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Do coupons hurt grocery stores

Recently, store managers have shared some pretty sad horror stories when it comes to coupon shoppers. Just last week, I watched a customer berate an employee at a local drug store in Cary because the shelf price was different than the price she paid. In demanding her refund, she was so rude and condescending to this calm employee that I was shocked. There are some rules of etiquette that couponers should follow and some actions that couponers should definitely not take when shopping. Hopefully you have already been practicing ethical couponing, which makes the stores much more likely to continue offering their great promotions.

For those of you new to the coupon game, these suggestions will help you, and everyone around you, to have a more positive couponing experience. Be kind to cashiers: This is my number one request. Even if the cashier is not handling a coupon the way you think it should be entered, ask politely to speak with a manager. Trust me, the cashiers and managers all know who the difficult couponers are and they are never happy to see those folks come into their store.

Ask to speak with the manager and go from there. This is called bar code manipulation and it is unethical. Follow the wording on the coupon regarding what product s you can use the coupon on and how many you need to buy. If the coupon requires you to buy 2 of the item, you need to buy 2. If the coupon requires that you have to buy the 6-pack of soap, than it is not ok to try and use it on the 2-pack. Follow expiration dates: Many couponers have accidentally given a coupon to a cashier that has recently expired, not realizing the usage date had passed.

These days, my arms aren't long enough to even read some of the expiration dates! Cashiers realize we all make mistakes and are usually fine when we apologize and understand that they can't take the coupon. The issue is with people who intentionally use expired coupons. The stores usually do not get reimbursed for these and it costs all of us money in the long run when stores pass on these losses in the form of higher prices and less promotions.

You can actually send your expired coupons to the US military overseas. They can use expired coupons for up to 6 months after expiration date. Head to coupsfortroops. Only use legit coupons: Coupons you received in an e-mail pdf file for free products are not legit. I found food items expire too quickly to stockpile. I do enjoy using coupons but think I would enjoy it less if I was extreme. That being said, I do still enjoy getting the free shampoo, etc. I just think like anything extremes are not usually good.

It seems really stressful to be extreme! It took my 2 hours to shop while I had my sons work out the cost of item and figure out the best deal. I rarely use coupons now. Like someone else said, they are not the same. I still aim at buying my items at a certain price. I have my favorite stores to buy each item.

I stockpile when something is an extreme deal. I usually come very close. And that is without coupons, except at JoAnn fabrics. Now from the other side of the check out counter. The coupons in the JoAnn flyer say only one coupon per customer, but often they want me to ring them up two and three separate times to over use these coupons. I understand why they want to do that, but now being on the other side, I see that as my wages going bye-bye. Please follow the rules. For those of us that buy Sunday papers for the purpose of getting the coupon inserts, I have some money saving ideas and tips.

Some Sundays, especially on Holiday weekends, there are no coupon inserts. There is a website: taylortowncoupons. It will show what inserts will be in the papers or if there will be none. First of all, I had to justify that the cost of the Sunday papers is worth the coupon savings I get. For me, it is! I keep track of how much I save with coupons each week. The store receipts make this very easy to do because it usually prints at the bottom.

I know some people buy more than 2 Sunday papers to get more coupons. Rite Aid will only take 4 like coupons per visit and my Kroger will only take 3 like coupons per visit. I realize that some people make more than one trip but for me, 2 coupons is usually enough to stock-up on a good deal for my family. In reading some of the other comments here, I agree that there are more coupons out there for toiletry items, household products, pet foods, etc.

As a consumer you can benefit from coupon offers in several ways

I now get toothpaste, toothbrushes, soap, shaving cream, razors, shampoo and conditioner, lotions, facial cleansers and lotions free or for pennies. Now back to what to do with the newspapers! My husband and I both use the internet to read local and world news daily. I do use the weekly sale ads that come in the paper. My sons look at the sports and comic pages. We clip the Sudoku and Crossword puzzles and work those. Okay…now what to do with the rest of the paper? I now use my Sunday papers to clean my windows, and mirrors. I was previously using papertowels to clean all of the glass in my house.

I really used a lot of papertowels because I really like clean windows and mirrors! With 2 kids and 2 dogs, there are always finger or nose prints on the glass. And the newspapers are even better than papertowels for cleaning glass because there are no streaks!!!

I know Jill and Tawra have most likely already posted about using newspapers to clean glass somewhere on their VERY helpful website but a little reminder never hurts. So often, I know I forget things until it finally is helpful in my situation and then it clicks. Some other uses for newspapers is to roll them tightly into logs for your fireplace, you can lay some in the bottom of your trash can to absorb the things that seep out of your trash bag once in awhile, it also helps absorb the odors in the trash can and in empty suitcases or wadded in shoes. If you have a garden thick layers of newspaper laid around plants thing covered with a thin layer of mulch helps with weeds.

With just my husband and me at home now, I find that I rarely use coupons anymore. I believe that the Extreme Couponers are hurting the rest of us because mfgs are requiring more items for a small discount or there are no items left on the shelf because of the greed of a few. I limit myself now to only what we can eat in a week and know that I can shop again next Saturday for 2 more peaches, pears, etc. I make my grocery list first using the store flyer and then check my coupons for the items on my list. I also share the ones I know my kids use and send them along to them.

Thank you, Jill, for the breakdown on the true value of coupons. Sometimes they work and sometimes not. Thanks to the rest of the posters for all their helpful hints and comments. I tried to read through to make sure no one else mentioned this so forgive me if this is a repeat. Spiritually, I have to question if I spend this much time trying to get something for nothing….. I keep saying I because I have an addictive personality and I know that this could come at devastating spiritual cost!

For those who do not have this problem…. I will just keep treasuring my time with my family and friends! I use coupons when I can. And my family does not need processed foods. The majority of coupons are for terrible stuff that no one should eat! Over half of America is overweight, does no one see the connection? I am fortunate that my local Cub Foods often has store coupons for fresh produce and organic whole foods. Is extreme couponing really a savings when you factor in the healthcare costs in addition to the other time and expenses already mentioned? I guess my point is, we can have a healthier future if we focus on the right foods and really look at what we are feeding ourselves and our children.

Read the ingredients! Can you make it? Even then, I may avoid a product. I buy fruit spread sweetened only with fruit juices. I buy whole wheat breads real, not just colored brown that have no corn syrup and other chemicals. I wish you all the best of luck and excellent health. Take care! It is really more portion control then anything along with reasonable eating habits.


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People think because they are eating organic they can eat all they want and thus eat more then they should. I worry about pushing nothing but organic because years ago before processed foods people were malnourished because they had no pesticides, good fertilizers or added vitamins and minerals in the foods. Bugs and diseases killed the food crops all the time. Food was not near as plentiful as is now a s a matter of fact during WWII they started fortifying the food because so many of the farm boys raised on the organic food were malnourished.

You have to be careful because there is always a negative to every extreme swing one way or the other. For example since they have put a stop on the old pesticides bed bugs have started taking over in an awful way especially in the places that have put a strong control on pesticides and where they push eating organic more like in California.


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  • The same thing will eventually start happening with other pests. I find it interesting that the Bible talks about in the end days there will be famine and pests will come in and wipe things out. I find that very easy to believe if we keep down the same path we are going. We need to be careful. Plus I see my parents generation 85 plus and my generation baby boomers who were were young or being raised on processed foods living much longer lives then the generations before us who grew everything organically and then there is the new generation who have started being raised on organic things and obesity, allergies and so many other things are getting out of control.

    I have known people who have gotten sick because they worry and are so stressed with everything in their life — what they eat, if they exercise enough, are they breathing the right air but never thought about how much stress the they were putting on themselves and there families causing another set of problems. Once again we need balance.

    Millions and millions die because of awful diseases that insects carry and millions are dying from starvation because the pests are killing crops. There is another side to this organic thing. I so appreciate you showing the other side. I had a son 10 months ago and had someone tell me if I just couponed I could stay home. They failed to see the per hour salary I would be loosing, but also coupons are almost always on boxed items. Personally, I rather spend the money and feed my family fresh meats, veggies, etc.

    I was also behind a person doing extreme couponing the other day who was fighting with the manager over their policy of how many coupons she could use. I think you hit the nail on the head with saying everything in moderation. Additionally they are purchasing mostly prepared foods which contribute to obesity, diabetes, high blood pressue, heart disease, etc. I agree that this is some kind of sickness and merely organized hoarderers.

    Will the casher register system go down because of all of her purchases? Yes and Yes. Senseless AND boring. Since we switched my second son still at home has not been sick as much either. But at what cost to us? Since pesticides have been invented cancer rates have increased too. Our soil health has went way down in this country too. I have gotten some great deals when using some with a sale.

    I always thought you should add the cost of the papers into your equation of savings to get a true picture of savings. No meds needed to keep him focused. Sorry to go on so long. One thing we need to take into consideration is sometimes we twist things to fit what we want to be true. I have known people who eat organic etc. But see if I wanted too I could have said that to prove the point chemicals helped my kids. We all know that would have been foolish. People can sometimes think themselves into being sick sick or well too. The mind is an amazing thing. I remember when they first came out with being allergic to MSG.

    MSG had been in everything and I had never heard of on person being allergic to it then a famous doctor had Chinese food one night and became deathly sick. He wrote a paper saying it was an allergic reaction to the MSG. Immediately everyone jumped on the band wagon and they were taking MSG off the shelves and changing the food in restaurants and it became a big deal.

    Later that same doctor wrote a retraction saying he had been wrong and there was really nothing in MSG to be allergic too and he had been made sick by something else. As often happens the retraction went unnoticed. Now decades later they have been doing studies on it again. Then there was the sugar thing making kids hyper. The funniest and to me stupidest thing I ever heard was the tested the sugar theory out on kids at birthday parties and Christmas. How silly was that. I have lived long enough to see this happen time and again over the years. There is a happy medium there. I heard something on the radio today that had me almost falling off my chair laughing.

    Too funny. I wonder what there will be left to eat when all is said and done. Although I did hear the other day you are suppose to eat 3 containers of yogurt a day for your digestive system then I heard you are suppose to eat at least prunes a day maybe the yogurt will counter act what the prunes do to your digestive system.

    Oh well guess I will go up and fix me some mashed potatoes and corn on the cob for dinner and finish if off with a big helping of one of those good deserts you posted. You all are too funny! A lowly potatoe is so good for you — and is only about calories or so for a small one! What nonsense! I hate schools telling me how to parent! Oh Donna that sounds even better then mashed potatoes, maybe a little cheese with bacon bits too. I had better back track because we were talking about moderation huh?!

    I like mashed potaoes and baked potatoes and french fries too and love butter and sour cream on them.

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    Bacon bits too. I think you just have to use common sense in anything you eat. Common sense is a rarity these days though. The food police are funny. I agree with you completely. I cancelled the subscriptions, pulled 8 or 9 coupons from my briefcase collection and have never regretted the decision. Bea, I have it on good authority that eggplant, kolrabi and brussel sprouts will definetly kill you before it is time to do the dishes. Have been thinking about her a lot since she is gone and reading your post made me think of that comment from her years ago.

    I think she was about Mom made her eat the brussel sprouts and I had to do the dishes. She recovered when they were done. Jill I do not really believe all the food theories. There are just too many for them all to be right. Eating foods made from scratch will make you healthy. I cooked from scratch my entire life and ate processed food rarely.

    I am now diabetic, have RA, degenerative discs in my back and nerve damage through my entire body. My brother and sister ate identical foods while we were growing up one meal fit all and my brother had nose bleeds and ear aches almost constantly. I had a constant headache, my two younger sisters were so healthy it made you jealous.

    My youngest son if he has a glass of orange juice he goes hyper he is now 30 years old and it still happens. Give him a coke and no problem. So it is different strokes for different folks and is not one meal fits all. Life health attitudes are all basically trial and error and unfortunately it is sometimes a lot more error than success. Live and learn. Grandma, my oldest brother says that about hominy. Another family member thinks that any veggie other than corn, green beans, iceberg lettuce, and a few others are bad for you.

    Grandma, Kielbasa, brussel sprouts and eggplant are yummy!!!

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    People have something to say about everything as far as food goes. Eveyone has their theories. I do know that Bea. Actually heather grew up to love egg plant. Kelbasa I love. I think it was George Bush who started a flap about brussel sprouts. We had a foster brother for a few years and he was fed the same as us but one day mom said we were having cauliflower.

    He turned red and said you can make me eat liver and carrots but there is no way you can make me eat a flower.

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    I just read an article that says if you eat lots of fresh vegetables and fruits they somehow block the gene that causes heart disease. Just informed my husband that he will have to have more vegetables. He just said ok I guess you love me as you want me to live longer. Nothing serious but who wants to feel yucky for 2 days after a drink. Other towns it is ok. We have one family member who refuses most veggies. His faves: potatoes, corn, green beans, and shoestring-cut beets. That is right. I do not even live in the states but a friend said if George W Bush hates them there must be something good in them.

    He ate his 2nd bite of brocoli in his life and he was Strange how people think. My husband likes raw vegetables so we have lots of salad. At home he will only use thousand islands but when we go to a salad bar he will be more adventurous. Corn corn and more corn are his vegetables of choice. I love cauliflower raw better than cooked and will not eat cooked turnip but could eat an entire small one raw.

    I am alergic to oranges and just recently Don bought a box of those small mandarin ones. I thought I would go nuts trying not to eat them but everytime I reached for one I thought of how much my personality changed for the worse I went and chomped on a carrot. Bea everyone tells me that and that is how they are always cooked. Major problem with that is I hate butter. I have tried all sorts of vegetables and usually find something good to say about them but unfortunately brussel sprouts are something I will not even buy.

    I keep hearing about how hard it is to go gluten free. When I was trying this diet I found I had to switch one product I had in the house to a different brand. Ok so here in Ontario we do not get the gluten free bisquick which would have been nice and gluten free bread is sold from the freezer and costs an arm and a leg but those were the only problem. I even found frozen pizza dough gluten free which a friend said tastes just like the real stuff.

    I find it harder to find products with no citric acid than gluten free. You just need to find a store with a good health food section.. Also gluten free is available in many shop in Ontario easy to get. Some exampels to name a few: I could go on for weeks listing all the Ontario places to get gluten free stuff besides the freezer of your local supermarket.

    In some place as big as Ontario it is hard to hit all the places in town and it is especially hard when you have chronic illnesses like Grandma does. Usually within a 2 hour tops drive from that area. I am on the north shore of lake superior. Only place that does until Thunder Bay which is about 4 hours away in the winter. Things are changing up here but with towns dieing due to mill closures it may all go back to the way it was 26 years ago.

    Where you live and what transportation you have makes a lot of difference in your ability to save money and get things you need to be healthy. I know Sprouts carries gluten-free items; WFM most likely does also. Rice, buckwheat, quinoa, soy, corn, tapioca, oats, arrowroot, teff, potato and more. If I happen to be out of my valley at Costco, I call my friend for a shopping list. Other places too. I had a friend do my returns from the baby shower and do other errands that were just too much.

    Find one, join one and if it is too far for you to go, find a friend that will go for you. If you order a full case, it should be easier to get it. Sometimes, places give you a discount for buying a whole case too! Gluten free is not so hard if you look at the possibilities instead of the obstacles. Find a friend. I shop with two children and grocery shopping can often be stressful for me — managing the kids its getting easier as they get older , getting the right size the coupon requires, looking for the best bargain, etc.

    Thanks for sharing. I didnt jump on the bandwagon. I have been doing coupons for over 30 years before they built the bandwagon. My mom used coupons but I took it to a different extreme. I am NOT an extreme couponer. I cut them, file them, and search sales adds to do my match ups. I get my rewards from stores that give them. I have been payed to take stuff out of the store. I dont miss work.

    I cut the coupons while watching TV or babysitting after work. I shop normally but stock up on stuff we use. I have 50 rolls of paper towels but they dont go bad. I dont run out of toilet paper. I did run out of Eggs this week because they havent been on sale lately so I had to buy some retail. BUT with a low paying job and hubby now on unemployment we still live and eat well.

    Theres a way to do it without clearing shelves or stressing out. Just do it as a hobby. Also , they told me that on most of the extreme couponing episodes they were in states other than TN where I am from. In TN , they will not take a coupon that is more than the price of an item after sales , rebates , etc. On the extreme couponing , the states it is filmed in does that and sometimes the shopper actually gets money back for coupons. It is best to carefully consider each stores coupon policy as well as the your states policy on money back items.

    They have multiple subscriptions to the same paper just for the coupons. Either way, they hold on to these coupons until they either expire or a really good sale comes up and the coupon covers the cost of the item. But, getting an item just because you have a coupon for it is kinda wasteful. About the extreme couponing, take a close look at what they buy. Most of the stuff is pure junk food. There is little nutrition in a lot of the things that can be purchased with coupons.

    Better to buy food high in nutrition, and purchase it on sale, and in moderation. If you watch the show closely many people say they use the money they save with coupons to buy fruits,vegetables, and meats. And many of these extreme couponers donate items to charity if they are not going to use them. I do coupon — and often get things for free! We use approximately tubes of toothpaste each year. How much do we really need? A lot less than we think…. Thanks for this article Jill! Who needs 64 boxes of cereal? It would go bad before it got used. Also, most of the extreme couponers, in my opinion, are addicted to the rush of getting things for free or at the least cost possible.

    Alot of extreme couponers also donate alot of stuff to charity organizations. Can you imagine that? Using coupons to get money back on your taxes and helping others in need. More people should this. I love getting free or cheap stuff with coupons and sometimes will even get coupons on eBay if I want to purchase a lot of something. My nephew recently came to stay for a weekend from college. I was able to send him home with toothpaste, laundry soap, shampoo, deodorant, snacks, cereal, drinks etc.

    It felt so good to help out someone who is working so hard to better his life! BONUS: sometimes it even bores me back to sleep! I like to cook and bake and often do so from scratch which makes for further savings. They are usually thrilled to see me get such deals. I also love my stock pile. This month my grocery bill will actually be very small because they only thing I will need to buy is milk each week.

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    Everything else is already in the freezer or pantry. I love to pay it forward to the food bank and friends. I also save thousands annually on toiletries and paper products toilet paper, etc… and this has changed the financial situation for my family significantly. I do take into consideration the cost of printing coupons from my printer both in terms of ink and paper.

    I also consider how much gas it costs me to shop at multiple stores and the time involved. I choose to use coupons. I have a simple, affordable way of doing so. I get the weekly ads for each of my local grocery stores, look for the items on sale that I would like to buy, then I look for coupons for those items on a coupon clipping service website.

    I like using Palmetto Coupon Clippers…www. Love your article. No, I do not extreme coupon and frankly I find the thought of it to be time consuming and pointless. I rarely buy name brands and shop at cheaper stores. Some items I do go name brand and can occasionally find a couple coupons online for so its okay. I have seen that show and I just do not understand why someone needs that much stuff!!

    One show a woman had enough razors to last her for 7 years…. Jennifer Freeman, who was on the show, runs a web site called tipresource.

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    You can click on the store you want to shop at Target, Walgreens, Albertsons, Smiths or whatever and click on what you want to buy that week. It takes about an hours a week to follow her system. You date the circulars and file them in a large file box or just a larger box and when you write your grocery list you cut your coupons. Check for something simular on the net for your town. This is what I use and I save money without that much work.

    This is the best of extreme couponing and regular couponing. Surprisingly, I really enjoyed this article. I actually do extreme coupon. However, I only coupon for things that will not go bad, and that I will use, like deodorant, makeup, and toothpaste. I am about to go to college, which will be incredibly expensive. In my situation, I believe that it is worth it to stock up now on thing that I am getting for free, rather than having to pay later while I am strapped for money. I do agree with your statements that the show is ridiculous. I agree mainly because most of the people on the show are packrats.

    They will buy enormous amounts of ridiculous things that they will probably never use, and store it simply to show off. Thank you for this wonderful article. Only one local store accepts internet coupons. It takes me so long to locate appropriate internet coupons. I usually look for coupons that supplement items already on sale at local stores.

    Whatever you are doing to save money, figure out how much per hour you are saving while you do that activity and determine if your time is worth that. If it is very time consuming without much profit, consider another way. I by not means am an extreme couponer, but I do like a great deal.

    So I was starting to feel discouraged and this was a great pick-me-upper. Just because they are buying the shelves clear with all their cpns. Reason why these people are no longer wanted, nor are they welcome in stores. That is the other thing that some will do, they will hold up the line wasting not only the cashiers time, but also those that are behind them, arguing that the B1G1FREE cpn, they feel that they should get money off the one that they are getting for FREE. It just does not work that way. Nor can you get money off of the one that you buy in order to get the one that is free.

    You would be using 2 Manufactures cpns on one item. As an ex-extreme couponer i thank you for saying its ok. I still use coupons when i want a brand name item, but the stores around me wised up and now the sales never come for an item when a coupon is out for that item.

    They even jack up the price of the cans in the dented can bin if there is a coupon. So its now just about always cheaper to buy the store brand. I assume that making me buy their generic was their plan all along. I have felt so bad about it. I ended up making my own detergent.

    However my dad wont use it i think the jiggliness freaks him out so only loads i do end up with the home made stuff. Honestly im getting scared because our pasta is running out. Its just crazy how much our staples have gone up this year. Growing up in an italian american house, to not have pasta on hand is unthinkable.

    Hi Kate, yes that is unfortunate, but because of all the extreme couponers, there will be more of that. They are closing the loopholes. I am surprised that people are allowed to use more than one coupon of anything. But I think that rule gets skirted by buying one item per coupon. Anyway, I know coupon helps with the budget. If you know you are going to get of an item, at least be courteous and order ahead of time.

    Nothing is more frustrating that going in the store to get a product only to see none on the shelves because the couponers have taken them all. That being said, Out here in California, there are no double up coupons and they have made it difficult to use coupons except sparingly. It may go that way soon.

    Jill the way to get around the one coupon for order is to divide your order up and say they are for someone you are buying for. All I do is have my husband come and he has an order with a turkey and so do I. In the grocery business health laws require that food packaging prominently display an expiration date. It is common for grocery stores to set up clearance shelves and tables with drastically reduced prices in a last-ditch effort to move merchandise before it expires. But because of the way food manufacturing and distribution works, long before the merchandise approaches that expiration date the food makers may decide to set up a promotion to clear some of their own inventory.

    They do this as part of their marketing strategies and also as part of their complex inventory management procedures. A food manufacturer typically plans on shipping a certain amount of product every month. That product is sent by truck or train to distribution centers across the country. The distribution centers take and fill orders from local grocers and restaurants.

    Based on past sales manufacturers and distributors alike estimate how much product they will sell in the next month. But they sometimes have to make room for new products, or products that change packaging. There may be nothing wrong with the products already in the distribution centers but they are taking up space. So to speed up the turnover process the manufacturers offer deals to the retail grocers and restaurants who buy their food products.

    Grocery stores in turn roll these deals into their weekly and monthly promotions. All of this planning begins weeks, sometimes months in advance of the sale and coupon periods that consumers take advantage of. Large corporations like food manufacturers and grocery stores have to plan how they turn over inventory carefully because every now and then consumers stop buying some products, leaving too many items on store shelves.

    These periodic changes in consumer spending habits are normal, although they may be more pronounced when consumers are hurting financially. First , you can take advantage of new product offer coupons to try foods you have never seen before. So if you are feeling adventurous then you should keep an eye out for new foods you would like to try for the first time and see if there are coupons for them.

    You may have to visit the manufacturer Websites to find out if they have coupons and how to get them. Second , if you notice that some of the foods you regularly buy are put on sale every quarter you can plan on buying extra quantities of those foods at the deep discount prices. This is especially good for canned and boxed foods that have long shelf lives. Some consumers are able to buy enough of these kinds of staple foods using coupons to never pay full price again.

    Fourth , you can track your savings by recording the coupons you use and how much money was taken off the price at the store. This is a very tedious process but in a few months you will be able to compare the prices you pay for foodstuffs without coupons to the prices you pay with coupons to see if you really are saving money.

    Sometimes the coupons are available only after the prices of your favorite foods go up.