Several weeks ago, I went to Ralphs to use my double coupons on a big purchase. When I got to the register, I learned that their double coupon program had been deeply cut, and I spent $10 more than planned. In light of double coupon program cutbacks, here are new strategies for using your double coupons, or making better use of non-doubled coupons.
Recent Cutbacks in Double Coupons
I’d seen rumors of the cutbacks at Hot Coupon World, but hoped they weren’t true. So I was rather shocked to see the very small sign on the register at Ralph’s on the day of my big trip. Other stores have also severely cut their double coupon programs in the last six months. They blame rising costs. At the same time, I’ve noticed that the coupon circulars have shrunk, and the coupons themselves have become less generous.
If you’re unfamiliar, here are the changes to Ralphs. Other stores are following similar methods for cutting their double coupons, or eliminating them entirely.
Former Generous Double Coupon Policy
- All coupons up to $1 were doubled (except those stating “do not double”).
- Coupons over $1 had an extra dollar added to them. That meant a $2 coupon was worth $3, a 25-cent coupon was worth 50 cents.
- Coupon discounts could exceed the price of the item.
New Stingy Double Coupon Policy
- Coupons over $1 will not be doubled at all.
- Coupons between 50 cents and $1 will double up to $1 (so a 75-cent coupon is worth $1)
- Coupons under 50 cents will fully double.
- Coupon discounts can’t exceed the item’s price.
- Any coupon stating “do not double” is excluded from doubling.
How to Respond to Cutbacks in Double Coupons
If you’re a hardcore couponer, or just like saving a few bucks with coupons, use these tips to fight the cutbacks:
Write or Email the Store’s Executive Office to Complain
If they get lots of letters from angry customers, they may reconsider the policy. You can complain to the manager, but the manager has no power in this situation. Only the executive office has the power to change the policy. Some stores have customer reply forms in the stores. Get one and use it. If you can’t find one, visit the chain’s website to find out where to send your letter. Send it by mail rather than email if you can, because written letters require more effort, and therefore carry more weight.
Shop Somewhere Else
Back in 2006, Vons tried to cut double coupons entirely. Their stores became ghost towns, and now the double coupons are back. The cutbacks at Ralphs simply meant that I shifted more of my grocery purchases to Trader Joe’s and the farmer’s market. I make sure to use my loyalty card when I checkout at Ralphs so they can see the decline in my purchases (and also to eke out a small savings.)
I will be taking my personal care product purchases to CVS, which doesn’t double coupons but has the Extra Care Bucks. I might also consider buying my personal care and cleaning products and supplies at Target, but I’ll have to do some research. And, of course, Costco still has great deals if you’re a member.
Stock Up on Sale Goods
If you must continue to shop at a non-doubling, or stingy doubling store, then become a store circular hawk. If a non-perishable good goes on sale and you use it regularly, collect your coupons, hunt for coupons online, and then visit the store to stock up when you can get a fair price.
Eat Less Food
Let’s be honest – portion sizes in this country have ballooned in recent years. Consider eating less to save money on groceries. If you eat real food, instead of packaged food, you’ll feel fuller on less. Coupons aren’t always available for real food, but it usually costs less and you can find it in more places.
If you can still use double coupons, definitely do so. Even if you buy mostly real food, a generous doubling policy can help you save money on staples like cleaning products. With costs rising for everything, every little bit of savings helps.