Sunday, April 5, 2015

Using Shopping Coupons in Israel

Going shopping with coupons here in Israel isn't quite the experience you may have become used to back in the old country. The market is much smaller here and the competition will never be what it is in a country with many times the population of ours. I don't expect ever to make out like the pros on Extreme Couponing do, where people manage to buy hundreds of dollars' worth of merchandise for a pittance. But as Israelis become savvier shoppers and more demanding customers, coupons have been slowly entering the market and it's possible, with proper planning, to shave quite a few shekels off your grocery bill each week.

Where can I find coupons? 

Lots of places! Some of the better offline places to find coupons are in newspapers (Super Pharm often has inserts or ads in Friday Hebrew papers, and Yisrael Hayom often has them as well), or are mailed directly to shopping club members (e.g, Shufersal). However, you can increasingly find great coupons - store or manufacturer - online:
  •  Coupon Websites: One of my favorite Anglo-geared websites for coupons is Couponing in the Holy Land. The Frugal Shopper regularly posts coupons from various sources, some available directly from the blog, others with precise directions on how to obtain them.  There is also a short but important post about coupons in Israel and how they differ from what you may have known in the old country. Besides coupons, there is a lot of information about food and shopping in general on the blog, such as food recalls and deals in local supermarket chains. Another good website to find coupons for downloading and printing manufacturer's coupons is Super Coupons
  • Store Websites: Not a very common way of posting coupons, but some stores post coupons directly on their websites. Super Pharm has been doing this for years; lately, so has Home Center. A good thing about Hebrew being the language of only one country is that you can Google "(name of store) קופונים" and you never know what you'll find, but it'll always be relevant to Israel. 
  • Facebook: I confess, the main reason I signed up to Facebook wasn't so that casual acquaintances from high school could find me online, but rather so I could take advantage of the amazing coupons offered through this medium. Once you sign up for an account, look up the Facebook pages of brands you like and "Like" them. You may find coupons on their pages, or they might show up on your feed once in a while. Here, for example, are some printable coupons to Dr. Fischer products (which are excellent, by the way).
  • Email: While these are technically blogs, they send updates by email, which I find far more convenient. They offer free samples as well as coupons: צרכנות בכל הזדמנות (consumerism at every opportunity) and מתנות ומציאות ברשת (gifts and finds on the Web). I don't recommend signing up for email updates to these sites unless your Hebrew is reasonably good, however.You can also sign up to various customer clubs (e.g., Sebocalm ) and get coupons directly to your mailbox.
  • Smartphone Apps: To prevent you from wasting paper and time printing out coupons, some are scannable directly from your smartphone. Shufersal and Super Pharm both have coupons on their apps.

How to use the coupons you find 

Now that you have your coupons, what's the best way to use them to really save money?
  • Make sure it's really a deal. Just because there's a coupon for it, doesn't mean there isn't a cheaper version of them item you want, such as a store brand. The item also might already be on sale at the same price offered by the coupon, in which case you may want to save the coupon for a later date.
  • Read the fine print. Coupons will always have an expiration date, usually at the end of a month or a year, and be viable only in specific stores. They may also only be good for some types of the item - for example, only 5 out of 10 flavors of yogurt, so compare the number on the barcode to that on the coupon before you buy. If you're not sure, ask in advance. 
  • Insist upon your rights as a shopper. If the coupon clearly says it's honored in the store and has not expired, the mere fact the printed coupon won't scan is the store's problem, not yours. Ask them to input the discount manually if that happens. 
I'd love to hear how you save with coupons while shopping - tell me in the comments!


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