Monday, August 24, 2009


Welcome to the wonderful, convenient world of e-coupons (Ecoupons? E-coupons? ecoupons?)! Well, it won't be so wonderful for you if your store doesn't offer this service, but if it DOES, you should definitely take advantage of it and start saving even more money when you shop!

Here's how they work: You can go online to various e-coupon sites, enter your store "club card" number, and then load digital coupons onto it. The coupons are automatically applied next time you go shopping, have your card swiped, and buy the items in question. It's just too easy. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • e-coupons will expire, just like paper coupons. It's up to you to keep track of the expiration dates. (Some of the e-coupon sites will offer a printable "shopping list", showing all the coupons currently loaded onto your card. Very handy.)
  • e-coupons will not double, even if your store doubles paper coupons.
  • e-coupons are automatically deleted from your card when they expire or when you use them, whichever comes first. (They can't be used more than once.)
  • e-coupons CAN be stacked with paper manufacturer coupons, but there is lots of controversy surrounding this. Think about it: it's not okay to stack two paper manufacturers' coupons. An e-coupon is another type of manufacturer's coupon. So is it illegal to stack e-coupons and paper coupons? This is obviously a sticky issue, especially as it involves questions of fraud, ethics, responsible couponing, etc. This is definitely something that you need to research for yourself, and then decide accordingly. Here's my feeling: these e-coupons have been presented by the manufacturers themselves to encourage consumers to buy their products. Neither the manufacturers' policies nor the providers' policies state NOT to stack their e-coupons with their paper coupons. If the manufacturers/providers decide to ban stacking (via their website, email, or some sort of "block" put on the cards), I will of course stop combining e-coupons and paper coupons immediately, but until then, I personally have no problem stacking them. (Plus, what happens if you load an e-coupon onto your card, but then find a better paper coupon later? You can't remove the e-coupon from your card, so are you supposed to NOT use the paper coupon? I think it's the e-coupon providers' job to fix this issue.) But don't misunderstand me; I think that couponing responsibly is VERY important. Trying to "rip someone off" or "get around the rules" is NOT what this is all about. It's about following all the rules laid out by manufacturers and stores, spending time finding awesome sale matchups, using our brains to work out all the math, and then saving money. So make sure that YOU feel comfortable with your couponing practices, and then continue happily saving money and getting great deals, no matter what you decide. *BH steps delicately off her soapbox*
Want to get started with e-coupons? First, grab all of your store cards. Start by heading to one of your store's websites (here are Safeway and Kroger, to start).* The Kroger site is a GREAT money-saving tool: every week, the weekly ad is posted, and there are links to printable coupons AND all of the major e-coupon sites; PLUS they've started offering their own e-coupons. Nifty.  I also use Shortcuts and Cellfire (although I don't use Cellfire's coupon-to-cell phone option). Then, start adding e-coupons to your card! Now all you have to do is keep track of the coupons, and, when you buy a participating product, check your receipt to make sure it was used on your transaction. If it did NOT come off, and if you have your list of e-coupons printed out, try heading over to Customer Service first. If that doesn't work, contact the e-coupon provider via their website.
Sweet, right? Let me know if you have any questions about e-coupons. I'll add to this post as I learn more and as questions/issues arise.
*Note: Because I no longer live in the Northwest (*tear*), I'm going to use Kroger as an example whenever I discuss e-coupons. But Safeway and other participating stores should be pretty similar.