Gather your coupons ... and multi-stack!

As I entered the cereal aisle, I was on the lookout for in-store coupons. It's always a good idea to scan for coupons that may be in dispensers or on the shelves of your supermarket. When I see coupons for products I like I always take a few, because I will have those coupons on hand next time a sale comes around. Sometimes, the coupon you need to sweeten a deal is hanging right in front of you on the shelf. Keep your eyes open!

That was the case with my cereal buy. As I added 15 boxes to my cart, I spied a tear pad of $1 coupons for the cereal hanging on the shelf right under the boxes. So, I took 15 of them. I never clean out a store of coupons; there are typically more than a hundred coupons on a tear pad. Don't be afraid to take what you will use! Remember, coupons are placed there in the hope that you will use them and try the product.

I headed to the register with my 15 boxes of $2 cereal and 15 $1 coupons. The cashier scanned my cereal and the register total came to $30. I handed the cashier my $1 coupons; after they were redeemed, my bill was $15. I paid $15... and I received $15 back in Catalina coupons good for my next shopping trip. So, I got back the same amount of money I spent on the cereal. My 15 boxes of cereal are, essentially, free.

I've stressed this point in previous columns but I can't say it often enough: shoppers must think of coupons as cash. They are essentially a form of cash, for shoppers and for the stores where we do business. When a supermarket has a sale like a "Spend $30, get $15 back," shoppers still spend $30 on the items. My $1 coupons "paid" for $15 of my $30 spending and the store will get that $15 back from the manufacturer when it redeems the coupons. The $15 in Catalina coupons that I received function just like cash in the store. They're good for anything I want to buy on my next shopping trip. So, I view this as having exchanged one form of cash for another... but I'm still holding the $15 in my hand that I just paid for the cereal. It's just in the form of a coupon now. And you know how much I love coupons!

(c) CTW Features

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 jill@ctwfeatures.com.

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