Buying Coupons

See the coupons in the photo down there?  I ordered them.  Yes, with money.

It sounds a bit counter-productive, spending money on coupons in order to save money Purchasing coupons, though, when done strategically, can be a way to boost your stockpile at rock bottom prices, keeping your overall grocery budget lower.

My sole reason to purchase coupons is that I am unable to get multiple coupons for the same item.  Well, maybe I could if I knocked on all the doors in Tiny Town and begged for inserts, but I’m not quite ready to go there… yet. If you have access to lots of inserts and want to cut them all out, by all means… do what works!

Things to consider before purchasing coupons: (Considering I’ve purchased coupons twice in my life ~once for cheese, plus these for Rotel~ I am certainly not an expert.)

Is the deal worth the hassle?

A few weeks ago my local Dillons was running a 2-week Mega Event.  Among other items, they had Rotel on sale for 49¢ per can.  At the same time, a 30¢ coupon was available which they double, meaning Dillons paid me 11¢ per can to go home with Rotel.  🙂  We use a lot of Rotel around here, so I knew I could use all 20 cans before they expire.

What are you willing to pay?

Be sure to consider total coupon cost plus any shipping and handling charges.  I have only purchased coupons off of ebay.  For this particular deal, I decided it was worth it if I could get my Rotel at a net price of 25¢ per can, since I can’t ever even find the generic stuff for that price.   

Will you receive your coupons in time?

How long will the items be on sale so you can still get your target price?  Do you have time for the coupons to be shipped?

Is it okay to purchase coupons?  From an ethical standpoint?

I hope I don’t open up an ugly can of worms here, but this was something I did NOT think of until I needed help with this post and found myself in the middle of a friendly chat room debate.  Whoops! I definitely need to do some more research before I find another great stockpile deal.  😉

Have you ever purchased coupons?  What are your criteria?

***If you feel strongly, one way or another, about purchasing coupons, it’s okay to voice that here.  This is a safe place.  I do, however, retain the privilege of keeping the conversation cordial and canning any nastiness.***

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.


  1. I feel sort of stupid asking, but what’s the ethical problem with buying coupons?

    • That’s almost exactly what I asked when I first heard there was controversy. Be sure to come back later today and browse the comments. There are many people who are much more knowledgeable than I am about the topic.

  2. I’ve never bought coupons but I have traded them online. I was able to get a few coupons that I would use from the entertainment book without having to buy it. I also got rid of coupons that were not a useful for me.

  3. I’ve never done it. That’s not because of an ethical dilemma, though, so much as I never feel like I plan ahead enough to order and receive them in time to match up with a sale. And, knowing myself, I’d be ticked if I missed it by a day or two. 😉 While I don’t have a problem with most coupon selling, I confess that it irks me to see people selling (as I believe was the case with those cheese coupons if memory serves) coupons from the store blinkie machines. It seems nasty to me to take more than you need so you can sell them… Maybe that’s just me, though.

    • Yes! See… that was something I didn’t even THINK about until we had that conversation. It was my first “buy” and I just wanted the cheap cheese. LOL But once I received them, I totally understood, and have often thought of that experience when I’ve come across EMPTY blinkies. Wrong!

  4. Alicia Wooldridge says:

    I buy coupons every month. I am a member of a coupon program that charges less than $5 per month. I get to choose $25 worth of coupons. It took several trial and error months to get really good at it, but I now know to order coupons of things I really use, am very aware of the expiration date and only order those coupons with a high dollar value or that double. So when I get my coupons, it’s usually worth about $40 instead of $25. I see nothing wrong with it!

    • Since I don’t use them quite so much anymore, I don’t think the $5/month would be worth it for me, but how interesting! I didn’t even know those programs were available.

  5. I feel like if people buy and use coupons in the way that you did there is no problem. You were not blatantly exploiting the sale. There are poeple who would go to the extreme and buy all of the product on the shelf. That, I have a problem with. I have never purchased coupons but have glanced at a few sites in the past. Right now I am lucky enough that we just purchase two papers each week, when there are coupons, and my MIL saves her inserts from 3 different papers for us. That usually adds up to pleny, if not extra coupons. I’ve also talked to some of my coupning friends about possibly starting a coupon trade. It hasn’t happened yet but maybe we will finally get it together….lol.

  6. I have never purchased coupons but have thought about it. I buy enough papers each week to get what I want. I am curious though, why buying coupons is unethical?

  7. I purchase coupons from a coupon clipping site once every month or two. I don’t necessarily do it to catch a great deal right away. I just purchase the coupons for products that we use a lot. I pay attention to expiration dates and know that there will likely be a sale that I can combine them with before they expire. I never buy more than 10 of any coupon based on our family’s need of the products. I purchase coupons because (a) we don’t get good inserts here and I often miss out on coupons I can use and (b) it’s cheaper than buying multiple papers and I only get the coupons I know I’ll use. It never occurred to me that it might be unethical.

  8. The ethical dilemma is that coupons usually include an “it is illegal to sell” line in the fine print. I have “bought” coupons on an infrequent basis for the same purpose as you… stockpiling. Most coupon sites list the price as a “handling” fee rather than a cost of the coupon It may be a technicality, but it is how I choose to look at the situation.

  9. I think that it may be unethical because people who sell them make money that shouldn’t be there’s (sometimes). I’ve seen people sell Huggies coupons on eBay which isn’t really their money to receive. You know what I mean?

  10. Yep–the fine print on coupons says something about not selling them. So you’ll notice you’re not buying coupons, but you’re paying for a “coupon clipping service” Basically, it’s a technicality. But the way it’s typically justified is that you’re paying a few cents per coupon for someone else to cut the coupon out for you.

  11. I find it interesting that there is an ethical debate here. I’ve seen this sort of issue on money sites like “I will teach you to get Rich.” One commenter mentioned that couponers are the reason retailers are struggling in this economy.

    But if you think of how coupons work, the manufacturer reimburses the story plus 8 cents on the dollar for sales tax, which is a reasonable rate. I think that the whole extreme couponing thing brought shelf-clearing issues to the forefront of our culture’s couponing psyche if you will. So, your local grocery store will pay you, and in turn be paid your overage on the coupon anyway.

    I’ve never seen a coupon for Rotel anyway lol.

    • I do think the “extreme couponing” practices bring to light any type of ethics or debate, for sure.

    • Couponers cannot be the problem for struggling retailers. If they are, there are larger problems the retailers have than couponers. How many coupons go unused? More than 90% if I remember right. Next time you’re in line at the store, look around to see how many have even ONE coupon. I shop often and while many have the rewards card, I’ve only seen one other couponer in the past few months. And she came in with a binder full of coupons! Love it!

  12. I recently sold some formula coupons on ebay. I had heard of people doing it, but never really thought about it before. I had some high value coupons though, and so instead of throwing them away, I thought I’d see if anyone else could benefit from them. I listed them at one of the lowest starting prices barely expecting it to even sell. I was quite shocked when my listing, for six coupons worth $40, sold for $25! I don’t see anything wrong with that. I didn’t need them, and someone else will be able to save $40 (well they’re actually saving $15 after spending the $25….but still good).

  13. I have never heard of this! It does sound counter-productive!

  14. I personally LOVE saving money by using coupons, but we don’t subscribe to papers of our own. It has been a BlEsSiNg to me to purchase them from others who take the time to gather and sell them! I have purchased coupons for Morningstar Vegetarian products on Ebay several times. It cost me only a few dollars to save a HUGE amount of money. Instead of paying over $4 per box I used my coupons during a sale and got them for $2 a box. I never thought of it as being wrong in any way. I don’t really understand why people would take the time to sell them when they don’t make a profit (legally they can only charge for shipping and handling) but hey if they want to sell them to me so I can save over $30 a month on Veggie food then I am happy ♥ If they were stealing them from a grocery store dispenser that would be terrible, but the ones I purchased appeared to be clipped from ads. I enjoyed reading your post, and the interesting thoughts on this matter.

  15. I have bought coupons online before but I usually just buy a few extra Sunday papers if there are good coupons in it. One Sunday I was at a store buying extra papers and this guy behind me was buying a paper too. I asked him if he wanted one of my papers because I only wanted the coupons from it. He was so happy – he said “how about if I meet you here every Sunday?” When my friend lived in an apartment complex several years ago we used to raid the paper recycling bin. We got more coupons than we could ever use.

  16. I think the reason manufacturers have the stipulation that coupons should not be bought or sold is that they offer coupons to convince people to try their products, not necessarily for one person to stock up on 50 of their product. It’s an advertising tool.

  17. Hello, I am new at buying coupons like this. I have been searching and searching for the 5$/1 John Frieda product from the 6/5 SS add, is there any way you can help me or tell me a site I can purchase them from, I need them by Saturday lol….. Thanks so much in advance for the help!

    • Sorry I didn’t get to this in time. I have only purchased coupons a couple of times off of ebay, but I know there are other sites that sell them.

  18. i am having trouble locating different coupons,every site has same ones please let me know to locate many different ones

  19. every coupon site show same coupons,please help

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