The “FBI” of Couponing – Ethical Couponing to Safeguard our Future to Savings

 

The CIC or the Coupon Information Center is a very important part of couponing and should be used by all couponers as guidelines and for educational purposes. This company exists because of shady couponing: counterfeit coupons, and fraudulent activities including glittering and balancing methods. These are like the coupon police! While technically, they are not actually police officers but most of them have many years of law enforcement experience and they work with federal and local agencies to arrest couponers and those who try to defraud/deceive other people and stores with the illegal coupon usage and fake coupons.

One of the coupons that I received in the mail came directly from the company. As you can see in the photo above, the CIC has a hologram across the top and many retailers will only accept coupons for free items with the CIC hologram. If it doesn’t have it, most likely it is fake.

For information about coupon fraud, go HERE.

To report fake coupons and shady methods; glittering and balancing , go HERE and HERE

For a few tips on coupon etiquette, go HERE

Other shady activities that are not encouraged HERE

Check out the latest counterfeit coupons. It’s crazy to see so many fake ones!

The CIC exists to help us protect the future of couponing. As most of you know, the rules have gotten stricter because of the abuse. A lot of coupons offer a limit of 1 to 2 like coupons per day and some have big red bold wording to encourage cashiers/managers to ensure the coupons are for the correct products. Unfortunately, a lot of cashiers just scan the coupons…if it doesn’t beep, they assume if’s for the correct product.

Because every retailer has different register programs, some coupons will beep in one store and not for others. There are lots of secret Facebook groups that encourage glittering, an illegal method of saving, and they share what stores don’t beep for the mismatched products. For example, using a $5 off Sudafed manufacturer coupon on a $1 Dawn dish soap, making it a $4 overage, that doesn’t beep at the register for unsuspecting cashiers (or the couponers are friends with the cashiers).

I have been couponing for over 18 years and this is a lifestyle for me. So, with all the negative changes, it does effect me, along with others, especially those who live paycheck to paycheck and it’s a vital source of family savings. This is why I am very passionate about ethical couponing and why I discourage shady activities. Couponers that glitter are NOT real savers, they are THIEVES.

Is Extreme Couponing Really Worth it?

Five years ago, I was at the heights of extreme couponing. It felt like the deals just fell in my hands and it was such an exciting feeling to get so much for so little. Oh, and my stockpile? It was big and beautiful! However, during the last 6 months of this type of adventure, I slowly swayed away after various reasons:

1) coupon policies from various stores started to change their rules, which became stricter, making it harder to save. Most stores were putting limits on how many you can purchase.

2) TLC’s Extreme Couponing shows were getting back lashed for being unethical. Alot of stores were forced to disregard their own coupon policies to be on the show. TLC glorified this behavior by showing the “pretty aspects” of this type of couponing but failed to show the ugly reality of it.

3) At that time, Ebay announced that they will no longer allow insert/coupon sales on the site and Facebook took a good swipe at deleting pages that were selling coupons as well. Selling coupons were being scrutinized and frowned upon.

4) The Coupon Information Center were becoming overwhelmed with counterfeit coupons being sold and passed around. With extreme couponing, there were mass amounts of fake coupons to handle!

At this point, it seemed that this particular type of couponing had more risks than benefits. It lost its wholesome and honest value…..literally!

There is a lot of planning, organizing, collaborating and extra money to be spent BEFORE they get behind the wheel to take off to find those deals!

-Search social media sites such as Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and coupon sites to find the deals. It could take hours to do this. Time is money, right? For some extreme couponers, it’s a full time job to do this!

-To pull off such deals, you need coupons, excess amounts of coupons. Searching for the right person to trust to take your money first and send your coupons right away can be daunting. Did that person obtained the coupons legally? Nowadays, people are getting charged with theft of coupons. It even happens in this area! Don’t pay for stolen merchandise! Another thing, why would you PAY for coupons? Isn’t that redundant? You are trying to save money, not spend more to save more.

-Now, in your vehicle ready to go! How long is the drive? How long will you be gone away from your family?How much gas will you use? How long will it take for you to get everything you want? How is this beneficial to get items you don’t even use? Is free REALLY free?

Believe it or not, I saved way more money when I stopped extreme couponing. 6 months after I stopped extreme couponing, we planned a Disney trip and 3 months later, we were visiting Mickey Mouse!

With high rates of theft of coupons and counterfeit coupons, the amount of time and money put into extreme couponing, it’s not worth it to me anymore. I find more value in finding deals my family benefits from. Now, I spend less than 2 hours a week getting deals and spend about $300 a month on food and household items for a family of three. Anyone can do this! Read below!
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The only thing I stockpile on is toilet paper, paper towels; paper products. Others such as laundry detergent, air fresheners, dry pasta, hair care, body care products, I stock up for 3 months in advance. When I get low, I stock up according to how much we use monthly. This prevents products from going bad and losing its effectiveness. I put date of purchase on everything so when I rotate it, the oldest items goes in front.

*Create spending goals each week. You do not need to go to the stores every week! I haven’t shopped at CVS for 3 weeks because either I didn’t need anything or I didn’t see great deals on particular items.

*Reuse leftover foods…make hamburger one night, make chili or lasagna the following night with the hamburger.

*Save on gas! Let’s see how long you can go before you fill up again! I have a 2009 vehicle with 73,000 miles on it. I’m not wasting a trip to one store to buy more of what I already have. Plus there is no guarantees that the store will have the products I need. Not a risk I want to take.

So my platform has evolved since; “conscious & realistic” savings…..meaning buy what you and your family need, creating financial goals and save money. Create limitations and be rational about everything you see on sale….”oh, it’s free” or “it’s such a great deal” should be questioned as “do we use it?” , “do we need it?” Think of how much you would save if you asked yourself those questions! Reality check: You do save money if you don’t shop for unnecessary items!

When I donate to the shelters (men, women, animal), food banks and other organizations, I give it to them right away.

Risks when selling Stockpiles.

The opinions about stockpile sales is generally a hot topic, often highly charged by various couponers.

I want to share both sides, including my stance on this. Either way, selling is VERY RISKY. I feel that anytime there’s a gray/risky area, it pushes on the ethical aspect, posing as a questionable act. Never trust or rely on questionable acts!!

My view is that having a stockpile acquired by couponing is for you and your family’s needs. The BASIC PRINCIPLE of couponing is to help you save money, not meant for you to profit off those items. Yes, it is yours, you do whatever you like with it. It’s like buying an item, deciding you don’t want it anymore so you sell it online or at a yard sale…understandable.  It’s no different than buying clothes on sale with coupons and when you decide not to wear it, you sell it but there are times that you can’t do “just whatever you like with it”. There are rules and they are there for a reason. (For example: most coupons have “limit 4 like coupons per household” in their fine print. This curbs shelf clearing and allows everyone a fair chance to buy. Early bird gets the worm does NOT apply to this rule.)

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Why is Couponing becoming trickier to save?

Most coupon policy changes are made because of bad AND excessive behaviors, which means the whole couponing community is affected.

Printable coupons: What’s hurting stores across the U.S, especially in the Killeen area, are fraudulent printable coupons. These coupons are usually bought in bulks by “IP (Internet Printable) fairies” and “coupon fairies”. Nowadays, when you print a coupon, you are limited to two of the same coupons because of this and the fact that people sell bulks of these printable coupons.

If you see someone using high value coupons or “free item” coupons and they say it came from their fairy, they are most likely fake coupons. Valid coupons come from the company directly, not from a coupon fairy!

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