Monday, October 8, 2012

Manners Monday: Extreme Couponing Etiquette

Happy Monday! To my American friends, Happy Columbus Day and to my Canadian friends, I hope you're having a fabulous Thanksgiving today! Today's Manner Monday post is about a topic that is becoming more popular, the use of coupons. Around the time that the show Extreme Couponing became popular, I began watching a few episodes and while many of the coupon queens had a lot of great ideas and I was impressed by their massive organized stockpiles of necessities there were some not so nice aspects of the show that I feel promote competition in a negative way and hoarding among other things. While clearing the shelves at your local supermarket may make you feel like you're one savvy bargain hunter, it's anything but well mannered or classy behavior.

Today I'll be sharing some tips written by Rebecca Wells of While I have many of my own tips to provide you as an avid user of coupons, there is no sense in re-inventing the wheel when Rebecca (who is a pro at couponing) has done such a fine job of outlining the do's and don't of coupon etiquette.  I've heard of fights breaking out in stores and coupon users treating store staff poorly which is such a sad thought, a classy woman knows that coupons are a privilege offered by the manufacturer and/or stores, not our right and must be used with respect.

If you've ever thought about using coupons (but haven't yet), are just learning the ropes or are a seasoned deal seeker, these tips are good reminders to us all about the importance of manners and etiquette as it pertains to the use of coupons.


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. Below are some basic rules you should follow when practicing the art of couponing.
1. 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.
2. Don’t use photocopied coupons. Unless the store is providing them, using photocopied coupons may be considered coupon fraud, which is against the law.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. 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.
7. 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.
8. 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.
9. 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.
10. 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.
11. 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.
12. 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.
13. 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. To find out how to coupon more effectively, visit Rebecca's website for more information.

Just for fun, I thought I'd share one of my favorite trips to Target, it was exactly this time last year. I love their clearance sections, you can find great deals! This happened to be a day where I really scored in the clearance area and had coupons that I applied also. 

Below is a better picture of my favorite item below on our bed-the pillow!

Here are the details, in case anyone is interested and gets a thrill out of hitting the deal jackpot ;) I don't normally document my shopping trips but some friends had been asking how I find things for a steal, so I shared it on my personal Facebook page with the breakdown.

Tazo Organic Chai concentrate was 50% off after coupons, Alba Botanicals lotion was 88% off and less than $1.00! (3) St. Ives lotions were free (actually made 8 cents each with store coupon), ponytail holder 50% off, (4) 4-pk Dove sensitive skin bar soap $3.48 ea with bonus travel size shampoos attached, (2) 3-pk Kleenex only 58 cents after coupon and my favorite find was a Fieldcrest Luxury Downfilled pillow which was 88% off on clearance-no coupon required. I saved a total of 70% off my bill by using coupons, buying clearance items that I normally busy and by utilizing my Target debit Redcard to save an additional 5% off plus 5 cents off each reusable bag I brought. My cost: $25.56 vs. Retail cost: $83.76.

Do you use coupons? What has your couponing experience been and have you ever witnessed anyone breaking the rules? What is one of the best deals you got using sales coupled with coupons? I'd love to hear about it!


*photo credit


  1. I love target sales. Thanks for sharing great coupon advice. I always love learning more about it

    1. You're welcome and thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts. :) One of my favorite areas is their clothing racks! I've got a few pairs of jeans that were marked down to $5 and then on their website they had a $5 off denim coupon which made them free when purchasing with other items.

  2. I never thought that there's also a coupon etiquette that should be followed. Good thing I was able to visit your blog and read your pieces of advice. Now I can make sales in a good manner. Thanks a lot!

    1. Thank you, Bakersfield Photography for stopping by and leaving a comment. :)

  3. I'm not much into coupons for every day items, but I definitely always use a coupon (or coupon code) when buying clothing. I also buy a lot of things on ebay and craigslist...that's my money saver.
    As far as groceries, I've always been more of a generic brand/store brand kind of shopper.
    I am all for people using coupons, but I think you should only get things you really will use. Stocking up on things is fine too...but, it should be on stuff you will use. I've never understood those who buy 30 boxes of pop tarts, but they don't even really like pop tarts.
    You gave some great tips!

    1. Sarah, I totally agree with you! I've also never understood how people can hoard boxes of cereal, etc., that they and their family don't even like. It's almost like it's a competition for them. I couldn't imagine even wasting 50 cents on an item just because it was a good deal, if I am not going to use it. Great point! :)

  4. Great post! I am definitely not a crazy couponer, I do use coupons for clothing or shoes like Sarah, occasionally cosmetics, but not so much for groceries. I find that the coupons usually advertise a particular brand or new product that is more expensive than generic, sometimes even after a coupon. Not always but often it is a waste of time and unnecessary hustle.

  5. Thanks Evelyn, I'm with you, I don't spend hours clipping coupons trying to track down every grocery deal either-it's true, many products with coupons are still more expensive. I pick and choose with groceries, always opting for the healthier choice and not just the least expensive. I appreciate you stopping by to comment. :)


Thanks for stopping by, your comments make my day! I read every single one and will answer any questions you have. I hope you'll visit again soon! :)


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