Couponing in Canada: Tips from the pros
Vanessa Greco, CTVNews.ca
Published Sunday, December 11, 2011 7:42AM EST
Ask any veteran deal hunter: When it comes to couponing, clipping the voucher is merely the first step on your way to a bargain.
Between fine print and obscure policies, there are a number of things to consider before redeeming a coupon at the cash register.
Some experienced Canadian couponers and industry experts have agreed to share their knowledge with CTVNews.ca. Here are their tips:
Veteran couponer Cherene Lamond can be spotted at her local grocery store carrying a large binder with a notepad attached to the front.
She uses the binder to keep her coupons sorted and neat. When it comes time to access her vouchers, the 32-year-old mom from British Columbia says she has no trouble locating the one she needs.
"I also bring paperclips to pin coupons to the items they're supposed to go with," says Lamond, the founder of CanadianCouponQueen.ca.
She notes that an organized couponer is more likely to stay on the good side of cashier than a couponer who is unprepared at the check-out line.
Pro-tip: Many bargain hunters use the same laminated plastic sheets used to collect baseball cards to keep their coupons organized.
Participate in "Flyer Thursdays"
Nearly every Thursday evening, Jen Bromley and her husband sit down together and sift through flyers.
"We certainly spend at least, I would say, three hours a week looking for coupons," says the 31-year-old mom from Oakville, Ont.
She points out that Thursdays are an ideal time to sit down and clip coupons because that's when most flyers traditionally hit mailboxes.
Pay attention to sale cycles
Excessive stockpiling doesn't make sense to Deanna Marcy, who says most core sale items will be on sale again a few months later.
"I recommend picking up a three to four month supply of the things you use the most because coupons and sales run in cycles," says the blogger at MoneySavingMomCanada.com.
Marcy adds that consumers shouldn't feel pressured to redeem every high-value coupon, noting that it isn't wise to pick up large quantities of perishable items unless you know you can finish them.
Know store policy
Most retailers have comprehensive coupon policies, which outline their stance on stacking, doubling vouchers and paying overage. Guidelines are typically posted on the company's website.
Derek Szeto, founder of RedFlagDeals.com, notes that consumers are tasked with staying up-to-date with coupon and sale policies.
In many cases, he says, shoppers aren't aware of the opportunities available to them.
For instance, Szeto points out that many consumers aren't familiar with Canada's Scanner Price Accuracy Voluntary Code – a program that offers shoppers a free item or discount if a product scans incorrectly at a register.
If the item is below $10, the retailer will give the product to the customer free of charge. If the item is pricier than $10, the store will give the customer a $10 discount off the corrected price.
The catch? Participation in the program is voluntary and it's up to consumers to keep track of which stores offer the deal.
Hunt for bargains online
Szeto also points out that the Internet has become a crucial resource for couponers who are hoping to nab vouchers on specific items.
In addition to his own site RedFlagDeals.com, he's pointed out that there are growing number of Canadian websites that allow users to sift through virtual coupons: