I love Harbor Freight. I love Harbor Freight coupons, deals and the free things I get there.
Their coupon policies are simple - but just about every time I'm there I see someone have issues. I will guide you through how to get organized, understand the fine print, know the coupon differences and save a bundle of cash.
I used these principals when I built my other instructible the $9 emergency phone charger.
Step 1: Free Coupons
The free coupons are the ones that everyone sees first. These are awesome. This is first most people see on their filers. These should be a staple in your Harbor Freight visits and used every time you go.
However it is worth noting there are two types: Free with ANY PURCHASE and Free NO PURCHASE REQUIRED. Both are hand to have. If you don't find what you are looking for you can at least grab a freebie. As an added bonus, when they ring it up I don't pay tax on it either in in VA.
Check the coupon for the item number - It will help you figure out which item you are actually looking for. Don't go by the value price. It is generally different from the shelf price
Not all free items are created equal. I'm not a fan of the black LED flashlight. I think the blue one is much better. I do like the magnetic parts tray, rope, multimeter and especially the 24 AA/AAA battery packs.
These can get a little unruly and hard to organize if you let them - especially since once you know where to look you will find them everywhere. The easiest thing to do is clip any that interest you. Sort them by expiration date in a stack by free item. Put a paper clip on each stack and the lot of stacks in an envelope. Toss this in your glove box. When you get new coupons add them to the bottom of the stack so the expiration dates don't get mixed up.
Step 2: Super Coupons
Super coupons and the rest of the coupons printed in a grid are different at Harbor Freight than most places. Mainly they are not restricted to a quantity of one. Each coupon will have a limit printed on it. For instance the solar panels are limited to a quantity of 3 but the 24 pack of AA's on the same page is limited to 8. So I can use one coupon to buy 3 solar sets and 8 battery packs - and get the discounted price on all of them. If I were to go over the limit I would be charged shelf price. Additionally if you bring in the whole paper you can just point to the coupon and the cashier will just scan it - and you can take the coupon back home again.
You still need to check the item number to make sure you are getting the correct item.
Super coupons are great because they tend to cover items that you can't use a 20% off coupon on such as generators, winches, tool carts, solar panels, welders and floor jacks.
Organization: I don't cut these out. I put them in a stack in a folder. Oldest on top, newest on bottom. When I notice the coupons expire I toss the whole sheet. If I need something off that sheet I just take the whole thing with me. Cutting these out and organizing them would be a pain and a big waste of time.
Step 3: 20% Off One Item Coupons
There is no reason to walk into Harbor Freight without a 20% (or sometimes 25%) off coupon!
20% off one item coupons should be easy to use right? I see this get used incorrectly often.
A few quick pointers
They do work with with items on sale
Check the expiration date before checking out
Don't attempt to put it with another coupon on the same item.
Don't try to use it on things they don't cover.
They do work with website items not sold in stores if you call the 800 number to order.
They do not work on open box or tent/parking lot sale items.
I know the print is small but this is what is excluded from the one I have in my hand:
Cannot be used with other discount, coupon, gift cards, inside track club membership, extended service plans or any of the following: compressors, generators, tool storage or carts, welders, floor jacks, toawable ride on trencher, saw mill, predator gas powered items, open box items, in store event or parting lot sale items.
Organize these the same way and in the same envelope as the free items.
Step 4: Other Deals
Parking lot sales are great for big ticket items. Typically I see the lowest prices on things like generators, solar panels, welders and winches etc. Consumables are a good bargain here too: sand paper, electrical tape, solder, latex gloves, paint brushes. Stock up especially if it is over 70% off.
Open box corner.
Every store has an open box corner. These items can be hit or miss. I tend to find that I can buy the item on sale with a 20% off for less than the open box price.
Most people do not know that Harbor Freight will price match its website. Generally the prices are the same - but I've caught it several times where the website is cheaper. Show the cashier a print out or the item pulled up on your phone - they will give you the lower price.
Step 5: Sourcing Coupons
The Sunday paper is your best bet for finding these coupons - but did you know there are four places you should look?
- Red Plum insert
- Smart Source Insert
- Loose single page insert in advertisements
- USA Weekend insert
Website and email - packed with printable coupons
Specialty magazines: Offroad, woodworking, motorcycles, sports cars - etc.
Dumpster dive the newspaper recycling bins! No shame in that recycling game. Just make sure the unused bits go back in the recycle bin.
Step 6: Bonus: Filler Item
Sometimes you just want the free with purchase item - but don't really need anything. What you need is the cheapest filler item you can find. To date the consistently least expensive item I've found is the "Color Snap Blade Utility Knife". This is a normal stocked item that retails for 49 cents. However they are often (and by often I mean almost always) on "sale" for 29 cents. It is a crazy deal by itself, but if you pair it with a free with purchase item it makes it amazing. Not only are they cheap but they are useful. By comparison the loose #1 Phillips drill bits are 67 cents on sale - 69 cents retail.