Ethical Coupon Use: some DOs for using coupons

by on September 15, 2011 in Coupon Education,Recommended Articles & Series

The more you use coupons, the more you learn about them and understand them. It can take a little trial and error to make sure you’re using them properly, and making the most of the savings you can get from them. It’s also very easy to make mistakes along the way!

This is a list of coupon DOs that I think can help you become a better and more ethical coupon user. Click here to see a list of DON’Ts. Please feel free to post a comment if you have other DOs to add!

DO get organized. You really need to find a way to keep yourself and your coupons organized if you plan to be effective. Not only do you need to find a way to fit the time needed to cut and organize your coupons into your schedule, but you also need to find a way to keep those coupons organized. I wrote a review about the MyCouponKeeper system, so check that out if you’re looking for some help with this!

DO learn about different types of coupons. There are many types of coupons out there. Manufacturer coupons, store coupons, printable coupons, electronic coupons, B1G1 coupons, and the list goes on and on. I posted a Coupon Lingo Glossary a little while ago, and I also have an on-going series about online printable coupon sites. My goal with this site is to share as much info as I can about coupons, but there are also many other sites out there that can help you learn, too. Educate yourself!

DO read your coupons. Coupons usually have very specific language on them. They will generally have fine print indicating what they can be used on, when they expire, where you can use them, how many of each kind you can use, and whether you can use them with other coupons or not. Some have more information than others, so definitely read your coupons so you will know if there are any limitations.

DO print store policies and check them regularly. Stores can change their coupon policies without any notice. In fact, some stores don’t even have coupon policies. Check to see what your favorite store’s policy is about coupon use, and then print a copy to keep with you in case any questions arise during check out. Each store usually has the ability to make the final decision regarding whether they will accept your coupons, but having the corporate policy on hand can make it easier for them…and you.

DO print often. You would be surprised how fast coupons can go up and down on printable coupon sites. Some coupons are limited by how many days they are available, but others are limited by how many times it has been printed. If you see a coupon you want on a site, print it immediately. Don’t wait until you need it, because then it might not be available any longer.

DO find a daily deal site to help you match coupons to sales. This can help you save a lot time. I personally do not have time to sit down and look at each and every sale ad, sift through all my coupons to see what I have and what matches, and then make up a big list of the best deals. But, there are lots of people and sites that do! Find a good coupon match-up/deal site, and use it!

DO diversify your coupon sources. Coupons don’t just come in the Sunday paper any more. One of my favorite places to find coupons now happens to be Facebook. I also watch Twitter for posts from companies about coupons, and then I visit a lot of company websites, too.  You can also write to companies and ask them to send you coupons. Many will! Also watch your favorite products when you shop in the store. Sometimes they have coupons on the packages and you will see coupons on displays from time to time, too. Always keep your eyes open for coupons!

DO hold on to your coupons until the right time. This is the hardest thing to learn for many new coupon users. Just because you have the coupon doesn’t mean you have to use it immediately. Coupons usually have expiration dates at least a month away from when you get it or print it, sometimes much longer. Hold on to your coupons until a great sale rolls around and then use it for maximum savings!

DO share. I think sharing coupons is an awesome thing. In fact, I started this website to share information about using coupons with a friend at work. I also regularly practice what I call “coupon cheer”. That’s the name of my monthly coupon giveaways, but I also leave coupons I don’t need, or can’t use before they expire, in the store when I shop. You can also share by sending expired coupons to military families and donating items you get for free or cheap to food pantries and other organizations. I’m all about saving money for my family, but I also want to save money for yours! :)

There are many other things to DO when you learn to use coupons, but I think these are some of the most important ones. If I think of others, I’ll add them later. Please feel free to post in the comments if you have more to add.

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