Tip of the Day Tuesday: Proper coupon usage

On a message board that I belong to, someone recently posted this video about a woman who had been arrested for using thousands of dollars in fraudulent coupons. As a “couponer” I know how exciting the “thrill of the bargain” can be, but improper coupon usage hurts us all in the end.  Through the years, I have also learned that just because you read about a deal online, that doesn’t mean that it is “legit.”

Here are some tips for proper coupon usage:

Read “the fine print” ~ Most coupons have specifications such as size limitations included on them.  If the coupon says “good on any” then it truly should be good on any product, including trial sizes.  If the coupon says “one per purchase” that means that you can use one coupon for each item that you are purchasing.  So, if you are purchasing 5 items and you have 5 coupons, you should be able to use all 5 items.  If the coupon says “one per transaction” that means that you can only use one of those coupons in your transaction.  So, if you have 5 coupons, you would have to do 5 separate transactions to use all of those coupons.

Do not copy coupons ~ One of the biggest “newbie” mistakes I hear about is people copying coupons and particularly printable coupons.  Many printable coupons have print limits, which can be frustrating and they all “look” the same, so what’s the harm, right?  What some people don’t realize is that the printable coupons have a unique code that prints in the upper right hand corner of each coupon.  In addition, some have a special background that will not show up if you copy them.  Many store employees have been trained to look for this, and if you have copied coupons, it will quickly become obvious.  A visit with your store’s loss prevention is not worth that extra bargain and will not even end up being a bargain in the long run.

Beware of fake coupons ~ If it looks or sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Just because you found it online or got it in an e-mail doesn’t mean that it’s “real” and you don’t want to be caught using a fraudulent coupon.  Read more about How to Spot Fake Coupons.

Be courteous ~ Don’t clear the shelves in one store and don’t plan big trips during “prime” shopping hours.  Read more about The Rules of Coupon Etiquette.