Couponing Tips & Tricks

When signing up online for freebies, coupons, and contests, you’re often asked for a lot of personal information that may result in spam, junk mail, and unwanted calls.

While you may not want to miss that call or email telling you that you won a sweepstakes, you also don’t want to wade through larges amounts of junk when quickly checking your email.

Protect Your Privacy Online

1. Get a dedicated email address. Sign up for a free email address with Gmail, Yahoo Mail, or Hotmail and use that email only when signing up for freebies, coupons, and other online offers. Don’t forget to check it at least once a week to make sure you didn’t win a contest!

2. Get a voice-only phone number. Sign up with Google Voice to get a free phone number where people can leave messages. While you can’t make calls from it, you can send unwanted calls there and still not miss if they call to notify you that you’ve won a contest. Again, don’t forget to check it once a week. If you’d like a Google alternative, try K7.

3. Read permissions. When grabbing a great freebies on Facebook, many glide through the permissions not bothering to read them. Stop and look, because you not realize what you are handing over online.

4. Check your Facebook permissions. Facebook is changing all the time. Stop and take the time to check your Facebook permission. While when you agree to hand over your information to a company, you can stop your friends from handing over your information.

5. Think before connecting through Facebook, GMail, or other accounts. Whenever possible, don’t join or sign up for websites through other accounts that hold your personal information. These sites may be taking your contacts and a whole lot more. If there is no other choice, make sure you read the permissions, privacy policy, and terms of use. I know that’s a lot, but scan them to make sure nothing jumps out at you.

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If you’ve followed In Good Cents for a while, you’re probably well aware of the fact that I love rules. I’m far from perfect, so, of course, I don’t judge those to break the rules. I do, however, strongly believe that you should know and understand the rules, so you can make an informed decision.

It’s possible I let my sarcastic side shine yesterday when sharing some of the new fine print on coupons, but I skipped over the best coupon I found. I mainly skipped it, because it gives me the perfect opportunity to answer a question many of you have asked me.

Is buying coupons illegal? Is selling coupons illegal?

While long ago, I would have told you it’s a “no, no”, a recent conversation with my husband made me realize that I don’t really feel that way.

“Reproduction, alteration, transfer, or sale of this coupon or it’s contents is prohibited and is a criminal offense.” – Kraft

Kraft sold me this coupon.  Well, not exactly, but essentially.

Actually, Kraft placed this coupon in the 8/19/12 Smart Source insert, which in my area is only available in the the Indianapolis Star. Everyone in my area had to pay at least $0.50 to get it without stealing a newspaper from the stands.

If I’m honest, I can get news and store ads online for free, so the only reason I buy the Indianapolis Star is to get the coupons. Did the Indianapolis Star commit a criminal offense by selling it to me or is the Smart Source insert considered “FREE with purchase”?

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As couponers looking to save money for our families, we already have to memorize complicated store coupon policies that not only vary by grocery store chain, but sometimes from store to store within that chain. We all remember the Kroger Coupon Policy changes and the mass confusion that created not only for couponers, but also for the media attempting to cover and explain the changes.

Then, for those of us who practice ethical couponing, there’s the unwritten rules of couponing that we uphold out of respect for other couponers and the stores and manufacturers who provide us with those savings.

The rules of couponing are changing daily, it’s already become so complicated that new couponers struggle to learn and they can’t help but make mistakes. In fact, many manufacturers don’t even understand coupons and how they work completely, nor do store managers or cashiers. The result embarrassing and frustrating, because couponers are treated like criminals when trying to save money for their family.


(Photo Credit: Rachel, Mashup Mom)

When Rachel at Mashup Mom pointed out the restrictive wording on the newest POM Wonderful coupon and POM Wonderful’s Facebook page blew up, I got out my recent Sunday coupons. Because the fine print on coupons is so standard, I rarely read more than the expiration date, restrictions, and description. This time I looked closer and what I saw shocked me!

Now manufactures have added new fine print that further restricts the use of their coupons and adds a whole new level of complication for couponers and cashiers who will have to read each coupon to make sure it’s being used in compliance.

Standard Fine Print on Coupons

First, let’s look take a quick peek at standard fine print on coupons just to refresh our memories.

One coupon per purchase. Good only on product indicated. Consumer pays any sales tax. Void of sold, exchanged, transferred, or reproduced (including electronic, photographic, digital, or other means in any media.” – Prego

Got it? It’s straight forward and makes complete sense. Plus, it’s possible for couponers and cashiers to easily comply. Thank you Cambell’s Soup Company!

Now, let’s take a look at some of the new fine print on coupons.

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Today, we’re taking the time to say thank you to Johnsonville.                                                                                                                      

As a savvy shoppers, it’s nice to give back to the companies we love.  Each week, we take the time to say thanks to one company for the savings they provide, providing us with great products, or just general things we love about them.

Some companies may send us a gift just for being a loyal fan and taking the time to show our appreciate.  Since it’s nice to be appreciated back and it’s important to realize that being kind can help you save even more, we’re tracking who we’ve thanked and how (or if) they’ve showed appreciation in return.

How it Works

  1. Write an honest message expressing your thanks to the company or brand.  It doesn’t have to be long.  Short and sweet works too.
  2. If you don’t like a particular company, don’t force it.  Just skip this week and participate again next week.  Only thank those you truly appreciate and want to thank.
  3. Make sure to include your address in case they decide to send you something to show their own appreciation to you.

Say Thanks To…

Johnsonville

Why We Love Them

Need some ideas to get you started?  That’s okay.  Here’s a few reasons I love Johnsonville to inspire your own thank you message.

  • BRATS are the best!!
  • Smoked brats are easy to take in my lunch.
  • Smoked brats can be microwaved for a quick easy dinner or lunch.
  • Smoked brats are great in my steamer with veggies.

Don’t forget to check out status updates to see who has shown their appreciation back.  Remember, not every company will send something in return, but this is more about saying thank you, so have fun with it!

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Today, we’re taking the time to say thank you to Aunt Millie’s.

As a savvy shoppers, it’s nice to give back to the companies we love.  Each week, we take the time to say thanks to one company for the savings they provide, providing us with great products, or just general things we love about them.

Some companies may send us a gift just for being a loyal fan and taking the time to show our appreciate.  Since it’s nice to be appreciated back and it’s important to realize that being kind can help you save even more, we’re tracking who we’ve thanked and how (or if) they’ve showed appreciation in return.

How it Works

  1. Write an honest message expressing your thanks to the company or brand.  It doesn’t have to be long.  Short and sweet works too.
  2. If you don’t like a particular company, don’t force it.  Just skip this week and participate again next week.  Only thank those you truly appreciate and want to thank.
  3. Make sure to include your address in case they decide to send you something to show their own appreciation to you.

Say Thanks To…

Aunt Millie’s

Why We Love Them

Need some ideas to get you started?  That’s okay.  Here’s a few reasons I love Aunt Millie’s to inspire your own thank you message.

  • Whole Grain Bread
  • Available in low Calorie
  • Tastes great and always fresh
  • Coupons!!!

Don’t forget to check out status updates to see who has shown their appreciation back.  Remember, not every company will send something in return, but this is more about saying thank you, so have fun with it!

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Today, we’re taking the time to say thank you to Davids Sunflower Seeds.

As a savvy shoppers, it’s nice to give back to the companies we love.  Each week, we take the time to say thanks to one company for the savings they provide, providing us with great products, or just general things we love about them.

Some companies may send us a gift just for being a loyal fan and taking the time to show our appreciate.  Since it’s nice to be appreciated back and it’s important to realize that being kind can help you save even more, we’re tracking who we’ve thanked and how (or if) they’ve showed appreciation in return.

How it Works

  1. Write an honest message expressing your thanks to the company or brand.  It doesn’t have to be long.  Short and sweet works too.
  2. If you don’t like a particular company, don’t force it.  Just skip this week and participate again next week.  Only thank those you truly appreciate and want to thank.
  3. Make sure to include your address in case they decide to send you something to show their own appreciation to you.

Say Thanks To…

Davids Sunflower Seeds

Why We Love Them

Need some ideas to get you started?  That’s okay.  Here’s a few reasons I love Davids Sunflower Seeds to inspire your own thank you message.

  • Fun and healthy snack
  • Always fresh and great quality
  • Lots of great flavors such as Ranch and BBQ
  • Easy to take on the go
  • A price that fits perfectly in my budget

Don’t forget to check out status updates to see who has shown their appreciation back.  Remember, not every company will send something in return, but this is more about saying thank you, so have fun with it!

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