So this is where it all starts for us couponers…the COUPON! Lets take some time to review exactly how coupons work. I think it is important for us all to understand a little bit about those precious slips of paper we so cherish!
Here is the dictionary’s definition:
coupon[koo-pon, kyoo-] -noun
a portion of a certificate, ticket, label, advertisement, or the like, set off from the main body by dotted lines or the like to emphasize its separability, entitling the holder to something, as a gift r discount, or for use as an order blank, a contest entry form, etc.
And here is a couponer’s definition:
coupon[koo-pon, kyoo-] -noun
That’s right…. coupons equal cash. The more you use, the more cash stays in your pocket! This might seem really basic, but I have to admit that before I started this all I really didn’t understand the true value of the coupon.
When I go to the grocery store and my total drops from $106 to $45 after coupons that is $61 back in my pocket! $61 that I can use to take a fun outing for the day, deposit into my savings account, or make an extra payment on my mortgage! Had I not handed over that little stack of coupons that $61 would belong to the store and be forever gone from my bank account.
So here are what all those little numbers mean on your coupon…
(5)- This number will always be a 5 or a 9. A 5 means that the coupon can be doubled and a 9 means that it cannot be doubled. This only applies to stores that double coupons. If you are not sure if you have doubles at your store, make sure to check out your store’s coupon policy.
(12345)- This is the Manufacturer Code that determines which products a coupon may be used for.
(678)- This is the Family Code and determines which grouping of products a coupon may be use for.
(90)- This is the Value Code that tells the register how much to deduct from your total. There is a chart that these numbers correspond to. For example this “90” means that the coupon has a value of .90. A coupon with a Value Code of 74 is worth $5.
(0)- This is a calculated number used by the manufacturer. It has no real relevance to us couponers.
Note: The above is informational purposes only and should not be used to circumvent the text ($1 off a Jumbo Pack of Huggies) in any way. Couponers should always be ethical and use coupons only as they are intended to be used.
See a barcode that looks a little different? In 2012 some manufacturers started to transition to a new form of bar codes. This new new DataBar Coupon Barcode format provides manufacturers with more options for purchase requirements and values a. It also makes it possible to code more complex offers and enables the coupon to be validated at checkout to ensure the manufacturer intended the purchase that was made. Ideally, it may reduce coupon fraud.
Did you know that there is a whole process that the coupon goes through before and after you hand it over to the cashier?
First, the marketing department at a manufacturer decides that they would like to run a coupon campaign for one or many of their products. They then contact a coupon distributor such as Coupons.com or SmartSource (one type of newspaper insert) and arrange to have the coupon available to consumers. That is how the coupon ends up in our hands!
After you give the coupon over to the store they will send it to a Clearing House which sorts through the millions of coupons to ultimately determine how much is due to the store from each manufacturer. That report then gets sent to the manufacturers who cut a check to the store for the coupons that they submitted.
This is the one thing I wish more cashiers were more educated on! They often do not understand that the company they are working for (the Store) will ultimately be reimbursed for the coupons.
Moving right along…Check out the next section of my Getting Started with Couponing guide: Where to Find Coupons (Part 1).