I love the enthusiasm that all of us shoppers have over our coupons! It is so refreshing to see many of you out at the grocery store, coupon binder in hand, game face on, and ready to snag some great deals. With the growing interest in clipping those coupons and saving money I thought that it may be necessary to go over some basic coupon etiquette. I want us all to save big money each week while still following all the proper guidelines to protect ourselves as well as the stores we shop at.
*Do follow coupons EXACTLY the way they are written. If the coupon specifies that you must purchase 2 items...then purchase both items. If the coupon says you can only use it on a certain size...then buy the correct size. If a coupon says "one coupon per purchase" this means that you can use multiple coupons as long as you have the correct number of items to match your coupons. If it says "one coupon per transaction" then this means that you can only use coupon per order. When you use the coupon correctly you will not have problems during checkout and the store is guaranteed to get their money returned by the manufacturer that issued the coupon.
*Do make sure that your coupons are still good and have not expired. I have heard people say that they have given stores expired coupons and have not had any problems. If it is the store's policy then it is okay to use expired coupons in the store. However, if the store does not accept expired coupons then make sure that the coupons you give them at checkout are within the alloted time frame and have not expired.
*Do know your store's coupon policy. I cannot stress this enough! If you have access to the store's coupon policy then it is in your best interest to print it out and have it in your coupon binder. Know these policies and abide by them. This protects you as a couponer as well as the store. I am working to compile and link up all the store policies so that you can find them quickly and easily. Look for this post within the next few days.
*Do print coupons from trusted and well known sites. Fraudulent coupons circulate every day through email and on websites so make sure that the coupons you print are legitimate and from a trusted source.
*Do not copy or scan coupons. Most sites will allow you to print 2 internet coupons from each computer you have access to and this is totally acceptable. If you want to stock up on these coupons then you may have to do like I do and beg friends, family, and neighbors for access to their computers! What is not okay is to make copies of your printable coupons. Each coupon that you print has a unique access or security code on it. If you make a copy of the coupon then the manufacturer will not honor this coupon and the store you use it at will lose all the money from your use of these coupons. These copied coupons may scan and work fine at the store, but this is illegal and can get you in serious trouble with the store you use them at.
*Don't stack coupons unless you know that the store allows this. This all goes back to knowing your store coupon policy and following the wording on the coupons. I am asked all the time about stacking manufacturer coupons and I can tell you that most stores do not allow you to do this. Here is the most common question people have about this:
*I have a coupon that says "Buy 1 deodorant, get 1 free" is it okay for me to use a "Save $1.00 on deodorant" coupon since I am having to buy 1 (in the 1st coupon) in order to get one free. The answer to this is no. In this situation you need to choose which coupon is best for the sale and then pick the one you want to use. I will say that if the store is offering a "buy one get one free" sale then you can do 1 of 2 things. You can either use a "Buy 1 get 1 free coupon" in conjunction with the sale OR you can use 2 "Save $1.00 (or whatever the amount is) on 1" coupons. This situation is completely different because you are still using the coupons they way they specify while cashing in on a great sale at your store :)
*Don't use store specific coupons at different stores, unless you know that it is the store's policy to accept them. Basically this means that you don't want to take Target stores into Kroger unless you know that Kroger will honor competitor's coupons. This information can easily be found in each of the store's coupon policy.
Remember that by following the rules we not only protect ourselves, but our favorite stores! When we follow these simple rules of couponing, manufacturers will continue to send out great coupons and our stores will honor them. If stores see a rise in coupon fraud and misuse then there is no doubt that they will become more strict with their coupon polices in order to protect themselves. Let's all work together to save BIG at the store each week while continuing to use coupons the way they are intended by the manufacturer and the stores :)