Coupon clipping is a tedious task and the merits of this activity are debatable. You waste a lot of time sifting through loads of products that you don’t want, and often don’t find a coupon for what you do want to buy. I don’t do it. Having recently bought my first home, a real fixer-upper, I have been spending lots of money on home improvement. I’ve literally spent thousands of dollars, and the spending does not seem to be slowing down.
If I had a dime for every dollar I spent on home improvement…well, I guess I could. I learned this technique almost by accident. Here’s how:
Go to the official USPS change of address site. Fill out the change of address form. Use one of your old addresses and start forwarding immediately to your new address (you’ll have to pay a dollar to do this, which is a small price to pay when you consider how much you can save.) After you’ve completed the form, you’ll be presented with a 10% coupon to Lowes, among others. You can print the coupon immediately. Make sure you print a bunch of copies.
OK, so now you have a bunch of coupons that’ll save you 10% at Lowes. The problem is, you can only use one of them, because there’s a tracking number on the coupon. Lowes keeps these numbers in a central database that’s linked to their computers. If you try to use a copy of the coupon, it won’t work.
Here’s where the magic of competition comes in: Home Depot, as Lowes’ competitor, does not have access to Lowes’ coupon database. Home Depot will, however, honor the Lowes coupons. So, having printed more than one copy of that coupon has allowed you to save 10% on a purchase at Lowes (perhaps a few cans of paint and a brush) and then another 10% at Home Depot (perhaps a new door and a welcome mat).
But it goes even further! Home Depot, lacking access to Lowes’ coupon database, has no way of tracking how many times you’ve used the same Lowes coupon. So, that same coupon can be used multiple times at Home Depot, in addition to the single use at Lowes. I hope you printed a dozen copies!
Unfortunately, the coupons will expire in a couple months and Home Depot won’t accept an expired coupon. There’s a fix for that: go back to the USPS site and re-submit your change of address. You’ll probably also receive a bunch of coupons in the mail, which you will be able to use at either store. I suggest using any of the original coupons that are sent in the mail at Lowes and using the printed copies at Home Depot. The two stores have different stock and you may find that one has a better selection of particular items.
Don’t forget to save your receipts. When it’s time to sell your house, all the money you’ve spent on home improvement can be deducted from the profits to save you money on capital gains taxes.