Posted 05-29-2012 at 05:07 PM by Rasha
The Coupon Information Center (CIC) in anticipation of the return of the TLC show “Extreme Couponing” had posted a retailer alert in regards to participation on the show.
“The CIC advises retailers that they should exercise caution when considering participation with the show ‘Extreme Couponing,’ including allowing filming at retail sites.”
“Some of the “guests” on the show, including at least one minor, have used counterfeit coupons and engaged in other practices in violation of State or Federal laws, manufacturers’ coupon redemption policies, and/or retailers’ coupon acceptance policies. Retailers may not be reimbursed for counterfeit coupons received from the show’s participants.”
“Some consumers have reportedly filed complaints against the show with the Federal Communications Commission… The CIC has previously contacted The Discovery Channel to express these and related concerns. As of this date, The Discovery Channel, to our knowledge, has not taken any action to remedy the situation.”
“In summary, ‘Extreme Couponing’ exposes its retail participants to potential legal issues and counterfeit coupons, which may not be reimbursed, as well as potential adverse publicity.”
You All Were Right
To everyone that has complained about the show, we just want to say, “You were right.” Even the CIC recognizes the major issues with “Extreme Couponing.” And since they’ve not been able to stop TLC, they took their warnings to the stores. Though clearly they didn’t all listen considering the new season has aired.
Speaking of stopping TLC, on Facebook we asked today, “‘LIKE’ if you did NOT watch Extreme Couponing last night!” and received 200+ responses. Thanks for responding!
(Thanks Brandie for bringing this to our attention!)
Posted 05-28-2012 at 01:12 PM by Rasha
TLC is at it again. The 3rd Season premieres tonight Monday, May 28th at 10pm ET/PT. Looks like they’re kicking off the season with a couple of couponers that certainly don’t fit the little old granny couponing stereotype.
First up, Dominique, a college kid couponing to throw a frat party.
Then Jeff, who comes from a long line of male couponers looking to prove himself to his family as an extreme couponer.
This brings up a good point. While there is no doubt the majority of avid couponers are women, there are indeed couponing men as well! Even here on AFullCup we have quite a few male members making the most of our couponing community. All are welcome here. Not that there ever was a doubt about that.
Posted 05-21-2012 at 05:58 PM by Rasha
There may be some economists claiming the recession is over, but in most households evidence points to the contrary. The Extreme Couponing “Fad” isn’t a mere trend, it’s a lifestyle change. For some, it has meant survival in these tough financial times.
While many jumped on the Extreme Couponing bandwagon thanks to the TLC show, here on AFC we knew the thrill of couponing well before then. And when couponing hit the big time, we were there for that too. Then when stores began to tighten their reign over couponing policies we’ve been up to date to keep members informed. Now with the move to more internet printable coupons (IP) and mobile coupons (including digital and ecoupons) we’re keeping up with the times. Though we’ve not forgotten tried and true newspaper clipping coupons either.
Is Extreme Couponing losing steam? For those participating in the fad, yes. Burn out happens quickly when you have unrealistic expectations. But for those couponing to save money and make more out what they have, they’re in it for long run!
Here on A Full Cup we are quickly approaching 1 million members.
Thanks to each and every one of you, we’re all helping each other to save money, improve lives, and never pay full-price again!
Thank you! Here’s to more couponing (whether extreme, just beginning, or in between)!
We love coupons. We love to collect them, use them, and reap their rewards. But have you ever stopped to think about what happens to that coupon after it leaves our hands? I find it is fascinating what the process is after the coupon goes in the register. I thought some of you might be curious as well so here is a breakdown of the life of a coupon.
Where Coupons Come From
The birth of a coupon comes when a manufacturer decides they want to offer a coupon. They contract a design agency to create the coupon for them and get it out to consumers. Once it has been created they release the coupon to the public. This can be through Sunday Inserts, online, in magazines, booklets, ads, and in the store as tearpads, peelies, and blinkies.
This is where we come in. We hunt down and grab those coupons. We hold them until the perfect deal comes up and off to the store we go. We grab our products and head to the register. We hand over those coupons and head on home. But the coupon’s journey has only just begun.
Cashiers and Coupons
The cashiers tuck that coupon away in their drawer until the end of their shift. At the end of the day they tally the coupons and place them with all the other coupons from the store. The cashiers must treat the coupons like cash and their balances have to match up. Some stores do further documentation at the store level – totals, value, manufacturer’s, etc. At that point the stores are done with them and send them on their way. They pack them up into bags or pouches and send them off to their corporate offices. Depending on how many coupons they receive and their schedules, this happens either once a month or once a week.
Sent Off to the Clearinghouse
Once the coupons arrive at the corporate office they are consolidated with coupons from other stores and sent to a coupon clearinghouse. Clearinghouses are companies contracted out by stores to sort and organize the coupons for them. In the first step they are sorted out by clean and clear coupons versus torn, damaged, and unreadable once. The clear coupons are each individually placed on a conveyer belt wit the bar code facing upwards. Computers then read the coupons, calculate out the values, and sort them by manufacturer. All the while they need to keep the coupons for each store separate so they know who gets reimbursed what, and by whom.
The damaged coupons are taken to a separate area where each one is hand check by a person to get the value and sort them appropriately. The total value of the coupons for each manufacturer for each store is calculated and an invoice is sent to the manufacturer. Manufacturers at this point can also request that their coupons are sent back to their own clearinghouse so they can recount them. Finally the coupons themselves are sent off for recycling.
Where the Stores Get the Cash Value
The manufacturers use the invoice to calculate payment to the stores. Each store is paid the value of the coupon plus an additional 8 cents per coupon. The stores will then pay the clearinghouse. Alternately some manufacturers pay the clearinghouse, which in turn pays the stores minus their fee.
Accounting is maintained at each step of the process to ensure each store is reimbursed correctly and that no fraud is committed along any of the steps. Auditing can also occur at any level to confirm that all is legit. The accounting is also used by the manufacturers to determine if the coupon was a successful promotion.
The Big Journey of the Little Coupon
It’s amazing the journey a coupon takes from start to finish. The whole process takes months to complete and covers immense miles. Who knew?
Just for fun here are a few more interesting facts for you: In a given year approximately 300 million coupons are redeemed. Does that sound huge? Well amazingly only about 3% of all coupons printed are ever redeemed. Approximately half of the coupons redeemed come from the Sunday Inserts. Printed coupons are seeing the biggest rise in redemption – now up to around 10% of all coupons redeemed. And guess what – the number of coupons released to consumers is going up, at a 10% increase each year. Ironically, the percentage of coupons redeemed is going up at almost the exact rate! As the popularity of couponing increases the manufacturers are responding with even more coupons. Interesting to see.
All detailed information from these sources: coupons.com, NY Times, NCH Incorporated, Journal of Food Distribution Research, and Vlassis.
Posted 09-26-2011 at 03:13 PM by Rasha
Here we go again. The TLC show Extreme Couponing returns to TV the end of September. While we certainly love shopping with coupons, there’s no doubt this show has caused unrealistic expectations, especially among new couponers.
Let’s Get Real
Couponing WILL save you money. But Extreme Couponing is not the best way to do it. Truth be told spending hours loading up a cart, keeping track of hundreds of coupons, and overwhelming cashiers is likely to just lead to a lot of hassle and ugly looks.
Start Small, Then Keep It Real
If you’re new to couponing, start small with just a few coupons and a few deals so you’re certain to get them right. Then once you get the hang of it, sure get more deals, but let’s keep it real. Who really needs more than 1 grocery cart per shopping trip? (Unless you have 10 kids, then we totally understand.)
Don’t Expect Couponing to Always Mean Free Stuff
Yes, we all like free deals, but you can’t live off of them. All couponers DO pay money for groceries, the TLC show Extreme Couponing just likes to focus on the freebie deals. You can’t expect using coupons to always mean you’ll get things for free. Hello, saving 25% or 50% off is plenty of success!
What You Don’t See on TV
Keep in mind they only show on TV these shopper’s most extreme shopping trips, you don’t see that next week they’re back at the store buying milk, eggs, bread, meat, and produce and spending *gasp* almost full price!
Extreme Couponing is Extreme Work
The people you see on Extreme Couponing spend 30 to 60 hours per week on couponing. Do you have that kind of time to devote to couponing? If you don’t put in the effort you can’t expect the same rewards. It’s called extreme for a reason.
The Point of Couponing – To Cut You Grocery Bill
The truth is anyone can use coupons to reduce their grocery bill. You don’t have to be extreme to save money. So be smart, shop with coupons and seek out the best deals, but keep it real by expecting to save some money, rather than expecting to never pay for groceries again.
Not knowing the rules of couponing and misinterpreting the shopping tactics on Extreme Couponing has caused plenty of problems. No wonder couponers are complaining about the show. When people misuse coupons they affect all couponers. Now, let’s get the facts on the myths new couponers take away from the Extreme Couponing show.
Extreme Couponing Myths & Facts
Myth: I can use multiple coupons for the same item.
Fact: You are allowed to use 1 manufacturer coupon per item. Some stores will allow you to use 1 manufacturer coupon and 1 store coupon per item.
Myth: I can use all the coupons I want.
Fact: Some stores have limits. For example, at Walmart you are only allowed to use 40 coupons per transaction/shopping trip. Using more will require a manager’s approval.
Myth: I can use as many identical coupons as I want.
Fact: So you have a stack of coupons all for the same product, for the same amount off, they’re all the same coupon offer. Be aware that some stores limit how many “like” or “identical” coupons they will accept in one transaction. Also, some coupons now have limits written in their fine print, for example, P&G coupons now say, “Limit of 4 like coupons in same shopping trip.”
Myth: I can print as many coupons as I want.
Fact: When you print internet printable coupons you have to download a little piece of software often called a “Coupon Printer” before you can get the coupon. This software tracks your printing (just your coupon printing, nothing else). Coupons are limited to 2 per computer.
Also, you can NOT make copies of internet printable coupons. Each one has a unique code. If you try to make copies of your coupons you are committing serious coupon fraud and could face legal punishment. Just don’t do it.
Myth: I can use my coupon on anything made by the brand listed.
Fact: Read the wording. If it says the coupon is for ANY product of that brand, then yes, you can use it that way. If it says a particular type or size then you can only use the coupon on those listed items. If it mentions items excluded, then you cannot use it on any of those items.
Myth: All stores work the same.
Fact: ALWAYS learn each store’s coupon policy before beginning to shop with coupons. They do vary and you must stick to the rules if you want to save money with coupons. Check the forum on AFullCup for your store to find coupon policy info.
Phil and Pam
Move the Clouds
A very popular and common way to organize and carry coupons is to create a coupon binder. You can readily organize your coupons, see them all easily, and conveniently carry them with you. Many people prefer this method but it may not work for you. Make sure you are flexible, experiment with your binder, and find what works best for you. One system may work for one person, while others need a totally different system.
Remember, take it slow and build up. Don’t go dropping $50 to set up a binder if you don’t even know if you’ll like it. We are all savers, so do this frugally and build up if you find the binder system works well for you. Wasting money is never good no matter how pretty the binder may be!
You really can use any 3-ring binder, but some may be easier to carry around than others. If you are on a budget grab any binder you have laying around your house and get started. If you can afford to drop a few dollars look for a zip up binder. They generally run around $10-$15 dollars, but can often be found on sale, clearance, or thrift stores, so keep your eyes out. I recommend you use a binder at least 1 ½ inches, and you may need bigger than that as you add more coupons. But 1 ½ is enough for most people, especially in the beginning. Zip-up is very helpful since there is less of a risk of coupons falling out if somebody tips it over. Nothing is worse than being at a checkout and having the 2 year old dump 1000 coupons on the floor!!
A Carrying System
So what’s the easiest way to carry the binder around? Okay so this is not essential but people want to know. You can just carry the binder right? But if you are looking for a way to free up your hands there are two ways. If you have a zip-up binder you can add a strap to the binder. I made a strap by using an old duffel bag strap I had laying around the house. If you need holes added to the binder get a cheap grommet kit (found in the hardware or craft section) for a few bucks. My husband snapped grommets onto my binder in just a minute. A second option for both zip-up and regular binders is a tote bag. Just slip the binder in – its discretely covered and you are hands free.
Coupon Holder pages
There are many varieties of pages with many different pocket sizes you can use for coupons. The most common but also the most frustrating is the baseball card holders. They have 9 pockets and can hold many coupons per page. The downfall: the pockets are so tiny you often have to fold coupons and getting them in and out is difficult. Another option that I prefer is currency holders. You can get these online and they have three pockets on them. They fit Internet Printed (IPs) coupons very well, and are easy to access. But the downfall is they don’t hold as many coupons per page. Photo pages are another option – they have 3 or 4 4×6 pockets and can be found in the photo section of the store. Online you can also locate pages that have 6 or 8 pockets. I recommend you get a combination of the smaller and larger pages to best accommodate all your coupons. You may also want a few full-page single pocket pages, or page protectors, to hold coupon policies, whole inserts, etc.
You are going to want some way to divide and mark off the sections of your binder. You can just use a few post-its if you need to do it on the cheap. A common option is Index pages. I recommend you get ones that you can write on or label yourself versus pre-numbered ones. Some people just prefer to put a sheet of colored paper in with the section title written on it. Just work with it and see what you like best.
This is the part people struggle with the most. How do you organize the coupons? Well it varies for everyone. The first basic choice – alphabetical or categorically? Do you prefer to look for your coupons by the brand name or by what the type of product? Alphabetical is straightforward – sort each brand alphabetically. Also, you can alphabetize the product, such as ”rice” and put all brands there. The categorical is a bit more complicated. With the categorical approach you must decide – how many categories and how detailed the categories, and this depends on your preferences. For example – (1) one health and beauty category, versus (2) one section each for make-up, soaps, hair products, skin products, versus (3) going even more detailed and have hair stylers separate from shampoos. Since so many coupons cover a broad range I prefer more broad categories, but too much in one category can be cumbersome. So you need to find your balance. This balance is usually decided by your shopping habits. If you don’t wear make-up then a separate section will not be needed, but if you love make-up you may want to break that category down more. I recommend no matter what categories you choose that you make the front page/section of your binder all the FREE coupons – that way you won’t forget to use them before they expire! Once you decide your categories you can organize them alphabetically or by the order they are in the store. Here is a list of examples of categories I have seen people list:
- Free Product
- Fresh Foods
- Food misc.
- Prepared Sides & Rice
- Condiments/Salad Dressing
- PB & J
- Salty Snacks
- Granola Bars/Fruit Snacks
- Oral Care
- Soap & Body Wash
- Hair Care
- Shaving & Deodorant
- Personal Care
- Feminine Hygiene
- Tooth care
- First Aid
- Surface Cleaners
- Dish Washing
- Cleaning Supplies
- Air Fresheners/Candles
- Paper Products
- Store coupons
Feel free to add a few extra items to the binder. I strongly recommend you have a place to keep the Store Coupon Policies. You may want a place to keep store ads. Some other items that may be helpful – store card storage, scissors, notepad, pen, and of course a calculator. Also, it is smart to write your name and phone number inside the front cover of your binder. Then if you accidentally leave it behind you can get those precious coupons back!
I recommend you go through your binder twice a month to check for expired coupons and those soon-to-expire ones that you want to use very soon. Often you can do this at the same time as you load new ones. Remember to be flexible with your binder and find what works for you. Don’t hesitate to change categories, move things around, etc. If it is too much of a chore take a step back and find how to simplify it for you. Also, remember this isn’t the only way to organize coupons – if it doesn’t work for you try something new.
I hope this is helpful! Have fun creating your binder!
(Thanks bellsandbabies for the pic of your coupon binder!)