e-Course: Couponing With Grace

by Beth Montgomery on April 18, 2010 · 2 comments

in Coupons & Rebates, Tips & Basics

This is Part 18 of the 30-day Savings Soiree e-course by In Good Cents. View the most recent course in this series or head to the Saving Soiree e-course main menu.

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I’m pretty sure that Uncle Ben said it best:

“With great power comes great responsibility.”

I’ve given you a power.   The power to save tons of money.   Now, I ask that you use it responsibly.

There are so many amazing deals out there for all of us, there’s no reason to take advantage of the system. Play by the rules.   It only takes a few “bad apples” to ruin it for the rest of us and get stores and manufacturers to lay down more and more policies that make it harder and harder for us to snag a great deal.

So, here is what I ask of you…

Do not change, copy, or otherwise alter coupons.
I think I covered this one a little too well yesterday, so enough said there!

Use coupons only as intended.
Yes, some will argue that there are gray areas in couponing and there are, but let’s keep it simple.

Read the coupon.   All of it.   Even the fine print.   A coupon in a binding legal contract   between you and the company who released the coupon.   It’s the fine print counts.   Not if the cashier takes it, the register doesn’t beep, or the barcode you’ve finely decoded.

    • Don’t use expired coupons. Unless you know for sure your store’s coupon policy is that they do accept expired coupons.
    • Use coupons on items as they were intended. Simply read it.   If it says “Progresso Light Soup”, then buy Progresso Light Soup, not Campbell’s Light Soup or regular Progresso Soup.
    • Do not use coupons for items you did not purchase. If you didn’t buy Tide, don’t slip the Tide coupon into the bundle and hand it to the cashier.
    • Adhere to the requirements and restrictions. Read that coupon!   If it says it says “excludes trial size”, don’t buy a trial size product and attempt to use it.   If it says $1/2, then make sure you purchase two!
    • Do not decode the barcode to misuse the coupon. Many will argue that this is a “gray” area, so many companies have been adding “per specified product” or “only on product size and description specified” to the fine print of coupons.   And just because your coupon doesn’t say that, doesn’t mean you’re free to decode.   It simply means the company hasn’t added it… yet…   However, if your store is sold out of the specified product is unavailable, sometimes stores will allow you to use it on a comparable product according to their policies.   Ask, don’t assume!

Leave some for the rest of us.
When you find an amazing deal, don’t clear the shelves.   Grab a few, and leave some behind for the next couponer who comes along.

Use the Self-Checkout Systems responsibly.
They are trusting you to check yourself out.   It’s a wonderful service, because those of us who like to see each sale price and each coupon scan, can simply do it ourselves.   But while there, scan all your products, scan coupons only for products you purchased and slip them into the coupon box as you are suppose to do!

Share and share alike.
I know.   This one is hard for me too.   I love coupons, so I tend to horde them, in fear that soon the one I gave away will be exactly the one I needed to do some deal to get some product I probably didn’t need!

Share.   Share your coupons.   Share your deals.   Share the freebie and stockpiled items you don’t really need.   Give overstock to charities, new moms who can’t get out of the house just yet, your elderly neighbor, and whoever else is in need.   Give the coupons you won’t use to someone who will.   If you’re a Pampers parent, hand over those Huggies coupons!   And if Kraft Macaroni & Cheese is free at Meijer this week, I’m sure the young mom across the street would love to know.

Keep in mind, while a coupon isn’t a law, it is a contract between the company who releases the coupon and the person who uses the coupon.   When you redeem a coupon, you’re agreeing to the fine print. Remember that CIC who hasn’t lost a case in over 20 years?   They are taking action against people who have violated the text on the coupon.

But of course, in the end, it’s not me who will judge you.   But if you want to know how I coupon, you can read My Personal Coupon Policy .

– – Additional Resources from Previous Posts – –

Confused or want more help? Don’t forget that I teach classes and speak in the Central Indiana area! Use the code ClippingMyBudget to get $10 off a public class.

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