Monday, May 11, 2009

Coupon Ethics

I often am asked if specific uses of coupons are wrong... and to be honest, sometimes it is hard to tell, so I have decided to write this post about what I believe.

Lately, I've really grown to respect coupons. That kind of sounds weird, but it is true.

I have wrongly spent coupons before... unintentionally, but still wrongly. I know I shared this here before, but it is a BIG deal. When I first began using coupons I copied two of them several times before I found out that it was illegal. And just a few weeks ago, I was thrilled to find a Huggies wipes deal and I used a coupon for 64+ wipes on a 40 count package. After calling the manufacturer- they graciously let it slide- but was still wrong.

I find it very easy to copy cat other bloggers and shop as they do. Unfortunately this can get me in trouble by compromising my ethics. If I do as they do, they may not be leading me in the right direction. I need to be aware of my coupon spending. And since I teach classes and blog of my shopping adventures, I need to be even more on guard so I do not lead any of my readers into coupon mis-spendings. I am responsible for what I teach, and I am very careful (*not perfect) to teach only what I know to be true.

My rule for myself is just to be open and honest. I ask cashiers and managers about store policies as often as I need to. Not that I then absolve myself of having my own ethics, but sometimes there are fuzzy areas. If I am unsure about a specific coupon, I will call the company's 800# and ask. It is easy and I know I will find out the truth. To me, it is stealing to intentionally use a coupon for other than its intended use. Pulling a "fast one" by sliding in an extra coupon (two manufacturer coupons for one item) or using an expired coupon is wrong.

All an all, my mark that I leave with store employees is basically my integrity. If my integrity is on the line EVERY SINGLE TIME I SHOP (which it is) then I am responsible for my words, my behavior, my attitude, and using my coupons in the way in which they were intended. I feel like every aspect of life deals with ethics... coupons included. As long as you are not spending your coupons on something you know is specifically against coupon policies, or in ways that you know are wrong, then happily spend away!

To be honest, I LOVE spending coupons. I LOVE scoring sweet deals for my family, for friends and for my favorite food pantry. I LOVE this thrill of the hunt, the packing out shopping bags for pennies on the dollar, the sorting and organizing of my pantry, the saving, saving, saving... basically everything about using coupons! It is really easy for me to get carried away! Using coupons allows me to care for my family and beyond in such an easy and amazing way. I am able to save incredibly on the items that my family uses most often. I do stock up and save as much as I can, but I need to have a clear conscience about how I am purchasing.

I hope this post has not scared anyone off from spending coupons. Clip and spend, it is totally worth the time and effort. If you have more questions on coupon ethics or questions about specific coupons, please feel free to email me sharpenyourscissors (at) gmail (dot) com.