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Coffee With Collin: Proper Coupon Usage (Un-Extreme & Un-Complicated)

2:39 PM MST
The links in the post below may be affiliate links. Read the full disclosure.

This week’s Coffee with Collin focuses on a VERY important topic in the world of couponing: proper use of coupons. Let me say that this video is primarily directed at coupon newbies so it may be somewhat boring for those of you who have been couponing for quite some time now. However, I encourage all of you to take the time to watch the video (newbies and experts alike) as I hope that all of you coupon experts will leave tips to help the newbies and on the flip side, I want all of you coupon newbies to be able to ask any sort of questions that you may have (and remember, there are no stupid questions!).

**If you can’t see the video, go here to watch it.

Proper Coupon Usage

(1) You can only use one manufacturer coupon per item purchased. For example, if you have 3 $1/1 Colgate toothpaste manufacturer coupons, you can purchase 3 Colgate toothpastes in the same transaction and use all 3 $1/1 Colgate toothpaste manufacturer coupons (i.e. one coupon per toothpaste purchased). This “rule” may seem obvious but many coupon newbies (and even some cashiers/managers) do not always understand the difference between a purchase and a transaction. Since you are purchasing each item, each item is itself a purchase. A transaction is the total of all the items purchased. In this case, the 3 Colgate toothpastes make up your transaction. Still confused? Check out this article.

(2) In some cases, you can use both a manufacturer coupon AND a store coupon for the purchase of one item (this is called stacking). For example, Target allows you to use both a Target store coupon AND a manufacturer coupon for the purchase of one item. This same sort of policy holds true for Rite Aid and Walgreens as well. If you are not familiar with a store’s coupon policy (and whether they allow stacking), I strongly encourage you to read the coupon policy and/or check out my store guides prior to your first shopping trip.

(3) Do not use expired coupons even if they scan! If you have a stash of expired coupons, consider sending them to military families overseas. Check out this post for more information.

(4) If you have a coupon that requires the purchase of multiple items, then you must purchase the stated number of items on the coupon. For example, if you have a $1/2 Ken’s Dressing coupon, you must purchase 2 Ken’s Dressings to use the coupon. Also, keep in mind that this $1/2 coupon is applied/attached to both dressings so you cannot apply an additional manufacturer coupon to either of these 2 dressings.

(5) Read the text on Free product coupons and Buy 1 Get 1 Free coupons and pay special attention to the maximum value allowed. For example, let’s say you have a free product coupon for Axe Shower Gel with a maximum value of $5.99 specified on the coupon. Your store has the Axe Shower Gel priced at $6.99; if you use the free product coupon, you will actually pay $1 for the shower gel since the coupon only allows a maximum of $5.99.

(6) Look Beyond the Picture (i.e. focus on the text and NOT the picture). For example, I have a manufacturer coupon that specifically states “Save $3 off any K-Y Brand product (excludes trial sizes)”; the manufacturer has intentionally placed a picture of K-Y Intense (a rather expensive K-Y product) on the coupon. At first glance, one may assume that you can only save $3 off the purchase of K-Y Intense; however, once you read the text, you realize that the coupon can be used to save $3 off any K-Y product except for trial sizes. That means you could use this coupon to snag K-Y lubricant for FREE or almost FREE!

(7) Have I mentioned that you need to read the text?! ;) Another reason to read that text is because occasionally a coupon may state one per customer. In this case, you can only use one coupon no matter how many items you purchase.

(8) If a printable coupon seems too good to be true, it probably is. Beware of e-mails (even if they are from your friends and family) that attach coupons for free products or other offers that seem “too good to be true.” They are almost certainly counterfeits. To check out a suspicious coupon, head over to the Coupon Information Corporation (CIC) and you can view a list of current counterfeit coupons. You can also report a suspicious or counterfeit coupon that you discover.

Photo courtesy of

If you come across a coupon with one or more of the following items, keep in mind that this may indicate that the coupon is fraudulent: coupons with NO expiration date; misspellings on coupon; no purchase required to get free product; coupon does not refer to specific size or weight limits for free product; extremely high maximum value for free product (ex. – $5 maximum value for a single bag of Doritos is extremely high considering these rarely sell for over $4/bag at ANY store)

(9) If you want to confirm that a Coupons, Inc. coupon is legit, head over to the Coupon Resource Center and enter the Veri-Fi code found on your coupon (i.e. the unique code that prints on your coupon). Keep in mind that when you go to print a coupon, you should never see the actual coupon on your screen, only an offer to print it. Real coupons require special software to print proper barcodes and limits the number of prints of each coupon. For this reason, you CANNOT photocopy a coupon! Keep in mind that photocopying a coupon, intentionally using a coupon for a product that you have not purchased and/or intentionally using a counterfeit coupon can result in serious legal consequences (to date, the longest prison sentence has been 17 years of jail time and the highest financial penalty has been $5 million in fines!).


OK, now that you know how to use coupons properly, how about learning about the coupon redemption process. Do you really know how the process of coupon redemption works for stores?! What do stores do with those stacks of coupons that they collect from all of us savvy shoppers? Knowing this information outlined below will allow you to be that much more confident when you are at the register and the cashier mumbles something like “Using coupons rips off the stores.”

Coupon Redemption Process

-Manufacturers design coupon promotions with their sales/marketing teams

-Coupons are distributed via newspaper inserts, direct mail campaigns, via the internet etc.

-A very “hip” shopper excitedly enters the store and proudly uses all of his/her coupons at checkout ;)

-The cashier scans the coupons and puts them into the cash drawer. Typically, at the end of the day the coupons in each cash drawer are added up as if they were cash, and that amount is added to the cash sum to be sure the overall total for the drawer is accurate.

-Once per week, all of the manufacturers’ coupons (and any coupons issued by the grocer) are sent in plastic bags or pouches to the store’s corporate headquarters.

-There is a very lucky person at headquarters in charge of processing the coupons. That person boxes all of the bags of coupons and ships them to a third-party clearinghouse.

-The clearinghouse is then responsible for doing the most important part of the coupon redemption process– separating the coupons by manufacturer or by scannable coupons versus damaged/torn coupons. Most of this process is done by hand. Sometimes coupons are put face up on a conveyor belt and move under a scanner that reads the UPC codes and tallies the amounts. However, damaged and torn coupons have to be tallied by hand. The clearinghouse then sends all the sorted coupons with an invoice to the manufacturer.

-The manufacturer will reimburse stores the face value of coupons or if the coupon calls for free merchandise, for the retail-selling price up to the stated maximum value printed on the coupon PLUS 8¢ for handling each coupon properly redeemed (this 8¢ value may vary slightly). Many times manufacturers, such as ConAgra Foods, will also reimburse retailers that are using a clearinghouse or billing agent at a rate equal to $5.50 per thousand of coupons redeemed.

-The manufacturer either reimburses the clearinghouse for the amount of the invoice, and the clearinghouse mails a check to the store for the amount of the coupons OR the manufacturer sends a check directly to the store and the store then pays the clearinghouse. (The clearinghouse is paid a certain amount per coupon by the store, plus shipping and handling).

(Thanks to HowStuffWorks for some of the info on explaining the coupon redemption process!)


If you’re ever in need of a specific product and are wondering if there is a coupon available, what better place to search for it than the Hip2Save Coupon Database!? :D Here at Hip2Save, we’ve created a Hip2Save Coupon Database where you can search for any and all coupons, including home mailers, printable, store-only, in-store, Facebook, and many other types of coupons!

Join the Discussion

Post Your Comment
  • Stinawired says:

    When I use the coupons on the Safeway Just for U website, are these manufacturer coupons or store coupons? They don’t ever print out. You just “load” them onto your rewards card, so I assume that they are store coupons and can be stacked with a manufacturer coupon. But I’m starting to notice that they are often the same offers as in the printed manufacturer coupons.

    • Jessica says:

      OMG good question! i was just wondering about that this weekend too?

    • Jessica K says:

      They’re manufacturer’s coupons. You used to be able to do both, but their policy changed a few months ago and you can only use a loaded one or a paper one. It was a huge bummer and really has stopped my Safeway shopping.

  • Jamie says:

    Thank you so much for the video! I am a coupon newbie and it helped me to understand all the coupon lingo!! Thank you for all you do!

  • Bonnie says:

    One thing I didn’t hear mentioned was some coupons state they cannot be sold or transferred. Recently at a west coast regional grocery store, the BOGO Propel was posted by the product as no longer valid because it had been sold. Personally, I’m not too hip on the idea buying coupons anyway, after all, my point in using them is to save $$$.

    • Laura says:

      bc it had been sold? by a clipping service? I see nothing wrong with a clipping service

    • Melissa says:

      Sold or transferred does not refer to coupons from clipping sites, ebay or even trading them on grocery forums. Coupons wouldn’t be in the paper to begin with b/c they are transferred from the supplier to the person who stuffs the paper, and then finally tossed on your door step. Its referring to a little grocery store, who tells big grocery giant, Hey, I’ll buy your coupon lot for $5,000. Grocery giant doesn’t have to bother waiting while the coupons go through the proper redemption process, gets $5,000, while little store sends the lot in and gets the full redemption of the coupon value + handling fee and little grocery store made money off big grocery store.

      • cathy says:

        No, you are wrong. It does refer to clipping sites, ebay, and trading forums. Coupons are an advertising tool used by manufactures to increase sales.
        I have no idea where you got your information about small stores buying coupons from large stores. But that would have never been possible. I worked for a PFC for years. We handle both coupon redemption and marketing of products. For redemption your store has to have sold at least 60% more of a products then coupons they tried to redempted. Plus it cost a store at least 4% of the coupons values to mail them to the redemption center.

        Manufacturers like at coupons as a marketing tool. Coupons were started as a method of giving a limited discount to a large number of people.
        Manufacturers had noticed that when they offered a discount to a store, (so the store would have a sale on their product.) that a smaller number of people would buy a large number of items. So, manufactors come up with the idea of coupons in local papers. One paper to each house meant one coupon to each house. Now each household had a chance to buy the product at a discount.
        The manufacturers don’t want one person using 10, 20, or 30 of there coupons to get their products for free.

        Read your coupon closely, many now say “coupon void if copied, duplicated, sold, or purchased. Redeeming a void coupon is concerned fraud”

        That being said, Manufacturers are too busy to close down every clippng service And they are not going to collect clipping services customer logs and track you down. It would just be easier for them to stop having coupons printed. And they will do that. The company I used to work for decrease coupon printing by 75% three years ago.

  • NATALIE says:

    Collin –
    With all the controversy surrounding J’aime on “Extreme Couponing” and “ethical couponing” now in question, would you mind answering a few of my questions? First, I do believe it is illegal to sale coupons because most coupons (if not all) state so. My question then would be, is it unethical to purchase them via ebay or a clipping service where you are told you are not paying for the coupon but for the time spent collecting, sorting, clipping and shipping the coupons? Second, I know that Wal-Mart reissued a new coupon policy in order for consumers to be able to apply overage to other items in their carts. Would knowingly purchasing multiple items that will produce overage in order to pay for other items in the cart be considered “unethical” at other stores who do not state the same policy?
    My husband and I have enjoyed the many benefits of using coupons as a way to shed food costs from the budget over the past 4 years. We are both college students living on one income only. My husband is active duty AF, but we are considered “remote” and do not have access to Military perks such as the Commissary, BX and AAFES. Because I know couponing can certainly ease financial stress, I highly encourage all to use them. However, I never want to be responsible for using coupons unethically in order to get a deal. That is cheating and it doesn’t just affect me, it affects all of the other couponers out there. Anyhow, with that said, would you mind extending your view/opinion? Thank you kindly!


    • Emily says:

      It isn’t unethical to buy from a clipping service, because they are not charging you for the coupon, they are charging for the time clipping and handling it, and finding the coupon.

      Also, @ walmart, that is no problem at all! But, you could even have the coupon scanned for overage which they will give you in CASH!!! :o I think that’s even better, unless you absolutely need some items.
      But taking advantage of that would be wrong. Lets say you have the $5 off any similac coupon, right? At walmart, the quarts are $3.67, giving you around $1.70 in overage. If you buy 1-10 even, that would be alright. I heard of a lady who bought a whole cartful (around 50!) used all the coupons, and they had to give her back around $70!

      Hope you have fun getting free groceries with your overage. ;)

    • Collin says:

      Hi Natalie!

      To make anything illegal, there has to be a law in place. If you can believe it… there is actually no law that deals with selling coupons – which means that it is actually not illegal to buy or sell manufacturer’s coupons on places such as eBay. I understand this seems confusing because the fine print on manufacturer’s coupons state that they cannot be transferred, purchased, traded and the list goes on. These rules are set up by the manufacturer… not the law. They cannot send you to jail. Also, lots of eBay sellers put a small disclaimer at the bottom of their auction. Usually it states – you are paying for my time to find and clip these coupons, not the actual coupons themselves.

      The main thing to remember is this: It doesn’t really matter where you acquire your coupons as long as you’re correctly using them. Make sure to get the right product, the right size, and use them before they expire.

      I know lots of readers who don’t feel it is right to purchase coupons off of coupon clipping sites, which is completely fine. You have to go with what you feel comfortable doing.

      Also, on your Walmart question – I would just say that you need to follow your stores coupon policy. I do believe, though, that it makes no sense for a store to adjust a manufacturer’s coupon down because basically they are then taking the coupon overage from the consumer and applying it to their store, which doesn’t seem fair at all. I’m sure if the manufacturer had to make the decision, they would want the consumer who is purchasing their products to get it – not the store.

      • NATALIE says:

        Thank you kindly for your prompt response! I just want to make certain I am not doing anything unethical. Like I said, I very much appreciate the opportunity to be able to save money and would never want to be the reason it is ruined for many others! Thanks again for all you do. It is evident that many people appreciate it!

      • cathy says:

        I hate to correct you here because I love your site. But you are wrong. Coupon use is covered by contract law. There doesn’t have to be a law in your city, or state saying that you can or can’t buy or sell coupons. By using the coupon you are entering into a contract with the Manufacture who issued the coupon. You are legally bond by the terms of the contract. One of these terms is that the coupon is void if sold, bought, or transfered. Knowingly using a void coupons is fraud, and you can go to jail for committing fraud. Althrough, I don’t think they are going to come after coupon buyers.

        Coupon buying and selling is just like the issue of downloading music, movies,…ect….. If anyone is going to get arrestted or sued it will be the companies selling the item.

    • Bee says:

      Hi Natalie,

      Just wanted to say that you asked an interesting question and I’m glad you did. I’ve never really felt like it was illegal to do it, or even really that it was an ethical issue. However, I think that since manufacturers hold all the cards concerning coupons (after all, every coupon is basically a gift from the manufacturer), they could take into account consumers’ behavior when issuing future coupons or integrating new technical barriers, such as the more advanced coding coming out right now.

      Their obvious tactics may be to lower their subsequent coupon values or just hold sweepstakes, etc instead of issuing coupons. Or, I eventually think all coupons could go digital. There are few stores left that don’t have reward cards. Indeed, the huge numbers of people who consider good coupons a given is a little disconcerting.

      And since it’s possible to sue anyone in civil court, they could choose to bring civil suits against persons who profit from selling coupons. And, according to the Federal Trade Commission, “Selling or transferring coupons to a third party violates most manufacturers’ coupon redemption policies—and usually voids the coupon.” Of course, no cashier or store is going to know a particular coupon’s history. But, just add it to the long list of things people probably shouldn’t do but do anyway.

      Ebay rules explicitly state that sellers are prohibited from selling the labor and time associated with a coupon. In other words, eBay has already stipulated that the coupon itself is the item for sale. Therefore, it’s obvious that eBay has distanced itself from any potential future liability. (There are many items listed on eBay that violate eBay policy. There just really is not way for eBay to catch them all.) Here is eBay’s coupon selling policy:

      As you can see, they also limit any IP listings to 2 coupons, but sellers put notes in the listings about “having as many as you want.”

      Lots of gray area, and as Collin said, right now it’s a personal decision. But given the right climate, it could potentially backfire on everyone.

    • Bee says:

      Well apparently I goofed by including a link to eBay coupon selling policy in my earlier response. Anyway, I just pointed out that eBay states that no matter what sellers say, they are selling the actual coupon. In this way, they have distanced themselves from supporting the skirting of coupon wording. Ebay in no way endorses the selling of coupons that state they are void if transferred, sold, auctioned, etc. Among other things, the coupon policy also states that only 2 IP coupons can be in a listing. I’ve seen many where the sellers state they can provide as many as needed. They don’t “police” the auctions, but it’s interesting that they have already insulated themselves from any current or future liability with their policy.

      Also, the Federal Trade Commission has stated that selling, transfer, etc actually voids a coupon although there is no way for a store to know if the coupon was obtained in any of these ways. You can look this up on their website. Again, another loophole, but the intent is clear.

      I don’t consider the buying of coupons to be an ethical dilemma (there are enough of those without adding something like this). But, I do think that this type selling becomes more large scale everyday and could potentially result in civil suits (especially for large volume sellers).

      Barring any type of drastic action, I think that the further that people diverge from the manufacturers’ true intent for coupons, the closer we get to looking the gift horse in the mouth. Just because you get a check for your birthday every year from aunt Ida doesn’t mean you can count it as income.

      Manufacturers have more money than we do, which is a two-edged sword. They have the money to issue coupons and run promotions. But they also have the money to invest in technology that makes it harder for people to redeem fistfuls of like coupons.

      Some stores are already successful in attaching a social stigma to heavy coupon usage. Manufacturers have relationships with retailers just as customers do. It wouldn’t take much for manufacturers to “encourage” stores to become more strict than they already are.

      I myself have purchased coupons in the past. I don’t much anymore. I have found that even using one or two like coupons results in some really great deals. Like I said, I don’t exactly think it’s a “bad” thing. I just don’t want to personally be an instrument in eventually devaluing a good thing.

      • Anonymous says:

        If a coupon can’t be “transferred”, then wouldn’t putting an extra coupon on the shelf (“coupon fairies”) be transferring your coupon to someone else? I love to help others out by doing this, but is it wrong? For that matter, I also give coupons out to specific people that I know need a certain item. Where do you draw the line here?

  • LoriLori says:

    I was recently at WalMart and tried to use 2 shampoo coupons to purchase 2 bottles of shampoo. The coupon said “Limit one per purchase, limit of 4 like coupons per shopping trip”. The young male cashier wouldn’t let me use both. I tried to point out to him that “one per purchase” meant one per item, and that the coupon clearly stated that I could use as many as four at a time. He wouldn’t even let me finish talking. He very defensively said, “No, one per purchase means only one at a time.” I said, very calmly, “That isn’t what it means. Maybe you should check with your supervisor.” He was again very defensive and said loudly, “No. That’s what it means. That’s really what it means.” How do we educate store employees on correct coupon usage?!? (Maybe I should suggest that he watch your video :)

    • Mae says:

      I would LOVE TO KNOW what is the final consensus on the wording “Only one coupon per purchase”. I had a VERY embarrassing moment on a recent trip to my local Whole Foods [where they are mostly uneducated on coupons]. I was buying 4 Cascal beverages(on sale of course) and had 4 coupons that had that wording. He told me impolitely that I’d have to use the other 3 coupons on another trip. I told him (just as LoriLori above had) that it means similarly “one per item”. He asked the ‘team leader’ behind him [who seemed to be new]. She said the same thing in an even more unfriendly tone of voice. So I told the cashier I’d prefer to make 4 separate purchases… He made me get in line all over again. :-(

      BTW… Fantastic video Collin…. I wish we could send a copy to our favorite stores and get them more informed on coupon lingo too!! :-)

      • Bee says:

        Me, too. I am looking at a Marie Callendar’s coupon that states “Limit one coupon per purchase.” There are a few more sentences describing other restrictions. Then there is a sentence stating “No other coupon may be used with this coupon.” Well, that’s pretty redundant language.

        And I’m sure many stores are not going to enforce one coupon per transaction. But I have a sneaking suspicion that manufacturers intend for “purchase” to be synonymous with “transaction.”

        I guess we shall soon see. They change wording all the time as we’ve seen with P&G coupons.

    • Alyshia says:

      I think the best way to educate our Stores about coupon usage is to contact the stores customer service! Tell them the exact store you are having problems at and a lot of the time the store will get a correction phone call. I found Rite Aid is great at this and also Safeway. Or if you email Corporate, print out the email verifying that you can use more than one coupon on more than one items, and show them the email at check out. If you are really frustrated, contact customer service while you are still at the store. I carry numbers with me in case there is confusion. Of course always be super nice, but I HTH!

  • Krystal says:

    Thank you so much for doing a video on this, I know I had contacted you once and suggested it, and I’m sure others have asked for it as well. Especially in light of the show on TLC. I work retail and deal with people using coupons, most are perfectly honest couponers, some are couponers that honestly don’t really know what they’re doing and then there are those ones that give couponers a bad name…the ones that scam. They ruin it for everyone.

  • Chris M. says:

    I have a question for people who print the coupons on swagbucks….Are you able to print 2 of each coupon? I have tried using the back button to print and that doesn’t seem to work, and if I go back to the coupons the one I just printed is gone. Thanks for any help!

  • Marie says:

    I always leave coupons I know I won’t be using by those products on the shelves at stores. I hope someone that day will see it, smile and use it. It’s so much better than throwing them away.

    • delapenha says:

      yes, last week I went to the market to buy the New York crisp baggels and found 1 coupon for $1.00 off, I was so happy and thankful because I did not have a coupon for that product. So, I guess it was not you, but thank you anyway ;)

    • Julieanne28 says:

      I left a lot of coupons today at Publix knowing I would not be able to use them before they expire. Some were “stackers” too :) Hmmm wonder if that is considered transferring … food for thought :)

  • EricaSue10 says:

    Does anyone know if the $5 off Physicians Formula PDF is a valid coupon? It doesn’t have a limit on the amount of times you can print it. Also there was a misspelling ‘manufacturer’ on it. I’ve heard that it is legit, but not sure if it really is. $5 seems like a high value coupon to be able to print as much as you want.

    • Emily says:

      I can tell you for a fact that it is legitmate. I got this coupon because they ran out of the free full size samples (remember the free eye booster/ mineral wear primer?) and they gave these out to the next 2000 ish people who tried to get this freebie, as a consolation prize.

      If you ever have any doubts about a coupon being illegitamate, contact the company.

    • Heather W says:

      I didn’t print this coupon so I don’t have it to check, but you could go to the site Collin posted and check it out. :) Never hurts to be safe!

      • EricaSue10 says:

        I check on the site, but it is a PDF so it doesn’t have the same veri code set-up. However, I called Physicians Formula tonight and they said it is legit…Misspelling and all :)

  • vwisemama says:

    Thanks Collin for posting this video. It’s very useful. Also, I do appreciate your last comment about dealing with dishonest people, it happens in all areas. People abusing a system that is good to everybody. But if we keep doing what we’re supposed to do, for us, our family and our community we can keep the good name of honest couponeers. Thanks a lot for all what you do. You’re awesome person and we all at our home appreciate you. Blessings.

  • delapenha says:

    Hi Collin,
    I have one question about stores that say that they double or even triple coupons. I still don’t understand what they mean. I understand stacking coupons. Recently Krogger Supermarkets released and statement saying they won’t double or triple coupons anymore. Could you explain to me how do you double or triple a coupon, is it the same as staking?
    thanks ;)

    • fran says:

      If you had a 75¢ coupon, a store would take off $1.50 when doubling, and $2.25 when tripling. So whatever the value of the coupon, just times it by 2 (double) or 3 (triple).

      “Stacking” is when you use a store coupon with a mfr. coupon on the same item.

    • Marie says:

      I was at my local Kroger today and they doubled my coupons.

      • Stephanie says:

        I shop at meijer all the time because when i am clipping my coupons in my head the value automatically doubles up to a dollar and when I use a coupon for less than a dollar anywhere else it breaks my heart, because I know at meijer it would be worth more. Meijer doubles all day everyday. However, I have never, ever had a coupon double at Kroger and I have been couponing for a over a year. Do they only double on certain days?

    • Betsy says:

      And, some stores will only double a coupon if it is no more than a certain amount. For example, my local store will only double a coupon that is .99 or less. So a .75 coupon becomes $1.50. But a $1.00 coupon (for my store) stays at $1.00.

      Not exactly sure of the policy at all places if that makes item free. Rarely happes to me : )

    • Bee says:

      Kroger supposedly only stopped in the greater Houston area. But I’ve heard time and again it could eventually be all Kroger stores.

      I have enjoyed the double coupons, but we only ever got up to .50 doubled. Sometimes it results in free items.

      I save more with high dollar IP and insert coupons than I do with doubled coupons.

      They are starting to put better digital coupons on the Kroger website if it interests you.

  • Heather W says:

    Awesome video Collin! What a great time to educate on the proper coupon usage too. I linked this video on my blog. I know a lot of people are visual learners and while I can type out all that I know it is great that you have a video so people can see it! Thanks so much for all you do. There are so many products we can get very cheap and free doing this legitimately I just don’t understand why people would try to commit fraud. Bravo to all you “hip” couponers! :)

  • Candice says:

    Anyone have any ideas as to why not all stores will allow you to use overage on coupons like Walmart. Aren’t they still getting the full value of the coupon no matter what the cost of the product? If this is true, then they are making money off of it and that doesn’t seem ethical…

    • Dash says:

      I wonder this all the time! …that is why a number of the stores won’t “adjust down” the coupon value if the coupon value is over the product value… because adjusting down and then getting reimbursed the full value is unethical. I’m not a Wal-mart fan, but good for them for doing this!!

    • cathy says:

      Just because a coupon says $1.00 off doesn’t mean the store will get the whole $1. If the manufacture sells the item to the store at a discount and the store agrees to sale it for say .90. Then the manufacture will only give the store .90 for the $1 coupon.

      Don’t compare Wal-Mart to any other store. No one has the buying power of Walmart.

  • Karin says:

    Thank you for posting about this Collin! I recently asked about how I using coupons from 2 different people. I recommended your site and check out your follow-me-Monday videos. That’s great to see people who are interested to start coupons, but also I really hope they use coupons the right way. That’s so sad to see someone who is abusing the coupon use… :(

  • Ger says:

    Very helpful info, thanks for what you do Collin!

  • julie says:

    Has anyone else had trouble using the $5.00 off Hershey’s? I had 6.90 worth of Hersheys at Walgreens. The coupon didn’t work b/c I didn’t buy one single item thta was worth $5.00. The catalina simply says “$5.00 off Hersheys Candy” at Walgreens. Now I have to buy a gigantic (or not sooo gigantic as you’d think for the $$) bag of Hershey’s or an Easter bunny type of item made by Hershey’s.

  • dorothy says:

    Quick question:
    If I have a coupon for $1 off 2 of the same product and a coupon for 55 cents off the same product, can I use both if I only buy 2 of the products? Or would I have to buy 3?
    Thanks! :)

    • Shelocta Val says:

      Since coupon #1 says $1/2 then that coupon covers the two items and you cannot use an additional coupon (unless it is a store coupon and not a manufacturer coupon). If you have a buy one get one coupon you can use it AND a cents off coupon as long as the cents off item is for ONE item. The cents off would be item #1 and the BOGO would cover item #2 HTH

  • melanie says:

    Thanks for the refresher Collin, you are always such a joy to watch. I can’t wait to see next weeks fun video you have planned!!

  • Dora says:

    Thanks! For sharing this even I’m coupoing for morethan a year! It helps to remind me to read what it saids in each coupon. I wish you can train the cashiers that even you read with them the coupon text don’t get the meaning of it.

  • Tabitha says:

    Thanks for all your hard work and happy spirit Collin! I just love watching your videos and wished you did them daily. I love this site. It has been sooooooo helpful to me! I check it twice daily.

  • chrissy says:

    Thanks so much for posting this. Since Extreme Couponing has aired, I have gotten a LOT of questions from friends and family since they all know Im a big couponer. That show makes us all look like a bunch of greedy con artists! I was in Wal Mart yesterday and I had the same problem where I had 4 of the same coupons and wanted to buy 4 items and was told no because it said one per purchase. I tried to educate teh cashier and she was very insistent that I could only use one of the shampoo coupons. I asked her to get her manager and everyone behind me started groaning and making comments about “oh, great she has coupons” and seemed very aggravated. So I opened up my binder and offered a few coupons to the fellow people in my line for items in their carts and everyone was happy :) AND the manager let me use my 4 shampoo coupons! I think its all just about basic consideration. Consideration for the people in line behind you, consideration for the checker trying to do their job, consideration for other shoppers and leaving behind some product and not clearing the shelf. I just hate to see greedy couponers out shopping and clearing shelves for products they will never ever use. Seriously, who needs 77 bottles of mustard??????!!!!!!!! J’aime really made us all look bad.

  • Pam says:

    This has nothing to do with coupons BUT, Collin, what electronic device are you using while video taping yourself? I love that it zooms in so clearly! I am looking for a new device to record my boys while they are little!

  • Rebecca says:

    and i thought i had the biggest coffee cup in the world — ha ha — thanks for sharing on proper couponing !

  • shay says:

    Collin, you mentioned sending coupons to military families overseas, do you have an address or anything where I could send them? I’d love to do that but I have no idea what to do. Thanks for everything, love your site.

  • Jen says:

    Hi Collin – thanks for this week’s video. I have a question I’ve been wondering about for awhile – it’s about doubling…

    If I am correct – when a store doubles a coupon, the manufacturer is offering the .50 face value of the Q, and the store is covering the other .50.

    If that is correct – then why do coupons even say “do not double”? Why would the manufacturer care if a store wants to double them, if the mfr only pays for the face value once?

    I await your magical (and probably oh-so-simple) answer!

    • Collin says:

      Hi Jen,

      I actually answered this question on a previous post and basically stated that my thought is that a manufacturer prints “Do Not Double” (DND) on a coupon because the manufacturer does not want to be held liable for reimbursing the store for double the coupon value. If a store makes the decision to double a coupon that has DND, then the store is responsible for this loss in revenue.

      However, after stating that a reader named Robin also had this to say which I found very interesting….

      Collin, I work for a food broker and work closey with some manfacturars. The DND clause is on the coupons because manfacturers don’t want their product to be devalued. If I can get the product for free as a result of a double, I will think less of their product and never pay full price for it. Something about when you pay for a product you appreciate it more. This is true acutally because I myself don’t feel half as bad when a product I got for free goes to waste, vs something I paid more for….make sense?

  • Keri says:

    Just wanted to say thanks to Collin and all the couponers who do things correctly. Great message for today with all the buzz going around. :)

  • julie says:

    The coupon database is my newest additiction!!!! Thank you Collin for everything you do! I love Coffee with Collin!!! :)

  • Mary says:

    I was told at Walgreens today that a buy 2 for $5.00 counted as TWO merchandise coupons on my order. Has anyone else found this? I would think it is only ONE coupon and should be counted as ONE merchandise coupon.

  • taxmet says:

    Collin, no matter what you talk about its seems like you enjoy it makes watching & listening to you so easy. Thanks

  • Margaret says:

    I reaped the benefits of a coupon fairy this weekend! I was at Target this weekend and had forgotten my coupon organizer at home and was bummed out…then I was in the cosmetic section with a bunch of coupons paperclipped together that were set to expire the next day. At first I waited around to see if someone had forgotten them but after about 5-10 minutes I figured they were left there intentionally. I saw a girl looking at Revlon and realized the stack had 3 coupons so I offered them to her and shared the coupon fairy magic :)

    Thank you Collin. I found this video very informative. I’m a relatively new couponer. My parents have always been frugal but didn’t really utilize coupons growing up. I’m 22 and a recent college graduate, so learning all of this from you is greatly beneficial.

    Thanks again! :)

  • Sarah says:

    i am a newbie at couponing and i went around to 4 stores looking at different prices and clipped tuns of coupons and bought the sunday paper. but i still have not figured it out i guess cuz i have not gained any big savings. i dont know what to do i feel defeated because i was so excited. so what happen and what do i need to change and do next time. thank you!

    • Kay says:


      A couple of the most important principles to couponing is getting items at the lowest possible price and stockpiling. In order to get items at their lowest price you should wait until that item goes on sale AND use a coupon on it, if possible. When you are paying a price that you’re comfortable with paying, you should create a small stockpile…doesn’t have to be huge…just large enough to meet the needs of your family, and one that would result in you not running to the store to pay full price on that particular item when you are in need of it…just head to the stockpile and grab it.

      I tend to think of my stockpile as a second emergency fund. My Hubby is active duty AF and I have medical conditions that limits my movements at time so having a stockpile is essential for us during deployments and flare ups.

      Don’t feel defeated…this is a learning & growing process. Start by creating a list of items that you family use on a regular basis and watch when they go on sale in your area. When you are able to view a sneak peek of the Sunday inserts note which coupons are in them that your family would benefit from and plan accordingly to how many of each of those coupons you will need.

      Don’t try to focus on getting everything all at once. Again, this is a learning & growing process, so pick a couple of items that you use most often and would like to stock up on…mine was paper products, i.e., paper towels, tissue, etc., and then work each week to add a couple to your stockpile. When you get that item to a level you’re comfortable with, move on to the next item…mine was personal care products, i.e., toothpaste, deodorants, bodywash, feminine care products, etc. These are items in which you’re going to find yourself never having to pay full price for…most of the time, if not all, you will be able to reap them for FREE!

      The point is, take things in steps and create a plan. Don’t get caught up in comparing your goals and/or successes to those of others because we don’t know what their needs are.

      Your plan:

      Create a list: Know what your family needs, how often you need it and how much of it you’re going to need to sustain until the next sale. If at all possible list items that are comparable to one another…some brands I LOVE moreso than their comparable “cousins”…so when they go on sale I stockup on them to avoid “substituting”.

      Get organized: A couponer loses money when s/he is not organized. There is no one right way to organize your coupon but there definitely is a wrong way…being unorganized. I use about three to four different methods, whole insert, clipped coupons in a binder, and a coupon clutch that houses my transactions divided by each store I shop at.

      Wait for the sale(s): Don’t be in a rush to use your coupons. Even though a store says that an item is on sale that week does not mean that that item is at it’s lowest possible price. There are times when a brand of toothpaste is on sale for say, 2/$5…the sales ad says that it’s on sale and you’re excited and you purchase a couple. Weeks later that same brand goes on sale BOGOF (buy one, get one FREE) at $3. In both cases you are able to use a coupon on each item to reduce your OOP (out of pocket) cost, however in each instance, say your coupon value is $1/1 ($1 off 1)…in the first scenario you would pay $3 for 2 after coupons or $1.50 each. In the second scenario you would $1 for 2 or $0.50 each. Again, you want to make sure that a sale is actually a sale before you use your coupons on it or you won’t see any savings when combining a sale with coupons.

      Take Babysteps: Go at a pace that’s comfortable and most cost-efficient for you. Sales will come and go. Once you’ve gotten the hang of the coupon policies at the stores you shop, although they’re ever changing now, you’ll be able to shop with ease.

      As addressed in Collin’s video, as long as you’re shopping responsibly you’ll start seeing the savings add up! Happy Couponing!

      Reaping In Abundance,

  • Betsy says:

    i think (but I could be mistaken) that when coupon companies that will send you coupons for a fee (coupon cutting places etc)…. that they get around the whole selling you coupons (and how coupons say they can’t be transfered etc), because they say you are paying them for the service of cutting the coupons/the labor, and the “consumer” is not paying them for the actual coupons. Anyway that’s what I’ve heard — but don’t quote me. : )

  • Allie says:

    OMG I’m getting confused! I printed out some coupons from the Target website some say Target on the coupon and some say Manufacturer’s coupon. I went to Coupon Resource Center to verify it but it tells me that This code is invalid. So does that mean this coupon is fake. :(
    The only coupons i really ever use are from the Sunday paper. Please someone HELP! I really don’t feel like going to jail for a candy bar coupon! lol Thanks in advance.

    • Janette says:

      On the Target site some are store coupons and some our manufacturer’s. The only way I have been able to tell without printing is A if there is a code to use it online that’s always a Target coupon and B if I have seen the same exact coupon offer in my Sunday inserts most likely a manufacturer’s. Also you can check the weekly deals under Target and Collin will say Target store coupon found here. When you click on it you go to the Target coupons. Hope that helps a little and if anyone else has any other tricks please respond would love to know.

  • Mary Jo says:

    Hi Collin! :)

    I just wanted to stop by and say how much I love your videos! hee hee!!

    AND that no matter how long I have been couponing (almost 2 years now…) I STILL get nervous going up to the register with my 50+ coupons. lol.
    Yes, they are all legit and I use them correctly, but I still get nervous and I can feel my face just turning beat red and I DON’T KNOW WHY! LOL. It bothers me BEYOND belief!

    But anyway…keep up the vids…I loves ’em :)

  • kim says:

    Thank You Collin! LOVE watching your videos every monday!!!

  • Betsy says:

    I would love some scoop on how many times you can print a coupon. If I go to a companies website and I see that they are offering a $1 off — I typically print it just once. Now I know sometimes if I go back to the same site (I think Goya as an example) say months later, they might say “you’ve printed it the alloted times”. So than I know, what their specifics are.

    And, when I go to a site like (ist that the name, you know the ones that update monthly), you can see when you click on a coupon (it says you have met the quota already).

    Just not sure of the general rule — of course I won’t do the whole print on 5 different computers to beat the system. For one thing I only have one computer, plus I think that’s scamming the system. Same way I think its wrong when people have multiple CVS cards.

    The how many times you can or should print…. a grey area to me.


    • Janette says:

      From what I understand it’s suppose to be two per computer and then it will say you have reached your limit unless there has not been a limit placed. I understand your issue with multiple computers but I see it this way I have four people in my household so I should have the right to print two per person. Since we have three computers I will use all of them if it’s a coupon for something we use or I can donate that will be free or next to free since ink cost money. Paper cost for some I just always get lucky and Staples has the free paper offer faster then I can get through the last free batch so it piles up. I never clear shelves but there are so many in need right now if I can print 6 toothpaste coupons and get them free to donate to a shelter I will and not feel bad about it for a second. I have seen toothpaste, toothbrush, shampoo and deodorant gift bags bring woman to there knees in tears because they had nothing but the clothes on there back. It’s just another way to look at things but everyone has there feeling on right and wrong.

      • Betsy says:


        I should have elaborated more….. I see someone at my local market who brags on how many CVS ExtraBuck cards she has (and she brags on how she is beating the system) and prints things multiple times, at home, at work, and her husband does the same, So she often can print 15 coupons from the net. And, man, she is keeping all for herself. So way different than printing a coupon for you and then for your husband sorry I wasn’t clearer.
        And I sooooo agree that coupons make donating so easy. Love how Walgreens often has Colgate for free (after the register rewards on whatever its called prints out). I have a box in my hall closet for random things to donate.

        • Bee says:

          That type of bragging will yield little fruit in the end. She is not getting anything over on anyone because the manufacturers/retailers control the system. We coupon users cannot DEMAND these discounts from the stores and manufacturers. They can halt/reduce anytime they see the need.

          But, the truth is there are always going to be people who operate from a short-term mindset. She thinks it’s a wonderful thing that she can do it right now. People contact retailers all the time complaining about cleared shelves. Retailers will order more to an extent. In the end retailers would rather please many customers who just wanted one or two than pleasing one or two people who wanted 15 each.

          She should be more interested in ensuring that she will be able to use coupons in the long term, not running the privilege in the ground.

      • Bee says:

        I can understand donations…but what I don’t understand is how it is determined who is the most needy….the people who we couponers may readily identify or people coming behind us in the store who are in dire straits. Just because someone is struggling financially doesn’t mean they don’t do their own shopping and need a break.

        I have read comments from people on coupon blogs who are practically pleading with people who buy a lot they don’t need (in the name of donation). They are the working poor who may slip through the cracks as far as benefits are concerned. Of course, even benefits don’t cover toilet paper and toothpaste. Therefore, these folks are relying on getting to the store and actually getting a tube. They may be using gas they can scarce afford to pay for. And all the store can tell them is some couponer got here 20 minutes ago and got the last 6 or 10 or 15 we had.

        We make decent money and I don’t have the funds to continually run back-and-forth to get the one or two I now buy.

    • Kristin says:

      I’m curious about this too. Especially when it’s a coupon that you can print an unlimited number of times. I never heard it’s not okay to use more than one computer…is that considered unethical?

  • Natasha Luckett says:

    Thank you Collin, like so many others I all of a sudden feel the need to defend myself to people about couponing. I’m constantly saying “no I’m not one of those” Not to sound all conspiracy theory but I’d be curious to see who sponsors the TLC show. Saving money is bad for the economy. Being frugal is bad for the economy. By categorizing couponers with hoarders, it makes us sound like we have a social disease. I have already found that this show has changed my behavior when I shop. I have never been one to buy large quantities, but now instead of being proud of what a good deal I’ve gotten I’m almost apologetic. I’ve also found myself going to the store more and breaking down my trips into smaller trips to not end up being confrontational with other customers or staff. I have great relationships with my cashiers at CVS, WAGS, Publix, and the commissary but I have found that relationship strained. I have a cashier at CVS who has always been coupon friendly now being apologetic to me because they are “cracking down on coupons” If it beeps at all she can’t take it. I spend alot of time confirming a coupon is 1)legitimate 2) I get the right size & the right amount 3) that I don’t get to many of anything. I still feel like a criminal some days and that has never happened to me before in all the time I’ve been couponing Thank you Collin for being an advocate of Normal Couponers everywhere. Hopefully this fad will blow over & the serious frugal longterm savers out there will be able to go back to business as usual.

  • Steph says:

    I didn’t know about this coupon data base!!! What a great tool! But where can I access this from within the site? I don’t see a spot for it on the home page.

  • crystal says:

    Is it true when a store is offering a buy one get one free sale and you have a buy one get one free coupon you can get two free items?

    • Kay says:


      That depends on the store that you’re shopping at. If you’re at Rite-Aid, Walgreens and CVS this is always true, as the BOGO sales items ring up full value for the first item and $0 for the second. However, select grocery stores have their BOGOF (buy one, get one FREE) offers ringing up at half of the retail price. For instance, if an item is on sale $3.99 BOGO at select grocery stores, the first one would ring up at $2 and the second one $1.99. In this case, you do NOT have to purchase both items to get the sales price. Now, with saying that, I’m in an area where my Publix grocery store BOGO sales ring up as just mentioned, however those on Georgia border in Florida, have what we call true-BOGO deals, as that of the drug stores…their prices ring up full price for the first one and $0 for the second one…you HAVE to purchase both items to get the sales price.

      Here’s how it would look using BOGO coupons:

      (True BOGO stores: Rite-Aid, Walgreens, CVS & select Publix stores)

      Airwick Aerosal Spray, BOGO, $1.39
      -first item rings up at $1.39, second item rings up at $0
      -use BOGO Airwick Aerosal coupon
      your OOP: $0, pay tax

      Same scenario at other grocery stores such as Harris Teeter, select Publix, Bi-Lo)

      Airwick Aerosal Spray, BOGO, $1.39
      -first item rings up at $0.70, second item rings up at $0.69
      -use BOGO Airwick Aerosal coupon
      your OOP: $0.69 plus tax

  • Nicole says:

    Thank you for addressing how to use coupons correctly! I am a cashier at a major retail store and deal with coupons all day long. There is one thing about coupons that you forgot that people do all the time. When a coupon says you have to buy two of something, buying a double pack is not two. The coupon will always beep. Yes there are cashiers that will fix it for you, but technically you are not using the coupon right. Buying two means two barcodes scanned not the amount of product in the packaging. Thanks for letting me share my pet peeve!

    • Morganne says:

      Thanks! I was wondering about that just this week….:-)

      • fairys5 says:

        But, if you have a BJ’s club, they are the only wholesale club that allows coupons from my understanding. say they had a club pack of colgate with 3, each is in a box and wrapped as a three pack. They will allow 3 manufacturer on that. Plus if they have a store, you can stack it. Plus you get a discounted club price. This may allow you to get all for pennies or free. I wasn’t sure if stores allowed this and ask, some do some don’t. A cashier in my grocery store got really nasty about it when I asked, she looked at me like I was an idiot to and made a statement about others thinking they could do this and what was wrong with people. Needless to say she did not apologize when I explained BJ ‘s, so I reported her to the manager. If we can’t even ask cashiers questions over coupons, they need not work in customer service. Someone else may really want and need that job :)

  • cathy says:

    I hate to correct you here because I love your site. But you are wrong. Coupon use is covered by contract law. There doesn’t have to be a law in your city, or state saying that you can or can’t buy or sell coupons. By using the coupon you are entering into a contract with the Manufacture who issued the coupon. You are legally bond by the terms of the contract. One of these terms is that the coupon is void if sold, bought, or transfered. Knowingly using a void coupons is fraud, and you can go to jail for committing fraud. Althrough, I don’t think they are going to come after coupon buyers.

    Coupon buying and selling is just like the issue of downloading music, movies,…ect….. If anyone is going to get arrestted or sued it will be the companies selling the item.
    I’m not

    • autumn says:

      But I certainly can pay someone for their time and effort of clipping the coupons for me. That is a hard part I think. So Don’t BUY coupons PAY a person for the job they did of cutting them or collecting them. Simple as that.

  • Sarah says:

    Database = DREAM WORLD. Thank you Collin!

  • Tiffany says:

    I’m not new to couponing, but there is an issue I hope you all can give me some input on,
    When a legitimate coupon is emailed from the manufacturer in pdf format, is it okay to use multiple prints? The coupons will all have the same barcode generated for my email address, so I’m concerned that using multiple copies in the future will result in the store not being reimbursed for each of them. Should I only print one when I receive a legitimate pdf?
    Any input is appreciated!

  • micasm says:

    hi Collin!

    i am a newbie and i love this video! just finished watching your binder video and that is really interesting. i have a question though. most of the stores where i live are pretty far away, besides walmart and drugstores, i was wondering if you have covered or done a video about the commissary? just how to use coupons there, and when to get deals and also i think the commissary i go to has (As you walk in by the door) coupons to use, when is the best time to go and collect those coupons. things like that. unless you dont shop there? just an idea and it would be a really helpful video. (Btw i have actually been in a commissary where people actually clear out the shelves). thank you for everything! :)

  • Missy says:

    So, if a coupon policy says the store will only accept one coupon per item or per purchase, does this mean that the store does not allow for stacking?

  • Mrs13 says:

    Hey Collin!
    This weeks video lined-up perfectly with a situation that I’m facing. My local Walgreens did not have any of the Scott toilet paper that was in the ad last week (with a coupon), so I got a rain-check. However, I also had a $1/1 coupon that that I wanted to use, but it expired on 4/7/11. My rain-check is dated before 4/7/11. Can I still use it? I checked the coupon on the Coupon Resource Center and it states that the coupons expiration date is “no later than 4/18/2011”.
    My second question is about a coupon that I printed, but in the middle of my printing, my printer ran out of ink. The UPC code numbers did not print, but the bar-code did. I have not tried to use the coupon yet, but when I do, if there is a problem, do you think printing the information from the Coupon Resource Center might help me?

    Thanks again for your couponing wisdom!!

  • Drew says:

    I have a question about buy 1 get 1 free. If you have a b1g1 can you use a coupon on the buy 1 product? For instance you have a buy 1 deodorant get a body wash for free. Can you use 1 dollar off the deodorant plus the b1g1? The b1g1 is confusing. Thanks :) (sorry if this question has been asked the thread is really long)

  • Ashley says:

    thanks soooo much collin! im very new to this and i’m 15 so im starting out young lol but I love to shop and like everyone else i love good deals so i love the make up deals and lotion deals ect that you break down so even i can understand them :) thanks again collin!

  • NYCSingleMom says:

    Collin and readers, this is so helpful. I know coupons save you money but in NYC, the stores are a pain in the *** about accepting internet coupons or even coupons that the company sends because they dont look the sunday supplement coupons.

    And because they dont double coupons here but the one thing that I learned today was about stacking and to really understand a companies policy regarding stacking. Like Walgreens who knew you could stack.

    So I am going to start at least looking at the coupons and see where it takes me.

  • hsmom says:

    Collin– Your videos are NEVER boring. Thanks so much for addressing this… timely…. topic in a positive and helpful way.

    Just so you know, Cub Foods (which is a SuperValu store– not sure if this applies to all) in the midwest does accept expired coupons as part of their coupon policy (they can be up to 90 days expired). It’s one way they can compete with their main competition here– Rainbow Foods, which has double coupon days.

    I think it would be sooo much fun to encourage a “Coupon Fairy Week” where everyone left coupons during the same week. I love leaving them.

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