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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

How To Get Regional And Sunday Exclusive Coupons

Have you ever seen a super-hot coupon deal online, and then realized when you checked your coupon inserts that you didn't have the coupon the blogger was talking about?

I know this happened to a lot of Spend Less, Shop More readers this week with the current L'Oreal freebies and money-makers at CVS!

Here's what you need to know about regional and Sunday-exclusive coupons, including how to snag them when hot deals roll around:

Why didn't my insert have that coupon in the first place?

Coupons range in value from region to region, so sometimes a blogger who's writing in one part of the country will have access to different coupons than a reader from a different area.

Typically, the more expensive groceries are in a region, the better their coupons will be.  This is why I always hunt coupons whenever I visit my sister -- she lives in Maryland, and her groceries can sometimes be 50% more expensive than the exact same brands I buy in Texas.

But that often means she'll receive a $1 off coupon when I only see a 50 cents off coupon for the same brand!

So if you have friends and family who live in other states, it makes sense to ask them to check their coupon inserts for you.

I live in the same city as my favorite blogger, but I STILL don't have that coupon!

Here in San Antonio, there are many different papers offering coupons -- but not all inserts are the same.

In general, the most valuable coupons are found in the Sunday edition of the San Antonio Express-News.  Sometimes, coupons like the $1 Wet N Wild coupons (which are money-makers whenever they appear) are only available in the Sunday edition papers.

Other inserts that run in the weekly 'free' papers here may not have these coupons at all, or may have a more restrictive version of the coupon.

For example, in the hot L'Oreal money-maker deal at CVS this week, the coupons needed were $2 off skincare coupons.  The San Antonio Express-News Sunday insert had these coupons -- but the other inserts available regionally only had a $2 off Walgreens coupon, which of course can't be used at CVS.

How do I tell which inserts I bought?

If you are buying inserts from a provider other than the Express-News, chances are good you do not have the Sunday edition inserts.

To tell for sure, flip your insert on its side, and look at the teeny-tiny type written there.  For San Antonio readers, you are looking for something that looks like this:

That's a Sunday exclusive edition of an insert.

Otherwise, you may see something that looks like this:

See up there where it says "Advertising Supplement", and then lists a bunch of papers?  That's the non-exclusive insert that's used in other papers besides the Sunday edition.

Why don't the non-exclusive inserts have all these hot coupons?

Coupons are a great way for newspapers to build their subscription base.  You're much more likely to consistently maintain a newspaper subscription if you know the most valuable coupons are being delivered straight to your door each week, right?

So manufacturers and newspapers work together to make sure that happens.  It's a win-win for them -- newspapers drum up subscriptions, and manufacturers drum up excitement about their products, while at the same time limiting coupon quantities.  That automatically cuts down on shelf-clearing, which is a win for shoppers as well.

And don't stop hunting those non-exclusive inserts!  Sometimes they in turn have special coupons that are hard to come by.  For example, sometimes there are Spanish-language coupons available for brands that we almost never see in the regular Sunday paper (Suavitel comes to mind as a frequent example!)

So how do I get the best regional and Sunday-exclusive coupons?

The simplest way is to get a weekly newspaper subscription.  Here in San Antonio, the Express-News offers regular coupon classes with discounted subscription offers -- in fact, there are free upcoming classes scheduled for October 2014.

I haven't attended one of these classes myself, but I've heard from lots of readers who have.  The general feedback is that the 'class' part isn't that useful unless you are truly a brand-new couponer.  But the classes do allow you to score significant discounts on buying up to five weekly newspaper subscriptions at a single time.

Other options include clipping services for individual coupons, or checking Facebook groups to trade coupons and inserts with other local couponers.  I recommend searching Facebook with the name of your city and the phrase "couponing" to find those groups -- so "San Antonio Couponing" for local readers, or "Baltimore Couponing", or whatever.

For other tips on how to score inserts and coupons WITHOUT paying for a newspaper subscription, go here for my fast how-to guide!

See more couponing tips here.