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Couponing 101: Using Coupons Ethically #Coupons #Ethics

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When you’re using coupons, it is very important to know how to use them ethically. You can save a good amount of money when couponing ethically so there is no need to try to cheat the policies or terms of the coupon. Manufacturers give use the privilege to save on their products and stores allow us to use them knowing that they’ll get reimbursed for the face value of the coupon (plus a processing fee). When these coupons are not used as they were intended, the stores not only suffer (they will not get reimbursed for the coupon) but the manufacturer and the consumers do as well. One important note to make is that the more fraudulent coupon use there is out there, the less we will see coupons! As a couponer myself, there are some important items I want to highlight regarding using coupons ethically:

1. Do not use expired coupons. Just as coupons are issued for specific products, they are also issued for specific ranges of time. When you use a coupon outside of its expiration date, it is considered fraudulent coupon use. Remember, you can always donate your expired coupons to overseas military families! . 

2. A coupon should ONLY be used on the product it was intended for, not anything else– pay attention to size restrictions and if the coupon calls out a specific type of product. 

*If the coupon says it is good on Crest White Strips, it is not okay to use it on a Crest Toothbrush.
*If the coupon says it is good for a 24oz bottle of Dial body wash, it is not okay to use it on a trial size bottle of body wash.
*If a coupon says it is good on Frosted Mini Wheats, it is not okay to use it on regular Mini Wheats.
*If a coupon says it is good on 2 boxes of cereal, it is not okay to use it on just one box.

A coupon is given by a manufacturer on specific products quite frequently. Always remember that it is not okay to use a coupon on something it wasn’t intended for just because it will scan. 

3. Follow store coupon policies. Believe me, I know that coupon policies can be confusing and change frequently. I also know that cashiers sometimes do not know their own policies. Misuse of coupons (the two items above) are things that drive stores to change coupon policies to make them more limited and strict. Always go by the store’s printed coupon policy, never try to justify misuse of a coupon just because it scans. Also, I recommend printing the store’s coupon policy and carrying it with you- that way if you run into a cashier making up their own policy, you’re able to show them where the particular coupon is allowed. This is also helpful so that if you have a question while trying to figure a deal in a store, you can reference the policy. 

4. Know what a fraudulent coupon looks like. Check out some of my tips, HERE, about fraudulent coupons. For example, if there is a PDF available for a FREE item, it is most likely fraudulent. 

5. Do NOT copy coupons. Coupon prints are limited to 2 per IP address (2 per computer) and that is all that you’re able to print. Copying coupons is illegal, do not do it. The coupons are made available in limited quantities– meaning that if a manufacturer only has a limited amount available and if coupons are copied and then turned into stores … the store is out of money! You may also want to know that each coupon printed contains unique identifying information that can track that coupon right back to your computer. I’ve seen cases where people have been arrested and prosecuted for copying coupons– just don’t do it!

6. Read the Fine Print on the Coupon. The fine print on the coupon gives you valuable usage information. For example, the coupon may be limited to ONE per customer. Do not get confused with the various coupon lingo terms but you should always read the fine print to ensure you are using the coupon correctly. Sometimes stores release a policy stating a set limit of ‘like’ coupons allowed per transaction. Their policies may also say “Unless otherwise stated on the coupon” which means that the fine print limiting that coupons use are more important than the policy. 

Saving money is definitely awesome and using coupons is a great way to do so! However, it is our responsibility to ensure that we are doing things ethically– using coupons honestly. When I first started to coupon, all of these items confused the heck out of me and the various terms of the store policies and all did as well! I took it upon myself to focus on one store at a time and try to ensure that I was following the policy to a “T”. 

If you ever have any questions about how to coupon ethically, please let me know. 

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