How to Coupon: BYO Bags and Save
April 22 is Earth Day, and what better way to celebrate than by doing a little something to help the environment and saving money to boot? The simplest way to do this is to bring your own bags whenever you shop, since Americans use — and often throw away — billions of disposable shopping bags a year (yes, that’s billions with a “B”). Stores have many types of incentive programs, so take a moment to find out what your store offers.
My local grocery store gives me a five-cent voucher for each bag of my own I use. I can use that voucher towards my next order or I can drop it in one of several donation boxes located in the store for local charities. The store makes a matching donation for each voucher, so on a busy week, this can quickly add up to a significant amount.
Another store where I frequently shop, CVS, tracks my efforts with the bag tag: a little cardboard leaf with a barcode on it. The bag tag is scanned each time I don’t take a CVS bag, and every fourth scan results in a CVS Extra-Care buck. This means each scan is worth 25 cents, making it the highest-value bag program I’ve encountered. Extra-Care bucks are a wonderful bonus since they can be stacked on top of manufacturer’s coupons, CVS coupons and store sales. CVS normally sells the bag tag, but I got mine free when “magic red coupon machine” generated a coupon for one. (If you don’t know what the magic red coupon machine is, ask the next time you are in CVS. You should be scanning your Extra-Care card on every visit for additional savings.)
Target made big news a few years ago when it announced that it was going to start giving customers a five-cent discount at the register for every reusable bag they used. Although the policy has been in place for awhile now and more people are bringing their own bags, a friend of mine recently told me that he often has to remind the checkers at his local Target to give him the discount and to let them know that it’s five cents for every bag he uses, not just as single five-cent discount. So again, check the reusable bag policy at the stores where you frequently shop and be prepared to ask for any discounts — politely, of course.
Shop smart and save! Check out more tips on couponing and savvy shopping!