Couponing is more popular – and more necessary, for many families – than ever. The more you coupon, the more important it is to make sure that you’re following accepted etiquette. You’ll leave a positive impression with your fellow shoppers, your local cashiers, and other couponers. And you’ll help encourage stores and manufacturers to continue to provide coupons.
Here are some basic rules you should follow when practicing the art of couponing:
Read the fine print. Organize your coupons before you shop. Make sure you understand exactly which product sizes and variations are valid for purchase with each coupon. For example, if the coupon is for a 20-ounce bottle of orange soda, don’t plan to use it with a 12-ounce can of root beer. Even if it’s an honest mistake, the cashier may think you’re trying to pull a fast one.
Don’t use photocopied coupons. Unless the store is providing them, using photocopied coupons may be considered coupon fraud, which is against the law.
Don’t use more than two coupons per item. The general rule is that you can use one store coupon and one manufacturer’s coupon per item. If you try to use more, chances are you are violating store policy or the terms of one of the coupons you are already using.
Never take a coupon insert from a paper you haven’t paid for. Unfortunately, coupon theft is on the rise. Some people are stealing coupon inserts either from store newspapers or from newspapers other people have already paid for. Saving a few bucks isn’t worth your integrity.
Know the store’s coupon policy. Your grocery store, retailers and local merchants will all have different coupon policies. Some may allow you to use coupons for items that are on sale, but others won’t. Some may give you cash back if your coupons exceed the value of what you’ve purchased, while others may not allow this. They will all have different rules around rain checks. Familiarize yourself with the store’s policies so you don’t have an issue when you’re in the checkout line.
Don’t take more than your share of coupons. If the store has tear pad coupons or coupon dispensers, take one or two, not five or ten. Leave some for your fellow couponers and other customers.
Avoid peak shopping hours. If you show up at 5pm with the crowd that’s trying to buy groceries for tonight’s dinner, you’re going to make the cashiers’ jobs that much more stressful. Shop when the store tends to be less crowded, such as later at night or early in the morning.
If you can’t use it, give it away. If you discover while at the store that you can’t use a coupon but it is still valid, leave it for someone else who may be able to make use of it.
Don’t clear the shelves. While many couponers love the thrill of getting a vast amount of items for nothing (or next to nothing), only do this if you can actually use that vast amount. Don’t be greedy and leave the shelves bare; be considerate of your fellow shoppers and take only what you know you and your family will actually use.
Survey the checkout line. If the person behind you has one item and no coupons, and you have 20 items and 20 coupons, let them go ahead of you. This common courtesy will help give you and your fellow couponers a good name.
Always be kind to the cashier. Even if you find that the checkout person has an attitude about your coupons, smile graciously and thank them for their help. They may have had a run-in with an unfriendly couponer or someone who tried to trick them into honoring coupons that weren’t valid.
Have your method of payment at the ready. This is especially important if a line has formed behind you while the cashier was scanning your coupons. Your fellow shoppers – and the cashier – will appreciate anything you can do to streamline the process.
Use the customer service desk. If you have a disagreement with the cashier about how you are using your coupons, politely ask them if a manager might have additional insight. If the manager does not assist you, finish your transactions and bring the issue to the customer service desk. If the customer service desk won’t help you, and you believe you are still in the right, follow up with a polite letter or phone call to the company that owns the store. You’d be surprised how often you will receive a response if you keep things civil.
If you follow these simple guidelines, you and your fellow shoppers will have a more pleasant experience. And, just as important, you’ll help make sure that couponers everywhere get to continue to do what we love – find great deals.
I have recently run into at many stores where people who have forgotten these rules ESPECIALLY DO NOT CLEAR THE SHELVES!
Gotta Office Depot nearby? Check out the email I received from reader, Courtney:
I was going through the paper and I noticed a great deal. This week at Office Depot they have a 5-pack of Sharpie markers on sale for only a dollar. There is a coupon from the 12/7 SS for $1 off any sharpie 4 ct or higher, making them completely free! Just thought that I would share! :)
Even sweeter, you can stack these new Cartwheel offers with the $5 Off Storage & Organization Purchase of $25 or more Target store coupon found here (Or, in the 12/28 Target Ad or text STORAGE to827438 for a mobile).
Here are a few of the deals you can score (thru 1/3)…
Threshold Cube Organizer $64.99 Use the $5 Off Storage & Organization Purchase of $25 or more Target store coupon found here (Or, textSTORAGE to 827438) Use the 20% Off Threshold Walnut Cube Organizer Target Cartwheel (will deduct $13) Final Cost $46.99!
Deal Scenario Buy 4 Windex Touch-Up, 10 oz $3.49 each Total = $13.96 Use the 50% off Windex Touch-Up 10oz scents only Target Cartwheel (will deduct $6.98) Plus, use the $2/2 Windex products coupon found here Pay $4.98 Get a FREE $5 Target Gift Card Final Cost – 2 for FREE!
UPDATE: You can use the code FA143260 to save $10 off a $30 purchase.
Today only, Bath & Body Works is offering up select 3-wick Candles (in-store and online) for just $10 (reg. $22.50). Even sweeter, through December 30th, spend $40 or more and you can use the code10NOW to save $10 off your online purchase. Or, if you spend $50 or more you can save $20 off your purchase when you use the code FA144626 at checkout. Keep in mind that shipping is a flat-rate of $5.99.
Wii Fit U allows you to workout at home or on the go with the Fit Meter, a handy device that tracks your activity (i.e. calories burned, steps taken, elevation changes). Then sync the Fit Meter data to your in-game profile with one button press. Wii Fit U software lets you create routines, review progress, and compare with friends in online Gym Communities and Miiverse. Shape up with fun activities, from new ones using the GamePad to Wii Fit favorites. View your profile privately on the GamePad or get active with Off-TV play. Explore tons of options to create your perfect workout.
And through December 30th, spend $40 or more and you can use the code 10NOW to save $10 off your online purchase. Keep in mind that shipping is a flat-rate of $5.99. Or check your Inbox for an email with the Subject Line “Semi-Annual Sale Is Here! Save up to 75% + EXTRA $10 Off!” that contains an in-store coupon valid for $10 off your $40 purchase – just print the email or show it on your mobile device to save in-store.
PLUS – check out this awesome deal you can score at CVS (thru 12/27):
Spend $30 on Jumbo Pack Huggies diapers or Pull-Ups $7.99 = $10 Ecb (limit 1) Deal Scenario: Buy 2 Huggies Pull-Ups Jumbo Packs $7.99 each Buy 2 Huggies Diapers Jumbo Packs $7.99 each Total = $31.96 Use two $2.25/1 Pull-Ups coupons found here Plus, use two $2/1 Huggies Diapers coupons found here Pay $23.46 Get back $10 Ecb Final cost $13.46 total – just $3.37 each!
If you have a Peet’s Coffee & Tea nearby, you may want to make plans to head on over there tomorrow any time during business hours to score a FREE cup of coffee or tea (no coupon needed!) in honor of Christmas. Go here for more details.
Heads up! If you have a Big Lots nearby and are planning to shop the after-Christmas sales, here’s a couple coupons you’ll want to print! Just go here to print PDF coupons valid for $10 off your entire $50 purchaseor$15 off your entire $75 purchase, valid 12/26-12/28 only. Keep in mind that these coupons exclude Milk, dairy products, eggs, and/or gift cards and cannot be used with any other coupon, discount, or associate discount.
If you have a Big Lots nearby and are looking to stock up on beverages for the holidays, you may want to make plans to head on over there tomorrow! Starting 12/20 through 12/24, they will have Nestea 12-pack Lemon Iced Tea on sale for just $1, which is an AWESOME sale price and NO coupons required (and it appears there’s no limit stated in the Ad Preview?!)!
While you’re there, you can also score 2 Liter Coca-Cola Products on a price cut for just 88¢ (limit 4) through 12/20 AND Pepsi 2 Liters for just 88¢ (limit 4) from 12/20 thru 12/24 – another great price for soda!
*Go here to see the current Weekly Ad or here to see the upcoming Preview Ad.
Starbucks lovers! Tomorrow, December 20th, from Noon-Close, score half off any size Peppermint Mocha – hot, iced or as a Starbucks Frappuccino. Check out the Starbucks Facebook page for more information.
Here’s another great Target deal for ya! You can score super cute Boys’ and Girls’ Character Tees (including the popular Disney Frozen tees!) for as low as ONLY $4.35 each (Regularly $9.99!). Find out how…
Buy 4 Character Tees on sale for $8 (through 12/20) Total = $32 Use the $5 off Kids’ apparel purchase of $25 or more Mobile Coupon (text Offers to 827438) Plus, use the 30% Off Kids Apparel 4-16 Cartwheel Offer (will deduct $9.60) Final cost only $17.40 for FOUR, just $4.35 per tee! :)
The books and other items range from 25% to 80% off the published price (most books and items are at least 50% off), and there are thousands of items priced at $2 or less. You can also fill a Build-a-BOX with books of your choice from a specially selected collection of clearance items at participating locations (marked with a box symbol) and pay only $24.95 plus tax for each box you build. (I personally love this and can get so many books for my classroom for CHEAP by doing this!)
To locate the warehouse sale in each state, head on over here and click on your state or enter your zip code. If there is one in your area, the address with dates and times will be listed. Also, make sure you register on-line before you attend to receive a special $10 off $50 or $25 off $100 coupon. Awesome!
If you don’t have a warehouse nearby or just like shopping from the comfort of your own home, here’s an online deal you can score! Now through 12/15, the Scholastic Store is offering an extra25% off sitewide (excluding LEGO Systems) with the promo code SS1514 at checkout. Plus, get FREE ground shipping on all orders over $50!
Plus, today’s Daily Deal is this highly rated Smile/Sisters Boxset for just $14.65 (reg. $21.99), so only $10.99 after the additional 25% off. This same Boxset is priced at $17.99 on Amazon and has great reviews! There are lots of items in the Sale Section, so be sure to browse around and let us know what bargains you find.