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Couponing 101

Searching the net for the term coupon, Google came up with this description:

“a voucher entitling the holder to a discount off a particular product.”

Indeed, used wisely, it can save you money in the long run by cutting a piece off the total price of an item you want to buy or even forgo shipping expenses altogether (as in the case when shopping online).

But how exactly do coupons work?  And are you ripping off stores when you use them?

Clipped Coupons With Scissors 1 from Flickr via Wylio
© 2012 Chris Potter, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio

What are coupons and are they being offered, anyway?

Coupons per se do not really have any cash value. They aren't gift certificates that you can use for your purchases in lieu of cash.   Instead, they offer certain discounts off on items you wish to buy. Think of it as a type of marketing program, trying to make the public more aware of a certain brand.

The main concept, really, of offering coupons is the premise that once people try their product, consumers would keep coming back for more, most especially if they've received positive results upon using the item or have enjoyed outstanding service.  It's definitely way cheaper for a company to offer coupons as compared to say buying a few minutes worth for ad placement on TV.

Grocery stores are places that one can usually use coupons; and if you're like me, you might also be wondering whether these individual manufacturers are ripping off supermarkets by allowing people to purchase goods at a much lower rate.

Well, supermarkets don't lose out on profits. In fact, manufacturers usually reimburse the stores for the amount of the coupons.  Sometimes also offering additional incentives when customers try their product.  Win-win situation, don't you think?

Major international department stores are also slowly getting into the action.  Establishments like US department store Sears (coupons) and even individual retailers, offers coupons to entice people to shop at their stores (select New Look stores in Singapore even give out coupons to customer as they enter their store.)

How about promotional codes?

Another description for a coupon is that it's found “in a form in a newspaper or magazine”.  This exactly is not true anymore as, with almost everyone having access to the internet nowadays, these "digital" coupons, or promotional codes, can just as easily be found with a click of a mouse (as mentioned in my previous post on Saving Money While Shopping Online).

Known as promo codes or coupon codes, they function the same way as their printed out or cut out (from magazines or newspapers) versions.  Almost similar to handing off a physical coupon to a cashier, you simply type in the promotional code upon checking out your item online.

Same as the ordinary printed out ones, there are websites in the net that provides these types of codes, some with more offers that the usual (Sears coupons, for one, also offer free shipping as well, aside from discounts upon checking out of your items).

Another advantage for looking promotional codes online is that most are released for public use and can be utilized a number of times for different purchases.  Just make sure to read the fine print as they are also stamped with expiration dates.  Some retailers even go as far as rewarding their regular shoppers with “private” codes with even better terms.

So the next time you're out shopping (whether physically out or online), try to use coupons.  This discounts will definitely add up and can save your a few extra bucks.  

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NOTE: This is a a sponsored post to acquaint consumers the use of coupons and promotional codes and how it can be a valuable tool in saving a few bucks from major international retailers like Sears (coupons for 2014).   All tips and opinions are the writer's own.

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