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Basic Couponing Etiquette


couponing etiquetteSome Basic Rules of Coupons and Couponing Etiquette:

Coupons may only be used once. You may not buy ten boxes of cereal and scan the coupon for $1 off cereal ten times. The store will only be reimbursed for the single coupon you scanned – they will then lose $9 for the nine additional times you scanned the coupon.

You may not use two coupons on one item. You may not buy one package of diapers and use ten coupons on it. You may only use one of your coupons on the diapers. You may, however, use one store coupon and one manufacturer coupon on one item if the store allows it.

Coupons may not be copied! Copying coupons is illegal. Do not do it! There are many ways to obtain multiples of coupons in legal ways like buying multiple newspapers.

Read the wording of the coupon and ignore the picture   Manufacturers tend to put a picture of their most expensive product on the coupon to make you think that is what you have to buy. If you actually read the terms of the coupon, it will usually say “save on ANY brand xyz product.” That means you can buy even the least expensive product and still save with the coupon! Always follow the size and type wording of the coupon.

You can use a coupon on an item that is on sale or clearance, too   Occasionally the cashier will try to tell you otherwise, but a quick chat with the manager or corporate can clear that up.

Do not use expired coupons even if they scan  If you have a stash of expired coupons, consider sending them to military families overseas. They can use coupons up to 6 months past their expiration.

Per Purchase vs. Per transaction  Understanding the difference between coupon terms stating limit one coupon per purchase and one coupon per transaction is an important point in couponing. Limit one coupon per purchase means one coupon per item. Each item you buy is a purchase. So if you purchase ten boxes of crackers you can use ten coupons. They want to prevent you from thinking you can buy one box of crackers and use two manufacturer coupons on the same item. You should be able to use one coupon per item purchased. Of course, if the coupon is for “$1 off the purchase of two” you’ll need to buy two and you can only use one coupon for those two products. Limit one coupon per transaction: This simply means your entire shopping trip.

Start Small   Start with one store and only a few coupons and build up from there. I recommend new couponers first learn how to create a shopping list and complete trips at their local grocery store, and then move on to new stores as they get comfortable. Each chain has different rules and systems. Learn one, then move on to the next.

Realize sales come and go   Don’t try to hit them all or you will go crazy. If you miss a deal, don’t beat yourself up – a new one is just around the corner. Make sure you balance family time with couponing – it can easily consume you if you aren’t careful.

Just because you have a coupon doesn’t make it a deal   A common pitfall to new couponers is buying things just because you have a coupon. If you won’t use it and its not free then don’t buy it. You will just be spending unnecessarily if you spend money on something you don’t need or want.

Be respectful   Remember that cashiers and other shoppers are human beings. Be respectful and polite in your shopping and couponing. Try not to empty a shelf just because you can. Be courteous to your cashier – most are just trying to do the right thing and follow the rules. They don’t want to get in trouble. If they don’t know all the rules then politely help to educate them. Offer a copy of their store’s coupon policy.  Ask nicely for a manager to assist.  Remember you catch more flies with honey than vinegar!

Be patient with yourself and have fun   If you expect too much of yourself right off the bat you will get frustrated and quit. Keep trying; keep going, and soon all this will be second nature. Remember even if you only save $5, that’s still $5 more than last week!

Looking for more help getting started with coupons?  Have a look at my posts on Coupon Lingo and Practical Tips to Getting Started with Coupons.