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Coupons. Those magical shiny pieces of paper. They come most Sunday’s, you find them hanging in stores or print them online. It is such a thrill to look through the fliers, match things up, go to the store and end up getting great deals. Sometimes you are even lucky enough to find an item for free.

So many people ask me, “Why do stores take coupons? Why do they give items away for free?” The answer is simple. Because they get their money back. This doesn’t cost the store anything most of the time. And I am about to explain how.

You head to the store with all of your coupons. You fill up the cart with lots of great merchandise, and get in line at the checkout. At this point, you should have all of your coupons ready to hand off to the cashier. Once you do, the cashier will credit you amount due, and you save money! You push your cart out to the vehicle, and never think about the coupons again. However, their journey has just begun.

The cashier adds up all of her cash and coupons, and makes sure that everything equals out for the shift. They turn the coupons in, and they are all collected. Once organized they are sent to a corporate office. The corporate office collects all of the coupons from each individual store, organizes them and ships them off to a big clearing house.

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At the clearing house, the coupons in good condition are put onto a conveyor belt and scanned to make sure they are not fraudulent. After all coupons are checked, the clearing house prints an invoice for the store where the coupons were originally used.

At this point, the clearing house ships them off to the manufacturers for reimbursement. Each and every accepted and good condition coupon will receive a full face value of the coupon, plus eight cents and postage! Yes, sometimes a store will give you double coupon amounts, and then only get the face value back. They are banking on the fact that you are buying other items while shopping for those double coupon items, so they will make their money back one way or another.

So please remember this the next time you use a coupon. The manufacturer wants you to use coupons, they are the ones handing them out! And most of the time, the stores don’t lose any money, they actually make a little money once they get the reimbursement back. And stores love it when they are used.

In my monthly class at The Post-Star, I go into detail about using coupons, saving money, finding monthly deals and how it will benefit your family and your pocket book! Free giveaways during the class as well. Please join me for my next class on Sept. 19 at 6 p.m. Feel free to call 518-742-3309 to sign up.

Kimberly Butler is a busy mom, wife and child care provider who loves to save money. She lives in Queensbury with her family and her black lab Duke, and writes a weekly column for The Post-Star. Write to her at kimberlybutlerthepoststar@gmail.com.

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