Seriously? You think you're an extreme couponer? If you've ever watched the popular TLC Series, "Extreme Couponing," you know that you probably don't come close to being "extreme." If you're like many frugal grocery shoppers, you know how to work the deals. Combine this coupon with that catalina and a BOGO, and three containers of sour cream are yours for free.
Don't know the lingo? A catalina coupon is one of those coupons that comes out of the register printer next to your receipt and a BOGO is a "Buy One, Get One" promotion where you purchase one item and get a second one free of charge. Human ingenuity is a powerful thing. If there's a loophole to be found, someone will eventually profit from it. Thanks to the light being cast on these extreme couponers, stores are slowly changing their policies to curtail not only the bending of the rules, but the outright theft that occurs when people try to use coupons in ways that are against store and manufacturer policy.

Rite Aid no longer allows a buy one get one free coupon to be used with a BOGO promotion in order to get both items for free, nor can you use a "cents off" coupon along with a BOGO offer for more than the purchase price of the item. (In other words, they aren't going to pay you to purchase an item)

If you plan to take a coupon to Target to land a free item without a purchase, you're going to be disappointed when you get there. That's no longer allowed. Like Rite Aid, no BOGO coupons can be combined to get both items free. Finally, you can't redeem more than two Target internet coupons. If you shop at a Publix, combining three coupons is no longer allowed. It only allows one manufacturer's coupon and one Publix or competing store coupon.

Why the Regulations?
Why are stores' coupon policies now reading like a complicated legal document? People are abusing the system. Some organizations, like the Coupon Information Corporation (CIC), a nonprofit that helps to monitor and contain fraud for food companies, said that the TLC series highlighting extreme couponing may be to blame.

Don't Be This Extreme
Extreme couponing can be fun, but crossing over to the illegal isn't as hard as you think. Here are a few ways to avoid making your couponing into a criminal enterprise.

Photocopying
Photocopying a coupon is just as illegal as counterfeiting money, although the penalties aren't as stiff.

Misusing a Coupon
If your coupon is for a 24 ounce tub of ice cream, trying to use your coupon on a 12 ounce package isn't only unethical, it often violates federal, state or local laws. The CIC compares it to shoplifting.

Don't Buy
Although you probably won't receive jail time for purchasing coupons, coupons are nontransferable making purchasing coupons a violation of your coupon's contract. Regardless of what the website says, it's illegal.

Don't Resell Products
You're likely in violation of the coupon and possibly local health codes if you attempt to resell extra items you purchased as a result of your couponing.

Don't Pick Through Trash
For most people, picking through someone's trash for coupons seems a little over the top, but people do it. This may be considered trespassing which is a criminal offense.

The Bottom Line
If you use coupons appropriately, legally and ethically, being proud of the money you save is certainly appropriate. Consider shopping during off peak hours, having your coupons organized and don't take all of a product on a shelf because of your coupons. The CIC advises couponers to be courteous and kind because you may be holding up the line behind you.

Related Articles
  1. Insurance

    5 Ways to Lower Life Insurance Premiums

    Learn several effective methods for lowering life insurance premiums. These include quitting smoking and considering term life insurance.
  2. Budgeting

    The 7 Best Ways to Get Out of Debt

    Obtain information on how to put together and execute a plan to get out of debt, including the various steps and methods people use to become debt-free.
  3. Home & Auto

    4 Areas to Consider Roofing Material Types

    Roofing your home is very important, that’s why you should choose a roof specifically designed to handle your area’s climate.
  4. Budgeting

    The 5 Most Expensive States for Child Care

    To get a better sense of how child care costs can fluctuate, here's a look at the costs of child care across the country.
  5. Home & Auto

    Looking To Invest In Home Improvements?

    Some home improvement projects could cost you more to complete than they’ll pay out in equity. So, here we show you the worst projects to avoid.
  6. Fundamental Analysis

    Understanding the Internal Rate of Return Rule

    The internal rate of return rule is a popular method used to compare investments or projects.
  7. Active Trading Fundamentals

    How Groupon Makes Money

    Find out how Groupon makes money, including a rundown of how Groupon works and what benefits it provides to the businesses it partners with.
  8. Home & Auto

    Are Home Inspections Worth It? - Price vs. Value

    If you’re wondering whether home inspection is worth the investment, the following information will help you decide.
  9. Budgeting

    How to Defray Long-Term Care Expenses

    Here's a handful of options on what you can do to defray long-term care expenses.
  10. Budgeting

    The True Cost of Home Caregiving

    Caring for eldery family in-home might be unavoidable, but most caregivers don't realize the true cost of doing so.
RELATED TERMS
  1. Internal Rate Of Return - IRR

    A metric used in capital budgeting measuring the profitability ...
  2. Construction Loan

    A short-term loan used to finance the building of a home or another ...
  3. Debt Consolidation

    The act of combining several loans or liabilities into one loan. ...
  4. Personal Spending Plan

    Similar to a budget, a personal spending plan helps outline where ...
  5. Fudget

    A falsified statement of income and expenses. A fudget or "fudget ...
  6. Capital Project

    A long-term investment made in order to build upon, add or improve ...
RELATED FAQS
  1. How does a bank determine what my discretionary income is when making a loan decision?

    Discretionary income is the money left over from your gross income each month after taking out taxes and paying for necessities. ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. What is the range of deductibles offered with various health insurance plans?

    A wide range of possible deductibles are available with health insurance plans, starting as low as a few hundred dollars ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. How do I know how much of my income should be discretionary?

    While there is no hard rule for how much of a person's income should be discretionary, Inc. magazine points out that it would ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. What proportion of my income should I put into my demand deposit account?

    Generally speaking, aim to keep between two months and six months worth of your fixed expenses in your demand deposit accounts. ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. How do I use the rule of 72 to estimate compounding periods?

    The rule of 72 is best used to estimate compounding periods that are factors of two (2, 4, 12, 200 and so on). This is because ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. How much risk is associated with subprime mortgages?

    A large amount of risk is associated with subprime mortgages. Since the mortgages are specifically for people who do not ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

Trading Center
×

You are using adblocking software

Want access to all of Investopedia? Add us to your “whitelist”
so you'll never miss a feature!