Editor’s note: For daily tips on saving money, check out the Centsible Saver blog on newsobserver.com. Amy Dunn writes every day about coupons, saving money and frugal living. Below are recent excerpts from her blog.
In the workshops I teach on how to save money on groceries, I devote the majority of the three-hour classes to discussing the ins and outs of coupons.
But coupons aren’t the only way to trim your supermarket spending.
Mail-in rebates are a great way to reap extra savings, especially on items for which coupons are rarely issued. Think meat and produce – as in $5 back for spending $10 on fruits and vegetables, or $25 back for spending $50 at the supermarket.
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Of course, nothing is as easy as it sounds. First, you have to find the rebates, then you have to deal with all those pesky receipts you’d rather just leave crumpled in the bottom of your grocery bags. And, third, you have to mail them before the deal expires.
Here are a few tips for cashing in mail-in rebates:
• The supermarket is one of your best sources for mail-in rebates. Look for tags or stickers attached to packages with “try-me-free” or “money-back guarantee” offers.
• Don’t forget to check out the beer and wine displays at your supermarket. Beverage companies are known to sponsor grocery rebates as a marketing tool. Not a drinker? Not to worry. North Carolina residents do
have to purchase the alcohol to qualify for the rebates. Look for the exclusion printed on rebates distributed in North Carolina.
• Other places to score rebates include magazines, websites of your favorite products and the weekly coupon booklets found inside Sunday newspapers.
• Many rebates are seasonal. Oftentimes, offers will coincide with a particular time of year. In June and July, rebates are common on grilling meats. In January, near Super Bowl time, rebates on pizza and deli meats are plentiful.
• Read the fine print. And I do mean fine. If you’re over 50, as I am, you might need a magnifying glass to read the rebate instructions.
• Pay attention to detail. If the rebate requires that you spend $10 on produce, you need to spend the full $10 – before taxes. If the rebate specifies using only one receipt, then be sure to purchase all your qualifying items in one shopping trip.
• Once you have your rebate form filled out, your receipts assembled and your envelope addressed, make a copy of your submission. In the old days, I used to photocopy the rebates, but now I take photos of them on my smartphone. It’s a lot less hassle and saves on paper and ink.
• If your rebate is denied, call the phone number included on the rejection form, typically a postcard. After more than a year of approvals, I recently received three rebate rejections in three days. When I politely mentioned to the customer service representatives that I had photographed my submissions, my rebate checks were approved on the spot.
In four to six weeks, I’ll have $32.50 in my pocket.
Flu shot bonus
If you’re planning to get a flu shot this season, at least two Triangle-area stores are offering customers a bonus for rolling up their sleeves.
At Harris Teeter pharmacies, customers receive a $5 coupon for groceries after receiving a flu shot. The incentive is valid through Dec. 31.
At Kmart, a $5 gift card is being offered to folks who present the coupon that has been running in the chain’s store circular. You must also be a member of the loyalty program.