This is part of my Couponing 101 series – click that link for more tips because there is more to couponing than just this detail:

Once you have your coupons collected and organized, it’s time to learn coupon math.

A 50-cent coupon is worth just 50 cents at some stores. But at other stores, that coupon is worth $1 off. Why?

If it is a manufacturer coupon, the manufacturer will reimburse the store for the face value of the coupon. It’s up to the store to decide whether to give you an additional discount. The double coupon polices and the participating stores do vary quite a bit from one market to the next.

There are sites on the Internet that are trying to compile / update that information on a national basis. I saw chatter on the Frugal Village forums last week about one such list. I could tell with a quick look at that compilation that it was very incomplete for Michigan – and I only know about the southeast Michigan stores.

I figured out what stores doubled coupons in Monroe, Mich., long before I was Monroe on a Budget blogger. I learned that information by just reading the grocery store sales fliers. I used to live in an Ohio city where some of the stores doubled coupons up to 50 cents, so it was easy for me to catch onto the promotions in Monroe.

The procedure in this market is: coupons will double up to 50 cents at the stores that double coupons.

It is only a few times a year in which my local readers have had access to a special coupon promotion that triples coupons or does “super double” coupons up to $1 or up to $2. I do report on them when they get announced. You will find a lot of restrictions and rules when those extra promotions are in effect. They are not always good deals, and it’s actually not been worth the trouble on a couple of occasions.

Last summer, I built a grocery database where I shoved all the money-saving notes I had collected about the Monroe-area stores into one reference list. So while I’ve been talking about double coupons all along, there have been occasional changes in the participating stores’ policies and a grocery database is the best way to keep it all current.

What I suggest my local readers do is look through that list. Then put a note in your coupon binder or coupon box as to which stores you shop at will double coupons, and up to what value. That way, you can do the math in the grocery aisle or as you are inspecting the sales fliers.

If you travel elsewhere in southeast Michigan or northwest Ohio on a regular basis (it is common for my local readers to go to Detroit, Ann Arbor or Toledo for school or work), it would be worth the time to use the store web site “store locator” features to look up the stores in that area, pick up their sales fliers or coupon policies, and bookmark any bloggers who report on those stores.

Example: there are some Kroger stores elsewhere in southeast Michigan that will double coupons up to $1. You can get the scoop on that by following the Michigan coupon bloggers I have linked up on my blogroll. The stores are too far for my Monroe readers to shop at on a regular basis. But I used to travel in that area when my daughter was in Girl Scouts. Had I known there were super double coupon stores on the way, I would have included a shopping trip on my schedule and put a cooler in the car for the cold food.

The SuperKmart in Taylor also has been known to run coupon promotions that are different than the Kmart in Monroe; and a SuperK has a bigger selection of groceries that could be coupon-worthy. So if you are in the Downriver area on a frequent basis, find a way to watch those ads.

There are coupon policies beyond double coupons that can affect your math and buying decisions, and here’s that discussion.

Update: Of interest to my Monroe readers is that Giant Eagle in Toledo will double coupons up to 99 cents. It is not worth the gas money for a 99 cent double vs. a 50 cent double locally unless you are already in Toledo, but, I know many of my local readers are in Toledo on a frequent basis. Giant Eagle will occasionally double up to $1, and here’s what I did with one of those sales in March 2011.

The Kroger in Perrysburg, Ohio, was doubling coupons up to $1 in spring 2011; but the policy was posted as a “limited time only” offer and has since ended. Here’s my shopping cart from a Kroger outing.

If you are a first-time visitor and clicking on this post because of a Google search, be aware that Monroe on a Budget is aimed at the southeast Michigan audience. I do have a lot of national readers, and my grocery shopping on a budget checklist will translate well no matter where you live. But this is a frugal blog with a local spin and the details and examples will always be for my local readers.

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