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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

How to stack coupons with food stamps: Tips to stretching your SNAP benefits

Did you know you can stack coupons with food stamps to stretch your SNAP benefits?

If your EBT card consistently runs out before the month ends, check out these quick tips to stretch your SNAP benefits through couponing.

3 tips to stacking coupons and food stamps

  1. Use food stamps at other places besides the grocery store.  If you have an EBT card, it's accepted to make food purchases at far more places besides Walmart and Target.  You can also use it at farmer's markets, bread outlets, and even bargain-friendly spots like Costco and CVS.  That means you have more opportunities to stack store coupons and food stamps than you think!  Check out this SNAP retailer locator to find all sorts of alternative and thrifty places to shop near you.
  2. Split up your non-food purchases into a separate transaction.  Cash registers can't generally distinguish between coupons for food and coupons for non-food -- the register's computer is just scanning barcodes.  So if you purchase non-eligible SNAP items with coupons in the same transaction as your regular groceries, the register will likely apply the entire coupon value to your EBT-worthy items.  This means you're paying full price out of pocket for your non-food items, even if you used a coupon on them.  
  3. Use store coupons as often as possible.  Why?  Because when you use manufacturer coupons, you're responsible for paying the sales tax on the item out of your own pocket.  But store coupons are really a discount, not a form of payment like a manufacturer coupon is.  And you don't get charged sales tax on a discount!
And here's a non-couponing tip for you to help you stretch your SNAP benefits:

Use food stamps to plant an edible garden.  Your EBT card can be used to buy seeds for a vegetable garden, which is an incredibly cheap way to provide fresh produce for your family.  Plus, you're then freeing up your EBT benefits to buy things that are harder for you to make at home -- like eggs, milk, and cereal.

Score a free gardening toolkit from SNAPGardens.org to get you started, or request free seeds from the San Antonio-based nonprofit The Dinner Garden.

Need more information on SNAP benefits?  Find a complete list of which foods are eligible for SNAP, or apply for SNAP benefits.

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