When I explain overage in my coupon classes I'm sometimes asked if this is "ripping off the store." The answer is, No! Remember, the manufacturer that issued my $1 vegetables coupon will reimburse the store not only $1 for the full value of my coupon but also an additional 8 to 12 cents per coupon. (Read the fine print on your coupon and you'll find this spelled out.) So, think of your coupons as if they were cash. If I hand the cashier a $1 bill to pay for my 75-cent vegetables and $1.25 rolls, the extra 25 cents over the cost of the vegetables isn't lost - it comes off the price of the rolls.
Most stores automatically allow overage. A few reserve the right to "adjust down" the value of your coupon to the point that the item is free, but the shopper does not receive the overage. To determine how your store handles coupon overages, ask your store for a copy of its coupon policy.
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Jill Cataldo, a coupon workshop instructor, writer and mother of three, never passes up a good deal. Learn more about couponing at her Web site, www.super-couponing.com. E-mail your own couponing victories and questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.