Lately, I’ve found my savings strategy has me using fewer coupons and more Aldi shopping. However, I’m still a huge fan of couponing! It’s a fantastic way to save big on groceries and household products.
BUT, if you’re going to use coupons, there are definitely some pitfalls to avoid so you don’t become the “coupon jerk” everyone hates getting stuck behind at the supermarket. You know who I’m talking about. The person who causes the cashier to call the manager with a friendly reminder that they are overdue for a break.
Here are 7 tips to not being a Coupon Jerk.
Be A Coupon Fairy
Do you have some coupons that you’re not going to use before they expire? Leave them at the store by their corresponding products. You’ll make someone’s day, and spread the message that most couponers are kind people, not crazy hoarders from a TLC show.
Don’t Use Fraudulent Coupons
If a coupon (printable, especially) seems too good to be true, it probably is. If you run across coupons that are not associated with a reputable coupon website, always double check with google or with your favorite coupon blogger. 🙂 Be especially careful with PDF coupons and/or high value coupons, as these tend to be phony.
Now that we’ve covered accidental fraud, it must be noted that there are several ways to intentionally use legitimate coupons in a fraudulent way. I won’t list them here, because I don’t want to give anyone any naughty ideas! (I know Mrs. HappyHatter readers would never want to steal. Coupon fraud is stealing, in case you didn’t know)
Suffice it to say, each coupon comes with instructions. Follow them and you’ll stay out of trouble. If a friend or blogger tries to tell you how you can manipulate coupons, RUN!
Seriously, RUN, FOREST, RUN!
There are two big reasons why coupon fraud should be avoided. Coupon Fraud ruins things for other couponers. When people use coupons in a fraudulent way, that makes manufacturers less likely to produce coupons in the future, and causes stores to make less friendly coupon policies.
The second, but probably more important reason to avoid it, is the law. Coupon Fraud can land you in jail for 3-5 years and/or cost you upwards of $200,000 in fines.
Do us all a favor, and just don’t go there.
ALWAYS Be Nice To The Cashier
This should go without saying, but, unfortunately, it needs saying. You are creating more work for the cashier with your coupons. So offset that by being a pleasant person. Say hello. Ask them how they’re doing. Use their name.
If there’s a problem with a coupon, don’t take it out on the cashier. There are so many things that can go wrong with a coupon. I know we all wish it could go smoothly like the TV show, but real life couponing can get complicated.
If you have a feeling that the cashier is mistaken about the store’s coupon policy, let them know POLITELY. Carrying a copy of the store’s policy in your coupon binder can be a helpful tool. Don’t forget to leave room for the possibility that you are mistaken. It’s nice for one, and also prevents you from having to eat a huge piece of humble pie in the case that you are indeed mistaken.
You catch more flies with honey than vinegar!
Have Your Coupons Ready to Go
When it’s time to pay, have your coupons ready to be scanned. Nuff said.
Don’t Hold Up The Express Lanes
My opinion is that it’s ok to use coupons in an express lane as long as you count each coupon as an item. So if it’s a “20 items or less” lane, your items AND your coupons should add up to 20 or less. If your coupons are problematic, deal with it at customer service. Don’t make people in the express lane wait on a manager to make a call about a coupon.
While I think it’s ok to use the express lane, don’t abuse it. After all, it was created for people who just need to pick up a few things and don’t want to get stuck behind the crazy coupon lady with a month worth of groceries.
Share a coupon or two with the person in line behind you
When I was in my couponing prime, I carried a very organized coupon binder with me. Once I finished loading my groceries on the belt, I would eyeball the order of the person behind me. I almost always had a coupon for at least one item in their cart. When I did, I would say, “Hey, I have a coupon for that,” and hand it to them. Most people were usually happy to accept. It always seemed to soften the blow when I handed the cashier 30+ coupons to scan. 😉
And there you have it folks. Do you have any other tips you’d like to offer? Tell me about them in the comments!
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