EXCERPT: Elisabeth Leamy's 'Save Big'

Big Secret: Keep Coupons for Services a Secret

If you have a coupon that offers $100 off your next paint job, gutter cleaning or another negotiable service, you can't tell if you're really getting a discount unless you know the company's usual price. So call and get a quote first and then reveal that you have a coupon. That way, you know the company didn't mark the price up first before applying the coupon to it.

X off of Y Purchase + Other Coupons
I'm sure you've seen those coupons where you get X dollars off if you spend more than Y amount. For example, spend $40 and receive $10 off of your purchase. By itself, that's a 25-percent savings, which is mediocre. But many stores will honor the X off of Y offer on top of all your other store and manufacturer coupons. Here's a deal on baby formula cobbled together by Terri4548, who posted her first "brag" on HotCouponWorld.com. Enfamil Baby Formula
Regular price: $25.99
$5 off of $20 coupon: $5
Walgreens store coupon: $2
Enfamil manufacturer coupon: $2
Enfamil check: $5
Final Price= $11.99
BIG SAVINGS= 54%

54% off is not bad for a Guerilla Grocery Shopper-in-training, right? Here's the crucial key: you must hand the coupons to the clerk in the right order. First, present the X off of Y coupon so that the total is still high enough for it to count. In the example above, the offer required a purchase of at least $20 to get $5 off so if she had used all her other coupons first, her total amount would have been under $20 and the X of of Y offer wouldn't have worked. To get the most out of X off of Y coupons, try to spend as close to the minimum required as possible.

Big Secret: Beware of Counterfeit Coupons
You should never pay for coupons. (The one exception: charity coupon books.) The point is to save money not spend money, so avoid the cheaters selling coupons on auction sites. If you download E-coupons from the manufacturer's website or reputable websites, you will know they are real. Genuine coupon sites require you to download a small program that lets your printer create barcodes. This is how stores --and you-- know your coupon is legit.

Coupon Combo Coaching
I've given you the nuts and bolts for using coupons to buy your soup to nuts, but for further coaching and coaxing, there is wonderful support out there on the internet.

BeCentsAble.net: Take the inexpensive online tutorial or find an in-person class taught by a BeCentsAble educator in your area. Check out the forums where Guerilla Grocery Shoppers share their best deals. Kristin McKee and Chrissy Pate are writing a book called "Be CentsAble" which will be packed with additional savings information.
CouponMom.com: In addition to her indispensable Grocery Deals by State and Grocery Coupon Database, Stephanie Nelson has written a new book entitled "The Coupon Mom's Guide to Cutting Your Grocery Bills in Half."
HotCouponWorld.com: This site, run by volunteers, is full of articles to get you started, forums to ask questions, a great coupon database plus links to printable coupons.
TheGroceryGame.com: This website preaches and teaches stockpiling and matches coupons to sales for maximum impact. It also lists store coupon policies. There is a fee, which cuts into your savings, but it should pay for itself.

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