The Villains of the Coupon World

Beware the fire breathing dragons in the coupon world! Art by XxArashiXx

Beware the fire breathing dragons in the coupon world! Art by XxArashiXx

As you all know, I love, l-o-v-e, LOVE couponing. It has truly brought a world of plenty to my home today and for the future when food may be in short supply. It’s almost like a fairytale for me when I go into a store, load up my grocery cart, and leave with supplies for me and others that I paid less than 20% of their original cost for. But just as in every fairy tale, there are always the fire breathing dragons or wicked witches who make things tough on the heroes and heroines. Today’s article is to warn you of the fairytale nemeses in all of their ugly forms.

Villain of the Coupon World #1. First of all, I love it when I go into a store and see a tear pad of coupons offering to send me money in the mail if I simply buy what I already planned on buying. For example, Albertson’s had lobsters on sale for only $5 each. That’s a heck of a lot better than any seafood restaurant is going to charge me and I can assure you that I won’t overcook the little buddies. So I bought them—and even paid for them with $10 worth of Albertson’s store coupons which I had received on previous shopping ventures. I then sent in my receipt to Budweiser Beer and received a $10 rebate in the mail 5 weeks later. Yup. Even though I didn’t buy a drop of alcohol, Budweiser bought my lobsters for me. Where the wicked witch comes in though is when she goes by the same tear pad in the store and feels that she could make an easy buck by stealing the entire tear pad and selling it on e-bay. As a result, only a few of us fairy princesses got to take advantage of that deal. This is why some stores have to keep all of the tear pads at the customer service counter—to keep them out of the hands of the wicked witches in the world.

This princess bit the poison apple. "Snow White and the Poison Apple" by Cyril Helnwein

This princess bit the poison apple. "Snow White and the Poison Apple" by Cyril Helnwein

Villain of the Coupon World #2. Next, you have the villain in any fairytale that’s all about the power and profit. In the world of coupon fairytales, this is rampant. If you read the fine print of just about any coupon around, it clearly says that the coupon is NOT to be bought, sold, auctioned, etc. And yet there are countless villains who swipe and sell coupons. Unfortunately there are plenty of trusting heroines who naively purchase the poison apples. Some villains try to go so far as to say “we don’t sell coupons, we simply charge a handling fee.” Really? Then why is your “handling fee” based DIRECTLY upon the dollar value of the coupon? I mean does it really cost you more to “handle” a $1.10 off one item coupon than it does for you to “handle” a .55 cent off one item coupon? And if you really think about it, a drug dealer doesn’t sell drugs either. They only charge a handling fee. Right. Not only that, but when you buy coupons, you simply cannot trust where they have come from. Are they counterfeit? There is not a single household in the U.S. that is legitimately provided with 839 “.55 cent off Duncan Hines Cake Mix” coupons! So, my fair maidens, don’t buy coupons. You’re only keeping the villains in business and there is already plenty that you can do with what’s already FREELY available.

Villain of the Coupon World #3. Speaking of counterfeit, yes, there is always the ugly witch who attempts to pose as a beautiful princess, even in the coupon fairy tale. It is FRAUDULENT for you to copy a coupon. Coupons have a cash value. Just as it is a serious crime to copy U.S. currency, it is a COUNTERFEITING CRIME to copy your coupons. If a web site only allows you to print off two coupons per computer, then so be it. Worst case scenario, you can go to other cottages in your village and print coupons off of their computers. At least then you haven’t committed a crime.

Villain of the Coupon World #4. There is also the enchantress who attempts to cast a spell on you and make you believe that something is “free” when it truly is not. Don’t fall for it. Understand that if you have to PAY money in order to obtain something “for free” it is no longer for free. There are many villainous websites who “rate” or “score” savings levels when you use coupons. Be suspicious of the ones who mistakenly tell you that something is “free” simply because when you BUY one thing, you get a store credit or a rebate that you can later use on something else. That’s not free. That’s giving the store an interest-free loan until you remember and actually use the store credit you earned for the purchase or until they remember to send you your rebate check. If you’re not willing to take the money out of your pocket to obtain the so-called free item, then it’s not a purchase worth making. Don’t fall for the enchanted promises of something “free” in the future.

Coping with the .. Photo c/o

How to cope with the a cashier who's not so fond of coupons. Photo c/o

Villain of the Coupon World #5. Last, but definitely not least, there is always the villainous side-kick whose own ignorance and cowardice, combined with a smidgen of power, becomes your worst enemy. These folks tend to disguise themselves as cashiers for large corporate villages. Their ignorance is fostered in a village that is so large that no one attempts to educate or properly oversee the dealings of the townspeople with the coupon fairies. As such, they forget that if it wasn’t for the protection of the coupon fairies in the land today, 14% of all grocery retail and food manufacturers would be crushed by the recession giant. Unfortunately, the sidekicks don’t know any better, and as a result they try to cast worthless spells on the townspeople such as “you can’t use this coupon on a trial sized item” or “you can’t use a store coupon with a manufacturers coupon” or worse “if your coupon beeps, it’s invalid.” Here’s a little trick, my coupon friends, to help you battle the Igor’s of this world. Arm yourself with the coupon policy of the village. When there seems to be some ridiculous statement brought up such as I’ve mentioned here, simply wave this magic piece of paper and it will usually rid you of any vexing. (By the way, the villages of Target and Wal-Mart have the largest population of villainous sidekicks in them. So always keep the village Coupon Policy on you when shopping there.)

Ultimately, I look at it this way. Couponing is just one more magical way that I have to provide for my family and others in the future. I really am not about to taint such a blessing by making use of ill-gotten gains—nor am I going to cower in the midst of a villainous threat. Arm yourself with knowledge of right and wrong, and then do right—period. I don’t know about you, but I can use all of the blessings I can get and with what I’m able to achieve legitimately, I already feel like there is truly enough and to spare.

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I ran into Villain #5 just this morning. There's an awesome deal ending today that allows you to get movie tickets for $1 each via a General Mills coupon and a Catalina coupon from the register. I ran into a store manager who, unbelievably, told me that "cereal" doesn't qualify as a grocery item and refused my coupons!!! Could not believe my ears. Bah!


I’m sure that General Mills would love hearing your tale considering they are one of the largest cereal manufacturers in the U.S. Good grief!

Please tell me how to get coupons. I live in the land of no coupons. I get a few in my mail. The Sunday paper from the biggest town comes on Sunday, but I don't purchase on Sunday and can't get them to leave them in the stores another day. I used to do great with coupons until I moved back here. If you have any resources for coupons, I would appreciate it.

Go to and print all of the coupons from her printable database. I’ve also provided several other coupon websites in previous articles on this site. Good luck!

Hey I LOVE yur article. I'm new to couponing and I run into these "villians" a lot. It makes me not want to do it. But my mom is GREAT at it and so I keep trying!!! She and I are doing a blog too about how she gets a lot of her stuff for free! Really free not the free you mention above!!! LOL Anyways I also loved your article on the GMO wheat. Great work there too! Thanks! We are also going to be trying your technique to wax the cheese for storage next week, I'm so excited!

There is always someone that has to be greedy. As you say, there is enough and to spare. There is no need to be greedy. Take what we can use, and let everyone else do the same.

Thank you for the warning.

As usual, a most gracious "Thank You" to the Princess Kellene for sharing her magical tricks for avoiding the "Villains of Coupon Land."

I do have a a couple of questions though... First - Is it just me, or do the Sunday paper coupons seem to have fewer food coupons than they used to? I feel like I'm seeing more adds for slippers, bras, blankets and coins than I am groceries.
Second, does anyone have a good way to ORGANIZE their coupons and their shopping trips? I'm feeling overwhelmed trying to match up who has what on sale, what I have a coupon for, what sale ends when,etc.

Any suggestions would really be appreciated!

Thanks to all!

I have a friend who collects coupons for someone in the military - who apparently is able to use them at the post stores - does not have to buy the item, but gets credit for the total amount of the face value of the coupons. Have you heard of this and if so - does this apply to all U.S. military stores on bases?

Coupons can be used for up to 6 months past their expiration dates on U.S. military base commissaries. It’s a great way to make your expired coupons worthwhile to someone else.

Hehe, I love the fairy tale langauge of this post! I just wanted to talk about the last villain. My wife had a coupon for buy one hair product get one free. I can't remember the brand. But It did not say of equal or lesser value, and it did not say excludes trial size. They gave her a lot of trouble trying to buy a travel size for $1 each x5 and getting a full size free x5. She had to make the cashier, and the manager read the coupon to verify that she was just using the coupon wisely, rather than making assumptions that the manufacturer did not print on the coupon. She slayed the dragon in the end, but it was a hard battle!! :)

The equal or lesser value is presumed with those kinds of deals, and thus I wouldn’t have tried to use them that way, but you are correct. They sure do try to make up a lot of stuff.

This is a very cool way to explain for couponing. I am new to couponing, but an expert at a provident pantry. I am excited to learn more ways to save money. My grown daughters tell me that I can get free to cheap TP, toothpaste, etc. Just that will be great.
I would love to take your couponing classes. Do you have handouts that you share with those of us that aren't in Utah?

Hey Kristine, your daughters are correct, although I get a lot more than just hygiene items for free regularly. I don’t e-mail my handouts to those who haven’t taken the class, but the good news is we’re just about finished with wrapping things up for offering webinars starting this month. Keep on couponing. The better you get at it, the more addictive it becomes!

I am so excited about your webinars!!! I'll be in Utah a couple of times in the next few months, but not when you're giving the coupon class. Thanks for offering it to us out-of-town newbies!

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment.Nice post!

I run into evil sidekicks at WalMart regularly, especially regarding WM's policy to match competitor's prices. I've been told that they only match per each prices, not per lb. prices on produce, only per lb. not per each prices, and that you can't use a coupon with a price match.

Definitely have the store's coupon policy on you!

To the lady who doesn't shop on Sundays - you might check the dollar stores. In my town, 99 cent plus stores sell the Sunday paper early edition on Saturday, for a dollar (it costs $1.75 out of a machine, and $2 delivered!) and have all the coupons in them. People sometimes will post coupons on their local Freecycle; you could also try posting asking for other people's coupons. I snag them from family members who "don't have time" to coupon.

You're serious? I didn't know that people sold coupons they took from the stores. That's just plain wrong. I loved the storyline.

One of my daughters got me started couponing about a month ago. We use a free site called This gal posts all the sales and even has a link next to the item to print coupons. Today I went to the site & clicked on Publix. Made my grocery list and printed or found the need coupons. With my printed list and coupons I headed out. I bought $291.51 of groceries for $102.52.
This can become an addiction!

Stealing the entire tear off and coupon books from the store seems to be quite common. I refuse to buy the coupons. Have fun!!!

Thanks for share good post. Useful information, keep it up. I like your post.

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