The Language and Lingo of Couponing: Guest Post by Northshore Mama

When you think of couponing, do you imagine the Extreme Couponers from TLC with their huge binders filled with coupons and five grocery carts full causing registers to lock up upon checkout?  It can all be very intimidating, so we have partnered with Northshore Mama to bring you a post each month on frugal living.

Before we get started, a few Coupon 101 basics to remember:

  • Coupons can be found many places, including in your Sunday paper, inside packages, on Facebook, email clubs, rewards cards,, the backs of receipts, and more
  • There are usually no coupons on holiday weekends
  • Know your store’s coupon policy.  Print it! Carry it!

When I first started trying to feel my way through the coupon game, I was soooo confused by all of the codes that were listed in the matchups. So, I have had several people in my classes lately asking if I had a list of the terminology – a glossary, so to speak – on my blog. I promised them that I would try to get one up soon. So, here it is!

First of all, you will hear the word “inserts.”  This refers to the booklets of coupons that come in the Sunday newspaper. Here is what they look like:

The two that are pictured above are the SmartSource and RedPlum inserts. They would be referred to as SS and RP, along with the dates. Example: a coupon found in the SmartSource insert from July 24 would be cited as “7/24 SS.”

There are also monthly inserts from Proctor & Gamble (PG), as well as the occasional insert from General Mills (GM).

Any of these inserts can be cited in a matchup in the same form as “7/24 SS,” but would have RP, PG or GM in place of the SS.

If a matchup says “$1.00 off here” and/or is a hyperlink, you can access the coupon by just clicking the link. Keep in mind that sometimes the coupons have print limits and may already be inactive. Other than that, the link should take you right where you want to go.

You may also see “Aug ALL YOU.” This is referring to a coupon that is printed in the August issue of the ALL YOU magazine. It is found on the shelf only at WalMart, but can be subscribed to HERE.

Some other coupon terms and descriptions that you need to know are:

BOGO/B1G1: Buy One, Get One (Usually free unless otherwise stated, might be buy one, get one 50%)

MM (money maker) or Overage: this means that you have a coupon for $2.00 off an item that only costs $1.00. So it is a $1.00 money maker, or will give you $1.00 in overage. You will NOT get cash back on this, but you can use the extra $1.00 toward the rest of your order. If that is the only item you were buying, then you would need a “filler” item to absorb the overage so you don’t lose it.

If you shop at CVS, you will see the term ECB in their matchups. This term refers to the CVS Extra Care Bucks. You must have a CVS Extra Care card to get ECBs. ECBs are like cash at CVS and can be used with any other coupons in any amount or increment. You may get extra bucks in several ways:

  • 1) Item is on sale for $5 with $3 ECBs – This means that you pay $5, but get $3 back on the end of your “CRT“(or Cash Register Tape) to use on another transaction. It’s like cash back, but only good at CVS.  WE LOVE ECBs!
  • 2) You will get 2% of what you spent in the prior quarter (Jan-Mar, April-June, July-Sept, Oct-Dec) back in ECBs on the first day of the next quarter. So, if you spent $100 in Jan-Mar, on or about April 1, you will get $2 in ECBs. You can get them on the end of your next receipt by scanning your Extra Care card at the Magic Coupon Printer or kiosk (see pic below) in the store, or by going online and printing them out.

  • 3) You get ECBs for prescriptions filled at CVS. I think it’s $1 ECB per 2 RXs.
  • 4) You get one ECB for every 4 scans of your Green Bag Tag (pic below) that you attach to any re-useable bag. It must be connected with your Extra Care account by the cashier. These are only good for one scan per day, not per transaction.

  • 5) You get $5 ECBs for every $50 you spend on Beauty purchases if you are in the Beauty Club.

If you shop at Walgreens, you may see it referred to as “Wags.” Walgreens also gives store credits back on some purchases. They are called Register Rewards or “RR.” They are distributed in the same manner as #1 on the CVS ECB descriptions. An item is on sale for $5 with $3 RR; this means that you pay $5, but you also get a $3 coupon to use on another transaction. These coupons at Walgreens look like a Catalina (see more below). It’s like cash back, but only good at Walgreens.

At some stores, such as Target, Winn Dixie and Walgreens, you may receive a coupon after you check-out. This coupon is called a “Catalina.” These coupons may be a manufacturer’s coupon or a “store coupon.” Be sure to read the coupon in its entirety, as it may have exclusions or only be an ad.

A “Store Coupon” is a coupon that is distributed by the store. CVS, Winn Dixie, Target, Walgreens and many other stores may give out Store Coupons. These are an alternative to putting an item on sale and therefore can be “Stacked” with a manufacturer’s coupon. “Stacking” refers to doing just that: using two different types of coupons on the same item in order to get a better deal. For example, let’s say that Target has a coupon on their website for $1.00 off Purex Crystals,which are $2.99. Then, let’s say that there was a coupon in the 7/24 SS (pop quiz!) for $2.00 Purex Crystals. These two coupons could be stacked and would make the item a $.01 moneymaker. The matchup would look like this (this is an example and not an active deal):

  • Purex Crystals – priced at $2.99
  • Target coupon – $1.00 off AND $2.00 7/24 SS
  • Final Price – FREE with .01 overage.

How to read the numerical part of the matchups:

$1.00 off 2 or $1.00/2: this means that the coupon is for $1.00 off two items. You must buy 2 items for the $1.00 to come off ONE TIME. It is not $1 off each item but off the two as a whole purchase.

Reverse (2/$1.00): this means the price is two items for $1.00 – or 50 cents each. You generally DO NOT have to buy 2 to get the 50 cent price. 10/$10 deals at grocery stores generally do not require you to buy 10 items (so each item is just $1).

$5/$25: this means that you will purchase a minimum of $25 in products and get $5 off of that purchase with this coupon. This is generally a store coupon and can therefore be stacked with manufacturer’s coupons on the items that make the $25 total. TIP: You would want to scan this coupon first to keep the total high enough to cover the $25 minimum.

Coupon Code: refers to a code that you apply to an online store to receive a discount or free shipping. ALWAYS search for these before you make an online purchase. It could save you tons of money!Literally just search for the store where you are shopping and “coupon” and you will likely turn up a code.

About Northshore Mama


Kari, born and raised on the Northshore, began Northshore Mama after her family experienced a couple of rough financial years.  Kari shares the tips and tricks to maneuvering each store’s different marketing of their sales, as well as introducing her readers to various programs and websites where she earns free stuff every day.  Northshore Mama’s mission is to bring you the coupon deals and show you how to match them up with each store’s weekly sales to get the most bang for your buck!



  1. I am so excited about your blog! I have been clipping coupons since last year when I was pregnant and even more so now that my son is 8 months! I am all for saving money especially on items we need! You may also want to mention that if you shop at target with your Target Redcard, you get an additional 5% off of your total purchase! Just make sure you pay the balance each month because the finance charges are crazy! I can’t wait to read your next blog! Thank you!


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