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Q&A Tuesday: Do you ever just buy free items?

I have a question that might seem silly but I’ve wondered about it a few time. Do you ever go to a store and only get items for free and not pay anything at the register? For example, I might want to go to CVS to get crackers that are on sale for $1 and I have a $1 off coupon. But I feel really awkward not paying anything so usually grab something else that is small to buy when I check out. Do stores even let you just get the free items and walk away? -Liz

There are no silly questions, Liz! I’m pretty sure that plenty of others have wondered this, as well.

And the answer is that I have no problem at all only buying free items. In fact, I think it’s really rather exciting to go up to the register and have ten items end up ringing up for less than $1 after coupons! Usually, the cashier is a little speechless and says “How did you do that?”

Since they are reimbursed for the value of the coupons plus $0.08, stores are rarely losing money by people using coupons. In the case of a loss leader sale or a store coupon, it is possible that they are losing money, but it’s their prerogative to determine what sales they offer and coupons they release.

Where we live, there is sales tax, so it’s near impossible to have a $0 total, but there have been occasions when Dillon’s has had an instant discount sale running and, after my coupons, my total was actually negative. In those cases, I just add something onto my order to get it up past $0 and then checkout.

So as long as you are using coupons ethically (not copying coupons, not using coupons for items they weren’t intended to be used, not following a store’s coupon policy or using more than one manufacturer’s coupon per item), you can be completely confident in your couponing and check out without an ounce of guilt — even if your total ends up just being pennies or even $0!

What about the rest of you? Do you ever just get completely free items in a shopping transaction? If so, does it make you feel awkward or triumphant?

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  • nina says:

    Once, I was paid to leave Kroger. I didn’t realize that my total would go negative. When it did, they gave me about $.30 in change! The cashier and I were both in shock.

    • Megan says:

      @nina, When I was a cashier in the late 1990s I occasionally gave out money during the store’s triple coupon days (never more than $1). But then the company changed their policy and we started requiring customers to come out at zero or above. It was pretty crazy!

      • Jessica says:


        I was paid $60 at Kmart!!!! When they first started doing their doubles they honored it if you had the ad, so my store manually put in each coupon, (all 75 coupons). Apparently some, or a lot of my items gave overage. I told them they could stop pushing the qs through and they insisted on doing them all and giving me the cash!!!!

    • Erin says:

      @nina, I’ve done this, too, but I try to avoid it. If the total’s negative, you know there’s coupon overage somewhere, which generally isn’t allowed. I don’t want to spoil it, so I try to disguise overage with other needed purchases.

  • nicole says:

    ALWAYS- it’s a thrill- get free stuff and go home with a smile.

  • mindy says:

    I try to get free stuff whenever possible. I don’t feel bad at all. I get a kind of excitement from it as well. That is how you stretch your budget. Don’t feel bad. I don’t worry about what the cashier thinks of me.

  • Danielle Moore says:

    A few weeks ago when CVS had the B1G1 Sobe, I purchased 24 of them, and only had to pay the tax. It was less than $1. Talk about getting a high.

  • Mary D. says:

    I went to Jewel today. They are running a great Conagra catalina deal and I got 7 Healthy Choice frozen meals and only paid the tax — $0.25!! It was awesome.

    I used to feel weird about doing deals like this, but I’ve gotten used to it.

  • Amory says:

    All of the time! 🙂 But I have realized that the older clerks are really proud of me when they see all of my coupons and how cheap or how I don’t have to pay for something!

  • sandy says:

    Its a great feeling when you get a good deal or free items. No guilt here!

  • Tracy says:

    I LOVE when I get my total down to $0!!!! Its so rewarding! And my pocketbook likes it too 😉

  • Amy says:

    Are you kidding me? It’s the best! Liz, I bet as soon as you get used to the idea you’ll become addicted!

  • Mary S. says:

    I felt a little strange at first but as long as you are following the rules you are doing nothing wrong. I think more than feeling awkward about it I was nervous the first few times that something would go wrong or that I hadn’t done the math right. After doing it a few times I no longer feel awkward and am just happy to be getting the free products! I highly suggest just going through with paying nothing once even if it feels a little strange. The next time will be easier.

    • Mssample31 says:

      @Mary S., very very true I almost broke into a cold sweat the first time I did it because I thought that I had did it wrong lol but yes everyone should have that high at least twice the first time getting iver the shock and the second time knowing that you walked out paying absolutely nothing a real big rush 🙂

  • Amy says:

    I’ve been able to support the food bank at my church in a way I wouldn’t have before because of shopping for freebies. It’s wonderful!

  • Lee says:

    My favorite was when I got $40 worth of groceries for $.32!! The cashier was impressed. I don’t coupon as much right now, but I love walking away with really cheap/free items. I never buy something out of guilt, they get their money back.

  • Erika says:

    We live in a pretty high standard of living area, so we don’t really get the freebies that the Lower 48 does and we have local sales tax (thus my total just never seems to be $0.00), but if I can get out of the store for less than one dollar (or right around) I feel so darn good I could really care what the cashiers think of me *laugh*. The other day I left my Kroger affiliate paying 1.13 out of pocket for a decent sized bag of groceries. Don’t feel guilty about getting stuff for free, feel proud! The more you can make your budget stretch the more you are helping your family. With this economy you need all the help you can get :).

  • amy says:

    Absolutely Not! It was the last day of the Nivea chapstick freebie at Walgreens – and my cashier said, if you have more coupons we have a ton of chapstick leftover, go for it! So she rang up 10 chapsticks and I got them all for free!!!! (I told her I felt bad taking them away from other customers, but she said it’s the last day and there was plenty to be had). I went for 2 chapsticks and came out with 10, didn’t pay a penny!!! It felt AMAZING! And they are great stocking stuffers!!!!!

  • Brenda says:

    I did this just yesterday. Our Giant Eagle had Muir Glen tomatoes & Carolina rice on sale. Both were free after my coupons. I didn’t get anything else. I checked out through the self serve lane & an alarm went off. (i found this embarrassing). The self-serve cashier told me it was because my total was $0. I think I’ll go to a person next time 🙂
    Really, though, I used to feel more weird about this, but I’m more & more ok with it. They set the sale prices & coupon policies. I’m just choosing to buy at the times when I can use both to the best advantage.

  • Shannah says:

    I did it this morning! I left CVS after paying about $1 for $25 worth of stuff. I don’t think you should feel bad at all. Plus, you’re letting them make money off of you if you buy items not on sale or without coupons because you feel guilty. That’s what they want you to do! I don’t mind if they make money, just not off me.

  • Cora-Sue says:

    Funny that you ask that question today. I just went to Rite-Aid and got my Gain dishwashing liquid .87 and had a $1.00 coupon.Didn’t even have to pay the tax cause they just took it off with the excess on the coupon. Did I feel strange? Nope only wished I had more coupons.

  • Jennifer says:

    I usually buy something else as I have had a few experiences in which the cashier thinks I’m “stealing” by using coupons and getting something for free or refuses to use the coupon because the item would be free. It can all be worked out by talking to the manager most of the time, but with two little ones usually in tow, I prefer to avoid the potential hassle.

  • Tara says:

    Thank you for mentioning the “ethics” of couponing. You mentioned this topic when I first began couponing, but I think so many people reason “if the store takes it…it isn’t my fault” and don’t give it a second thought. As a christian, I feel like my integrity is important, whether others are noticing my decisions, or its just between the Lord and me!

    • Joy says:

      @Tara, Totally agree with Tara here (and Crystal too!) I have a huge problem with people that try so hard to save money that they do it dishonestly. Our testimony is worth more than that!

  • April says:

    No I never feel awkard sometimes I do feel nervous. Like Sunday I was nervous about the free gain at Rite aid because the price was marked for 1.49 and I was a bit nervous but when I checked the rite aid flyer it was .87 and the manager had to push the coupon thru.

  • Jen says:

    Free is my friend! We don’t pay sales tax on grocery items. I LOVE it when I can buy things I would normally buy with nothing out of pocket.

  • Susan says:

    I usually only shop the drugstores to get the free/nearly free items. I wouldn’t normally shop at Walgreens & CVS if not for the sales.

  • Debi says:

    All the time! I often skim through and just get the free items, especially on to go orders from restaurants and fast food places. With the drug stores I usually end up paying the tax though. My husband on the other hand does not feel the same way, whenever i give him a coupon for a free item, usually a restaurant, he ends up buying stuff and will not go with me if I don’t intend to purchase an additional item.

    • Leah says:

      @Debi, I feel weird doing it at restaurants, too. I don’t know why it feels different to me, it just does. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it ethically, though, as long as you tip your server what someone buying a full service meal would tip.

      • WilliamB says:

        @Leah, So right about tipping on the non-discounted amount! Same if the restaurant comps you food for one reason or another. If I’m eating out with kids I also add what I call the “baby tip” – extra tip for the extra mess or nice kid-friendly service.

  • Laura D says:

    I don’t like having a very small total for my grocery, so I understand how your reader feels! I mean, it’s nice from my perspective, but, at least in my experience, it makes cashiers a LOT more skeptical if they see you handing over a big pile of coupons. They usually treat me like I’m trying to steal something, or call the manager over to see if I’m “allowed” to pay so little. Maybe I’ve just had a few bad apples, but I usually try to combine my couponing with my regular shopping so I don’t draw too much attention to myself. 🙂

    • Laura F says:

      @Laura D,

      I know EXACTLY what u mean. Meijer treats me as tho I’m trying to rip them off if I have a stack of coupons, a few bags of groceries and a total under $5. I’ve even been asked “is this legal”? LOL. Come on! I LOVE getting something for nothing or dirt cheap.

      • Brenda says:

        @Laura F, I’ve been treated the same way at Meijer. One cashier actually said “that’s just wrong–you got that free”.

        • Tiffany says:


          Meijer is really bad about coupons. One time the lady said I had too many coupons and they were not going to authorize my transaction and that she would have to delete all my coupons back off ( I was at a self check out). Needless to say the store manager had to approve it, I filled out a survey when I got home, and they next day they started re training the cashiers about accepting coupons. I do still have trouble with the scanner taking them anytime I try self check out

  • Joy says:

    Do it all the time and don’t feel awkward one little bit! The cashiers are usually very impressed and love seeing the deals that I’m able to get.

  • Stacy says:

    I definitely understand the awkward feeling. I started couponing in August of this year simply because I HAD to do something to help our budget stretch. So far, I haven’t had many bad experiences, but I can tell you I do feel weird walking out with paying nothing. So far, the only places I have done it are CVS and Walgreens. I stop at a few of both of these stores simply because I have a long commute and they are on my way. Walgreens does have some cashiers that are not very coupon friendly, but EVERY CVS I go to has cashiers that are AWESOME! I went once yesterday and once today and was checked out by the same woman who was very excited with me to let me walk out with my free oatmeals, toothpaste, shampoo and other goodies. She even double checked my receipt to make sure I got my ECBs for next time and put a little dollar sign sticker on it. I’m a huge fan of CVS.

    • Joy says:

      @Stacy, I guess it all depends where you live because I much prefer Walgreens in my town. The CVS has awful customer service. I guess it all depends on the people working there!

  • Valerie Lewis says:

    I’m with your reader here– I try to pay SOMETHING. Cashiers are just as impressed when I’m at $0.05 as when I’m at $0. I’ve had a negative transaction at CVS once, and the cashier was actually pissed because they had to do some funky code to get it to let me go while it showed negative. I know stores get reimbursed, but I just personally feel better giving something.

    A friend of mien works for a big consulting company that was consulting for one of the drug stores on their rewards program (he couldn’t tell me which because of confidentiality). He said that people like us (who seriously game the deals) are either (a) so small a fraction of people that they are written off, or (b) factored into the sales and all the store runs. The store isn’t losing anything on you, in essence, because they have already accounted for the few great bargain shoppers when they figure out how much they will make off of promotions and sales they run.

    Still, I like to pay a few cents, for my own peace of mind.

  • Amy says:

    Because of always paying for tax, I have no issue whatsoever. Well, I’d still feel fine with it either way 🙂

  • cassie says:

    I have been couponing since the summer and yesterday was my first day to give it a try. I did it at Rite Aidmmy safe store where all the checkers love me, lol. I wil try walgreens next but some of their checkers get attitude. I wish we could do it for groceries, but our store(the dreaded walmart) rarely will take a coupon.

    • Maureen says:

      @cassie, Why doesn’t your WalMart take a coupon? On their corporate website, their policy states that they take regular and internet coupons.

    • Mary says:

      @cassie, I suggest you go to Walmarts corporate website and pint out their coupon policy and put it in your coupon binder (if you have one) so that next time you have issues you can ask them if they “would like to review their own coupon policy printed directly from their own corporate website.” I don’t think they will refuse any coupons from you anymore as long as you are following the policy. I speak from experience. It is also a good idea to print off all the stores coupon policies at the stores you frequent.

  • Taylor says:

    my theory is ‘they shouldnt offer if if they dont want people to take advantage of it.’

  • Paj says:

    Don’t feel bad about leaving with free items when you use coupons. If it is a stigma thing in your head, then make a joke to the cashier about it being your lucky day finding that coupon or something. Will make you feel less awkward if nothing else.

  • Kelly says:

    I love it! What a great feeling to only pay tax (or nothing!).

    A few weeks ago I had double coupons at Target and got a Desitin cream for free. Love that feeling!

  • I love it. Not long ago I went into JC Penney with a $10 off $10 coupon. I found a 2pk of bras for my daughter (did I just say that out loud? she can’t possibly be that old!) marked exactly $10. The cashier, a young guy, maybe 19, did a triple take when the register told him my total was $0, but he thought it was awfully cool.

  • Tara says:

    I love paying nothing! Just today I picked up 2 pairs of socks at Target and paid $0. Last year during K-mart doubles, I paid $0 for a $50 cart full of items. It’s a great feeling not to remove your wallet from your purse 🙂

  • Oh, I always go just for the free deals, if possible (I do have to pay our Georgia 7% sales tax though). If my husband is with me, he walks away while I am checking out because he gets embarrassed and says that I look “cheap” but I don’t care. And I can’t send him to the store shopping at all because he refuses to use coupons…again, because he says it looks “cheap.” Personally, I like to save money and the coupon/sale shopping is like an addictive game to me and I am not embarrassed at all. Some cashiers are fine when they ring all my products up and then deduct the coupons and then there are other cashiers who roll their eyes to my excitement (mostly the teenage cashiers who still live at home with mom and dad and don’t worry about saving money anyway) but that doesn’t bother me because I am the one leaving the store with almost-free loot! lol

  • Julie says:

    I have definitely learned to have a thick skin since couponing. Sometimes cashiers are great (like the guy who did a double take and then laughed out loud before saying “uhhh….6 cents please” the other day), but I also get the grumpy people who resent my savings. Over time I have gotten better at not letting it get to me, and not worrying so much about making everyone happy.

  • faith says:

    All the time It helps my family out alot

  • Stefanie says:

    I usually feel awkward, but when I’m done checking out, I feel great, lol. Plus…with self checkouts, you can avoid the awkwardness. 🙂

  • As a work-from-home, coupon-clipping, budget-following wife and mother, I LIVE for those moments in my coupon-clipping life! I can not tell you how many other people have benefited from my freebies. If you want to feel better about receiving freebies, you can do what I do and donate 10% of what you receive for free. I treat the goods similarly to income and I “tithe” 10% of them. Whether it is giving it to the church’s “Bread Basket” (our food bank), handing it to a neighbor, or loading up a bag for an expectant mother or struggling student…. Giving part of it away will make it feel ‘right’. I also like to check out with older cashiers who are proud of my frugile practices in a time where there are so many people who are frivolous and live with an instant-gratification mindset. By the way, did I mention that budgeting, coupon clipping and simplifying our lives has allowed me to work from home instead of working outside of our home. There is no value on the time I have with my husband and our children… and if I can receive items for free and be here with our little family, then I am all about that! Coupon On, Friend! 🙂

  • Nancy D. says:

    I once got $60 worth of groceries for -$6 because in addition to my double coupons for lots of free stuff I had a coupon for $5 off if you spend $50. You wouldn’t believe it … but this is true… the cashier actually handed me the $6 (yes he was going to pay me to take the groceries) and then I said I couldn’t accept it. I have no problem getting free stuff. The manufactures reimburse the face value of the coupon plus 8 cents, so I don’t feel too guilty. I also explain how my coupon obsession helped me become debt free and help people find discounts on my new website

  • Rachel says:

    Always go to teenaged guy cashiers. Seriously. They are always friendly and never question if we are allowed to use so many coupons. I always have a problem with this older lady at Target. She reads every coupon completely through (which is fine by me), but she tries to disqualify everything, even when I know Target’s coupon policy better than I do!

    Just my…two cents…har har har 🙂

    • Michele says:

      @Rachel, I am definitely trying this piece of advice next time I shop … seems like everyone is looking for a reason not to take my discounts. Thanks a bunch.

    • Brooke says:

      @Rachel, Totally agree. I frequent a Wal-mart and Target near a University, and the young part-time guys working at night never question anything. During the day, the full-time staff gives me the hairy eyeball everytime I set down my stack of coupons.

    • Janine says:

      @Rachel, I always look for the young teenaged guys too! I try to stay away from anyone who appears to be new–they question *everything*, and although I keep my couponing ethical, it does take longer to check out if the manager has to be called several times.

    • Stacey Sharp says:

      @Rachel, I try to find teenage boys too. A friend gave me the tip and it works! The older folks may be our cheerleaders in getting things for free, but they are not comfortable with computers and the register.

      Many times the register beeps and they have to push it through even though it is the correct item. Younger people aren’t intimidated by this and the boys in particular are more trusting and don’t feel compelled to read every word on the coupon.

      I coupon ethically, and it takes awhile to make it through the store, matching the exact item with the coupon, determining the price, and deciding if it’s what I’m willing to pay (it’s not often we get free here, we have to pay the 7.3% tax on the full price of the item). With two little boys in-tow on my shopping trips, anything that speeds things up makes everyone’s lives better and less tantrum-filled.

      • Rachel says:

        @Stacey Sharp, Oh my! 7.3%? Eeeek! Hehe definitely use any tips- even the teenaged guys- you can get! 🙂 They don’t hassle on anything. I wish I could babysit for you, so you could go to the store alone! 🙂

    • Maureen says:

      @Rachel, You must have hit the nail on the head here, since I also look for the teenage guy cashiers. They are easier to deal with. Yesterday reinforced this when I had no option but to go to a sixty year old woman, who scolded me for my internet coupons, left with the manager for a three minutes to verify them, and then yelled about the “person who invented the internet” saying “he did something very bad indeed”. She also mentioned that WalMart is considering not taking them anymore. I think she was venting, so I am going to keep a copy of WalMart’s coupon policy in my purse.

    • Allison V. says:

      @Rachel, I was reading on another blog awhile back about this very same thing. I completely avoid older women now, and if there are no young guys, I look for young girls instead.

    • Rachel says:

      @Rachel, Oops! I meant, “better than she does.”

    • Laura says:

      @Rachel, I’m the same. I also go to the teenage boy cashiers. They don’t mind the coupons at all.

  • Renee says:

    I definitely go to stores just to buy the free items. Once,I miscalculated and the store paid me. I knew that couldn’t be right because I owed tax,but they insisted to hand me the change. So I got my free items and they paid me!!

  • I have felt weird about having a 0 balance for a LONG time. I just had one by accident recently, and the only reaction I got from the clerk was amazement. She was highly impressed. I felt pretty good about that. So I’m okay with a zero balance now!

  • Kim says:

    I do go in sometimes just to “buy” the free items. I have gotten vhange back several times. lol

  • Michele says:

    I was wondering if anyone else thought about this … and no, unless I am going to spend at least a few bucks in the store I don’t just go to hit them up for freebies. Only been doing this for about a month though, so that may change.

  • I do it all the time. I don’t feel awkward @ all. I love it, I know Im not doing anything wrong..Im just getting a great deal 🙂

  • Erin says:

    I understand feeling awkward about paying nothing. I would usually wait until I had a “real order” to get the freebies. Since my son was hospitalized a few weeks ago and I’m staring at a $5,000+ hospital bill, I have to say that I just don’t care all that much anymore. In the past, I would have tried to conjure up some additional purchases so that the $5 CVS Halloween coupon wouldn’t beep on my $4.99 item, but this time, I just used them and only one coupon-unfriendly manager insisted I purchase another item rather than adjust the coupon. I generally don’t like to do things like this because I firmly believe that it ruins future deals. (Next year, they’ll just make the coupon $5 on any $5 or more purchase– or something worse!). I also don’t like to get stuff free using what I consider “questionable” coupon use–for example, using coupons with no restrictions on trial-size items. Sure, it’s technically legit, but I think it causes more problems that it is worth, and the more people do it (especially those who buy 50+ coupons on ebay and use them to wipe out the entire section), the harder the stores make couponing for the rest of us. That said, I would not worry about getting a single box (or two) of crackers free from CVS with a valid coupon. CVS generally is one of the best couponing stores around–they know coupons and like coupons (once, the cashier was having trouble with my giant stack of coupons, so I apologized, and the manager–different than the one above–said, “don’t apologize–coupons keep us in business!). If the coupon wasn’t legit on that product, they wouldn’t accept it.

  • Shannon says:

    Just an FYI on the loss leaders, when a store runs a sale, the manufacturer of the goods usually sells it to the store at a reduced price. Plus, the manufacturer/distributor pays “slotting” (space on the shelf), ad monies and additional charges the store may impose. It is extremely rare that a store will lose any money on the sale of a name brand item. I used to work as a Sales & Marketing Assistant for a food manufacturer and I couldn’t believe how much manufacturers had to pay to be in a sales ad. In the end, it’s a numbers game.

  • Karen says:

    Yesterday at CVS my oop was $.46. I bought 4 Purex 3-1 on the BOGO with 4 $3 off mfg coupons, 1 box Quaker instant oatmeal on sale $2.50 with $1 mfg off. I used a $5.98 ECB which actually left my total in the negative before tax. Great shopping day at CVS and yes, I will buy only the sale items and use my ECB’s, Up dollars or whatever coupons I have.

  • Jennifer says:

    I don’t feel bad at all. Especially at Rite Aid. Heck those guys sometimes advertise that you can get stuff free there. If the stores can afford to do it without going out of business, why should I feel back about taking them up on their offers if I’m following policies and using coupons ethically. I haven’t been doing this long but usually cashiers just seem impressed.

  • Lucky says:

    Cashiers sometimes give me a hard time about this, so I know by now which stores not to bother with. My favorite coupon story though is the one time I was getting 4 packs of Stayfree at Rite Aid — they were BOGO and I was using two BOGO coupons. It was a legit use of coupons as far as I understood it so I went for it. The (male) cashier didn’t want to ring it up because he didn’t think I should get free product. I asked that he call his (male) boss over. The boss took one look at me, and one look at the pile of sanitary products and told him to ring it up and leave me alone!

  • amanda says:

    I never feel bad about walking out of the store for little or no money. I was once paid to buy frozen veggies but I try not to go in the negative.

  • fairydust says:

    I thought it was great until I ran into a number of different cashiers at different stores who made me feel awful about trying to get something for free. Granted, I let them make me feel awful, but I don’t like being accused of something, especially when I know I’m not doing anything wrong. So now I do what a couple other posters have mentioned and usually include my freebie buys in with other regular shopping so that the free aspect doesn’t show so glaringly (and then the cashiers don’t glare at me).

    • Sherri says:

      @fairydust, It’s not usually a problem for me, either, but on one occasion I had a raincheck, and so the free items were obvious to the cashier. She *loudly* announced that she didn’t think I could do that, and asked other cashiers if this was right. They didn’t know, either, so she called the cust service desk, who promptly told her to take my coupons. Funny thing was, she got all upset about those items and missed the fact that I had 3 other free items in my order. 🙂 I can laugh about it now, but I was very upset about that treatment at the time.

  • Kelly P says:

    I sometimes feel awkward. It depends where I’m shopping – some stores are more coupon friendly than others. I will often make sure I’m buying something else (although NEVER something I wouldn’t have bought anyways – that would negate the savings!) There are certain items at each store we shop that we have priced out everywhere and one store in particular has the lowest price for items that rarely get coupons (i.e. rice at Safeway). Then I will buy the Safeway rice at the same time as my my free-with-coupons products – especially if I want to take advantage of overages!

  • Jan says:

    I don’t look at it as “free” as in gratuitous from the store’s perspective. They aren’t just handing you the item as a “free sample” with nothing expected in return. You are exchanging a coupon that is a form of payment that has a monetary value even though the money didn’t come from your personal paycheck. No coupon, no item. It is no different from a person using a gift card in my opinion. The store is not giving you the item, you are using a form of payment that didn’t come from your paycheck, i.e. it was “free” to you.

    • trixie says:


      Jan — this is an excellent point! I used to work in a store as a cashier and a bookkeeper and this is exactly how it’s looked at.

    • Jan says:

      @Jan, I agree with this, however, I have also had cashiers tell me I am stealing if my total is zero or below. I never expect a store to pay me. However, I do feel that if the item is .99 and the coupon is $1.00 that should be payment for the item. Many stores are starting to view it diffrently, which is bad for the store as well. I have been using coupons for 50 years. The attitudes change frequently of the cashiers. HOwever, this is the facts, the store is paid the price of the coupon plus .07 to .08 handling fee for every coupon that the store accepts so coupons are great for the stores as well. This is additional money they would not get otherwise.
      Watch your totals at Walmart many cashiers have been found to slide your coupon away for later for their own personal use and not take it off your total.
      If the store wants to accept a coupon for $1.00 off when an item is on sale for .99 then the store is really getting $1.00 from the manufc. plus the handling fee of the .07 or .08 cents as well. This is a lot of money to the stores. Coupons are great for everyone!

      • Joy says:

        @Jan, Exactly! I also just view coupons as my form of payment. And the store makes out better in the end. If I had paid cash, they just get their money, if I use coupons, they actually MAKE money and worse, if I use a credit card, they LOSE money since they credit card company charges then 3-5% or even more! I think I’m doing them a favor by using coupons vs. a credit card! LOL

  • Sarah says:

    Ok, so we have sales tax here in Texas, but I usually don’t even have to pay that when it’s something free after coupon. Since the coupons come off before tax is calculated, I’ve gotten bunches of stuff for nothing. During the free SoBe days, I’d go in with 6 coupons, grab 12 SoBes, give it all to the cashier with no cash, walk out with 12 SoBes and a receipt….. Wonder why some people have to pay tax even on a “freebie.” ???

    • Stephanie says:

      I used to live in TX. Miss the days of after coupon taxing. Now I live in a place where the tax is calculated on the before coupon amount. I’ve had time where tax is all I have had to pay. My idea of “free” now is actually “tax only”.

  • I don’t feel bad, but I rarely ever let it happen. Unless the freebie is really awesome, I tend not to go for it unless there are other things I need at that store as well. It’s not because I’m embarrassed though. Although when I first started I was embarrassed to even hand over a coupon! LOL

  • Jessica says:

    Crystal – this is totally nit-picky, but it looks like you mixed up your negatives halfway through your last parenthetical thought in the post – the first two items are examples of using coupons ethically, the second two aare examples of NOT using coupons ethically.

  • cathi carpenter says:

    When I first started coupons I was kinda weirded out by this…but now a year later…if I don’t get my “freebie” fix for the week…I am going bonkers! I totally revel in the “victory” and I am very generous and share my finds with the local St. Vincet DePaul society as well as my gal pals at work!

  • Kristine says:

    I have felt awkward. In one situation, I had a cashier void a coupon after my total hit $0. I spoke up and said “You forgot that one, my total should be $0.” In my state, you don’t pay tax on most groceries. She gave me a funny look, but I was correct.

    It all depends on the cashier – some make me feel like a criminal, others have been in awe. Needless to say, I prefer the ones who are impressed 🙂

  • If it makes you feel awkward, you may want to try it once or twice with just one item (like the CVS deal on Brach’s candy corn). It won’t feel so odd when you’re getting just one thing free, instead of an armful, and might help bolster your confidence to try it again.

    • Mary S. says:

      @Rebekah {honeyandcheese},

      I think the candy corn scenario is a great mentions the coupon on the front of my flyer so they are advertising it for free and when I picked up a bag yesterday the cashier made sure to ask me if I had gotten my coupon before he rang it up. I was actually buying some other stuff on this trip but I think it would be a great first try. You can’t feel bad about it if they advertised it!

  • Beverly says:

    I don’t mind getting things for free. This usually means buying something and getting the same price back in register rewards as Walgreens does. And if you have a manufacturer’s coupon, that comes off the price that you pay, but you still get the full price back as a register reward. I usually buy other items, so my bill isn’t usually $0. Walgreens also will accept 2 coupons with a BOGO item. About 2 weeks ago, there was a sale on Energizer batteries, $9.99 for an 8 pack, BOGO free. I went to the Energizer website and was able to print a $3 off coupon. I made an extra copy on my printer and used both coupons. So I was able to get 16 batteries for $4.00 (25cents each). The clerks are nice at Walgreens and don’t seem to mind when I come in with lots of coupons. I always check the Sunday paper for coupons before shopping and noticed there were 2 coupons for Nivea lip products, one for $1 off 1 and a coupon for $2 off 2. The Nivea was $1 on sale so I was able to get 3 for nothing. This week there is Crest toothpaste for 2.49, 1.50 r.r., and with a $1 coupon, it is free with the r.r. You usually don’t have to pay tax on a coupon for a free item. It makes me feel like an experienced shopper to be able to figure out how to save in different ways.

    • Lydia M. says:

      @Beverly, Uh, Beverly, what did you mean when you said “I made an extra copy on my printer”? You do know that each IP coupon has a seperate code on it and photocopying coupons is illegal. I hope I misinterpreted your comment and you’re not doing this as to ruin it for the rest of us.

      • Beverly says:

        @Lydia M., I didn’t know making copies was illegal. A store will accept 2 identical newspaper coupons and not say anything if you buy 2 of the same items. If you print 2 coupons from the computer there might be 2 separate codes. Sometimes you are allowed to print only one from certain coupon sites. I make copies only of coupons I print from computer sites and none of the stores check the codes. If they did, I would try to have different codes on the coupons.

        • Crystal says:

          Copying coupons is illegal and you can be fined or even have to serve jail time for doing so, if you’re caught. Definitely do not do it!

        • Joy says:

          @Beverly, The stores might not check the codes, but the clearinghouses who process the coupons do! Each individual coupon that you print had a unique code and if it goes through their system twice, the store WILL NOT get reimbursed for it! Also, coupon sites keep track of YOUR computer’s ip address so they actually have all your info and could prosecute if they wish. I tell you all this not to get on you, but to warn you. I have to no doubt that you didn’t realize copying coupons was wrong. As a new couponer, you are bound to make some innocent mistakes, but don’t let this be one of them any longer!

  • colleen watkins says:

    Very often I get the transaction for free!
    Iam proud of my hard work and always learning more!

    The store gets reimbersed for there coupons, and it was there sales!

    My sister says she likes to payfor everything, well go ahead!

  • Kristina says:

    Once I went to Krogers to get a bottle of some marinade that was on sale for $1 and I had a 50 cent coupon so they doubled it and since it was a food item I didn’t have to pay tax and walked out the door without even paying anything! Indiana state tax doesn’t allow the coupons to pay for tax so if the coupon is more than the item they usually adjust it Walmart doesn’t always catch it so I make sure there are other items to absorb the overage. The cvs people where I shop are really nice so I really like using coupons and ECB there! I don’t really care for Walgreens that much because they only allow one manufacture coupon per item so if I have a few of their RR and I want to buy one item they will only take one coupon….I was going to get some toothpaste and had a Crest coupon and a RR but she said I couldnt use both unless I got another item (I ended up getting some hair mousse since I needed some anyways) so I was able to use the RR.

  • Leslie says:

    I once left CVS with 3 bags full of stuff- toothpaste, shampoo, you name it- for a grand total of 27 cents after all was said and done with my coupons and ECB’s. The kicker was, I didn’t have any cash on me! As I went to get out my debit card, the man in line behind me pulled out a handful of change from his pocket and handed it to me saying “Miss, I am so impressed with what you just did that I would be happy to give you the 27 cents!” I gladly accepted his offer and handed him a few tubes of toothpaste in return.

    • Laura says:


      I had a similar experience when I bought a whole cart full of stuff worth over $50.00 for .06 cents. As I was leaving the store, I found a dime on the ground. Nothing like getting .04 cents for shopping. Not to mention the ~$10 in ECBs I earned!

    • kandle says:

      @Leslie, Leslie, you made me lol. I did a similar thing in CVS when Purex was on sale B1G1 for .01. I went in with two b1g1 coupons and nothing else. When I got to the register, I realized I owed .02 for four bottles of detergent. The lady behind me was in such awe, she insisted on paying for me. I thanked her, and offered her a bottle.

  • Rebecca says:

    Once I bought:
    5 Danino yogurts at $1.50 each ($7.50 total)
    Used (5) $1.50 coupon from the 6/06 Smart Source insert
    All five free after coupons

    I paid not even a penny, no tax, nada! The look on the cashiers face was priceless–not to mention how I feeling when I walked out of the store

  • Missy Whitfield says:

    I don’t feel awkward at all. The stores are not losing any money, and I’m using my coupons ethically….so I don’t have any issues! In fact, I ONLY shop CVS and Walgreens for free items.

  • Erica says:

    Nope No guilt here. If you use the coupons within the guidelines, it is all good

  • LynB says:

    Are you kidding?

    I revel in going into the store for just FREE items. Many times the store pays me to come in and take out items (paying under a dollar for a transaction, and leaving w/a $5 cat in hand)! I absolutely love it and that’s what couponing in all about for me.

    I get a high from getting something for FREE that I paid a ridiculously high price for just last year (when I didn’t use Qs). The money I’m saving goes for other ridiculously high bills like electricity, etc.

    Now, if only I could find some Qs for cable, electricity, phone, water, and sewer…!

  • Jennifer says:

    I’ve never let a purchase go negative — if I suspect that may happen at the register, I’ll buy something else that I need.

    But, using coupons does cancel out sales tax here (tax is charged on the price AFTER coupon), so I have come out with a $0 total before. The one I remember was at Walgreens — candy bars which were ringing up for $1 and I had about 16 coupons for $1 off. I bought their whole case of candy bars (after asking since it was the last day of the sale) and didn’t pay even a penny.

  • Julie says:

    I have to admit I have never just gone for the free stuff. I always feel a little awkward, and Walgreens, in particular, makes me feel like I am doing something wrong, even though all of my days are legitimate!

    It’s funny that you asked this topic today, because yesterday I decided I’m going to go to all three CVS, Walmart, and Rite Aid this week just for the freebies! Glad to see others are doing that.

  • Meredith says:

    It’s honestly never happened to me. I have bought many items at 8 cents 20 cents etc. But never have I gotten an entire order for free. I go to Harris teeter which is my coupon base place on mondays and wal mart for the rest of my groceries on Thursdays. I have a budget for each place and shop accordingly. I do this because we need bananas every three or four days. My daughter won’t eat them out of the fridge and has to have one (half) every day. It’s one of the few healthy things I get into her these days. So needless to say, I don’t like to waste gas shopping around at many places. I don’t play the drugstore game because I already spend several hours a week couponing and meal planning. This works for me. So, I never have a free bill. However if I did I would smile and say thanks. Yet, if there was an overage, I would buy something to compensate. Bananas probably.

  • Leah says:

    I have gotten orders totally free (and we have sales tax, too), but this is only with food items (tax free) and equivalent coupons. The cashiers are always shocked at first, then usually congratulate me!

  • Elizabeth says:

    I am still confused on how everyone gets things for free. I kind of understand the CVS points but with coupons all the coupons I see say you can only use one coupon per item per transaction. My question is how do you all get around this or I am not finding the right coupons and where do I find them. Thank you all for any help.

    • Mary S. says:

      There are a couple of ways, I suggest looking at the store deal match-ups posted on this site. But for a couple examples, this week at CVS the Brachs candy corn is $0.99 and the coupon machine where you scan your card in the store is printing out $0.99 off coupons or at Rite Aid this week the Gain dish soap is $0.89 and there was a $1 off coupon in this past Sunday’s paper. Last week I was able to pick up a bunch of Nivea chapsticks for free at Walgreens.

  • jen b says:

    There is only one cashier in the stores I frequent (at a CVS, believe it or not!) that is rude about it. I bought 2 gallons of milk, 4 Quaker instant oatmeal, Dawn Hand Renewal, and 2 Colgate Totals, paid with coupons and $12.50 in ecb- my total was $0.71! Plus I got $12 ecb back. The only thing the cashier said to me was “Do you have your CVS card?” and then nothing after that, not even to tell me my total or have a nice day. My Walgreens in much, much more coupon friendly and I think they would fire a cashier who was so rude to their couponers.

  • Elizabeth K says:

    I feel quite triumphant when I’m able to “buy” things for free! CVS is my all-time favorite. I shop at Kroger because you can really make your coupons worth their value PLUS the time you spend clipping and researching sales. Thanks Crystal for a great blog and for encouraging me to be mindful of the blessings the Lord has given our family.

  • Marion says:

    I have to work really hard to score all those “FREE” things. I have to use all the computers in the house, clip sort, buy paper and ink, you know the deal. It’s hard but worth it, because usually those “FREE” items are things I pass on, so they are bonuses for my kids, and a lot of times I GIVE to those who can use, but don’t have time to hunt for coups. So I feel GREAT walking out with a balance of a big fat ZERO!

  • Lauren says:

    I used to feel a little nervous about walking away without paying anything, but I’ve gotten over it! I would never want a store to pay me for using coupons, but having paid for everything with coupons is just fine!

  • Susan Wiley says:

    I go all the time to only get the free stuff (w/ coupon) at stores. The stores get reimbursed for any coupon that is used so to me it’s no big deal to go in and get whatever I have coupons for for free and never buy a single thing that costs money. They are still getting paid for the items just not by me. And yes, some stores refuse this… I simply don’t shop at those stores even when I am paying money for items. My krogers’ for instance has gotten alot more of my business because they take coupons that make the product come out free.. where as one of my walmart’s and my walgreens’ have gotten alot less of my business (in fact, I’ve all but stopped shopping there) because they won’t take coupons without my paying for something else. I now go shopping for stuff that will cost me money at places like target and krogers who accept my coupons and coupon stacking to get free deals instead of the other places. It’s only fair because they are doing me a service by allowing my coupons AND the coupons are getting reimbursed to them.

  • Courtney says:

    There is absolutely nothing wrong with getting only free items, but sometimes I find that it’s easier and smarter to fly under the radar and purchase a few other needed items along with the freebies – especially if it is a store that is not so coupon-friendly.

  • Liz says:

    I’m usually close to $0 when shopping at CVS. The funny part is that I am known by the teenage cashiers as the “coupon lady.” The one this past weekend just said, “WOW,” when he looked at my $.78 total.

    By the way, I always tell cranky cashiers that they should go to if they want to find bargains too. I grew up with a coupon-loving mom but for some people this is a foreign concept.

  • Michelle M says:

    No guilt here. I know I’m using the coupons legally. Usually if there are any rude remarks it’s jealously coming out wishing that they would take the time to work the coupon deals.
    I got a bag full of stuff from Walgreens this week for $3.10 (including diapers) and got $8 in register rewards back. Love shopping trips like that 🙂

  • Laura says:

    I’ve been couponing since early August and to date, I have done 21 transactions that total 0.00, retail value: 254.03! I have done countless other transactions that total less that $1.00. In my area, we pay tax on the subtotal after coupons so I can get it the totals down to $0.00. The best one I ever did was for $39.97 worth of merchandise!

    In the beginning I felt like I should buy something else (mostly because I didn’t want cashiers to think I was cheating) but then I realized that some coupons are for free items…some I had were for gum, denture cream, a roll of toilet paper, a can of cat/dog food, etc. They are mostly small or trial sized items but I have no problem only buying those items and walking out of the store with freebies. It’s legitimate and fair!

  • WilliamB says:

    I haven’t had the pleasure yet of getting a large purchase for free but I have no problem with getting free goods as a result of smart planning and ethical use. I do know that a cashier giving me trouble for it would just get my back up and I’d be *more* insistent on getting the whole bargain.

  • I have to pay sales tax household goods so I usually end up paying about $1-2 afterward (tax is charged on the original price, not the price minus the coupons) but I always love when I walk out with free or close to free. I did the CVS deal this week for Quaker Oatmeal. I had 2 $2/1 coupons plus you got $2 in ECBs if you bought two. I had the best cashier, she noticed that I only paid $1 for both and made sure to remind me that I had my ECBs at the bottom and save them (I paid cash since I didn’t have a $1 ECB and didn’t have time to pick up more than the oatmeal). Those are the ones that I feel best about, when I pay a small amount but walk out with more for later.

  • Viki says:

    I went to Target once, and got a fairly big buggie full of stuff, and when the cashier looked to give the my total, she had to make a double take at it. Everything came out to be like a dollar and some change. I think my husband about fell out in the floor as well. I was very fun.

  • AB says:

    I have no problem at all walking away with freebies. The problem is with the cashier. For some reason, some cashiers get really grumpy when you pay pennies only. They would accept the coupon anyway, so why the attitude!!!

  • Jaime says:

    I just started couponing seriously this summer, and have never understood how coupons fit with BOGO sales. Can you use two coupons even if one item is free?

    • Katie says:

      @Jaime, Forget to mention this… you can also use a BOGO coupon with a BOGO sale to get both items free.

      • Allison V. says:

        @Katie, Some stores have different policies, sometimes you have to buy two to get one free or some-such…I haven’t actually done that myself. Just check with your store.

    • @Jaime, Unfortunately, this never works for me, no matter what store I shop at. I’ve tried it at Rite Aid, CVS, and Walgreens in my town. The first product always rings up at full price and the second product rings up at zero. Then when they try to apply the coupon for the B1G1F, the register beeps at them and tells them that the second product was already free and the coupon cannot be used. The cashiers have even had managers look at the register and the coupons and they all tell me that the coupon cannot be used. I guess I’m just out of luck with this idea. 🙁

  • Laura Jane says:

    Yep, I’ve literally had 0 totals many times. Target and Giant Eagle (Pittsburgh grocery store) are easy to get $0 total and it doesn’t require any approval. At Rite Aid, I usually pick up a 20 cent item if my total would be zero because a zero total requires manager approval (but I’ve still done it with no problems). I will admit I felt strange about it at first, but I’m used to it now, and it doesn’t bother me.

  • Jamie says:

    One time I had to add an item to make the total come over $0. It ended up being 4 cents. I had to run my debit card since I never carry cash. The cashier just laughed. 🙂

  • Katie says:

    I have a once a month see-what-I-can-get-for-FREE-trip. Near the end of the month, I clean out my coupon binder. I use the $1/1 coupons that are about to expire to get travel items for free. I usually do this at Target because they seem to have the biggest selection of travel items.

  • Christine says:

    Thanks for this post today. I just had a horrible trip to Rite Aid where the gal didn’t know the coupon policy and I didn’t have it with me and the whole thing spiraled into disaster even though everything I was doing was well within their policy. I needed a reminder that I am not a thief and they were the ones who sent out the coupons. Even though I know I wasn’t cheating them, it’s nice to have someone else say it. Thanks.

    I’m considering heading back there this afternoon to talk with them and sort out my purchase.

  • liz says:

    Wow, thank you everyone for your helpful responses! I am a young SAHM and coupons make it much easier for that to be the case =)

  • candice says:

    I know how you feel…. today i went to sephora in the mall to get my free mascara and samples of perfume… i hesitated at first but ultimately got what i went in there for.

  • Robyn says:

    I don’t feel bad. I’m not breaking the law. I’m choosing to be the most economical that I can be. If I ever have trouble with stores/cashiers refusing to accept all of my fully-legitimate coupons, I state their coupon policy to them, how it has been handled in the past, and if they still refuse, I ask to speak to their manager and so forth. Like someone else said above, if they don’t want to serve the fraction of us that are super-bargain-saver-shoppers, they shouldn’t accept coupons at all.

  • Spendwisemom says:

    I have gone and just got free items a few times. I do try to get one item would be $1 or less. It just depends on how many free items I am getting. They have to pay the cashiers and stock people, so that is why I do it. I guess I am still trying to find that balance. I like the line in the Lion King where it talks about that you should never take more than you give, but I am not quite sure how that applies to shopping and finding the right balance there. I guess by donating to good causes, you can give back to others.

  • Kimberly R says:

    I did for the first time yesterday! My friend had a coupon from Bath & Body Works for free travel size, and we were out without any lotion between the 2 of us. I ran in an picked up just the travel lotion!

  • kristen says:

    I do feel a little embarrassed to just get free items and then walk away paying a few cents in tax. I mostly shop at Rite Aid, so I always buy a free after SCR item to get my total to a few dollars so I don’t feel like a cheapo. I know it’s silly to feel that way, but I can’t help it!

  • Jaclyn says:

    I don’t feel bad because I’m not doing anything wrong. However I try not to do it because I hate feeling the judgement of cashiers. I know I shouldn’t care but I do. I have found that most of the time its not worth it. It will upset me for the whole day – my husband will have to hear about it etc. So I choose wisely – I only do it if there are a lot of items that I actually need.

  • Stefani says:

    After getting so many items for free or just tax these past few months, I decided to share my stockpiles with my neighbor who gives me her coupons she does not use and with the friendly cashiers at CVS. I hope I get more of these oppotunities in the future like getting something just because it is free but don’t want or need and giving it away.

  • Sandy K says:

    You should not feel bad. We do not feel bad when we get $100.00 worth of items and only pay $6.00.

  • Kristen Lowery says:

    I actually have had to educate the cashier’s at Weis markets. I will go in there with a ton of coupons & use my EBT card to pay the rest. If they run the card as they would normally they end up giving me change back for the total amount of my coupons. I have told them that this is not ethical, and that they need to manually put in the amount still owed after coupons. The first time I did this I only had a few coupons so I was just confused & not sure why they were handing me money, but the next time I went in I had forty something in coupons and they were going to hand it to me. I quickly “got it” and explained it to the cashier.

  • Patti says:

    This is a little bit off topic, but when I went to CVS this week, they had a bunch of stuff 75 % off including big bottles of different detergents. I had to ask the cashier what the prices were (didn’t know you could use the coupon reader to see) and when he told me they were $2.00-$3.00, I said, “I’ll be right back” and went to get my coupons out of the car. I bought three bottles of detergent with $1.00 off coupons so that in the end, I got about $30 worth of detergent for about $3.00. Woo-Hoo! The (teenage boy) cashier was amazed!!

  • Rae says:

    I feel great when I get it down to zero. Here even if it is a taxable item, most stores do the tax after coupons so I have walked out with $0 balance tons of times. I do get a small filler if the balance is going to be below zero so that cashiers don’t start panicking but if the balance is going to be zero… no way. And I agree on using coupon ethically. I hate when people use the “well the cashier (and/or register) took it without beeping” as an excuse to misuse coupons that they know are not supposed to be used (like wrong product/size, multiple man. coupons, etc). So if I get to $0, it was following the rules which is why I have no reason to feel awkward 🙂

  • Kris says:

    I have no problem doing a deal in anystore that would yield something free. I check my favorite “deal” website faithfully weekly if not more and will do deals anywhere if it is not out of my way. I am usaully going by a CVS, Walgreens, Target, etc weekly anyway. Love those freebees.

  • Karen Greenberg says:

    I love going in and getting just free items at a store. It’s great fun! If I bought something else to go with my items, out of guilt, I don’t feel I am getting the value of the coupon. It, to me, would be a wasted trip.

  • I am so grateful for free items, because it’s the only way I can afford to shop. Target does charge me for the tax pre-coupons, but at the grocery store I can get food items for free. I can’t do it real often, as our area doesn’t double coupons, but I am very grateful for the occasions when I can do it.

    There is a blog dedicated to finding free and close to free items just for the purpose of donating them to their local food bank. It’s not in my area (I’m in Nevada), but if you live in North and South Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, Alabama, Florida or Mississippi, they list deals to help fill their local food banks. It’s called Clipping for a Cause and I really admire what they are doing.

  • Jessica says:

    I love trying to get the smallest OOP price as possible. I have several times walked out without paying a penny. Here tax is figured after coupons so I rarely pay tax.

  • Nicole says:

    I have never actually gotten money back because I rarely have time to run to several stores just to get something on sale, but I wanted to say something on the other end. I work for a manufacturer, and I can tell you not to feel bad for the stores. Not all manufacturers run things the way that we do, but the ads/price reductions they run do not typically cost the store. And they always get their coupon amount, postage (sometimes more than .08) and sometimes they collect random fees as well. Feel bad for the manufacturer who may not actually be making any money on that item. They usually aren’t loosing money- but I am just saying.

  • Ian says:

    I have no problem collecting free things, just ask my wife! To put a manly spin on this, Harbor Freight is always running coupons for free items. I have now collected 6 free flashlights which will be stocking stuffers.

  • Sarah says:

    I always save my goodies that I get for free & don’t need for a donate box & when we fill it up we take it to a homeless shelter nearby.

  • Michelle says:

    I feel successful when I walk out of a store paying next to nothing for an item(s). I worked hard to get my cost that low! 🙂

  • sarah says:

    the only place i spend ‘guilt money’ is at the gas station when we need to potty. i will never use a stores bathroom w/o getting something.

  • Cris says:

    No problems at all!! Like Crystal mentioned, the stores get reimbursed for the coupons. I’m sure the CEO’s of those companies don’t have any problems with getting paid a crazy amount of money thanks to all the shopping that WE do!

  • Jessica says:

    Crystal, we like to eat meatless meals once or twice a week. I was wondering if you and your readers could suggest meatless main dishes. We tend to get stuck in the same old: cheese pizza, meatless spaghetti, or breakfast for dinner. I need some help! Thanks.

  • Heather says:

    All the time. Even if I don’t need the item someone somewhere will need it so I just drop them at my church. I feel that it is my way to give even though we use every penny in our budget to make things go in our house.

  • Rebecca says:

    I love getting free stuff, and I love seeing the cashiers’ reactions. I’ve had a few huffy cashiers. I did the SOBE BOGO deal this summer at a few of my local stores. One tried to convince me that I couldn’t, but her manager made her put it through and later that week I had the same cashier who said that they were looking into whether or not they could honor this, but again, her manager made her put it through for me. At another location I had gotten a raincheck and used it a few weeks later and the cashier muttered under her breath as I was leaving that it was really cheating to use a raincheck like that. But at another CVS I had a manager who was helping me out with a BOGO pretzel M&M’s coupon – they were out of stock (which I hear happened a lot this summer) and he offered to not only honor the coupon for any flavor of M&M’s, but for a larger size even. I did decline that since I didn’t want him to get in trouble, but I did use it to get free coconut m&m’s.

  • I hope you pick up something small that is a good deal and that your family can use. Besides, it’s rather exhilarating to know you’re checking out with several items and will have a $0 or less than 10 cent total! It’s a great feeling to know that you’ve used your brain to figure out the deals and be able to give your family great products to use and eat without needing to spend a lot of money, and do it legally! I see it as living like the Jones’ without spending like the Jones’. It’s also really exhilarating when your Jones’ see you shopping and see your total, then want to know how. Then you’re helping not just your family, but another as well.

  • Valerie says:

    I love getting free stuff. I figure even if my family may not need it I will buy it to donate to the local food shelf that I volunteer too. Its worth it, I may pay sales tax for some items but its for a good cause!

  • carla says:

    We do not eat at McDonalds unless we get free food coupons. I will then go thru the drive thru and just get the free item. If I am with my husband, he goes thru the drive thru with his free coupon, and I go inside and get my item, and we are on our way. They never say “one per family” or we would not do that! I love getting free stuff!

  • maria says:

    #26A friend of mien works for a big consulting company that was consulting for one of the drug stores on their rewards program (he couldn’t tell me which because of confidentiality). He said that people like us (who seriously game the deals) are either (a) so small a fraction of people that they are written off, or (b) factored into the sales and all the store runs. The store isn’t losing anything on you, in essence, because they have already accounted for the few great bargain shoppers when they figure out how much they will make off of promotions and sales they run.

    ^^so true! we are already accounted in for, that they really arent losing any money from us at all! i also agree with the woman who said that she wouldnt even shop at CVS or WAGS if it wasnt for the free stuff…i agree.

    my husband hates it when i coupon in the store, but when he comes home and looks at the recipet and sees hows much i saved, he quiets down..every time. lol. and i get things that are free that i wont even need (like the free candy corn..we dont eat it, but I will be giving it to my adult ESL class so they can pass it out to their kids, and even one is happy)..see how much happiness is given from free things? also, i donate things I dont use/ need, and i usually only get one or two free things every time i go (just since i go so often, not because im ashamed to do it). if they didnt want us to use coupons, dont offer them!! but we are blessed to have them, and if we dont use them, its our own fault. i can afford to pay full price (praise the Lord) but why would you want to!? like i said, we are blessed to have coupons, and we should embrace them and use them to our advantage. once you go couponing, you dont go back!! 😉

  • Jen says:

    I went to Shoppers today to buy free toothpaste! I was thrilled! (and slightly disappointed when they charged .06 cents tax). Oh well, 6 cents for toothpaste isn’t so bad. Right afterwards, I went to Food Lion and bought three bags of candy and three cans of soup for .83 cents. Whoohoo!

  • I LOVE free shopping trips! I might have to pay tax but that’s it!

  • Anonymous says:

    YES….I only get stuff if it is for free. I do not buy items from Target or Walgreens or Walmart unless it is a free item.

    Walgreens I can tell you from personal experience does not like it when customers receive free items. The cashier actually had a fit when she couldn’t ring up the coupons right and left the register, with a line of customers waiting. A manager then had to come and ring up the transaction which was no issue and we were checked out with no problem. Ever since then we try to shop when that older woman is not around.

    I can tell you Walgreens and Walmart are not customer friendly when it comes to coupon deals.

  • Beverly says:

    Joy, thanks for the info on clearinghouses and how they deal with coupons. I will be more aware of coupons and their codes in the future.

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