Coupon Match-Ups: How to Speak, Read, & Understand the Language

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photo credit: chiasuanchong

Yesterday, I told you How to Get the Most Bang for Your Buck when Using Coupons.  Did any of you look through the sales ads from your Sunday paper, and try to match your coupons to a few items?  If so, you might have realized how time-consuming making “match-ups” can be.

Fortunately, the pros are there to do most of that work for us.  You can find lists of weekly coupon match-ups by typing the name of your store and the word “match-up” into your search engine.  For example, let’s say you’re going to be shopping at Meijer.  Searching “Meijer, match-up” this morning yielded this match-up.  Here’s a short excerpt:

Kellogg’s Cereal $2.50
(Cocoa Krispies, Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes, Kellogg’s Raisin Bran, Froot Loops, Apple Jacks, Frosted Bite Size Mini Wheats)
BONUS: Buy 4 Cereals, GET 1 FREE
$1/3 Kellogg’s Cereal, exp. 4/15/12 (RP 03/04/12)
$1/3 Kellogg’s All-Bran, Smart Start, Kellogg’s Raisin Bran or Fiber Plus Cereals, exp. 4/1/12 (RP 02/19/12)
$1/2 Frosted Flakes printable
$1/3 Kellogg’s Cereal printable
$1.00/2 Kellogg’s Raisin Bran mPerks (exp 3/7)
= as low as $1.44 each wyb 5

Does some of it look like a foreign language to you?  Some abbreviations are fairly simple, others more complicated.  Some look like math equations.  Others look like text messages between 15-year-old girls (OMG!  LOL!).  So in order to help you translate coupon speak into actual words, below is a list of some of the most common abbreviations and vocabulary terms you will find when reading online coupon match-ups:

(Note, it looks like an overwhelming amount of information to study and memorize, but it really is not.  This is just a guide you may reference if you are ever confused by what you are reading in a match-up.  You’ll be surprised at how soon you’ll know all of this information like the back of your hand!  No studying required.)

COUPON SOURCE

Manufacturer Coupon:  Coupon released by the company that produces a specific product (ex: Colgate/Palmolive for Colgate Optic White Toothpaste).  You may use this in nearly any store.  The manufacturer will reimburse said store for the value of the coupon, plus a handling fee (usually $0.08).

Store Coupon:  Coupon released by a particular store (ex: Target coupon for Colgate toothpaste) that may only be redeemed within said store (usually any branch or location).  They are not reimbursed for its value; it is merely an incentive for you to buy a product from their company as opposed to shopping for it elsewhere.

SS:  SmartSource newspaper insert/circular.  Mostly manufacturer coupons.  Occasional store coupons.

RP:  RedPlum newspaper insert/circular.  Mostly manufacturer coupons.  Occasional store coupons.

P&G:  Proctor & Gamble/P&G newspaper insert/circular.  Manufacturer coupons.

GM:  General Mills newspaper insert/circular.  Manufacturer coupons.

IVC:  Instant Value Coupon.  Walgreens’ store coupons included in their weekly sales flyer.

CAT:  Catalina.  Manufacturer or store coupons that are dispensed from a machine at the checkout lane.  Looks like a receipt.  Yielded by an item in your current transaction; must be used on a future transaction.

ECB:  Extra Bucks, formerly called Extra Care Bucks.  CVS’ version of catalinas for a dollar amount off your next transaction.  Prints at the bottom of your receipt instead of from a separate machine.  Can only be used at CVS.

CRT:  Cash Register Tape.  Coupons that print at the bottom of your CVS receipt.

RR:  Register Reward.  Walgreens’ version of catalinas that yield a dollar amount off a future transaction.  It cannot be used to buy multiples of the same RR-producing item.  (More on this to come.)  Can only be used at Walgreens.

SCR:  Single Check Rebate.  Rite Aid’s monthly rewards programs.  Unlike Walgreens RR and CVS ECB, which reward you with each applicable transaction, the SCR is a monthly reward.  You enter information from your receipts online, and they mail you a rewards check for the appropriate amount for the past month.  These can be cashed or deposited like any other check.  Kind of reminds me of a mail-in rebate, but you need not mail receipts or UPCs.

MIR:  Mail-in-Rebate.  May be found online, in a newspaper insert, on a tear pad, or attached directly to a product.  Requires you to submit rebate form, receipt, and UPC/bar code from product.  Amount specified will be mailed to you, usually in the form of a check that you can cash or deposit like any other.

All You:  All You magazine (available at Walmart or via subscription).  Manufacturer coupons.

Mailer:  Coupon or coupon booklet that was sent to your home via postal mail.  Manufacturer or store coupons.

Peelie:  Manufacturer coupon attached to a product via some form of adhesive, like a sticker.  May be used at any store.

Tear Pad:  Manufacturer coupon that you tear from a pad near a related product inside a store.  May be used at any store.

Blinkie:  Manufacturer coupon from a (usually) blinking dispenser near the item in a store.  May be used at any store.

eCoupons:  Electronic coupons (manufacturer or store) that you upload to your store loyalty cards from your computer.  They are deducted from applicable purchases automatically without having to request that the cashier manually access them.

Printables:  Coupons you access via the Internet, print, and redeem in-store.

(For further elaboration on newspaper and Internet coupons, see the post on Where to Find Your Coupons.)

OTHER ABBREVIATIONS

$1.00/1, $3.00/2, etc.:  In this case, $1 off of one product, $3 off of 2 products.  The first number/value is the discount; the second number is the number of items you must purchase.

BOGO:  “Buy One Get One.”  Will be followed by something like “50% Off,” “25% Off,” or “Free.”

B2G1:  “Buy Two Get One.”  Another form of BOGO, but specifies different numbers, which will vary depending on the actual sale (B1G1, B3G2, etc.).

EXP:  “Expires” or “Expiration Date.”

UPC:  “Universal Product Code.”  This is the product’s barcode that gets scanned during checkout.

MFR:  “Manufacturer.”

WAGS:  “Walgreens.”

PSA:  “Prices Starting At.”

WYB:  “When You Buy.”

OYNO:  “On Your Next Order.”  Refers to future savings.  An example:  “Spend $20, get $5 OYNO.”

OOP:  “Out of Pocket.”  Refers to the price you will pay before additional savings (like ECB, RR, or CAT) will be generated.

YMMV:  “Your Mileage May Vary.”  In other words, your shopping experience may be different from that of another shopper.  For example, two different Walmarts will have different items on clearance and/or different regional sales.  You may not be able to receive the same deals as a shopper in a different store.

OTHER VOCABULARY TERMS

Purchase-Based Coupon: This is a coupon that specified a dollar amount of a future purchase that meets a minimum (usually pre-tax) cost.  For example, $5 off $20.  You should be able to use this coupon in addition to both a manufacturer coupon, store coupon, and sale price.

Stacking:  You may stack a coupon with a sale.  You may stack a manufacturer coupon with a store coupon.  You may stack both types of coupons with a sale.  The ways you can “stack,” the bigger your discount will be.  This is the key to extreme couponing!  Note:  You may never stack a manufacturer coupon with another manufacturer coupon.  Occasionally, you may stack two store coupons, generally when playing the “Drugstore Game” (more on this to come).

Doubling, Tripling:  Select stores regularly double or triple the value of manufacturer coupons.  Some other stores have events like “Double Coupon Days.”  Many other stores, won’t do this at all.  Grocery stores like Kroger, Marsh, and Al’s double them up to $0.50, although this varies by location.  That means your $0.50/1 coupon will be redeemed for $1.00/1; your $0.35 coupon will be worth $0.70; and so on.  Select Kroger stores will triple the value of manufacturer coupons that have a face value of $0.50 or less, making a $0.50 coupon worth $1.50.  Some stores will automatically give you $1.00 off if the value of your coupon is between $0.51 and $0.99.  K-Mart has “Double Coupon Days,” during which they will double any coupon valued at $0.99 or less.  Consult your stores’ coupon policies (more on these to come), and/or speak to a manager to be sure of how or if they handle this practice.

Rolling Catalinas:  You may choose to split your purchases into multiple transactions in order to utilize catalinas.  You’d use the first catalina to pay for the second transaction; the second catalina to pay for the third transaction; and so on.

Stockpile, Stockpiling:  This occurs when you use your extreme couponing skills to build a supply of food and non-food items.  The key to buiding your stockpile (an act called stockpiling) is to buy multiples of items when they are at rock-bottom prices.  That way, when you run out of something, you don’t have to go to the store and pay full price for another.  You just shop your stockpile.  This saves you tons of time and money!

Raincheck:  If you go to the store to buy an item while it’s on sale, but it’s out of stock, you can request a raincheck.  It is usually a handwritten slip that will allow you to receive the sale price once the item is restocked, even if the sale has ended.  Some rainchecks have expiration dates, so you may have to have them reissued if the item is still not in stock by then.  They may also express a quantity limit.  You can use coupons with your raincheck if they are not expired.

Handling Fee: Manufacturers pay stores for accepting their coupons, usually $0.08 per coupon.  That fee will either cover the cost the store paid to have a clearing house sort coupons and bill manufacturers, or it will be kept by the store if they chose to sort their own.

As I said before, these are only some (although I’m fairly confident I could say “most”) of the terms and abbreviations associated with using coupons.  But if you understand just these, you should be able to navigate the couponing world with ease.

If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments section.  I’ll do my best to answer them for you.  In the next “lesson,” we are going to explore the fine print and discuss abiding by the rules.  Important stuff.  Thanks to all of you for reading!

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