x 11 cardstock.  In my area, they're normally priced at $3.99.  They were on sale that week for $1.99 or 50% off.  Not a bad sale!  But I just so happened to score a coupon in my email for 25% off my total purchase, good on one particular day.  I went that day, bought 5 packages of cardstock and got the 25% off the SALE price, so I scored the cardstock for $1.49 a package!  Woohoo!  Now, for me, that's a "stock up" price!  To make my deal even sweeter, I had recently scored a $10 Visa gift card off an online sweepstakes I won (more on that as a way to get free scrapping supplies in a future post!) so technically, my out of pocket (or out of budget) cost was $0 for 250 pieces of cardstock!  You can't beat free!

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