Everyone once in a while I get talked into teaching a coupon class, and this is the most important principle I try to share. Saving money with one method on a purchase is great, but the true deal ninjas are always thinking “How can I stack multiple discounts?”
For instance, at the grocery store you can only use one manufacturers coupon per item, but you can use both a manufacturers coupon and a store coupon for the the same thing, if you have them.
There are several components of a transaction where discounts might be available:
Your discount stacking toolkit should include:
2. AT THE REGISTER
Manufacturer’s Coupon – Issued by the manufacturer. Can be printed or digital
Store Coupon – Issued by the store, often sent via email or printed at the register on a previous purchase.
Quantity Discount – Is there an extra discount for buying a larger quantity?
Loyalty Programs – Become a member to receive the full discounts; scan you card or enter phone number at checkout.
3. AFTER THE REGISTER:
Loyalty Programs – Sometimes receive a freebie, discount, or other reward for a certain amount of purchases (Like Kroger or Martin’s fuel rewards)
Rebates – Additional savings on a product by submitting documentation of purchase by mail or online. Doesn’t count if you always forget to submit them
Cash Back Websites – Every November I do my plug for Ebates. (Mr. Rebates is a good one too) If you are shopping online and are not registered with a cash back site, you are paying too much. You just follow the link from Ebates to the retailer you are shopping at, and make your purchases. Ebates tracks your purchase and credits a percent of your purchase to your Ebates account, then sends you a check periodically for the balance. Right now, you can earn 3% from Walmart, 6% from Lowe’s, 5% at Old Navy, etc. (Two notes: Use of some coupon codes may invalidate the cash back – a coupon code listed on Ebates will definitely be able to stack with cash back. When in doubt, use the coupon code because it usually is worth more than cash back. Secondly, by using cash back websites, you are basically getting paid the “referral” fee that might otherwise be paid to a blogger or website referring you to a site. That is not unethical, but if you want to support a site like mine, follow its links to products when making a purchase and skip this step of using Ebates)
4. PAYMENT METHOD
Discounted gift cards – If you can, scoop up discounted gift cards to your favorite retailers and restaurants, like the $5 Groupon for $10 at Starbucks that was recently available. I call this gift card discount laundering, which definitely has an illegal sound to it, but it just means that to businesses, your gift card is the same as paying with cash or credit. Whether you paid less than face value doesn’t affect your ability to use coupons or other discounts that might state “not combinable with other discounts or promotions” in the fine print.
Alternatively: Gift Card Bonuses – Now is the time to pick these up! Through mid-December, some retailers and many restaurants will give you a bonus amount or a freebies when purchasing a gift card or gift certificate. For instance: Barnes & Noble will give you a $10 bonus for a $75 gift card purchase by Dec. 3. Check this list for more ideas.
Tax Savings – Make healthcare-related purchases with pre-tax dollars using your Flexible Spending Account
Frequently, at least one discount from each category is available. (Always read the fine print of any discount to find exclusions.)
Here are a couple of examples of how this principle can play out:
Sneakers for my son at Gymboree:
Clearance tagged 60% off original price
30% off storewide sale
20% off coupon from mail
1.5% cash back credit card
What are some of your favorite ways to stack?
Today only – “Green Monday” – receive a bonus $10 Walmart eGift Card when you purchase a Walmart eGift card for $100 or more:
Give a gift, get a gift! The Walmart eGift Card is the perfect gift… for them and for you! Add at least $100 onto this Walmart eGift Card and receive an additional $10 eGift Card for free.*
*Terms and Conditions: Supply is limited; offer good on December 10th, 2012, only while supplies last. Bonus eGift Card will be sent separately to qualifying purchaser’s email address within 3-5 days. Limit one bonus eGift Card per customer. Bonus eGift Card offer applies to this item only. Card amount of $100 or more must be loaded to single eGift Card to receive $10 bonus eGift Card.
eGift Cards are sent via email, usually within minutes.
The eGift Cards are valid online at Walmart.com or SamsClub.com, or in-stores at Walmart or Sams Club.
Also, remember to stock up on gift cards to your favorite restaurants (and other retailers) during the holidays – many chains, and even sometimes local eateries, offer bonuses when you purchase gift cards/certificates in December. The standard bonus is $5 bonus for a $25 gift card purchase, but it varies widely (for instance, a free burrito with $30 Chipotle gift card purchase, $20 bonus gift cards to P.F. Chang’s with $100 gift card purchase, or free slice of cheesecake with $25 Cheesecake Factory gift card)
Good list of restaurant offers at EatDrinkDeals.com!
Read the fine print on bonuses, because many have terms and short expiration dates!
Do you have any favorites?
Buy a $50 Gift Card… Get a FREE $15 Card
Buy a $75 Gift Card… Get a FREE $25 Card
Buy a $100 Gift Card… Get a FREE $50 Card
Gift cards can be used for general admission, snack bar, and merchandise. Limited time and quantities.
If you have a flexible spending account with your health care, you’re probably familiar with the November/December guessing game known as “How Much Do I Expect It Will Cost To Keep Me Healthy Next Year?” Guess too much, and you lose whatever amount you don’t use by the end of the calendar year.
Well, now is also the time to plan gift card spending for the upcoming year. During December, many businesses, particularly restaurants, offer extra bonus incentives when you purchase gift cards. So you can stretch your money further by investing in gift cards to businesses where you will be shopping throughout the year (assuming you have wiggle room in your budget for the expenditure – putting them on credit cards and not paying them off will NOT save money).
The nice thing about gift cards (versus flexible spending accounts) is that most gift cards give you longer than a year to use them! The challenge is that the accompanying bonuses often have short terms of redemption, like a month or two, so don’t get more than you can redeem in that time frame.
A few of the bonus incentives are listed below:
This doesn’t even come close to covering all the offers out there, so feel free to add your favorites!
(If anyone needs a gift idea for me…)
As you wrap up your holiday shopping, remember to take advantage of gift cards offers at some of your favorite restaurants and retailers. Check out the list of some businesses offering bonuses with gift card purchases (via Slickdeals):
Applebees — Buy $50 in Gift Cards, get a $10 Bonus Gift Card
Barnes and Noble – Buy $100 in Gift Cards, get a $10 eGift Card
Bob Evans — Buy $50 in Gift Cards, get $10 bonus Gift Card
Borders – Buy $50 gift card, get a $10 bonus coupon for 12/26-12/31
Buffalo Wild Wings – Buy $25 Gift Card Get $5 Coupon to use after 1/1/11
California Pizza Kitchen — Buy $100 in Gift Cards, get a $20 Rewards Card
Chipotle – Buy $25 gift card and get a burrito, bowl, salad or tacos free on next visit
The Children’s Place – Buy $40 and get $10
Cici’s – Buy $20 in Gift Cards, get a free Adult Buffet
Denny’s – Buy $25 get $5 bonus
DSW – Buy $50 GC and receive $10 Bonus GC
Famous Dave’s – Buy $25 gift card, get a $5 bonus card.
Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar – Buy $100 GC, get $20 bonus voucher
IHOP – Buy $25 gift card, get a $5 off coupon.
Ledo Pizza – Buy a $25 Gift Card, get a $5 Card
Moe’s Southwest Grill — Buy $25 Gift Card, get a $5 Bonus
Maggianos – Buy $100 gift card online, get subscription to Food and Wine mag and also $20 bonus promotional card good for $20 off a $50 purchase
O’Charley’s — Buy a $25 Gift Card, get a $5 Bonus Gift Card
Outback Steakhouse — Buy $100 Gift Card, get a $20 Bonus Card
PF Chang’s – Buy $50 gift card, get a $10 bonus card.
Qdoba — Buy $25 Gift Card, get $5 Bonus Voucher
Red Robin – Buy $25 Gift Card, get $5 in Bonus Bucks
Ruby Tuesday – B&M Buy $50 Gift Card, get $10 off entire check coupon valid Jan 1 – Feb 28, 2011
Ruth Chris Steakhouse – For every $250 in Gift Cards you purchase, you receive 10% back in Bonus Gift Cards
Smoothie King – Free small smoothie with the purchase of a $25 King Card
Subway – Buy $25 gift card, get a 6″ sub (excluding premium & double-meat) free.
T.G.I. Friday’s — Buy a $25 Gift Card, get a $5 Bonus Gift Card
UNO Chicago Grill – Buy $25 in gift cards, get a $5 bonus voucher
Wendy’s – Buy $15 gift card get coupon for free fries
As you can see, the standard is a 20% bonus, ie: $5 additional value when you purchase $25 worth. If you dine somewhere frequently, consider buying whatever value you expect to use in the next 3-6 months.
-Some offers are only available for purchase online, some in-store. Check with the store ahead of time to verify details and participation
-Many of the bonuses have additional restrictions on their use (like they can only be used during certain dates, can’t be combined with other offers, etc)
-The bonus offers vary in expiration date, but purchase by Christmas to be sure
My favorite gift card deal last year was when Chick-fil-A offered a free cow calendar ($6 value) with $20 gift card purchase. The gift card lasted me through June or July, but I’ve been getting free items at Chick-fil-A every month this year with the calendar coupons. I haven’t seen that offer posted yet; hopefully will return after the new year.
If you have loose change lying around, consider taking it to a Coinstar machine. Not only is there no counting fee when you exchange the coins into retailer gift cards, you’ll also receive a $10 bonus when you cash in $40 or more for a gift card from iTunes, Borders, Lowe’s or Regal Cinema! Find a location near you. Offer expires 12/31 ($10 bonus will be mailed to you when you enter the promo code from your Coinstar receipt on the website)