Ask the Readers: Selling extra coupons?

Today’s question is from Christy:

I used to coupon heavily, but do much less now since switching to a whole foods/organic approach last spring. I still get my weekly papers, and wondered if anyone had experience selling extras on eBay or through another method? I am the mother of a preschooler and work part-time so I have a little extra time. -Christy

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Comments

  1. Christy says

    Yes, you have to be clear that you are charging for your time spent compiling and clipping the coupons, not for the actual coupon. If you look on ebay, you can read some other’s disclaimers. I tried this once when we were getting 10 or so free papers every Sunday, but no one ever bought any of mine. Good luck!

    • Elisa says

      Ebay actually says in their manufacturer coupon selling policy that you CAN NOT claim you are selling your time, but that you are in fact selling the coupons themselves. Here is the link:

      http://pages.ebay.com/help/policies/manufacturers-coupons.html

      Under ‘additional information’, it states:

      “Also, sellers can’t claim that the price of the coupon is based on the value of the labor involved in clipping the coupons instead of the coupons themselves. Under eBay rules, the coupons themselves are the items being sold.”

      This was surprising to me because I see SO many people claim this! I have sold inserts in the past from time to time and got a bunch of them pulled because I wasn’t following these guidelines — I had about 10 lots of 5 each in one listing and they don’t allow that, as I found out. So I had to re-list them all individually. I was making a little bit of money though, so I guess maybe you could just give it a try and see if the amount of money is worth the time and effort invested. :)

      • Christy says

        We used to. My husband used to work for a sporting goods store. He would have to buy 10 every Sun. w/ the store’s expense card. They had to mail the competitor’s ad to the corporate office. So, all they wanted was the competitor’s ad and they would let us keep the rest. I always thought it was silly since they could look up the competitor’s ad on-line. If they wanted to make sure the one in the paper was the same as the on-line ad, I never understood why they needed 10 copies, but I didn’t complain. :-) This went on for about 6 mos. and I only used more than 2 of a certain coupon about 3 or 4 times, but I do know some people who regularly use 10-20 of the same coupon. He no longer works there. He now works at a pet store and they do not buy a bunch of Sunday papers.

        • Galina says

          Thank You, Christy.
          Nope can’t do that :(
          So far been going to the dollar store, if I’m intresting in multiplies coupons. And few friends give me their unused inserts!
          Thanks again for sharing!

  2. Toni says

    I send my extra coupons (as well as those that are expired) to military families overseas. They can use coupons in the military stores for 6 months after the expiration date. You won’t make any money on it (in fact, it costs you the postage), but it’s a great way to help the families of our servicemen.

    • Dreya says

      What a great way to help out! I’m interested. Can you give me some information about where to send them? Thanks!

      • Adrianne says

        Sending your unused and/or expired coupons overseas is one of the most generous things you can do, IMO!! When my husband was stationed overseas , we were SO grateful to have kind-hearted people who would take the time to clip, sort, and send coupons to all of us! Trust me, it does not go unnoticed!

      • Heather C says

        If you want to pick your own base to send your coupons to go the the Overseas Coupon Program and choose from the adoptable list… Here’s the weblink: http://www.ocpnet.org/ and they will give you the mailing info.
        I adopted a Marine Base in Japan (We’re a Marine family so it’s fitting) and its so cute they send little letters from time to time talking about how much money all the families have saved with their coupons. They even have a quarterly coupon contest and whoever saves the most get a gift certificate for a massage…. (If only I were on the that base!) :o) It’s a pretty fun way to share the love….

        • Jill says

          I did this as well through this company. I adopted a base in Germany and took the time and money to send them clipped coupons. But then I received a letter in the mail saying that they didn’t need them. I never did it again and was kind of disappointed that I went through the trouble only to have them say it was not needed.

          • Tammy says

            Our American Legion Ladies Auxiliary collects coupons and sends them to a base over in Germany.We ask for coupon donations ,do the cutting ourselves and then many coupons are not wasted.

      • Toni says

        In addition to the “services” listed below who will send you an address to mail them to, I know of several families who are overseas right now and could use coupons. Let me check with a couple of the families, get their okay to share their mailing address & then I’ll get back to you…

    • LeAnna Kutz says

      Even US military bases use coupons people send. First thing I do when I go to the commissary is look in the basket of clipped coupons. Thanks for sending your coupons to military families. :)

  3. jennifer says

    People don’t “sell” the coupons. They sell their “Time” for collecting, posting and mailing them.

    I’ve done it a few times on Ebay and I’ve also purchased “time” from Ebay.

    Just make sure that what you would earn is worth the time/fees/stamps.

  4. Luke says

    Most people who buy from a clipping service want multiple of the same coupon – i know I’ve ordered 90 of the same coupon once for a really good sale. It may be difficult to sell a single insert or single coupons. Add in processing fees from ebay or the cost of setting up an online store…

    Maybe you can just find the best deals purchase the items and donate them to the food shelf.

  5. Lacey says

    I use to cut coupons and “sell my time” on ebay. They usually always sell. I used to give them out by 100 at a time. I think now that people are wanting to get into coupons, they would sell a lot more. If you have a lot of 1 type of coupons, they sell better than if you just had a lot of different kinds.
    But if you don’t NEED the extra money, giving them to churches or families that are really in need would be a good idea. My mom is starting to cut coupons a lot more, but its just her and my brother. So she posted an ad on craigslist looking for extra coupons so she can buy things super cheap and donate them to families in need or the homeless.

      • says

        No I didn’t have 100 of each, I would give 100 of different kinds. I’ve seen them sell really good if you have like 20 of each kind. But if you have the good kinds of coupons, like p&g, or formula, or diapers, they sell really good. I haven’t “sold my time” in almost a year. It slowed down so I just stopped. I am thinking about donating the ones I don’t need now.

  6. Kelly says

    I don’t think you’re going to really make money doing this. I mean, maybe you’ll make a couple of dollars, but if you look at the time you’re spending my sense is that it won’t really be worth it. If you’re just looking to unload the coupons, I agree with donating them & sending expireds overseas to our military families.

  7. Caitlin says

    It really depends on the coupon. When the really hot $2 Pampers wipes coupon was out a few months ago, I saw sets of 20 of those go for $10 and more.

  8. Bernell says

    I agree with a lot of these comments. If you don’t have about 100 or more of each coupon…..it’s probably not even worth it.
    BUT, when I see a good sale where I can get certain beauty items for FREE, I research them to see if they are selling on Ebay, and I then sell them in a lot on Ebay. I did this in December and made some good extra cash. Good luck!

  9. says

    I’ve sold my time to clip coupons on eBay. I’ve been successful with higher value coupons. I also buy the time of others to clip several of the same coupon. While I’ve ordered batches of 40 occassionally, I usually look for only 10 or so and have a harder time finding them in smaller batches.

  10. Kim says

    Unless you have hundreds and hundres of similar coupons, its not worth it. Ebay has a new rule where you can only list one of the same coupon at a time. You cannot list one certain coupon and have 12 lots available. You would have to list that lot 12 different times, which makes ebay more money on listing fees. With ebay you have your listing fee, final value fee, paypal fee, and then if you want to make sure your custumer gets their coupons, you’d send it as a first class mail package with delivery confirmation, which would be a mininum of $1.46. I think its even more than that……but thats the mininum.

    Its definitely not woth it.

    Kim

  11. says

    I know that Christy might not benefit from this idea since she doesn’t use a lot of coupons anymore (congrats on changing your diet – we’re working on that, too!), but I thought I’d throw the idea out there for everyone anyway. :)

    Some of my friends and I got together and formed a “coupon train”. The bag of coupons gets passed from one friend to another, in a chosen order. Whenever you receive the bag, you remove all of the expired coupons (we collect ours and send them to the military overseas), you glean the coupons your family can use, and you add the coupons you have collected that your family does not use. It works fairly well, and it goes around the circle about once every month or two, depending on how quickly each mom can get the bag to the next family. By the time it gets back to you, it’s a whole new group of coupons. :)

  12. Jessica says

    I’ve charged for (my time to cut & sort) a few expired coupons on eBay – noting them as such, of course. I would say the $1/1 & $1/2 popular/hard-to-find Q’s got maybe 2 bids at most and went for $0.99 with free shipping. I didn’t make much, if any, money on it, but I was an eBay “beginner” so it was an easy, low cost technique to getting my feedback up.

    Another thing to consider: If I’m not mistaken, eBay secrets are among the most coveted ‘tricks of the trade’, hence it can be mighty difficult to pry information out of someone who’s made a successful business on there. So, perhaps the overall sentiment of the comments on this post are wee biased(?). ;)

    Anyone have that experience? Find it difficult to really talk about eBay to a successful ‘eBayer’?

    • Sherri says

      I’m not a frequent eBay seller, but as a potential buyer I can say that I am usually looking for larger quantities of a single coupon. Rather than eBay, I usually turn to http://www.refundsweepers.com where I can get the coupons I want for .05-.10 each, which is generally cheaper than eBay. I could use that same venue to post my unused coupons, but since I only have 1-2 of each, it really is not worth my time and effort. I would never bother to sell on eBay unless I had large quantities, since after eBay fees and Paypal fees and postage, you just won’t make much. So, in that respect, the comments against it don’t seem to be holding out information to protect secrets.

      • Jessica says

        Good point Sherri! Selling time to cut & sort larger amounts does seem to have more potential than handling individual Qs.

        Have you established a successful business on eBay? I suggested that the comments might be biased, because those who are successful probably wouldn’t comment at all on this post – it was meant to be more of a thought-provoking, rhetorical comment from a skeptic’s point-of-view than a matter-of-fact statement. ;)

        Sorry if it came across the wrong way!

        Love your comments though; I’ll have to look into RefundSweepers =)

  13. Lee says

    I would see it if I could set up a coupon swap. You may find other friends in your area need coupons you don’t and vice versa. I coupon a lot less since we are eating less “pre-packaged” foods and more whole and from scratch foods. I don’t get the paper some weeks. mainly I coupon for household goods. I can’t see you making too much money off of it. Let alone the whole issue of buying coupons versus buying time.

  14. Amity says

    Last week I just sold a huge lot of organic coupons and I made some money. Not a ton, but some. Im not sure what one the commentor’s above is talking about with the new rule and only being able to list one coupon at a time. I had no problems doing it and there was a lot of coupons in my listing. Maybe im not understanding her correctly though. Give it a try…you never know :-)

  15. Jen says

    I’ve tried this a little too the trick like others have mentioned is having the right coupons in larger amounts. Like a $2 off pampers wipes would be great but a 25 cents off pampers wipes would probably not sell. People like to buy in groups of 10-15 or 20 coupon that are the same. The do not seem to like to buy “potlucks” of 100 coupons that you pick. If you don’t get 10 plus papers per week it might be better to find an online trading board to trade these for stamps or other coupons you could use. Enjoy!

  16. MM says

    You really should factor in the fees ebay charges, and then the fees you are going to be charged by paypal before selling anything on ebay.

    As I see it, just my opinion, but since ebay owns both venues – ebay and -paypal – they are “double dipping” the fees they charge us to sell. You get a listing fee, unless you start at 99 cents, and an ending fee. Then you get a fee when you accept a paypal payment, because sooner or later they are going to make you upgrade to a “pro” paypal account.

    So, say you start your batch of coupons at 99 cents + shipping – do a little research into how much you will really net as a “profit”. And, if you work the cost of the envelope into your shipping, you are now competing with the pros that sell coupons and if your shipping is too high, you won’t get any bids because the big guys can buy envelopes by the 1000′s…and you are going to buy a box at Walgreens for $2.00.

    Hopefully you research this, factor in all the fees, etc. before you start.

    If you do manage to make a profit, good job! Ebay, I believe, has started to report anyone with more than 200 auctions or $600 in sales to the IRS (check my numbers on that, I’m working from memory, but I’m sure I’m close on that) so now you are going to have to claim that income on your tax return…

    I sold on ebay for years – I started in 1998 and made plenty back then. Now the fees just eat you alive. Again, just my opinion…

    • Meghan says

      I agree….I have never sold coupons on eBay, but I sold a lot of other stuff and made a decent profit for a while. Now it seems the fees are so high and the restrictions/requirements so great that it’s not worth the frustration and cost. I try to avoid eBay whenever possible and use Craigslist instead. No fees, no shipping, no PayPal, face to face transactions (no scams), etc. eBay and PayPal have gotten greedy, in my opinion.

      • says

        Ditto to this. The fees have gotten so crazy despite sellers begging them to do something about it. I sold for awhile on there, and still do some, but yeah, those fees!

      • MM says

        If you are selling any quantity at all on ebay, you’d want to buy more than just a small box of 25 or 50 envelopes to make it cost-effective. As a warning, though – I work at the post office and I see regular white el-cheapo envelopes mangled by machines every day. If you send 20 or 30 coupons out in a plain white envelope and the envelope is on the thick side, you are going to lose your profit when you have to refund your customer’s money when their coupons never show up, or you’ll get negative feedback and get kicked off as a seller.

        You’d then have to start using padded envelopes or cardboard envelopes which are more expensive. Again, do your research before you promise you can send out 30 or more coupons for the cost of a 44 cent stamp, ’cause I bet you can’t.

        That’s all I’m sayin’…

  17. robyn says

    Send them overseas! AS a Mil Spouse, that is the best thing to do. Everyone else is right. Unless you have multiples of the same coupon, online places don’t seem to care or be worth it.

  18. Lynn says

    The only time I have really “made money” with selling coupons was with baby formula coupons. I breastfed but continually received the $5 or $7 off coupons for formula through the first year of having my son. Since you usually receive these coupons 4-5 at a time or I would save them for a batch you could usually do ok. So I would sell a lot of coupons for the same type of formula totaling $35 for about $15 before shipping. That was worth it to me but I think in order to sell just the singles you get in the paper might not provide the volume you are looking for to actually make any money.

  19. Lynn says

    Also, the coupon websites that have hundreds of one type of coupon must get them all somehow, I am not sure how, but I wonder if you could contact one of those sites and see if they may be interested in giving you some money for the coupons you have and they would just add them to their massive inventory? Someone else might have a comment or some experience with this?

  20. Pam says

    I have purchased coupons on ebay (several times) but I prefer to trade on coupons sites. It is cheaper for me to do this. This way its a win-win for everyone. I get the coupons I want and the person I am trading with get what they want. Some people also trade coupons for postage stamps, GCs and RR (registered rewards from WAGS) and box tops for educations are big too.

  21. maggie says

    I used to buy formula coupons on eBay. They cost half the price of the coupon lot, so I would think that would be worthwhile to sell them.

    I usually clip all my extra grocery coupons and sell my clipping service/time as a mixed lot of 100 coupons. They typically go for .99 – $3.00. Sometimes higher; sometimes they don’t sell at all. It is NOT a big moneymaker.

  22. Emily says

    I’ve bought coupons on ebay before for things like tea and shampoo, and it was invaluable in helping me maximize a couple of deals at CVS and walgreens. I may have spent $2 on those coupons but I saved $20 in cash, and that was a huge deal to me. I think it’s really helpful for people who know they need a lot of a specific thing especially if they know there is a store sale going on (which I often hear about a week in advance from blogs). It’s a great idea.

  23. says

    I occasionally buy time/coupons on ebay- usually if there is a REALLY good deal on something and I want a bunch of the same type of coupons. I’d say a few times per year.
    I sell other things on ebay but I don’t see how someone could make money selling coupons. You would need enough to have 10-20 of the same coupon, take the time to clip and sort them all together, then list and mail them (including paying all of the fees). For coupons I just don’t see it being worth the seller’s time since I buy 10-20 identical coupons for a dollar or two.
    I either pass my inserts along to friends who also coupon or mail them with my expired coupons to a military family.

  24. says

    You could just cancel your weekly paper and get the refund…or you could keep buying cheap products with the coupons and donate the stuff to a food bank (possibly even getting a tax write off).

  25. anne says

    I just sold a huge bunch of coupons on ebay for $5.00. I totalled up their value and it was over $400. That paid for 2 weeks of buying sunday papers! I will do this every few weeks as I get a good reserve built up.

  26. Kristen says

    My sister trades coupons on hotcouponworld.com for gift cards or stamps. This is a lot better because you dont give ebay any of your profits and you pass up a trade for something you really want. Yes cash is nice, but you might not want to report it as income.

  27. says

    I wonder if you wouldnt make more money possibly, using Craigslist.com?
    That way you dont have the listing fees, and the person could come pick them up or you could meet them someplace, saving the cost of postage?
    I dunno, just a thought! :0)

  28. Trish says

    I sell formula checks on ebay since I breastfeed and have a stockpile of similac thanks to the $3 printable coupons. The same buyer always wins my auction, just sold a $20 check for $18.76 and a $13.50 for $11. I figure the buyer must have a business and be able to deposit them.

  29. Catrina says

    Been reading the comments and decided to add my two cents. I have bought on e-bay and so has my sister. We both look for spacific coupons when we are looking (usually for an upcomming sell), and we also look for the ones where we can buy multible of the same kind. I usually go for the ones that have a “buy it now” option because i dont usually have time to wait on the auction. I dont think there is a lot of money making in this but there is money saving when i buy. For example i bought 20 $1/2 sausage coupons last week making the sausage .50/pack.

  30. Adrienne says

    I send whole inserts to my friend who’s DH is stationed overseas. She has several older children so she puts them to work clipping and sorting.

  31. Deborah says

    When RP started mail inserts 5 days before they appeared in the paper, I tried my hand at selling coupons. What I found was:

    1) Yes you can make money. I made about $80-100 a week, but that was only if there was a special coupon that brought in $4 or $5 a set ($3 wisk coupon anyone?). If you are only getting $1 a set, then you can still make at least $30.
    2) Selling more than 12 in a set doesn’t increase you money. I found that if I put 15 or 20 in a set, it didn’t help me sell the product any more than if I only had 10 or 12. Normally I would do 12.
    3) Offering free shipping really will only bite you in the butt. People will pay shipping. You are being charged for the auction submissions, the sale on paypal, and if you don’t charge for shipping, well then you just made $0 for you effort. Don’t charge handling! I think that is just in bad taste. 44¢ will do. You just got to put their name on the envelope and drop it in the mail (use some of those handy free return address labels). How much handling is that?
    4) Cutting out all those coupons doesn’t take as long if you are doing the coupons all at the same time. You can cut about 5 at a time without risk of messing up the coupons.
    5) While you are at it, put each set of coupons in an envelope and mark it on the back so you can easily find them to ship.
    6) Take advantage of “listing promotions”. Those free 100 a month worked out great. Don’t waste them “relisting”. List a new coupon and just pay the relisting fee on the others. I have learned if it doesn’t sell by the second listing, then it probably won’t sell. Take the opportunity to look at “completed listing” and see if the item is selling well. If it is, relist it. People can be fickle and it can mean something as little as how your auction looks on whether they buy yours or someone else’s, even if you have the same “value”.
    7) On that note, have a nice looking auction. Take the time to find a free template database and two or three nice templates. Use those. People like those. They will actually comment about how they like looking at your page. Fickle, right?
    8) Show a picture of the coupon. I find that this works out by preventing people from claiming “I thought the coupon was for something else” or “There is a restriction you didn’t type out”. Just scan the coupon and void out the bar code, you are good to go. Plus you don’t have to type so much in the description. The picture is the description.
    9) I found that starting all my auctions at .99¢ worked fine. If the coupon was really desirable, the price would increase. Make sure you ship out fast and people will keep coming back.

    Good luck! Hope that helps a little.

  32. Yada says

    I am currently trading coupons on mommy savers.com. People list coupons there all the time, and you can specify that you what your looking for. I submitted dog coupons and someone is sending me volitive candles. You skip the fees of eBay, and the forum is friendly.

    • Heather says

      I do something similar on SwapMamas.com. On this site people post pictures of what they have to swap (can be anything really, coupons, clothes, household items, kids stuff), and members contact each other to set up trades. I’ve gotten multiples of coupons that way and saved a lot of money! It’s a really nice website.

  33. Marissa says

    Some areas don’t get the same coupons and sometimes you need extra coupons to make a deal really great. I have really appreciated being able to use coupon services through ebay, coupondede.com, etc to get the coupons I need and I am more than happy to give them a few dollars to help me save a lot more than a few dollars! Win-win!

  34. kim says

    Hey there, friend – way to go trying to earn some extra money in your spare time! I’ve found for me that the best return on my time investment is selling high value coupons – I get lots of formula coupons (enfamil, nestle goodstart, etc) that I’m not using because I’m nursing. I just sold $32 worth of Enfamil Coupons for $27 on ebay…after the fees and the stamp to mail them, I ended up getting about $25. Not bad for the 20 minutes it took to list the item, put it in an envelope, and drop it off in my mailbox. :)