A Word About Shelf Clearing

Is this what it’s come to?

Has grocery shopping turned into a Black-Friday-like experience?

  • People racing to the store to get the deal?
  • Couponers buying out the stores just for the thrill of the deal?
  • Shoppers who only want 3 or 4 items finding bare shelves?
  • Little old ladies searching for their favorite shampoo with no success because some crazy coupon shopper just HAD to take all 25 bottles (claiming it was for charity)?

We’ve read your comments, we’ve seen the chats, we’ve received your frustrated emails… and we’ve experienced empty shelves ourselves!

Why the sudden onslaught of EMPTY SHELVES?

Here’s my opinion.  Based on fact, assumption, and my street smarts.  😉

  • FACT: TLC’s Extreme Couponing has brought couponing to an intense level of awareness.   Look what happened to the traffic on our site the month Extreme Couponing first aired.  That’s huge.  We nearly doubled our traffic in one month.  Not gonna lie, it’s been good for business… but man it sure stinks for our coupon shopping trips!
  • FACT:  The interest in coupons has heightened over the last few months.  This chart shows the increase of google searches for the keywords “grocery coupons” in the past 12 months.  Look how it’s exploded! (source: google keyword tool)
  • ASSUMPTION:  For many, their first exposure to the way we’ve been couponing the past few years, has been via TLC’s Extreme Couponing.
  • STREET SMARTS:  What are these impressionable new couponers learning from this show?  This show exemplifies that shelf clearing is normal, that they’ve got to have a dedicated room in their home to store their stockpile… even though they have a family of 2, that unethical coupon practices aren’t a big deal (referencing J’aime Kerlew in this post).
  • FACT:  The stores can’t keep up with the onslaught of new couponers.  They’re experiencing growing pains!  Will we see them order 3 x’s as much product?  Probably not.  Will we see some managers limiting the amount of product couponers can buy?  Maybe so!  Believe me, the store managers are frustrated as well!  They don’t want a bunch of dissatisfied shoppers (remember there are NON-couponers that shop at their stores too!)
  • ASSUMPTION:  These new couponers will get burnt out chasing every single deal.  We don’t recommend couponing that way!
  • FACT:  The deals WILL come back!   There is no need to buy a lifetime supply of  toothpaste, mustard, or toilet paper.

So Now What?!

You can get frustrated, angry, and give up. Where is the anger and frustration coming from?  It comes from the unrealized expectations of scoring at the grocery store… of getting all the items (or in some cases just a few items) on your shopping list.



You can take a deep breath, relax, and shake it off.  You can choose how you’ll react.  THAT you do have control over. Here are some tips to help you achieve your stockpile with a slow and steady (and patient) pace…

Slow and Steady Wins the Race!

  1. Don’t be the problem! Practice good coupon ethics.  This means:  you place an order if you want a lot of product, don’t take peelies off of products, don’t photocopy coupons, do be kind to your cashiers and those in line behind you… do all you can to give couponers a good name!
  2. Teach others to NOT be the problem! Got a friend who decided to coupon because they watched Extreme Couponing?  Teach them the realities of Extreme Couponing (that it’s NOT real)!  Teach them how to make couponing work… for everyone!
  3. Don’t feel the need to get every deal! Can I admit something to you?  I have NEVER EVER done a coupon shopping trip at Rite Aid.  Ever. Not because I don’t think they have awesome deals, clearly they do!  The closest Rite Aid to me is about 4 miles away.  I rarely drive that direction, and it’s just not convenient for me to shop there.  SO, that means I miss Rite Aid deals!  Guess what – I’m OK with that!  🙂
  4. Don’t feel the need to get a life time or even a years supply! Typically, many items will cycle through promos every 6-12 weeks.  That means, many items you can just purchase a 1-3 month supply of.  Keep expiration dates in mind!  Don’t buy 20 bottles of mayonnaise if you won’t use it before it expires.  Extreme Couponing can make a person feel like they have to “keep up” with that massive stockpile.  An EXTREME stockpile just isn’t the norm.  Don’t expect that of yourself!

Tired of Empty Shelves?

  1. Find a new store! Do you live near a heavily couponed store?  Then find one that is less “shopped”.  A few extra miles may be worth less frustration and a happy shopper!
  2. Be Mindful of When you Shop – let’s face it… if it’s the last night of the sale, you just can’t plan on getting many of the deals you’d hoped for.  I carefully suggest you hit the sale earlier… please note that I’m NOT suggesting you sitting outside the front door at 6 am the first day of the sale!  (that’s when the visions of Black Friday start popping into my head!)
  3. I mentioned it before, but placing an order is a key part of building a stockpile.  If I want 20 boxes of dishwasher detergent, you can bet I’m going to place an order!  If I want 5 boxes of cereal, I WON’T place an order.  Communicate with your grocery manager!  They can become your BFF!
  4. Just ASK! Don’t be afraid to ask if there is more product in the back.  Sometimes they’ve been so busy, they haven’t been able to keep up with the demand.  It never hurts to ask.  If they’re out…
  5. Find out when the store gets shipments in! Then plan you shopping trips around those times.
  6. Call before you go! My favorite stores are stored on my cell phone!  Call your nearest 3 stores and check on your top 3 items.  Are they in stock?  This will help you decide if it’s worth a trip to the store.
  7. Ask for a raincheck – most stores will give you a raincheck so you can still have that sale price when they get more product in stock.  Mel has had instances at Rite Aid where this worked in her favor!

One Last Thought… Couponing for Charity

First things first.  I’m all about giving. Using couponing as a tool to help bless the lives of others is truly awesome.  BUT (yes, I feel there is a necessary time but), shelf clearing in the name of charity isn’t OK.  Here’s why we feel this way:

  1. Remember that there are MANY MANY couponers whose couponing habits are keeping their families off of food stamps (thus saving tax payer dollars!).
  2. Some couponers aren’t trying to build a massive stockpile, but just need to feed their families that week.   When the shelves are empty, they don’t have a huge stockpile to fall back on.
  3. Think about it… is your true intent to experience the high of saving and justify it by giving?  That’s a great way to get your high… but not at the expense of others.  Just don’t forget about your fellow couponers.

How You Can Coupon & Give Without Depriving Other Couponers:

  1. Consider just donating from your personal stockpile.  That way the only shelves you’re taking product from are your own!  Let’s face it… there are many couponers who just have too much!
  2. If you want to score some great deals and donate the product, then place an order! {see above}
  3. Shop a little bit at a time, in moderation.  Remember there are other couponers who aren’t asking for charity, they simply want to feed their families and be self sufficient during difficult times.

I realize this was a lengthy post.  But it is something that has been on my mind for quite awhile lately.  Us fab fruGALs have been very concerned about the effect Extreme Couponing has had on coupon shopping.  We realize our voice isn’t quite loud enough to be heard on top of all the noise that big television network is making, we just couldn’t sit back and be quiet.

For me personally, couponing has truly blessed my life.  I found it a mere 7 months before my husband lost his job in 2009.  It’s kept my large family of 9 off of foodstamps while we’ve waded through more than 2 years of unemployment.  I for one like couponing… and I hope that in the end, good coupon ethics will prevail!

What are your thoughts?

What did I leave out?  Where do you think I’m wrong?  Or do you agree with me and think I’m spot on?



  • Beth

    Amen to that. I have been couponing for over two years and it has allowed my family to get by during these hard times of pay cuts and inflation. I work really hard at couponing and think it’s a great way to be able to stay home with my kids but the last several months have been very discouraging. I hope people read this post and consider what you say.

  • Dana

    I totally agree! Couponing in the name of charity is nice, but it can be quite frustrating when product is gone. And if we claim that we are doing it to save money for our family, yet, spend $.50 on cereal or pantiliners and plan to donate, then how much money are we really saving in your budget. When I started, I had this mentality, but now that there are so many others couponing and I don’t feel the need to get every deal, I am happy with just feeding my family and surviving a tight budget. I am jealous though, the closest store to me for ANYTHING is about 12 miles away. And my Albie’s is nearly 30 miles away, but it’s still worth the trek, especially if I place an order ahead of time.

  • Holly

    Thank you so much for posting this! I have goften really frustrated with people clearing shelves. Some walmarts near me double coupons on Tuesdays. Every week has gotten worse and worse to the point of not even wanting to go since it will all be gone. I get so aggravated when there is a very limited stock and people have huge amounts of the items. It is truly like black Friday. I made the mistake of going at midnight to pick up a few double items. I had no more than 2 of the products in my cart(other than koolaid pouches.) I was so frustrated to see people had ridiculous amounts of the items I wanted. I felt like giving up on couponing since the items are all gone by 12:05am on double coupon day. There’s no point of shopping the next day. Hopefully people calm down and realize what they’re doing.

    Also, I am getting so aggravated with people using coupons for what they are not intended for. People MUST pay attention to what it says on the coupon.

  • lindsey

    Thank you for this post =) As soon as that new show came on I knew this was going to happen. Like you said though, many will get bored of it.

  • Dina

    Thank you for posting this, Cathy! It is much needed. I live in a small town with one Albertsons and one Walgreens. It is 35-45 minutes to more stores. When one or two people clear the shelves it hurts all the other couponers in town.It shouldn’t need to be said, but it does, and I am so glad you said it!

  • Jeannette

    Thank you so much for this. I am a new couponer, in fact I’ve only used one coupon so far…. But one of the things that I LOVED about you gals when I was first looking into it, is that you make it clear about your ethics! I’ve never seen that show, but I can’t believe that those things are happening. So thank you for reminding us that it’s about saving not selfishness!

    • dee

      Jennifer – I wish you much success in your couponing! You sound like you will be good to your fellow savers:)

      The question I always ask myself would I be proud to have my child emulate my behavior? In the way, I treat my fellow shopper/couponer, the checker, in my parking lot etiquette. My tone in the comment I leave on a blog.

      I have seen a shopper (my sweet sister-in-law) give another customer one of her three items when the customer was discouraged to see she had just missed out on the deal. The woman was so thankful and it has caused me to share when I find myself in that same situation. I have fun offering coupons to people when I see I have one that matches something in their cart. Then I will explain how a ttv coupon works and they are so excited to get their $2.50 item for $.50.

      Kindness goes such a long way! It saddens me, of late the attitude amongst some couponers and I do feel the TLC show is partially to blame. Taking 10-30 items for themselves leaving none for others. Holding up quick check with multiple sets of ttv coupons. Becoming upset with the checker because she’s not following how the blog said it would work. We really do need to treat others in the same manner we ourselves would want to be treated. If my child’s school was giving away free movie passes and there was no limit to what a person could take and she were first in line and took the entire stack of 50 passes leaving not a single pass for her fellow 49 classmates I would consider myself a complete failure as a parent.

      I know there are many super terrific couponers out there! Keep couponing with kindness and you will be blessed.

      • Vera

        Thank you! After a day of looking at cleared shelves. When I only wanted to purchase one or two things, I started doubting all humanity. You have restored it in my mind and heart again! The only thing I can think to add is that selfishness is a terrible terrible thing. And it WILL come back to bite. Sometimes that thought gets me through the rages lol.

      • Andrea

        Talking about sharing…my mom was in the store a couple weeks ago behind an elderly man.  He was about $15 short when it was time to pay.  My mom noticed that she had several coupons in her binder for products he was trying to purchase, so she pulled out her coupons and matched it to his items and the man ended up getting change back! He was profusely thankful to my mom.  That is power of good couponing!!!!

  • LAM

    Thank-you Cathy for having morals and sticking to them! It is encouraging to me and great advice for all couponers! Your site is such a blessing and thank-you for all you do!

  • Marissa

    You hit this one out of the park.
    If we start to loose our ethics, we’ll start to loose the deals.
    Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.
    I love that you addressed the “charity” couponers, and your idea of just
    donating from your own stockpile first.
    Thank you for addressing this issue and doing it with style and compassion.

    • Jennifer

      I agree – “extreme” charity couponing keeps others who use coupons to feed and provide for their family from doing so. Not everyone in need of “charity” goes to food pantries!

      • Janna

        AMEN to that!!!!! Some of us just spend most of our time cutting, organizing, driving and shopping for our own food pantry;) Even if we’d rather just be sitting on the couch, we need the deals as bad as those on public assistance. We just have to work for them.

        • Jeanna

          Thank you for the “charity” comment! I coupon to stay off food stamps and out of the food panty line.

        • Veronica M

          Janna Please don’t take this the wrong way but I just want to educate some people a little bit. I do take afence to what you said, “Even if we’d rather just be sitting on the couch, we need the deals as bad as those on public assistance. We just have to work for them.”
          Maybe I’m reading it wrong but it is a stereotype that people on public assistance just sit on the couch and don’t work for it.
          Yes there are those that do just sit on the couch or don’t even get out of bed but there are also those that do work. It is called Welfare to Work program. Also they have to go out and look for work and go to classes and ect.
          There are people out there that have lost their job because of the economy trouble and have never been out of work their whole life and have been working since they were a child and now need help.
          There are also those that have had or have medical issues that prevent them from having a full time job and then there are those out there that are only able to find part-time work. There are many many different situations out there for people on public assistance besides those out there that never even get out of bed or off the couch.
          Shoot how about those that are on public assistance that are using couponing to help them get off of public assistance. Just because you get public assistance doesn’t mean you are still able to pay your bills and eat right. or even eat just the month and feed everyone in your family. The food stamps don’t always get you through the month and you have to pay cash, if you can find cash. The W.I.C. doesn’t always cover all of your Milk, Egg, Cheese or ect needs and you end up using food stamps for these items or cash. Which will most likely come out f the light, gas or another bill. Praying that you can catch up some where else before you get to far behind and they turn it off.

          Now if this is not what you ment there are others out there that do see things that way. So this little post is to help educate them.

          • Lindsey

            I fully agree. Except for in the case I saw a couple of weeks back with the lady having 7 things of soda paid for with food stamps and then when I saw her get into her car it was nicer than mine. It makes me really mad when it is like that. I am glad it is there for those who use it correctly but unfortunately it doesn’t always happen that way.

  • indiegurrl

    Thank you so much for posting this. I will be sharing this posting to my friends. You really hit the nail on the head. I am the couponer who goes in the store with 3-4 coupons just to feed my family, not hoard the product. Its very frustrating taking time out of my day and making a trip, only to stare at bare shelves. This show has really made people go nuts and I wish they would put a disclaimer on the show “Not actual results”. Thanks again, very well said!

  • Bridget

    Hi I have been couponing for going on 8 years now and I have never ever cleared a shelf even as a newbie. I have a family of five and I do it so we can live and not just scrape by! I always give out of my stockpile and it feels so good to be able to go to MY pantry shelf and be able to give it away to those that need it. I don’t have a huge stockpile but I get what we need and will use and that is the key! I admit that even tho I can go to a Wal Greens or a Rite Aide It is 15 miles away and the few times I have gone the shelves are empty and it’s just not worth it to me so I’m ok with that. I do the deals I can and wait for a great sale and get rainchecks! You can use those coupons for the rainchecks! 🙂 I know that this phase will pass and I am happy to show my friends that we can coupon ethically and have fun at the same time! Thank you for your post it comforts me that there are other coupon guys and gals that are not like some portrayed on the couponing show.

  • Del

    Thanks for this post!

    I’ve been couponing for a few years and it definitely is a challange to get everything off your list these past few months. When people see my binder and ask if I’m an Extreme Couponer I smile, say “NO” and tell them I only coupon for what my family of 5 needs….not TV ratings!

    • heather

      I swear if I hear someone say “oh your one of THOSE coupon people” one more time I may flip out!!!! 🙂

      • Andrea

        I feel ya!  I had a store employee apologize to the people in line behind me and I only had 20-30 items.  I was very embarassed.  I guess he saw my coupons and thought I was about to go crazy….

    • Ashley

      Thanks I think thats what I will tell people; I just want to feed my family and stay off food stamps.

  • Jennifer

    This is a great post, Cathy. We’ve always used coupons but only recently started matching sales to coupons. I’ve *wanted* to for a while but it just seemed to be too overwhelming. This site has been a tremendous help in getting me out of the boat, so to speak!

    Unfortunately, my entree’ into the world of strategic couponing corresponded with the TLC program – which, ironically, I’ve never seen because we don’t have cable! Initially, I was disappointed at the lack of product on the shelves but I figure it will get better as folks tire of chasing the deals and clearing the shelves. At least I hope so.

    It’s getting to the point that I am apprehensive about taking out my binder because I get stopped CONSTANTLY and asked if I’m an “extreme” couponer like those “ladies on tv.” I’m a friendly gal and love to chat BUT not when I’m grocery shopping by myself with four little ones along for the fun. (We’re a military family with a deployed hubby AND we homeschool – they’re always with me!) My children have a limit to their patience!

    I am thankful for this site but, I must admit, not for the TLC program. It’s giving legitimate couponing a bad name and leading to trouble at the stores, at least around here. It would be great if they’d feature these folks over several months, showing how they get realistic savings on a variety of goods, instead of buying $500 worth of stuff for a quarter.

  • ben tatro

    Great post. My wife and I have always been into couponing and regularly used them before, yet we just weren’t as organized and having watched “extreme couponing” has motivated us to #1- get more organized, #2- watch sales, #3 stock up when it is a good deal – yet we dont’ stock up beyond a 3 month supply for our family of 6. I do get frustrated that stores seem to run out of deals. Sometimes I get frustrated at other couponers, but mostly I get frustrated at the stores though. Rainchecks don’t do you any good when the manufacturer coupon is about to expire.

  • Deana

    I agree with everything you said 100%. I will admit that when I first started couponing I was chasing every sale I could find. I was so excited about a sale I would drive all over town to chase one down. It only took about two weeks of that to see the error of my ways. But never have I and never will I ever clear a shelf. And I have and often do deal with empty shelves on a regular basis, no matter what of time of day or at what point in the sale I go to the store. It is frustrating, but then again there are always rain checks, and always another sale around the corner. I do find it frustrating when I want to buy 4 bottles of ketchup but the shelf is empty because the person who just walked away from the same shelf with thirty three bottles of the ketchup. But hopefully the new couponers will see the light, that they do not have to clear shelves in the first two minutes of a sale in order to have a bigger stock pile than their neighbor. It really should not be a race to see who can stockpile the most and the fastest. Just like anything in life people should be responsible, and considerate. Yes, yes, yes, special order if you want a lot of one product, and be realistic about what your needs are. Hopefully the new coupon “trend” will slow down to a normal pace, but with that ridiculous show it may not. Just take a deep breath and remember your rain checks!

  • Becky

    <3 you Cathy, and this site!!! You ladies are great!!

  • bren

    Hi, Thanks you hit the nail on the head. I used to be able to go any day of the week to my local walgreens but now even if I show up two hours after they opened on Sunday the shelves are clear because people are waiting at the door when they open. I will no longer frequent Walgreens because it is a waste of my time. The extreme couponing show is really reflecting a negative light on couponers.
    When I talk to people about couponers they speak negatively about it now and say things like we are getting stuff for free and it is hurting businesses etc. I try to explain that Extreme couponing is just reality TV and that it is not normal but they have already made their mind up that couponers are somehow ripping people and businesses off.
    I am embarrassed any more to tell anyone that I coupon because it brings such a negative response even though I dont have a stock pile.

  • Helen in Meridian

    Thank you for your ethics practice. It may get lots worse. Today on Today Suzy Orman said that groceries will go up 40%, that it already has gone up 15% that they haven’t passed on to us yet. Things like the plastic containers yoplait comes in, etc are costing lots more because of the oil. With the flooding on the Mississippi, our farmland, silt affecting the fishing and shrimping, things will go up.

  • kristi m.

    My sister and I were talking about this same thing last week and how we are getting frustratetd with couponing because we go and the items are out of stock most times. We are not shelf clearers by all means and we aren’t talking about the last day of the sale expecting it to be there. We are just trying to make ends meet and feed our families. Extreme Couponing disgusts us in the fact that most of the shows show extreme hoarding and their reasons for their huge shopping trips are usually unnecessary if they just shopped or donated from their own storage. We both agreed that coupoun deals are getting very frustrating but we continue to plug away at it because of the little savings we do get.

  • Beth

    I have recently started couponing and I’ve been doing my best to learn how to do it to fit the needs of my family. There are some shelf clearers in my city. It doesn’t matter when I go, what time I go, or where I go, all the good deals are GONE. It’s very frustrating. Although these posts of yours are wonderful and I work very hard to coupon ethically, I still feel like there are people out there not heeding this advice – and it’s GOOD advice! I find peelies stolen, shelves emptied, cashiers who are unwilling to follow the store’s coupon policy and stolen newspaper inserts. I realize that not everyone is going to be fair and equitable in this life, it would just be nice to let others have some deals too. 🙁

  • Deanna


    I really loved this post. I started couponing not too long ago. My goal was and still is to pay no more than $100 a week for groceries for my husband and I. That would save us $140 a month. I did the math yesterday and compared 1st quarter 2010 to 1st quarter 2011 and I have saved $630. That is what it is about, no having huge stockpiles. My current “stockpile” is 3 body washes, 3 toothpastes, and 5 shampoos and I am fine with that, Keep up the good work.

  • Stephanie

    I agree that clearing the shelves in unfair. I also think that it is unfair of couponers to load up their carts at albertsons with all of their stuff and then go to check out. What happened to the stores making you do three transactions going to your car and then starting again. Those that fill their carts and just keep going around and around until all of their transactio ns are done are hoarding the product as much as those that clear the shelf. It irritates me that people will fill their carts full first just so that others don’t take the deals that they might miss out on if they had to go to their car and start over. I wish that Albertsons would re-enforce that policy just so that others might get a deal or two. I have missed out on lots of deals because shoppers have filled their cart and hoarded it just so they don’t miss out while they get the other deals they want. I still do three transactions, go to my car and start over. I have 2 managers and 3 cashiers thank me for following the rules and letting others have a chance to get the deals.

    To those that fill their cart then check out I consider you to be hoarders and rule breakers for not following store policy. You are not only cheating other coupon shoppers but you are making it hard on the store and cashiers.

    • Janna

      Thanks for writing that Stephanie. I’ve never once thot about it that way. I’m guitly of this but just thot of it as saving myself time. Never really thot about it in the way that others may be missing out on deals because I do this. I am on my way to Albertsons in a few min and I do believe I will do as you say, not as I’ve done;) Thanks!

    • Sophie

      I personally have to disagree with you 🙂 (Of course you are entitled to feel the way you feel, we are all entitled to our opinions). I never do more than three transactions at a time, but I do refuse to shop the entire store over and over again for every three transactions I do. So I do all my shopping, and I have more than three I get back in line and do it all over again. I do not have the energy to spend going down the same aisle or aisles over and over again and running all over the store more than once. I will tell you though that I am absolutely not a hoarder. There are many times where I don’t even shop at all because what we need just isn’t on sale or we already have what is. I think that is where I disagree with you most. This round of doubles, I did six transactions, so two trips through the register. I did not buy more than 2 or 3 of any item I bought other than Fruity Pebbles, which were two of my transactions alone, just to get the Cat. Albertson’s policy states that you cannot do more than three transactions in a row, but it doesn’t state you can’t do all your shopping at once. It does not state that you have to leave the store and come back in after you have done three transactions, it just states that you cannot do more than three consecutive transactions in a row. If there is a store that I go to that wants to implement that rule, I will be more than happy to follow it, but none of them do at this time.

      • Beverly Tank

        I agree with you! I shop the same way…to save time, and I don’t ever clear a shelf, unless maybe there are just 2 or 3 of an item left when I get there. My Albies has always allowed you to go thru the line as many times as you need, and the cashiers and managers are fantastic to work with.

        • Amanda

          I think that it depends on the store on whether you have to go out to your car or not. I have asked mine and they are fine with me just going around again. I would ask your manager if it is ok to do. I am pretty sure that the policy is three transactions in a row but I have never heard that you had to go out to the car before. Perhaps those that are having to do this are confused on what the policy is or maybe it is just their stores policy. If they are letting people do it perhaps then they really isn’t a policy about going to the car. I would ask someone at the store before judging others.

      • Deana

        I’m in agreement here, I do all my shopping at once, then I will go to the cash register. Sometimes I will do three in a row IF and only IF there is no one behind me. If there is someone behind me, and I’ve only done one or two of my transactions, I will let them go. I have need to have these folks stand behind me waiting, I certainly don’t feel that my time is more valuable than theirs! It’s just common courtesy. I have not and never will clear a shelf. So for someone to call someone who shops like I do a hoarder is just irresponsible and immature. I refuse to run back and forth from the store to my car and through every aisle multiple times. Have you ever tried that while it’s snowing or while it’s 100 plus degrees outside? So please be careful of your judgments.

    • kimberly

      easy on the judgment, I am one of those that do fill my cart and don’t go out to the car in between. The thing is you special order and so your cart will be full. I work with grocery managers. I don’t clear the shelves. But I do three transactions then go to the end of the line. I’m polite to other shoppers. Share deals and coupons with others. YOu never really know peoples situations so watch how you judge.

    • Kim

      I don’t agree with Stephanie.

      • Stephanie

        No one says that you have to agree with me but I do have a right to share my opinions. I stood behind more than one couponer who used two carts and left them in line the whole time they were checking out. They did three transactions but refused to move their carts and did not care if anyone was waiting in line. I had only three transactions and had to “do the right thing” and let others in front of me because of the other irresponsibe shoppers that think they are the only people that should get the deal.

        I do think that there are certain circumstances to couponers having full carts. I also think it is unfair of couponers to get mad at the people who get two or three things but there happen to be twenty people that got the same deal leaving shelves empty. You complain that people empty shelves but do you realize that tons of people are using coupons which in general is what causes the shelves to be empty. You complain that hoarders are emptying shelves but do you think of the circumstances that more than one person took the product which makes the shelf empty. Do you realize that if you don’t go first thing in the morning when the sale starts that you wont get it because the deal was posted on a blog and everyone ran to get it.

        I talked to more than one couponer yesterday that was upset like me to find empty shelves because the deal was posted on a blog and everyone ran out to get it. Yet we did not take it out on the staff because the shelf was empty. My store is going to implement and make it policy to go to your car between transaction as a way to limit the “hoarding of product” and try to make it so everyone can get one. Luckily my walgreens does limits on their products and now everyone is allowed to get some before they are gone. I am allowed to have an opinion and I do know that you all do not follow exact coupon policy or you would not post on the blog to take a coupon from one product and use it on another. Then post that we should not do it even though you did. WE all do what we need to do to get the things to feed out families. And that is all I do. I even share the little that I do get with three to five other families. So maybe you should not be so quick to Judge.

        • Monica

          Oh my I have never even noticed people doing this. I guess I need to get off my bloggers butt more often. lol

  • KD

    Amen! I have given up couponing. (But still obsessively read your site!) I’ve couponed for the last two years, but the last three months, everywhere I’ve gone the shelves have been cleared. I am super busy, and I just don’t have the time to run to the store to not find anything there. So I gave it up. I’ve just brought my coupons with me to WinCo, where the deals aren’t as good, but at least the stuff is on the shelves. I’m spending more on groceries, but I’m not frustrated, and I have more time. If the shelf clearing/crazy hoarding people ever calms down, I’ll go back to couponing. But for now not couponing is actually making me happier. (Although poorer. 🙂

    • Janna

      I’m almost there KD:)

    • Randi

      Ditto! It’s getting frustrating to see people clearing the shelves for their family of 2, when a year ago, I was always able to get the good deals. It’s frustrating and discouraging that the TLC show has brought the surge in “hoarding” in your stockpile.

    • Katie

      I am the same way! I no longer shop Albertson’s because it is just not worth my time and effort. I hate doubles! I just stick to WinCo! I can still save money without being “EXTREME”, and I can enjoy my time and sanity more. I have found it has made me even more thrifty because I don’t let anything go to waste and I buy things that I only really need or will use. My children don’t need 20 boxes of fruit snacks, even if they are cheap!

  • Janna

    You are SPOT ON!!!

  • Janna

    I was gonna say more, i agree you are spot on and I am all about giving when you can, that being said I really do not agree with people getting deals just to donate! I am sick of empty shelves!! I think if people want to buy because they need it and donate what they already have is a much better idea than running out on sunday morning to get the moneymakers JUST so you can donate! I would call that being a bit self righteous. I actually need body wash and I can’t ever find any of the deals on the shelf. My husband too has had little work in the last couple years and I started couponing to do my part. Yes I get a high, yes I think it’s alot of fun. I also agree, if I’m gonna get more than i ever would’ve before coupons I place an order. It’s only respectful to do that!

  • Elizabeth

    I’m new to couponing and I agree with everything you wrote. I don’t want a stockpile. I will say I have seen the cable show and it’s explained to me how to “work the system” to get the most bang for our buck. I work FT and my partner is in school FT. We are living paycheck to paycheck with the hopes that the nursing degree will pay off in the future. Once school is done we will switch to paying off the student loans required to get that degree.

    I, personally, would feel bad clearing a shelf AND I don’t have more than a coat closet to devote to a stash. Couponing for a short time has helped me feel more in control of my financial situation. I’m only buying those things that I feel we would truly use. I can’t understand why someone would buy cases of vitamin water. No offense to anyone but it isn’t “food” nor healthy AND why does someone need 48 bottles of hot sauce or mustard. I think mustard is the food of the gods but seriously… 1 for the fridge and 1 for the pantry to replenish is plenty for our little family.

  • Amy

    Thank you for this post! You are right about the frustration level going up, up, and up! I am teaching a couponing class in June in Pocatello, and I almost feel like not teaching it, because I know it will only get crazier at the stores. I am going to teach it a little differently this time–Putting more emphasis on ethics and the idea that sales always come around and to be kind. Thank you for writing exactly what I was thinking. After couponing for 3 years, I have really seen the change as of late. We’ll see what happens in the next year or so.

  • Christina

    What a great post! I love how you support your opinion with facts from correlations. Just a thought, perhaps Mavis had something to do with the increase in traffic on your site? As a Washingtonian I have visited more frequently since she came to your blog. I’m sure it has a lot to do with the Extreme Couponing show as well. At the end of the day, it is what it is, and all I can do is control my attitude and actions. I personally agree that special ordering, being friendly with cashiers, and using coupons the right way is the FruGal thing to do!

  • Melissa

    Thank you for writing this. I agree with you so much! My family of four, with two in diapers has been hit hard by the economy very hard, as have most people. We are paying for college degree’s that we can’t find jobs with and couponing has been a life saver. I was so disappointed yesterday when I took my coupons and went to get my three boxes of pasta to find out that someone had CLEARED the shelves. Really…. people need to be less selfish…. We are in a small town so our selections of stores is limited, but when I went through line the cashier mentioned that someone had purchased 300 boxes of pasta… What the heck… who can eat that much before the next sale?

  • Amanda

    Thank you thank you thank you for this post. I’ve slowly been learning coupning for the last three years.
    We have given up almost evey luxury to stay off credit and have me a stay home mom. So you can imagine how much this post resonated with me. After last weeks c&c craze I thought of black friday as well. 3 years of bar soap to save money can wear a girl out, I was deflated to find every store in driving distance was sold out moments after opening.
    Your words were gracious and well put, thanks for giving us a voice.

  • Lizzle

    This was a great post! I experienced the empty shelves in my area, usually by the end of the week and it is frustrating but I just keep moving on to the next store. I have noticed lately though, that by MONDAY the shelves are clear! Luckily there are a ton of Target’s and Walgreen’s in my area. But it sure does get tiring. Hopefully, this sentiment of “good couponing practices” gets passed on to the masses and we can all share the wealth!

  • McKenzie

    I’m not new to couponing, but I am new to extreme couponing. I did start after seeing an episode of the extreme couponing show, but I realized from the beginning that like all reality shows, it wasn’t realistic. I coupon because I’m starting graduate school in the fall and I’d rather not live on ramen for 2 years or leave school with massive debt.

    I’ve been reading this blog since I started extreme couponing and I really appreciate that you encourage ethical practices. I’ve learned a lot really fast and I’ve actually had cashiers compliment me on being so organized.

    One thing I want to mention is that as I have been out at stores, I’ve experienced some backlash from experienced couponers. This past Sunday I was at Walgreens with my binder while a couponer in the checkout talked loudly with the cashier about how she was sick and tired of all the idiots who didn’t know what they were doing and how she was so frustrated with them taking “her stuff”. She acted like she was entitled to the good sale items, and as she spoke she looked in my direction to make sure I knew she was talking about me. From her cart and the empty shelves I found in the store, it looked like she’d been stockpiling and clearing shelves herself.

    So to everyone, please remember that just because we’re new, that doesn’t mean we’re less entitled to the sale items or that we automatically coupon like they do on that stupid show. I’m new and I’m not a shelf clearer. In fact, I sometimes feel a little guilty for taking the last item even if I’m only getting one!

  • Laura

    Thank you so much for talking about donating! I was close to horrified to see people stock piling stuff that they will NEVER be able to use up. Very few people on the Coupon show ever even talk about donating from their stock pile. I totally get stockpiling so that your family has a decent supply of food. But, there comes a point where the stockpile is really a bit ridiculous. Honestly, how many tubes of toothpaste do you go through in a year?
    Please People, if you have enough for your family, consider donating to a local charity. There are so many people out there with so much less.

  • Susan

    Cathy, thanks so much for this post. I too think you are spot on.

    I really appreciate your position on couponing in the name of charity. I feel the same way. I don’t meant to be uncharitable, but I cringe a little every time I read a blog comment suggesting people chase great deals only to donate to charity. There are many many people out there (me included) who just want to support our families and don’t want to build a huge stockpile. Leave some for us.

    This is a little off-topic from your post, but I wish that manufacturers and stores wouldn’t offer so many deals that encourage people to buy large quantities.

    Take the promotion a few weeks ago on sunscreen at Walgreens. Buy 3 bottles and get a $10 catalina. Combined with coupons, it made for an awesome deal on sunscreen. But here’s the issue for me: I bought the last three bottles on the shelf first thing Sunday morning and I don’t need that many bottles! But had I bought only what I thought my family would reasonably use, it would have cost more than twice as much.

    Another example, take the Cheerios deal at Albertsons this week: Buy 4 boxes and get a catalina for free milk. There were coupons for the multi-grain variety, but I’d only printed two because I just don’t need to buy any more than two at a time. So, I print two more, while in the back of my head thinking that’s it’s a little rediculous for me to buy FOUR boxes of this cereal. I wish the promotion was more like buy 1 and get a catalina for $1 off milk. Families who can use four boxes can buy four and get their free gallon of milk, and people like me who don’t have the need for that much cereal can buy one or two boxes and get a free half gallon.

    Now that I’ve said that, I work in marketing/distribution and I understand all too well why stores and manufacturers push for sales in volume. It’s more profitable for them. I just wish things were different.

    • Heather

      I was thinking the same thing… Albertsons encourages buying 10 items to get the 5.00 discount. They should have lots and lots of goldfish and pasta and sports drinks and mac-n-cheese when the are giving discounts with bulk purchases. They have done this a few months now, so you would think they would have extra staff and merchandise to keep shelves stocked up. It’s not all extreme couponers… if 30 people buy 10 items, the shelf will certainly be empty.

  • SesameStreet

    I have become the person in my area that neighbors, friends and co workers come to ask questions about couponing and how to get started. Almost all of them want to see it would the TLC way and I have been trying to find a way to tell them all tactfully how NOT to coupon. I will start everything with this post because it covers the basic principles to couponing! Thank you so much!

  • Carrie

    Thank you! I just started using coupons a few weeks ago and have been following your site, I really appreciate that you lay out reasonable expectations and show that in your own photos of trips to the store.
    It is so important to have reasonable expectations and play by the rules. I will not be trying to purchase $1100 for less than $10, but it is awesome when I can get my $75 worth of groceries for 60% off!

  • jolene

    Donating can be a good thing especially in these times of hardship. There are so many people in need and not as much to go around. BUT if your going to donate do it the right way. Throw the donation tips you got from Extreme Couponing out the window.

    1. Check with the food bank to see what they actually need. If everyone is clearing the shelves of the same things they may have plenty of mustard but need peanut butter or canned veggies. Sometimes they might rather have money to buy things like milk and bread that they can get for an even better deal because they are non profit.

    2. Place an order with the manager of your grocery store. In my experience they have been more than willing to help out. I once was able to place an order, pay for it w/ coupons that day and it turned out they were doing a food drive the next week anyway so I lucked out and didn’t have to even drop it off at the food bank. But I wouldn’t have know that had I just cleared the shelves.

    3. Try to join with other couponers who like to donate. I used to get a box of food from a lady in my mother-in-laws neighborhood when we were first married. She and other ladies at her church couponed and put together boxes to deliver to those in need. They worked with the local stores and were able to get really good deals on milk and eggs for the boxes too.

    I think we need more organized coupon donations. Like the stamp out the hunger table that was at QFC last weekend with food set aside for purchase for the food bank. Donations aren’t bad and it can be done without clearing the shelves and hurting those who are just trying to stay afloat.

  • Kori

    Thank you soooooo much for this post. I’ve been couponing for about three years, even teaching classes for a local newspaper, and I am thankful that you are spreading the word about ethical couponing.

    Just last night I was chatting with my favorite cashier at my Albertson’s and she told me how another couponer had come into the store from another albertson’s with a horror story. This gal just wanted to pick up a couple of the Lay’s Kettle Chips and free sodas. When she went to her favorite store, she saw a lady with a cart absolutely full of the chips and her husband was pushing the cart full of soda behind her. I’m just hoping they are having a HUGE! party. Chips don’t keep so well.

    We do need to be good examples of couponing. The folks at the stores work hard, too. Kindness is always the best policy.

  • Jennifer L

    I wanted to add a couple things to your post because I think there are a few other things to keep in mind as well. 1) Walmart receives freight every night. It may not be the item you are looking for, but they do restock their shelves overnight. 2) The first week of each month, specifically around the 3rd – 5th, is the worst time to shop. That is when the food stamp cards in my area re-load and some of the “stocking up” you might see isn’t with coupons. When we’ve had great coupons on Yakisoba noodles, I was at Walmart and the shelves were pratically cleared of ALL types including the cheaper Ramen, cup o’ noodles, etc. 3) Rite Aid and Walgreens are NOT stock up stores. I follow several bloggers and all say the same thing. Both usually have limited amount of items – they are a convenience type store. I happen to be shopping with a friend last Saturday at Walgreens and the B1G1 snuggle was something we wanted to get. Walgreens had 4. We each got 2. And, yes, we cleared the shelf. With 2 each.

    I’ve been couponing for 2 years now and have just learned to shrug my shoulders and just think I’ll catch that deal the next time around. If you don’t, you’ll drive yourself crazy!

  • Christina

    I think you are spot on. I coupon to keep my family of 5 well stocked, but not to waste. I keep a small supply of hygene products on hand and replenish when an awesome deal comes up… like the Sure Deo for $.49 or the free colgate. Before, it never failed, someone would need deo and I would not have a coupon to match the sale…now I don’t worry about that. I have a couple fav stores…Rite Aid (it’s closest to my house), Walgreens, Target (who doesn’t love Target), Raley’s and Savemart. I wish we had a Safeway or Albertson’s close by though.

  • Caitlyn

    Thanks for the post!! I am fairly new to couponing and it is frustrating to go to the store and not be able to find what I need. We are a family of 5 and have been able to start a small stockpile, but one that will only last us 1-2 months, depending on the meals we make in the near future. I think the ethics of couponing is VERY important. It only takes one to ruin something for a whole group. Thanks again for voicing the truth.

  • Jen

    EXCELLENT post, love it!!

  • cher

    Ironically, I posted something about the coupon craze on my blog today as well (cherishable73.blogspot.com). all i ask is that if people are going to clean store shelves and KNOW they are going to, order… order… order!! Managers will be more than willing to help you out.

    I’ve only run into empty shelves at my Albertson’s twice on two products, which I usually only buy things for that week, or that month, as I don’t have the desire to hoard, nor do I have the space to buy a year supply of something. But the manager at my store was more than willing to swap out a similar product by that particular company. ei… one sale/coupon craze and they sold all out of Pepsi Max, and she let me get Diet Pepsi (which I prefer anyway) instead. Also Wheat Thin Stix were sold out, and she allowed me to use my coupons on regular Wheat Thins.

    Just like you shouldn’t be afraid to ask them to preorder your massive quantities, don’t be afraid to ask to be accommodated for when people who don’t clear the shelves of a certain product.

  • michele

    I have no problem with someone clearing the shelf of Maruchan Yakisoba. 🙂

  • Cassandra

    Thank you and I think you are right on! While I haven’t been couponing very long I’ve never seen the show and don’t plan on it.

    My husband is in the Army and we have a 3rd child on the way. After the birth of my 2nd we finally caved in and went on WIC which I did not want to do. It’s the only “govt assistance” we’ve ever accepted. I hate it, I hate how they make you feel like your worthless piece of trash for needing help and I became determined to find a better way. I started doing research on couponing and realized that with my budgeting skills coupons could make a much more comfortable life for us.

    I hate going to 4 or 5 different stores only to find they are all out of something on the first day of the sale because some person came in and bought 50 of something claiming they are giving it to charity. I think if you don’t need it don’t buy it. I only buy what my family will use! and it’s really disappointing to not be able to get the things we need. Having said that I just get what we need in another brand and sigh that I could have gotten it cheaper. I just think people aren’t really doing it to help charity but like you said for the “high” and there really are those of us trying to do the best for our family without having to go to charity and rely on the deals to get us by.

    Having said that I think people will get bored and move onto something else. It’s a lot of work to get the good deals and most people who don’t need to do it won’t keep it up.

  • lina

    I don’t think it is just the TLC show. I have been hardcore couponing fr years before the advent of the mommy blogs and facebook. i think those two mediums have contributed immensely to lack of product on the shelf. mommy bloggers have giveaways to get followes to lure in their friends – it increases their base and more and more people actually see pics and receipts and and join, cause it is so much easier to reach people. i know a lot of people who dont bother with riteaid and walgreens anymore. these are small stores and don’t have much shelf space, just 2 or 3 people buying 5 items are enough to clear a shelf with few items.

    • Stephanie

      I agree with you completely. If you can find a deal that is not posted on a blog somewhere you are more likely to find it then if they post it. I get coupons from oregon and know that those things are always on the shelf because all the other couponers don’t have them. I get extra and leave what I won’t use on the shelf for someone else but I don’t go home and advertise what I got so that the shelf can get cleared in the next five minutes. I love that the blogs give you ideas and tips on how to get the good deals. It just makes it harder to get the deals because everyone (even people who don’t coupon) will run out and get it.

  • Nora

    I’ve been couponing for years and just recently found FabulesslyFrugal. Love all the helpful tips and all the work you all put into keeping us informed. I agree about shrugging it off. There are amazing deals to be had even if you can’t get the one deal you were gunning for. The #39 post about food stamp cards reloading early in the month is true for those who live around here and I’ve learned to stay away from the stores at that time. Not because of the items being gone but because the stores are packed full of people and I tend to get a tad claustrophobic. If I do go, I try to go in the late evenings. Works for me but not everyone. I quit watching that Extreme Couponing show since none of those shoppers are even remotely comparable to any shopping trips I’ve done or my friends have done. No store around my area doubles everything you buy(I wish!) and I’m not looking to score 1100 boxes of cereal or 300 bottles of mustard. Until TLC can show real shoppers saving real money without padding the show to look good for ratings, I will continue to not watch. That show has given us true coupon shoppers a bad rap. Even my local Safeway, that I’ve been going to for 20 years, now eyeballs me when I come in to do sale/coupon shopping. I might have fine tuned the way I shop for maximum savings but I’m still the same person. It’s a craze and like all crazes they do eventually fade. That’s when we’ll see a return to “normalcy” for the true coupon shoppers including my self. I cannot go into a store anymore without seeing 3 or 4 other people walking around with coupon binders. I say good for them! Couponing should be fun and at the same time benefit your family financially as well. I hope those I’ve seen with binders continue on even when the craze fades. I know I will.

    • Veronica M

      K when I lived in a different neighborhood and was getting Food stamps also I didn’t like the crowds either. So i started checking out different times of day to do my grocery shopping. I found out that in the area that I lived in that if I went to the store in the early morning most likely between 7 and 8 :30 or 9am I would beat the crowd and the long lines and sometimes even rude people.

  • AFullCup - Rasha

    GREAT article! Thanks for putting this out there and I do hope it does some good. 🙂

  • Taylor

    Just a word about your comment on food stamps. This is the second time in our marriage that I will admit, we do take food stamps because of how little we make. However I also am an avid couponer (couponer, NOT shelf-clearer), and I see nothing wrong with stretching food stamps to be able to build up a (reasonable) food storage, especially to use when we are not on food stamps. I know that everybody is out to “save taxpayers money,” but don’t assume that everybody on food stamps is extravagent and is not sale and coupon savvy.

    • Nora

      Years ago we were on FS also. I couponed even then. Stretching a buck no matter where it comes from still benefits our families. Good for you!

    • michele

      I think it is interesting that people don’t see those that are on food stamps as taxpayers. If you work/have worked and are paying/have paid into it and honestly qualify, then by all means, utilize it.

      Now the lady with the food stamps AND her little pooches all dressed up in the line ahead of me yesterday………….

      • Nora

        I agree Michele. Having been on FS ourselves way back in the day, my hubby and I both got alot of “looks” when using those FS. Didn’t matter that we were only on them for a small amount of time and that we were struggling with the loss of his job, two small children to feed and all the uncertainties. People make assumptions that if you’re using FS then you must be abusing the system or not paying taxes or are just too lazy to get a job. So not true. Our city has been affected heavily with job losses in the last year or two and with that comes more families using FS. I say use the resources if they’re available if/and or when you need them. LOL @ the lady and her little pooches. Wrong for so many reasons.

        • Monica

          I think Cathy is just proud that they were able to remain self sufficient with out having to use government money to support her family. She no doubt could have qualified for fs, but was determined to do it on her own.

          There is certainly a place for fs and government assistance, please do not be offended by her accomplishment of doing it on her own. 🙂

    • Veronica M

      Dang Skippy Taylor you said it! :0)

  • Becky

    There are a few gals that hit my Albertsons at 6am sunday and clear the shelves of “items for their church food pantry” . I went Sunday afternoon and 6 of the items on my list were totally cleared out. I talked with my manager and now have his email so that I can help them order enough that all of us can get in on the good deals. I am so sick of the hoarding nature of many new couponers. ( not all) I have couponed for 17 years ( 3 extreme) and never have I seen it like this.

    • Mandi

      I’ve couponed for over 12! High five to us!

      • Veronica M

        Been Couponing for a little over 19 years Had to I become a mother at a very young age[ teenager with no support from anyone was out on my own after daughter was born] and I didn’t know very much about public assistance. I had a very small lawn service and yes I did this while I was pregnant. And went to Public school.
        But I have to admit I have become alot better couponer since the TLC show because I was able to look online to find website and ect to help me better.
        I do miss the double couponing from when I was a teenage mom in Florida, and man i miss my H.E.B. deals when living in Texas and the ultimate Aldi’s in Ohio. But now back living in California were there are no double’n and higher prices. I’m glad I have the help of all of ya’ll
        I have seen over the years a few cleared shelves on sale items but nothing like i have over the past few months.
        Like someone else said on here I do understand that they stock 10 items and 5 people come in and buy 2 each, they are all gone.
        Ok and a little bit about church people coming in and clearing a shelf…. “Now that is WRONG! on so many levels!”
        They should put in a special order. To me this is being selfish. I don’t care if they are trying to help people. What it is ok for them to hurt and take away from the rest of the community that NEED these items just because they are a church and will be given them to someone. What about the family that is a 1 income family of 7 soon to be 8 and the mom only has about $250 a month to feed all 7 1/2 of them to pass by them leaving that isle with a cart flowing over with the last of the pasta boxes. Which she was hoping to get 2 -4 boxes of to last them just for a couple of weeks?!?

  • Mindy

    I totally agree. I live 30 miles from a small town with only two grocery stores and a rite aid. I just happened to be in town on Sunday and went shopping at rite aid. I ran into another couponer in the store and could barely get some of the items I was looking for. Not fun. Especially when there isn’t another store around. I think if you get more than 5 of one item at a time you should order it.
    How do you tell someone you know if you think they are being unethical with their couponing? I have seen people who take a coupon off one item and use it on a smaller item, just to get a free deal. If people continue to do that then companies wont put their coupon on things.

  • Iva

    Thank you for this. It is only coincidence that I’ve started couponing after Extreme Couponing hit the airwaves. I will be leaving my position as a SPED para in 18 months to student teach. I will be losing not only my income, but my health insurance as well for a short amount of time. I figure that couponing is the best way to bless my husband’s income, keep us off food stamps, and pay OOP for any (minor!) medical needs we might have for six months.

  • Amanda

    Thank you for this post! I am new to couponing and I started because of the show. I am glad that the show made me realize I could save a ton of money with coupons, but I am only trying to save money for my family, not be “extreme”. I think that if you have been couponing 30 years or 30 days it is frustrating to try and get a good deal for your family and miss out because of extreme or unethical practices. It has happened to me repeatedly and is absolutely frustrating. On another note, thank you so much for this blog, it is SO helpful and I really appreciate all of your great information! 🙂

  • Lindsay

    Very good post! I wish I would have read it a couple of years ago when I started working on food storage and trying to save money on shopping. My start was very disorganized and I bought the ten bottles of mayo just cause it was on sale . . . only to realize that we go through about one bottle every 6 months! So it was a total waste of my money and I took it off the shelf for someone else that could have used it. Thanks to you fruGALS I’m getting much better and shopping smarter for my family. Keep up the good work!

  • Angelic Buckley

    May I start by saying “Thank You”!! I started couponing about a year ago and have saved SO much money by creating my stockpile. The recent increase in interest in couponing was a real irritation to me at first because of the cleared shelves, but I have learned to just say, ‘Oh well!” and move on. If there is an awesome sale on something that I am getting low on, or really need, then I will take the necessary steps to do what I can to get that specific deal, (i.e. getting there early on the first day, visiting multiple stores, etc.) but I no longer freak out if someone has “beat me to the punch”, so to speak. I guess that what I am saying is that, even with the new influx of couponers, I have learned two major lessons: A) be patient, and don’t stress if I can’t find that item, and B) be kind and considerate of others and don’t clear shelves. I am, however, also looking forward to a few months from now when people lose interest, and realize that couponing IS a lot of work, and things can settle down a bit!

  • Julie Ross

    New to couponing, I just wanted to experience purchasing one sale item with a coupon and feel good about sorting out the matches and saving a little money. With bare shelves everywhere it sort of took the “game” of couponing and morphed it into a “race” too. Not sure that I am up for that extra stress after a work day and caring for the kids and hubby too. You know?

    One nice surprise was in our local Albertson’s, the manager saw a few of us disgruntled customers pouting about the state of the cereal aisle, as all the sale varieties were gone. Due to the inconvenience, they gladly substituted other varieties and their own brand and still took our coupons. You were right to say, it never hurts to ask.

  • June

    Yes, I can’t believe how greedy the people are in my area. A Walgreens manage told me that a group of women came in his store at midnight and bought over 20 something bottles of Clean and Clear when they were BOGO. I went to two other stores to find them wiped out as well and this was at noon on Sunday! None of the six or so stores in my area that I went to had any all week. I just hope that this message gets to the right people. I have just start really couponing the last couple of months, but NOT because of the show. We don’t even have cable. One expense we just don’t need. My husband works on commission, so his pay fluctuates drastically. We have two boys in college and two teen girls. All four have huge appetites then add a fifth in there, my husband. lol I’ve cooked from scratch for most of my children’s lives, but recently, I’ve just not been able to cut back on our grocery bill. It just keeps rising along with gas. Using coupons has helped us so much. We need to use coupons to survive. There was a time that Icoupons weren’t that great. I really could get the generic brands for so much less, but now there isn’t much difference. I think coupons are much better now than even a few years ago.

  • Cynthia Peterson

    Good article. I especially like the comments about couponing to give to charity. I think its a silly excuse to buy too much stuff. I’m new to couponing (only about three weeks) and already have enough deodorant, bodywash and toothpaste to last for months. It was exciting at first but now I think it’s time to slow down and prioritize. I’ve experienced cleared shelves when I first started and I admit it was annoying. This week I went to my favorite store (Walgreens) on the morning the sale started. I got everything I needed and although I had more coupons, I only bought one deal (which sometimes included 2-3 of an item). I also don’t count on items being there so I’m not disappointed. I”m already super organized with a coupon binder and hope that some of these people in my area loose interest so I can do something that’s rare and not the newest fad. I’ve learned one thing, however. I’ll never again shop without using coupons.

    • Emma S.

      Like you, I’ve pretty new to this.. about 2 months in, actually, and I have also hit the point where I’m not in “super stock up” mode anymore, but in maintainance mode. I have plenty of body wash, tooth paste, deoderant, bottles of propel and other stuff that my family and I use regurally and heavily. So, when there is an awesome deal on something that I’m “running low” on (as in I only have 3 boxes of pasta left and can get a couple boxes for free or something), I’ll go get those couple boxes and leave it at that. I like maintenence mode- makes me happy. =)

  • Kim

    Thank you for your thoughts. I’ve been to several stores and watched people clearing the shelves. I am enjoying couponing and appreciate all of tips on your website! Thanks.

  • jessica

    This post came right on a very frustrating day for me thanks. I did not even plan on couponing this week because last week was so frustrating with all of the cleared shelves. THEN doublers appeared and I could not help myself=) BUT it is almost comical to see the shelves in my area stores. EACH and EVERY item listed on your (and other) sites as a good deal are GONE. I could almost work backwards and make a list from the shelves and compare it to your site. SERIOUSLY does ANYBODY NEED 50 of anything at once?
    I do not shop on Sunday…. I realize that is a personal choice, but I cannot believe that by Monday morning at 7 EVERYTHING is wiped out. Somebody in my town must be swimming in Clean and Clear body wash and then rinsing in Nivea wash and finally drying themselves with Cottonelle TP because that stuff was GONE before I could even get to the store. There are at least (the ones I know) 4 Albies, 5 Walgreens, 2 Targets, and 3 wal marts in my area. You would think I could get at least 1 free body wash SOMEWHERE or a darn package of TP=)
    I almost gave up (and still might hit the drug store less) after all of the cleared shelves. The only thing that made me change my mind was a successful trip to Albies with doublers last night. I could not drag my kids to the store yesterday, so I hit it at 10 last night. Just me, my coupons, and some elevator music. I did not get many of the great items listed on your site (because of course they were wiped out) but I did get cheap/free food to feed my family this week (although we are still getting low on TP).
    Thanks for all that you do. And thanks for this post. It is good to know I am not just living in a coupon vacuum over here in empty shelf land.

    • jeanie

      I’ve seen people with the lists of things that had a red star. They try to do the scenarios listed and its kinda funny to watch them if 1 item is not in stock. They can’t use their own mind to fill in the void and still get a good deal. I don’t plan on getting anything with a red star. Once these deals are posted online they are gone. I like to actually look at my add and coupons and get my own deals as it seems the hoarders can’t find deals on there own. Thats what worked for me.

    • Ang

      yes. I have been trying to get TP for awhile now! We are on our last pkg in both bathrooms…(sob sob sob) when I see someones has over a yrs supply and buying more and I have none, it makes me sad as I have 7 kids (and just found out 1 more soon) and I have about 8 months to get ready to stock up so I can take a month or two off after it arrives…

  • cathleen

    i am new to couponing and totally agree with u>i only started because i have not been ablet o find a job after getting laid off 10mnths ago so things are super tight i am a mother of 5 fabulous kids and im just trying to feed them.I wish these people that are clearing the shelves at caldwell walmart would stop and ask themselves do i need all of those. Its hard to be on a $100 a week budget and trust me i dont like going back every week.would love to have to go go back only 1 time a month.I have hardly been able to get good deals cuz they are all gone.any tips please help thank u

  • Stephanie

    Thank you, thank you for explaining good coupon etiquette. Well said.

  • Kim

    THANK YOU! Long over due reminders for people. i just want to feed my family and empty shelves just means I waste my gas and end up with nothing.

  • Sophie

    I was raised on coupons and I use them now myself, for my own personal shopping, but also to help y family out. There are 9 in the house and in the past couple months it has become harder and harder to shop with coupons– not because of new rules and stuff, but because I can never find anything that is on sale and has a coupon. And lately when I go there are tons of other couponers, just trying to grab the free things, and tons of them.

    It is upsetting, because we do not stockpile, with such a large family it is hard to keep anything around for very long. But it gets harder and harder to feed a large fam than it was when no one else around here couponed.

  • courtney

    Thank thank thank you for this! I had a woman in front of me at walgreens today doing MULTIPLE transactions to buy about 15 toothbrushes. The checker at albies told me they had women knocking on the door at 6am Sunday morning. I will continue to coupon but I hope it dies down…I don’t have the energy or willpower for a black Sunday event every week.

  • Natalie

    It has gotten REALLY REALLY bad in my area and coupon shoppers have gotten super aggressive, so thank you for posting this I hope we can all learn something!!!!!!! I know this might be bad but I hope this kind of dies down, it has made couponing not fun any more and a waste of gas for me, I was almost really to give up until I read this!

  • Jody c

    I love what you said here! Emptying shelves and going thru Sunday papers to take out all the coupons just for the one paper they buy is just so wrong! Thank you for posting this! I agree completely!

  • steph

    I see people saying that we should not be too quick to judge others. Are all of you just sitting in the store watching the product to know that one person is clearing the shelf. How do you know that 50 people did not get into the store before you and take just two or three. I talk to managers and cashiers in my albertsons and walgreens and they say that everyone is couponing now. My albertsons has been swamped with people from open to close since sunday with couponers and not one of the employees can say ONE person cleared the shelf. If you see someone with a cart full then how do you know they did not preorder. How do you know that the person taking all of the product is a couponer. Maybe they are just getting the prodcut because it is a good deal and they saw what coupons to use to make it better. I agree that we should be courteou couponers but others may be out to get the deal and not realize they are breaking some cardinal coupon rule to not clear a shelf. I have a family of 4 and if I need 5 items and that is all that is on the shelf I will not hesitate to take it. I will not yell and scream at the employees because someone beat me to a sale. They offer rain checks and like you say deals and doubles will cycle and come again. So don’t judge what you don’t know. Don’t tell people to follow coupon etiquette when I know that some experience couponers will do what it takes to get what they want first and gripe if the shelf happens to be empty.

    • jeanie

      Here is an example for you: I go into Rite Aid week after week and the same 2 ladies are in the toothpaste isle getting 20 to 30 tubes (all they have) week after week. How much toothpaste do they need? This is how we know. We are there and watch them take it off the shelf (obviously not preordered). We watch them week after week clearing the shelf on the same item (obviously don’t go through 20 to 30 tubes of toothpaste in a week or even a month). Thats how we know. FYI

      • Veronica M

        Man that shouldn’t be allowed by the store. There might be some thing against this in their rules some where. Maybe a little word to the manager might help him or her look for it. I know the Wal-greens here is pretty strict about 1 toothpaste per person per order and or visit They might allow you 1 in 2 different transactions at the most.

    • Laura

      My Albertson’s told me the stuff never hit the shelve. People were just taking all they could. I call it greed. I just want four, that’s all. All I can say is shame on them!!!

    • Veronica M

      Steph you just reminded me of a couple of things.
      Just because they have a cart full of groceries doesn’t mean they are clearing a shelf of items that you would have gotten with a coupon. My sister-n-law has a doughnut business and she orders and buys some of her items for the business at the local Food-4-Less. It is cheaper than buying at the restaurant stores [like sugar per pound] and it comes in smaller packages which at times can be easier to store.
      I know a few people in Texas that would do this also on any thing from lettuces, strawberries to light bulbs for their Restaurants. You name it. Alot of things they can buy at HEB or Super Wal-mart can be up to 3 to 4 times cheaper than the Restaurant Grocery Truck companies.
      The 2nd thing reminds me of when my daughter was very little, I was a teenage mom and I didn’t have a car nor any friends really [I was to busy going to school and working] I would do major shopping once to twice a month and call a cab to pick me up or once in a while I was able to borrow a neighbor’s car for a price + gas and I would load up then. Cause I couldn’t afford a ride to the store more than once or twice. And there was no store close by in walking distance. i lived on the out side edge of a big city too.
      I think people need to put out more positive vibes and negative ones. But I still fill that a church or anyone really should clear a shelf in the name of charity

  • elizabeth

    You are spot on! Thanks for the post.

  • Ami

    I think you are spot on. A good friend who faithfully couponed for 7 years no longer does. she says it’s just not worth her time because she is always greeted by empty shelves. It will be interesting to see how many people continue to coupon once the hype wears off. I also wonder how much of an increase the statesman and other publications have seen in circulation. Funny how much can change in just a few months hah? remember where we were this time last year?

  • Rebecca Davidson

    Hello! So I’ve enjoyed reading everyone’s thoughts and opinions on this topic. It is one that is close to my heart. Why? Because I am going to be on Extreme Couponing on June 1st! I filmed my episode in the beginning on April at Winco.
    Some thought to remember:
    -The trip I put together for the show was not a typical shopping trip for me. It took lots and lots of time and energy to plan. Was I happy with the results? Absolutely. Would I spend that much time EVER for a typical trip? Heck no lol. It was my biggest shopping trip ever, and I most likely will never go that big again. Yes, I stockpile, but I buy within reason! You all will see my stockpile in two weeks on TLC, and please remember…I have been doing this for three and a half years. If you buy 3 of something occasionally, it adds up! And everything I have on hand is stuff my family WILL use.
    – I didn’t do the trip for the “stuff” . (I donated 90% of it) I didn’t do it to add tons of stuff to my stockpile. I did it to show WHAT IS POSSIBLE. I guarentee anyone could copy my exact shopping trip if they wanted to.
    -Everything I bought Winco knew about. They knew what I was buying and how many of everything so they would have PLENTY in stock for me, and for everyone else shopping that day. PREORDERING…yes I did it…and yes I am on the show…crazy.
    -I find it funny people are so quick to blame the show for ruining couponing as we know it. In reality we should be blaming the newbies who don’t bother to learn the basic rules, like DON’T photocopy coupons, don’t clear shelves, use the coupon ONLY as it should be used etc.
    -It’s true couponing has gotten a little bit crazy lately. Trust me, I’m as frustrated as everyone. I’ve decided to tone it down a lot and wait for the madness to die down. I have a good sized stockpile that I will just have to find a new hobby for awhile. However, couponing is a wonderful thing, and I think most of you would agree that it has helped you a ton. Let’s face it, times are tough right now, and everyone is looking to save a buck if they can. I don’t think couponing was some huge secret that we were all trying to hide from the public, is it?
    -For those of you in the treasure valley…couponing HAS ALWAYS been hard here! I have been couponing for over 3.5 years here and empty shelves have ALWAYS been a problem. That is nothing new at all.

    Thanks for reading.
    I would love to answer ANY questions you may have!

    • McKenzie

      What I wonder is whether the show is actually going to show you making phone calls and placing those pre-orders, or if the editing they do will just show you buying massive amounts. I suspect that a lot of the people on the show do pre-order and make arrangements with the stores, but that part doesn’t seem to make it into the tv show. We just see people clearing shelves and some of them even brag about how they don’t feel bad about it.

      • Rebecca Davidson

        Mayve, maybe not, hard to tell. I don’t see the episode until it airs. All I can do is say “preorder” and “donate” over and over again in my interviews and hope that it makes it on there. I know I’m not a horder or a shelf clearer. I know I 100% play by the proper coupon rules. I went on the show to prove to people that not everyone on the show is crazy! 🙂

    • Stephanie

      I was wondering if the store works with you on prices on items so you get get them cheap?

      • Rebecca Davidson

        I’m not sure I understand your question.. Do you mean does the store work with me giving me special prices so I get them free? Nope, everything I did/do are 100% on my own. No exceptions were made for me what so ever!

    • dee

      Hi Rebecca,

      I would love to hear after your episode airs how you felt you were portrayed. I’m known as the “couponer” in the circles I associate in and I wish I had a nickle for everytime I hear the word “crazy” associated with the shopper on “Extreme Couponing” . It seems the producers go out of their way in the editing to make the couponer look any where from slightly odd to extremely odd. One thing I’ve noticed about the show, is the husbands are made to look and act extremely wimpy. Whatever, their couponing wife says, goes! That aspect of the show in and of itself is enough for me to not watch.

      Getting free publicity isn’t always a good thing . I hope the producers do a respectful job with your segment. So far I have been unimpressed with their editing skills. Their motives are advertisers/viewer = $$$. Not, have we been fair, honest and represented the particiapants respectfully. Best wishes in all your endeavors!

      • Lia

        I think people are taking the extreme couponing show a bit too literally. I mean it is TV. When have we seen TV to be in the best interest of those who watch it or who are on it. Seriously it is about the ratings. The more we sit here and have this discussion with all the controversy, the higher the ratings go and the more sensational the stories get. It’s all about good TV and their bottom line. If we really want the show’s affect to stop then stop watching it and encourage others to do the same. I personally don’t think that the show is the main reason that the shelves have been cleared so much lately. This has been coming on for a long time now. Especially in the Treasure Valley. I really enjoy this blog but it is also blogs like this which encourage everyone to coupon that has also had a huge effect on the couponing community. I have not seen anyone with carts full of product that are clearing the shelves but I have seen ten/ fifteen shoppers in a store with coupons getting 4-6 of each item they saw on this website and others like it. With such a saturation of couponers in this area shelves will be empty and we will uprightly blame it all on hoarders. But that really isn’t the case I don’t think. People in general are good and want to do the right thing but the stores just can’t handle the influx of people couponing. They too can only do so much. These are hard times and many people are realizing that they can’t live the way they used to. A whole new generation of couponers is coming into light with the help of TV and blogs like this. I know many people are angry at the way couponers are portrayed on TV and feel that the media is contributing to their inability to get the deals they want. But we must remember that blogs are also media and have a place in the blame of this too, as well as the down-turned economy. With that said I still do love this blog but wish that you ladies wouldn’t just point your fingers at the show saying it is them but acknowledge that it is a whole slew of things which are contributing to the problems. Including all forms of media.

  • Anne

    Can’t wait for this craze to be over. I only coupon for 4 people. Wwill the stores let u order small quantities?

  • Angela

    SPOT ON GIRL! I have never couponed for charity….BECAUSE most of us that do coupon are doing this because we are charity!! I have a family of 3 trying to live on $250 per week!

  • Stephanie

    there are other ways to get free stuff besides couponing…..I found out that secret shopping works for me. I do secret shopping for a grocery store chain in my area and I get free groceries each time I sign up. Thanks for posting!

  • ginger

    Good post…shelf clearing is a pet peeve, though I have done it, I took the last 2 packs of oreos to do a CVS deal a while back…that is completely different than if I had taken 200 packs of oreos…

    I started seriously couponing, back in janurary and at getting 2-3 things each shopping trip have managed to build up a decent size stock pile.

    Its sad that this show which had potential to teach has instead brought out alot of rudeness and greed in people

  • Desi

    I love that you posted this. I have been couponing for over 4 months now, I’ve never seen the TLC’s show. I do try to go early so that I can get some of the good deals. I don’t clear the shelves. I am simply trying to build up my food storage enough so that I don’t run out of Toilet Paper and Dish washer detergent before it will come on sale. I hate having to pay full price for it now, funny huh. I figure there is no reason to clear the shelves because you can’t build a stockpile in a day. Luckily I am lucky enough to get some of the good deals and help my family stay out of debt. Thanks fabfrugals for helping me do so!

  • Ashley

    Thank you for this post!! I’m new to couponing and I love it. I just experienced empty shelves today and it ticked me off, bad. But I let it go and went on because I did get other great deals.
    Anyhow, thank you for posting and hopefully those people will rethink what they are doing because seriously who the heck needs 93 bags of croutons, lol !!!!

    Ashley from Wyoming

    • Veronica M

      Well hehehehehe i love croutons. Maybe the rest of her family loves them too. Plus they last a long long time. Well depending on which ones you get.
      Plus just like “Rebecca” said above in #71 she did pre-order and let the store know what she was doing. How many of these people do you think did the same thing but the editing came out different.

  • Kristin

    Thanks for posting this! I wish the shelf-clearers would all disappear! I tried to get TWO of the Reach toothbrushes today at Walgreens and two ladies had 15-20 toothbrushes in each of their carts. Needless to say, there were none left 🙁 I’m so frustrated. This happens all the time!! My shelves are cleared at Walmart, CVS, Walgreens….sigh. I really don’t know what to do. It’s hard to get the kids ready to head to the store, and then to not be able to get the things on my list is really disappointing. We have a small home, so I don’t stockpile or hoard. I often just want ONE or two of an item and it’s gone 🙁

    • Veronica M

      hmmmm just had a thought . . . . . . . If you see that someone has done this and there is none left on the shelf, has anyone ever thought of going up to the 2 ladies with all the toothpaste or toothbrushes and asking them if they wouldn’t mind giving up a couple of those for you and your family to purchase. Man now I wish I would have thought of that one when that church cleared the shelf of pasta.

  • Andrea

    Thank you for posting this. I am new to this and literally spent 3 hours the other night compiling my list for walgreens and Albertsons only to find empty shelves today when I went. So frustrating! Especially when you don;t live down the street from either of the stores (I live 20 miles away). I literally said I am done, I will no longer waste my time couponing when the items are not even available.
    So I hope people read and understand your post! Thank you for reminding everyone that we all need to eat and feed our families, lets just remember there are other people out there who just need a couple boxes of cereal, not 50!
    Hopefully the craze will die down and I can try again!

  • Heather

    Thank you Cathy. However, I’m not sure that this will help much. Today, I donated, from my very small stockpile as I have only been couponing for two months, to a charity that I am a board member for; and the first response was not “thank you”, it was “are you a coupon item hoarder like the people on that show”. I, like everyone else, have come across many empty shelves. At first, I thought, oh well I’ll just try again next time. But, as time has passed, I have become frustrated with the cleared shelves. I started couponing when I lost my job. My husband now has to work 2 jobs to support our family of 5. We make only $5 over the allotted amount to receive food stamps, so that’s not an option for us. Our only option to feed our family is couponing. I would like to see some reality from that “reality” show about couponing. I agree with you whole heartedly.

  • jeanie

    Bottom line is those people don’t care about anyone buy themselves. Its the “all about me attitude”. There is a couple ladies that go to the Caldwell Rite-Aide and clear the shelves of toothpaste every week its on sale! How much toothpaste do they need? They seriously get 20 to 30 tubes every time. I just want a couple tubes! One time I even helped the lady to know which variety was on sale and she took them all as I patiently waited for her to get hers first. This is ridiculous and it will probably continue. When I first started going to Rite Aid I could go at 9 or 10. Now there is a line outside 35 minutes before they open. Get real. These people are ridiculous. Extreme couponing show is a joke and has given real couponers a bad name throughout the communities. And guess what the show is about? TLC making money!

  • Lori

    I want to say thank you as well for reminding people about coupon ethics. I went to Albertsons to get ONE and now I’ll repeat myself ONE bottle of the Sue Bee Honey and was actually suprised to see that there was some on the shelf only to find that someone had pulled every coupon off the bottles. Can someone explain to me how this benefits you. The coupon is there for the person who actually buys the bottle. What will you say when you use the coupon and the cashier is aware of where the coupon came from. I wouldnt be able to face the cashier knowing I had dishonestly taken them. Our local Smiths store was honoring Albertsons doublers and quit due to a few who took it to the extreme and ruined it for everyone. What will be next?

  • Brenda

    I am a newbie couponing mom who is extremely frustrated with the empty shelves. I have spent a lot of time learning the ropes of couponing and you all know how much time goes into cutting, organizing, matching etc. I have doubled and now this week tripled our meager grocery budget and even got some free items that are luxury items in this household (body wash). But I have also endured harsh words from cashiers and even one manager (oh a coupon lady, do you expect us to stock for everyone?) and spent much time and effort trying to follow up at stores who were stripped to the bare shelves of every product on sale that week that had a matching coupon. I was able to get rain checks, after much waiting and the comment on stocking each item, only to make 2 more trips back to the store with the rain check and no product and then my 1.00 off coupon expiring because I forgot and kept it with the rain check which too will expire before I get the item! But I am not going to give up and I am not going to let the comments get to me. I do promise though to never deplete a store of an item even if I can use it. Evidently stores are not going to stock enough product so therefore I am not going to be a glutton.

  • Brenda

    I have a question: how do you preorder? Do you know what is going to be on sale before the store orders?

    • Cathy

      Brenda, the stores do their first order weeks before the sale… but then they can also order from the warehouse 3 times during the sale week. Just order at the beginning of the sale and communicate with your manager.

  • Shelley

    Cathy, I agree with everything you said 100%. I think that show has been a real disservice, EXCEPT in starting a great discussion on ethics. I do think that stores need to do their part on stocking up for sales and promotions, especially if they are frequented by large nimbers of couponers. As far as I am concerned it is fraud on THEIR part if they advertise something without having extra on hand when they KNOW they have couponers who will want to stock up. That’s why I refuse to patronize places that don’t give rainchecks for any advertised item, (unless it is clearanced)
    You have a beautiful family, by the way!

    • Veronica M

      Shelly maybe I read your post wrong. Plus I don’t know if you know very much about the retail business.
      But just in case there is some one out there that might need a little help understanding things a little better here is goes.

      Now this is not for every store out there but most of them K.
      Stores place their weekly orders in advance. Some of them have to even placing their orders months in advance.
      I know Wal-greens for sure has it’s ordering done months in advance. One of the managers of a Walgreens that I have know for about 7 or so years says they have already put their order in for Christmas already. He told me this just the other day. Now even back when I first met him he let me know how they would have to put their orders in even months in advance and a lot of times didn’t know what was going to be on sale or in the sales ads. I remember telling him how I thought that was messed up that corporate would do that to them. Shoot when I worked at a couple of different restaurant chains at least corporate would let them know what they were going to be putting on sale. I think only once in a few years for working at one place and also the same at another restaurant I worked for did they not give the manager the heads up in time.
      So ya’ll don’t blame the store managers either for not ordering enough.

      But I think they should all have rain checks for every thing on sale unless it is stated while supplies last. That is when i feel they better have alot on hand or at least limit 1 person

    • Cathy

      Veronica is right. Each store has to order for the sale weeks in advance, this helps the warehouse know how much product to get from the manufacturers. They have no idea what coupons will be out at the time of the sale and if the pricepoint is one that will be a “pink star” deal. 🙂 During the week of the sale, they can get more brought in from the warehouse, if the warehouse has it. Most times they do, but lately, the warehouses simply don’t have enough of the NEW products in the warehouse (Honey Bunches of Oats Raisin Medly, Purex Complete Crystals, and now the Emerald Breakfast to Go).

  • Jessica

    Thank you so much for posting this Kathy!! I am a full time working mom also with my husband having been unemployed for much of the last three years. Since I can’t get to the store in the day time, it is SO frustrating to spend all the time prepping for a trip in the evening just to find the shelves empty. I cringed when I saw the first episode on TLC cuz I just knew what was coming….i’m VERY frustrated with some of the other bloggers (ie TKCL) who go on national TV shows to self-promote under the guise of “helping people”….it’s not helping people!!!

  • Emma S.

    I wholeheartedly agree also. There have been multiple occasions when I’ve gone into a store wih my binder and gotten nasty looks. Luckily, I have had wonderful cashiers, two of which (at two different stores) I know by name and always go to now. Just tonight, I went to walmart to pick up some tampons for a friend who has recently lost her job. Yup, that’s one thing I don’t have in stock at the house (thank you birth control) and as I needed to go get some dove bars for the hubby (his vice) I told her I would get her stuff too. As I was chatting with my friendly cashier, she started telling me that she was so glad that I “played by the rules” because she had just had to deal with an unpleasent customer that was trying to work the system. And you know, it just irked me to no end as she was telling me this. Do I coupon? Hell yeah! But I do everything I can to A. Be mindful of other shoppers both with the shelves and in line and B. Follow the “rules” and not try to manipulate the system. I’ve made mistakes as I’ve learned, sure, but I’ve also learned how to not make those mistakes. I’ve also cleared shelves… when there’s only two or three of the product left. I’m sorry, but no one needs 70 some-odd bottles of mustard. My husband and I talk about this regurally, because he has seen me get upset when I go to the store on the first day of a sale and something is already gone. I live in a small town. We have one Albertson’s and one Walmart. When even two or three people go to one of the sale and buy dozens of an item, it screws the rest of us who are living on a limited income and trying to save money. I know I’m just repeating what everyone else has said, but yes, it’s irritating and unrealistic the ideas that TLC has put into peoples heads.

  • Nicholas Harris

    I think that you hit a bullseye with this one! Great job!!

  • Laura

    Thank you!!!! You are spot on!!!!!!!!!! I buy four papers and buy four of the things I’m looking for. Hate the greed and can’t wait for it to die out or so I hope. Thank you for all you do!!!!

  • Julie

    Yes, you are probably right. I have been so frustrated in the last couple months. I’ve been an off & on couponer for a while, but I’m definitely OFF right now. In fact, I even just canceled my newspaper subscription altogether – all 5 copies. I live in a rural area and I was paying tons in gas and time and dragging kiddos to save literally only a dollar or two b/c shelves have been CLEARED – even when I’ve gone to several locations several different days of the week. I’m going to wait until Fall and see if it calms down, but I can NOT spend my all my time and gas budget chasing deals that practically no longer exist. Sad, but true.

  • Cindy

    I just want to say… Well said!

  • Julie

    Thanks for the great website and info! I live 1 hour from the nearest store and have triplet babies. I leave the house at 4:00am to hit Walmart once a week w/ my list and coupons and get home in time for my husband to go to work. I don’t have time to be mad about empty shelves…just get what I can and move on. I coupon to save money and I also try to make it fun. I don’t need to stress out about it.
    Keep up the good work!!!

  • Lani

    Well, honestly I have had to say a prayer before going into a store. When using the doubles at Albertsons, I make sure I have back ups and back ups to my back ups, just in case the shelf is empty. During my trip today I had two courtesy clerks helping me locate items and I went to the manager and gave them rants and raves. I am always looking for the positives when shopping. Because really any discount is a blessing. I have always been a frugal shopper. But this has really taught me how I can make my dollar not only stretch but scream!!!!

    Chin up gals and guys!!! This too shall pass!!!

  • TeriJ

    I have been couponing for about two years with a small break for a few months about a year or so ago. I have decided to take another small break. I’m going to step back reorganize my pantries and take inventory. I know what things I am running really low on and will keep an eye out for good deals on those but that’s it. We chose to live in a very rural very small town. To get the deals without wasting gas I ride in with my husband before his swing shift and ride back home with my daughter after her day shift. It is frustrating when the shelves are cleared. By taking a break I can redo my inventory into an Excel workbook and reassess the quantities I am shooting for to get a 6 month supply of items we eat all the time. This will also give me time to work on my long term storage. I figure I might as well make lemonade out of lemons rather than stress over them. Plus my garden is starting to poke out of the ground!!! I’m going to be busy putting it up soon so have to make room.

  • River Babe

    I personally think that buying coupons off of Ebay is also fueling this crazy couponing. If women buy the 15 coupons from Ebay they feel entitled and obsessed about using them. Just buy your papers and use those 5 coupon inserts to buy what your family needs.

    • Jessica

      I love it when the store is out of and item, I get a raincheck. I can then get coupons for the item on e-bay and get a ton for cheap knowing the coupons will be there on time. Use out of stock to work for instead of against you. You can also wait for doubles to come around and get them for a better price. Glass half full attitude.

      • requiredname

        You realize shelf clearers get rainchecks too right?
        Then they wait outside and raid the day the truck arrives.
        Rainchecks are not worth the paper they are written on.

        The store staff tell me they can barely set the box down before the shelf clearer has practically opened the case for them. It’s like buzzards and sometimes there is more than one.

        The merchandise never hits the shelf. Between clearing and warehouse preorders the merchandise goes from warehouse to trunk to flea market.

  • Veronica M

    Well I don’t know if this is the place to post this but it has been eating away at me. A few weekends ago on our way home We drove looking for yard sales. When I saw some people setting up “Brand New” products that i know they must have been gotten free or close to free using coupons. We didn’t stop but as we drove by even Eric recognized the same thing. i could understand if it was a couple of things but 2 large long folding tables full of brand new body washes, deodorants and ect. And it looked like they where bringing out another table!
    i think there is a law against having a yard sale with all or mainly brand new products at a yard sale, If i remember correctly. i will be checking into that and if i do see them out there again I will totally do some thing about it.

    • Angela

      OMG!! I would be so mad if I went to a yard sale and they were doing that. Yes. there is a law that prevents you from reselling items and another law that prevents you from having more than a couple of yard sales a yr and If you have more, you need a business permit. I would report them to the city/county if they continue to have more “yard sales”

      • Lia

        I wouldn’t assume there are laws about these things until you find out for sure. It may vary from one city or county to another. It may be perfectly fine for them to be doing it. They may have a business license also. I have never heard of a law where it is illegal to re-sell items. Isn’t that what a store does? If they obtained the merchandise legally (paid for it) then it should be theirs to do what they want with it. I have heard of many convenience store owners buying things cheap from regular stores and then selling it. This is no different than someone who is having a yard sale. I would have a chat with someone who has professional training ie. an attorney or a government official from your area as well as finding out if that person does have a business license before getting so upset about it. Don’t take it so personally when you see someone doing this. I think that we are so easy to judge each other. I have a friend who’s husband works for Albertson’s at the warehouse. They are able to buy cases of stuff that the warehouse has too much of for like a $1.00 per case. My friend has so much stuff she has gotten cheaply because of this. They have a large family and have at times sold this stuff at yard sales to help support themselves. Perhaps the people you saw did the same thing. The real point is that you don’t know where people are coming from and what the real circumstances are behind what you saw just by driving by. Come on ladies when will we stop assuming the worst about people. I get so sick of hearing about all the negative things and wish people would focus more on the positive. Instead of saying hey they got a whole lot of product (which I didn’t) and are selling it how dare they. Why not say hey they are selling that stuff, they must really need the money and I wish them well. And then just leave any wrong doing between them and God.

  • leslie

    Great post. It all really comes down to you win some, you lose some. Its not worth being that frustrated by. Get a raincheck and place an order for next time if they are out. There are more ways to save money than just couponing. So if you’re pulling your hair out over it (which in my opinion is a silly way to loose your hair!), take a break and try something new. It’s a great way to save, and have extra stored up but nobody HAS to do it to survive! Hopefully whatever you choose to do to save is at least a little bit of fun:)

  • Jessica

    My advice is to just wait it out. I have been couponing for years and this is just a cycle that will decline shortly just give it a little while. You have three type of people that have just started couponing. The first will quit in a few months because it is just not worth the few minutes of prep for hundreds in savings. The second will go all out and get their food storage in order (some may be clearing shelves and others will be ordering large quantities). In a few months they will have their shelves full and slow down and just purchase small amounts. The third will continue to buy even though their shelves are full and they can no longer walk into their storage room, they will have filled under beds, cupboards, drawers and then start tripping over it as they walk into the house and then there husband and kids will intervention make them go to couponoholics. For the time being get a raincheck (these are my favorite because you just wait for coupon double days and cash in for even more savings you would have missed had they had that item in stock). Of the hundred of people I have taught how to coupon only about 5% really get into it and keep it up. Couponing has become the new “craze diet” like the Atkins, Cabbage, or Acia diet. A lot of people try it, a few loose weight but only a small percent keep it off. As for me, summer is here and I have a healthy stock pile, I think I will take a few months break go shopping for milk, eggs and the farmers market (everyone that has done couponing for a few years takes periodic breaks). See you again in the fall.

  • Christine

    Shelf clearing is NOT new…can anybody say free chimichangas or Old Orchard juice concentrate from last summer??

  • Tracy

    I do like this post and i am a new couponer and the show did inspire me to start.. but i thought the amount they were buying was ridiculous and the fact that they were hoarding so much product. i understand if you have a big family but to have it consume more than half your house, is a little much. I have been couponing for about a month now but i DO NOT clear shelves. i’m just trying to survive in this economy. This site has helped me alot! and i would much rather read and learn about it on this site than from that show. some of those women are a little crazy. don’t get me wrong. i do like watching the show just b/c it shows me a few ways to organize and new ways to follow deals or find coupons that you NEED. But its even been frustrating for me b/c the first coupon i wanted to use was for a spiral ham, the first day it went on sale i wanted to use my coupon and there were none left by the time i got there.. and i thought to myself… is this how it ALWAYS is? i hope it gets easier and i hope that people will see this post and continue to be fruGal but Considerate!! or like some of you have said maybe it will just be another trend and it will pass……. thanks for this post!!

  • CouponFreak

    Does anyone but me realize that the success of this site may also contribute to what’s causing the shelf-clearing in this local area of Treasure Valley?? I think it’s more of a mass community onslaught a FabFrugaleers all together causing this. I have yet to see one person with 6 carts full of crap in a store like on the TLC show. This site has all the tools necessary to learn couponing, DVDs, video tutorials, private how-to classes, tips, tricks, matchups, etc. INFORMATION ACCESS!! So take some accountability for the shelf-clearing. We’re all fighting for the same products! EVERY couponer I see in the stores are shopping for the FF matchups. Then everyone complains why the shelves are empty! Another problem is: stores around here don’t stock that many items, and the majority are terrible at re-stocking, ie Walmart, Walgreens, Rite Aid). If you’re going to complain, blame yourselves…we’re all doing it!

    • stephanie

      You are so right on!!! Well said.

    • Cathy

      Do note that we are 1 out of 20+ blogs that cover Albertsons in the NW. While we rarely look at any of them (no time!), I’m pretty sure they’re blogging about the same things we are. If we shut our site down tomorrow, nothing would change as far as empty shelves go.

      One of the main goals of this site is to teach others how to properly and ethically coupon. So yes, we offer many ways for people to learn… it’s the beauty of the internet!

      We’ve heard enough stories via email, comments, and from people in our classes, to know that there are indeed some people in our area that are clearly hoarding. Since we do have a voice in this community, it is our hope that educating people and raising awareness will help ease the problem.

  • heather

    CLEAR THE SHELF……. CLEAR THE SHELF….. i swear I hate those words!!!! if you walk into albertsons and you buy the last two ketchups, did you just “clear the shelf”?? if you bought the last 5 for your family with 6 kids ( maybe a 2 month supply) oooh your a shelf clearer…..if you special ordered your stuff and others see you with it and the shelf is empty…oh once again you are a shelf clearer…….If I make a plan to buy 10 pastas and I get my coupons together go all the way to the store and there is only 10 left, you bet your butt Im gonna get the 10…lucky me and I will probably turn right around and miss out on the next thing on my list!!

    its hit or miss and as much as we love the blogs every time they post some thing its gonna be gone immediately…..most shelves even at walmart only hold 1 case ( sometimes it holds 2) and except for canned smal stuff alot of the cases ore only 6 per case….walmart and albertsons both order truck to shelf with the idea that there is not supposed to be back stock…with big sales albertsons does get extra stock but not of everything

    i think everyone screaming from the mountain tops the never ever clear the shelves is sort of halarious specially if you have ever shopped at rite aid, walgreens or target you have probably been the last one to get something and every person after that was like “damn shelf clearers” if you take 6 or two people take 3 or three people take 2 either way the shelf is still empty…

    the stores need to anticipate whats comming and get a clue, order more things specially because they make oney off those sales every coupon is money in the bank!!

  • cyndi

    Thank you so much for this post!!! I have some people who know that I coupon ( I really enjoy it too), they have watched the new Extreme couponing show & asked questions about it. I try to get the message across that it is a very unrealistic couponing show & this isn’t normal for most people who use coupons. I really wish that they would take a more realistic approach to showing how coupons really work for the normal person & maybe how to coupon while keeping others in mind & not clear shelves.

  • myssssss

    Just read in supermarket guru that publix is limiting coupons in the entire southeastern part of the USA, they won’t accept their ad coupons with manufacturer coupons and have severly limited what Walmart will sell with their prices, so see how the hoarders have totally screwed the people in the southern USA, no one has the money to shop around at over $4.00 a gallon of gasoline. I am happy you weathered your unemployment with couponing but 9 people to feed is a lot of people to feed…I hope your church helped you out, I give good food to a food place and cook there and help out, the need is staggering and these people who are hungry are children and adults who work in excess of 40 hours a week, oh, my their parents would starve as they feed their kids first, pay bills on time, work like crazy and never complain! I help because my parents were immigrants and never starved like adults are starving now, I get tons of help from this blog and try to get to the store early before work to grab a few bargains, but I don’t hoard and I am mindful of the need to let others get in on deals so they too can feed their families for little money..Keep up the blogs and help, just tell people not to hoard as everyone loses, I get rainchecks and go back when the product comes in or they substitute another size and I get a better deal always with coupons, double coupons and those rainchecks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! God bless you and your family…hmmmmmm!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Laurie

    Thanks for all you said. I think the Extreme Couponers have given the rest of us that are just trying to get by a bad name. I can’t wait for the show to stop airing.
    One thing that I wish people wouldn’t do is take the whole Tear Pad off of a special so the rest of us can get some coupons too.

    BTW, Thank you gals so much for all you do to find us the good deals in the stores. What a lot of work you do! KUDOS.

    • Lia

      People have been stealing tearpads for years now to sell on Ebay. Probably won’t ever use the coupons themselves. Then one of us will buy them to use on a deal. I have been couponing for over 10 years now and this problem has been happening for at least the last 3. Not that that really has much to do with this topic. But since everyone was kind of ranting about stuff I just wanted to join in. Don’t even get me started about peelie stealers!

  • natalie s


  • barbara

    I tried to begin using coupons in 2008 after my son was born, without success. I felt like I couldn’t save on the foods my family ate, only junk food we would never eat. I went back to work part-time in a position where I was allowed to bring my son, who was 18 months at the time. Fast forward to the beginning of this month – my son is nearing 3 and it was no longer in our best interests for me to continue working. I knew the first thing we would have to cut was our food budget, and the only way to do it was with coupons. I could not believe the wealth of information available now nearly three years later! So far I have been successful in cutting out budget over 50% in less than 3 weeks with the help of your site and others. We don’t subscribe to cable so in conjunction I have also learned about the show from this and other sites. I have watched the episodes online and while they are sensational and it was fun to watch the ladies from WA, I couldn’t imagine even attempting that kind of a transaction right now. I hope to continue to use coupons for years to come, and eventually help my family and friends discover it as well. Thank you for this post. It is very informative and I believe will be helpful to new couponers who may not even know there IS a code of ethics.

  • Denise

    I think couponing is on everyone’s mind due to the fact of our skyrocketing energy costs=much higher prices at the grocery store and gosoline is so expensive. Average people like myself are looking to save. I have been saving $250.00 a month since I started couponing. I am very respectful of others doing the same. I am not very extreme about it but slow and steady. I learn more every month and save more every month. I have a small stockpile and it will get larger in time. i started this Jan. 1st and I am in it for the long haul. I think my savings will increase the longer I am committed to it. I used to spend an easy $400-500 a month for a family of 3.

  • Missy G

    This post is excellent if people actually read it and consider it. I call it playing for the team. I did get an obscene amount of pasta at the Smith’s sale these last two weeks. Some went to my Dad who has been unemployed for over one year, some went to the Utah Food Bank. And another round is going to my daughters food drive for school. Then I kept a good amount for my family who has also been struggling with debt, inflation and no pay increases.
    I made friends with the manager and was told when more pasta would be coming and had my trip planned with him. My pasta didn’t even hit the shelves, and I took it out of the store in cases.
    I went last night to get a few more things from the sale (BBQ sauce, almonds, a few basics) and the shelves at three stores were literally empty.
    But the aisles were not! There were probaly 5-10 couponers with their GIANT binders, just digging through getting what they could- and probably planning on using coupons that were not for that specific type. It was mildly annoying to watch.
    My Target stores this week have been out of body wash, lotion, BBQ sauce, scissors and a few other items that I would probably buy like five of- it is super frustrating to see all the shelves cleared!
    And in the areas I am in, I have a feeling its people whose husbands make a ton of money and they do it to get out with their friends and for the rush of the deal. I say this because they are driving Escalades and Mercedes when they leave, toting their coupons in Gucci planners.
    I think it is fun to watch TLC’s show- but come on, they are ruining it for the rest of us!

    COUPONING IS A PRIVILEGE NOT A RIGHT!!! Coupons can be taken away just as fast as they are given. Hopefully all the newbies will get burnt out! 🙂 Even though for every couponer, there are at least five people who don’t coupon, it is still getting out of control.

    • Ashley

      You are being a little hypocritical! You just said you got an obsene amount of pasta (clearing the shelves, whether you want to word it that way or not. yYou didn’t preorder you just found out when the next shipment was coming in!) and were upset that others were clearing the shelves of something you wanted 5 of???!? You can’t have it both ways! I also took offense to you putting down couponers who are well off. My husband has a great job that hasn’t been affected by the ecomony (thank goodness) and I am a nurse (part time). We live comfortably and drive a nice vehicle. BUT, how do you know they aren’t struggling to pay for that expensive ride? Yes, we don’t HAVE to coupon, I choose to. I choose to so that I can provide for just MY family. I don’t hoard. I don’t donate large amounts. I go into a store wanting to get 5 of something and can’t find anything because someone gets 30 boxes of it to donate.

      • heather

        besides judging people on what they drive?? they may have had those nice cars and nice things and now are with only one income….its not like you can just give the car back…you are still obligated to pay for it……I am currently unemployed and still pay for my 400.00 a month nice car and our 350.00 a month nice truck that we bought when we were both bringing home good money…..just because I drive a nice car by does not mean Im not struggling to pay for it!!!

        • Ashley

          That was my point exactly Heather! You can’t make snap judgements on people based on what they drive or what they wear. You don’t know what is going on in their life. But even if they are doing well, does that mean they shouldn’t be able to coupon? That is crazy! That might be how they got to be so successful 😉

  • Ashley

    Thanks, I think people needed to be reminded that sales cycle about every 6 to 12 weeks 🙂

  • Jasmine

    Amen to what you are saying. I am new to coupon but I don’t believe in the “extreme” part of it. Like you said get it in moderation. I’m new to it and needing to feed my family of 6. We are blessed to have work right now. But having autistic twins can be costly. So we need to save money every way we can. Not to mention thats how I’m paying for some 0f my medical treatment is through coupons… It’s the only way I can afford to take care of myself also.

  • Karen

    the phrase “keeping their family off of food stamps” bothers me.

    Folks, using the SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – the current name for the old Food Stamps program) isn’t a bad thing! The program is so much MORE than just food assistance now.

    All my info is based on Pennsylvania’s rules and number, as that’s where I am a caseworker.

    A family of 3 can receive up to $567/month in SNAP benefits! I know for a fact that’s almost 3 times some family’s budgets! And SNAP benefits can even be used at farmer’s markets! You can support your local farmers where you would never pay full price normally.

    Yes, you CAN combine SNAP and coupons. These days, you don’t even have to separate your order into food and non-food items. Grocery store computers are smart enough to know what is and is not countable for SNAP. You swipe first with your SNAP card (no more paper books! it’s just like a debit card now). Then you pay for your non-food balance however you want.

    That tax payer money is, in a way, your money. Think of it not as an entitlement program, but as a social-insurance program. You paid in when times were good, now the benefits are there if you need them. The middle class is the most tax-burdened part of society. We’re the ones who DON’T get back more than we paid in (yes, it can happen for low income parents who get earned income and child credit).

    Demographics information of what areas need Food Stamps the most affect a lot of other budgeting that goes on behind the scenes. How much funding does your kid’s school get for free/subsidized lunches? The percentage of the population receiving Food Stamps helps determine that!

    In addition to the food benefits alone, the program offer so much more! Laid off and taking advantage of this time to go back to school and get a better education? Not only will the program help with food, but it will pay for books, supplies, transportation (mileage or a bus pass, that type of thing), even CHILDCARE while you’re there! In my state, we’ll cover up to the first $500 each semester of books and supplies. Then up to another $250/month in mileage or transportation. We’ll cover test fees for professionals. Transportation and lodging to apply for a job… all those expenses that sneak up on you when you are Un- or Under-employed.

    The application process has gotten much simpler too! In PA., you can even go online to http://www.compass.state.pa.us to apply. You never have to set foot in the office!

    So, don’t knock the SNAP program. What would extra money in your food budget do for you? More in the college fund? The house paid off sooner? Maybe even that credit card debt wiped out. Don’t let pride or reluctance or uncertainty stand in the way of your family’s stability.

    If you’re curious if you might be eligible, check out the USDA’s free screening tool. http://www.snap-step1.usda.gov/fns/

    • dee

      Hi Karen,

      I’d love to be able to spend more money on clothes (can only afford to shop at Goodwill) and at the beauty salon (havn’t had a hair cut in over a year), are you saying I should apply for government assistance? Then I could take the money I don’t have to spend on food anymore and use it for non-essentials.

      It is not necessarily a good thing that, “The program is so much MORE than just food assistance now.” Why should tax payers have to support others food, college/books, gas and child care needs, so they can have “more in college funds, mortgages paid off sooner and credit card debt wiped out”? Are you really encouraging people to apply for the “SNAP” program so they can do those things? Want to go to college? Study hard and get a scholarship. Want your mortaged paid off? Sell your house. Want your credit card debt wiped out? STOP charging, or better yet don’t get a credit card to begin with.

      Does money grow on trees in Pennsylvania? Currently 47% of Americans pay ZERO in taxes. I know that people need help at times, but there are MANY second and third generation life time government assistant recipients. Do people ever need to take responsibilty for themselves or is that what big brother is for? I would love to know how you believe these programs should be funded as they continue to have more recipients.

      Do you believe also that the government is responsible for a family’s stability? You said “Don’t let pride or reluctance or uncertainty stand in the way of your family’s stability.” If that stability is achieved due to the hard work of other families and no work of their own it really can’t be called stability. Socialism is the word your looking for not stability. I’m all for helping my fellow man. Far to many people are being trained that they don’t need to help themselves, leave that to the government. Where will it end?

      • Karen

        I think the phrase I’m looking for is “There but for the grace of God go I.”

        I’m lucky. I have a college education (and $25,000 in school loans to pay off, far less than the average for my generation). I got scholarships and financial aid. Guess who paid for that financial aid? The american taxpayer. Now, I get to pay it back with my taxes. I’m ok with that.

        I qualified for those scholarships and aid with great extracurriculars, community service, good grades and test scores. But, I grew up as an only child, in a small town with a low crime rate, 3 meals on the table every day, and parents who were willing to spare no expense. My parents made sure I saw the world, not just the tiny coal town we lived in.

        My clients don’t always have those luxuries. Yes, people make poor decisions. But people also sometimes get a raw deal in life. A child who doesn’t get breakfast isn’t going to be able to concentrate, isn’t going to test well, and might not even graduate high school. Forget higher education. It breaks my heart when older siblings have to parent the littles at their own expense. I had a client tell me that her daughter got accepted into college, and she was so proud, but they couldn’t send her because they couldn’t afford it. She’d never even HEARD of the FAFSA, and her own reading and math skills were so lacking, she needed my help to complete it. I find it appalling that there was no guidance counselor helping her instead.

        The prejudice and stereotype of the poor is that they are that way because they are lazy. In my line of work, I’ve found, like all stereotypes, it is true for only a small percentage. The only thing that will break the cycle is education and a livable wage.

        For me, couponing is about affording luxuries, not about making ends meet. I’m lucky in that way. But, I’m also a bleeding heart liberal who admires the high standard of living in ‘socialized’ countries like Sweden and Norway.

        If we want to end socialist programs in America, we should go big or go home. I feel you can’t be selectively against SOME socialist programs. Goodbye Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP, Social Security, SSI, Food Stamps, TANF, Veteran’s assistance, Education Grants, Subsized Student Loans, Mortgage Assistance, Earned Income Credit, Child Tax Credit, Subsidized Child Care, WIC, Head Start, Free and Low Cost Health Clinics, FEMA assitance for everyone affected by the tornadoes in the midwest, PBS, and Public Schools.

        It won’t bother me. I won’t be having any children and I’m looking forward to a pension, my IRA and my partner’s 401k. I’d love to stop losing a few hundred dollars a month to pay for other people’s children, I’d invest that for my retirement instead.

        I’m very passionate about my job. To me, there is little in this world more rewarding to see the positive effects of my job. I love when one of my client’s finishes school and gets a job that pays better than mine. With taxes, she’ll pay back the benefits she received in just a few years. THAT’S the new ideal of the program.

        Instead of long term subsistence, invest more in the short term for a greater return. Provide a single mother with childcare now while she gets her GED, she won’t need Food Stamps for the next 15 years. Pay for the Depo Shot for a woman you wouldn’t acknowledge on the street because she’s ‘dancing’ (it’s the only job she’s qualified for), and she won’t need space for another child next year so that Section8 has to move her to a larger apartment.

        My heart cries for the 13 year old mothers I see. They’re still babies themselves. And sadly, little black girls in West Philly don’t make the front page of the paper as statutory rape victims. Instead they’re another statistic of ‘second or third’ generation Welfare Mothers. I would never say to them “you’re irresponsible and you don’t deserve help, you need to just take responsibility for yourself”. If you sat behind my desk, I don’t think anyone could.

        In short: I do believe the government should be responsible for the wellbeing of all it’s citizens, with special attention to those who maybe be lacking in nutrition. A hungry child should not exist in America, no matter what your opinion of the parent’s choices.

        In your situation, using food stamps may provide you with money for new clothes or a shiny new haircut. But for some people reading this blog, it may be the difference between yakisoba (the ones people keep getting overage for and donating to the food pantry… who do you think ends up eating those?) for dinner or a well balanced, nutritious meal. It’s not my place to judge anyone, I just hate the stigma that is associated with asking for help.

        • dee

          Hi Karen,

          You nicely avoided the question I asked you. This is the paragraph I was referring to “So, don’t knock the SNAP program. What would extra money in your food budget do for you? More in the college fund? The house paid off sooner? Maybe even that credit card debt wiped out. Don’t let pride or reluctance or uncertainty stand in the way of your family’s stability.” This has nothing to do with free school lunches or 13 year old rape victims. I’m all for free school lunches and providing support for rape victims. Lets support rape victims, by making rapist pay restitution and serving lengthy prison sentences.

          I get that we come from deferring opinions and political views. I’m thankful to all those who have sacrificed to make that possible. For the freedoms we have in America. No one is stopping you from moving to Sweden, oh wait it is difficult to become a citizen of Sweden. Maybe it’s due to the fact that everyone who wants a free government hand out wants to move to Sweden. Sweden’s individual tax rate is 28.89% -59.09% and payroll tax is 31.42%. If you’re a go-getter and fortunate to qualify for the highest tax bracket just think of how much of your income you get to keep for yourself, not much. That “high standard of living” is not such a good deal for every Swede.

          ” My parents made sure I saw the world, not just the tiny coal town we lived in.” Were you also taught why the Pilgrims came to America? How about the Revolutionary War? Also, please consider why brave men and women still proudly sacrifice for America today. It is called freedom! That freedom is slipping away and will continue to do so as we depend only on the government to “be responsible for the wellbeing of all it’s citizens“. Do you believe in any personal responsibilities?

          “It’s not my place to judge anyone, I just hate the stigma that is associated with asking for help.” “Judging” is a buzzword often associated with government assistance. In the state I live in they are finally getting around to disabling ATM machines in casinos making it impossible to receive cash back from a government loaded “debit card”. Now the welfare recipient has to be inconvenienced and get the cash to gamble with from their government loaded “debit card” on their way to the casino. They are also cracking down on small grocery stores that pay out $50.00 cash and charge the persons government loaded “debit card”$100. The person then uses the $50.00 to support their crack habit instead of feeding their kids. Heaven forbid if we as a society judge the abuse of the welfare system. Or do you agree with government funded gambling and drug abuse?

          Encouraging people “The application process has gotten much simpler too! In PA., you can even go online to http://www.compass.state.pa.us to apply. You never have to set foot in the office!” to abuse a government program to pay off credit card bills, pay off their house sooner and fund a college acct., in my book is worthy of judgment and an investigation.

          I do believe there are very deserving people, who do not abuse the system, that need a helping hand and I am thankful for the programs that exist for them. If it were not for hard working Americans (of every political persuasion) to fund those programs they would not exist. Therefore, I will not be sporting “new clothes or a shiny new haircut” anytime soon, I have taxes to pay and if I’m lucky, maybe the government will let me keep a little of my hard earned wages, to put food on my own family’s table. With the help of a coupon or two of course:)

          • Karen

            Hi Dee!

            I know you might not see this.  But I did want to respond.  I’m sorry it’s several months later, but I must have forgotten to check the “notify me of follup comments” box.  That’s definitely a my-bad.

            I’m sorry you felt like I sidestepped your question.  I tend to climb onto my soapbox sometimes.  I’ll answer as plainly as I can.

            “Why should tax payers have to support others food, college/books, gas and child care needs, so they can have “more in college funds, mortgages paid off sooner and credit card debt wiped out”? Are you really encouraging people to apply for the “SNAP” program so they can do those things?”

            I believe that taxpayer money should benefit all members of society, from the most needy to the most wealthy.  If you qualify for food stamps, you meet certain income guidelines that place you in or near poverty.  I find it morally acceptable for my tax money to support other people bettering themselves, whether it be through direct payment of TANF Cash funds, or through Supplement Nutrition funds that ‘free up’ a family’s income for other uses.  I wholeheartedly encourage people to apply for SNAP benefits to further themselves and their families, whether that means help them pay the rent and put food on the table, or if it means helping a family escape debt or build a strong financial foundation.

            I’ll quickly address your American history question.  In my opinion, Religious Freedom (Puritans) and Taxation without Representation(Revolutionary War) are not the same issues that we face today, we are now concerned primarily with Government limitations and appropriate use of tax money.  I think it’s a complicated and emotional issue for everyone.  Personally, I support big government rather than big-business, as I believe

            I love that we live in a country where we are free to have such differing opinions and I’m thankful that being born here has given us those rights.  I’m positive that is one thing we can agree on 🙂  

            But I also have the a suspicion (and please read the sense of humor I have about this!  I think it’s fantastic and hilarious and a perfect example of what is great about America!) that in real life, we have very little in common.  I’m an east coast, left-leaning, lesbian, legal-marijuana-supporting, Zero-population-growth, atheist, theatre-degree-holding, pro-gun-control, pro-obama-care, conscientious objector who refuses to donate to veterans or put up yellow ribbons and instead gives money to organizations like Lambda Legal or Tickets for Kids.  I spend far too much money on books and theatre tickets.  I boycott Chik-fil-a (man, I miss their nuggets… and waffle fries) because they don’t think my partner and I deserve the same legal rights and benefits as a straight couple (we don’t care about the word marriage, I just don’t want to have to carry around a power-of-attorney in case of a car accident anymore…).  And if I ever DID have children, thank goodness I don’t plan to, right? 🙂 , I’d probably stop speaking them if they did something so against my values like joining the military.

            On the other hand, I bet we do have a few more important things in common, like caring about our families and communities, being involved in organizations that we find worthy of our time, voting for representatives we feel match our values, and wanting the human experience and culture to continually improve for future generations.

            I sincerely love a good debate and hearing about opposing viewpoints is a very healthy thing for me.  Even if it doesn’t change my mind, it helps me to be more understanding and respectful of those views.  I hope you and your family are having a wonderful fall.


  • Jodi

    Thank you so much for sharing this. Although I’ve always used coupons, I’m not an extreme couponer. I use them to buy things for my family that I normally would and to save money. I agree with your post 100%!

  • requiredname

    These shady issues have been going on for years, way before TLC. No one noticed she shelf clearing resellers as much though. TLC just opened the window and now we can all see the shady. This is why on some coupon sites it’s considered a sin to be on the TLC show. The don’t want anyone in on their long history.

    I copied the following words to help from another site:

    The ONLY way to put a stop to shelf clearing , reselling , fraud, and abuse is to do your homework and REPORT to places you never thought to.
    Your going to have to contact:

    -the newspapers where the thousands of inserts were illegal obtained each week.
    There is a reason those inserts were kept under lock and key. This must be reported to the newspapers and the mf that issued the coupon.

    -When you witness thousands if inserts illegally obtained, sold, and misused contact
    Valassis Communications Inc., News America Marketing Inc., and Coupon Information Corporation.

    -the retail store that is acting like a wholesaler by allowing special orders to special people. The managers are in on this scam as well. Wiping out shelves and warehouses is wrong and must be reported. Other stores can’t get shipments due to the warehouse clearing.

    -resellers, deal with them. start reporting flea markers and stockpile sellers. When they brag on their tax free luxurious lifestyle then it’s time to report them.

    -coupon clipper sites-where do you think they obtain their coupons, duh?
    Report them to their newspapers, the CIC, Bud Miller, and anyone you can think of.

    -braggers- when you see braggers on sites, take notes. They provide a LOT of useful info if you look closely enough 😉

    -coupon websites- have you noticed that posters that point out abuse and fraud are quietly banned behind the scenes? Did you notice how they clean up the site and remove all the abuse complaints but leave the abuse tutorials up? Report them as well.
    Mods and site owners have gotten away with this for years. It PAYS to house the scammers. Go to any website value site and type in the name of your favorite coupon site. Look at what they make per month? Now do you see why they house the scammers???

    Until people stand up and do the work, these scammers will take every product and laugh while you sit with your uncut unusable coupons.

    • Jane

      I totally agree with all you said.

      There are plenty of complete inserts sellers online now while the inserts in papers are disappearing, even on those with subscription! How can we not think that the ones stealing them to resell on coupon boards are personnel of the newspaper companies? Please report to NewsAmerica, Valassis and CIC if the papers you buy on the racks are missing the inserts or the newpaper company does not solve the problem of missing inserts in Sunday papers. The reason they may not be acting on it is because their husband/wife or kin is the one involved in mass selling of the inserts and that is their cash cow at the expense of others.

      YES, it is time to fight the scammers or else we should stop whining and complaining if we don’t do our part to report.

  • Jolynn


    I feel the frustration of other ethical couponers. I am a homeschooling mom of 6 and time is of the essence. I knew I was feeling discouraged when I plopped down on my love seat in my bedroom full of tears and gently but not so gently kicked my coupon folder halfway across the room:-) . It DIDN’T matter when I went to the store here in the BOISE, MERIDIAN, KUNA area the good sale products were gone and I was out the 5 or 6 hours of prep work, gas and my precious time with my children…oh did I mention the TORTURE on my dear husband “Honey how much longer” he would moan in frustration:-) So I have found the best solution for our family….
    1. Go early Monday morning (No shopping on Sunday)…
    2. Look at the generic if the name brand isn’t there if I absolutely need it.
    3. Shop only for what I need
    4. Relax
    5. I don’t have to go to every store
    6. I don’t have to buy everything on the store list…
    Just keeping it simple was advice I was given by my dear husband…
    Thank you so much for your website…
    and all the hard work that is put into it…
    It is much appreciated

  • Shakisha

    Thank you for posting!!! I am have been couponing for a while and have never run into the problems of soo many empty shelves. For instance I went to Target recently in my area and tried to pick up the 1 cent liners. I only had a few coupons. The stocker when I asked her where they all went she said a customer came in and cleared not only all thirty of the care free but took all thirty of the u brand for teens too! If this person wanted that many she could have ordered. I always try and be responsible and leave some for the next couponer. I only buy what I need for my family.
    I was in the dollor store recently and I have started checking my papers now because the clerk told me that since this show has started people are starting to steal the ads from other papers instead of just buying papers. I have recently experienced getting home with my papers and find that I have coupons missing . . . I have NEVER had this problem. Really STEALING coupons to save money! The paper are only $1.00.

    I guess that I am venting a little because this problem is getting out of hand. I hope more people see your post and think before they shop!


    • Veronica M

      YUP! Had the same @#$%^&&*^%%!!! (stuff) happen to me. Yup I have even had a guy I normally don’t deal with pull a fast one on me with a paper.
      I normally get my 4 papers on Sunday but because of issues within the family I wasn’t able to go get papers until Monday. Which has happen before and they will have any where from 6 to 10 left. Well nope only 1 this time. Well I told the guy I’ll take it but i always check to see if the coupons are in there 1st. He flipped the the paper like one would do the yellow pages and I counted 2 coupon inserts. I was like kool. When i got the paper home it had 2 of the same inserts and no RP in it, Man i was pist. \
      I always check now because that one weekend there was 4 inserts in the Sunday papers I only got 2 in each of them and 1 paper had 3 Man I was pist but I didn’t know that there was sopose to be 4 in each one.

  • Tracy

    Great post. I think folks on the show are now justifying what they do by giving it all away. That is extreme on the other end of the spectrum and isn’t realistic for the average family. I can’t give 100% away, or my family would go hungry.

  • Anna

    At my Albertsons in Pendleton Or my night manager will let you prebuy the products that are out of stock. She will punch in the numbers then use your doublers and coupons and have you pay for it in advance. Then when they have the products back in you just show your receipt that is marked paid and walk out with your product.

  • angela

    AWESOME post! Thanks so much for voicing what so many of us are thinking.

  • Toni

    This has been my issue every week. I finally had to quit shopping Rite Aid and CVS since the 3 or 4 days a week I stop they are always out. Happened again last couple days with Target! I try to price match to Walmart but they have clear shelves too! Its discouraging when I only want 3 or 4 if that! I’m just trying to stretch my dollar a little farther. My “stockpile is 8 rolls of tp …that’s how extreme I am.

    I wanted to bring more awareness and make my voice heard and hopefully others will too! I’ve created a facebook page to boycott Extreme Couponing & i my mission tois to have our voices heard & maybe bring awareness to the extremies or the newbies! Find us at Boucott Extreme Coupon!

  • Kim

    Thank you so much for posting this! I’ve been saving where I can for years but really getting into it all this year after several humbling experiences. I am getting into using all sources of coupons, not just the store ones 😉

    I don’t have a car, so when I hike the 1 – 2 miles to the local grocery store to get deals and find empty shelves, it is extremely frustrating! I’m still couponing, and will do so no matter what, because it’s better to save a little than nothing at all!

    Your post brought tears to my eyes. It was so nicely written and touched me on the fact of dealing with unemployment so long. Times are really really tough for a lot of us right now. Every day is a great day for me though – the fact that I wake up, have my health, amazing family and awesome friends. As long as we can keep a roof over our head and food on the table, you’re doing OK! =)

  • ~S~

    Just thought I’d give you a cashier’s view on couponers. I am one myself (and a front end manager) and was taught from an early age to save money where you can and look for the best deals you can get, but don’t clear shelves and there’s no need to hoard food.

    I do my best to know the ad for my store when it breaks so I can make recommendations to my customers to save them money.I know most of the couponers in my store and for the most part they are very gracious and accomidating of other customers. I often close and am asked when would be a good time for them to come in if they have a bunch of coupons (I know that most couponers “hand pick” their cashiers once they get to know their favorite stores). I really really appreciate this courtesy from them.

    I do not, as a cashier, appreciate it when I have a customer come in right before closing to get all their couponing done on the last day of the ad. I have witnessed all kinds of coupon shoppers while I have been in the checkstand. I have horror stories and I have customers who I love to see. Nothing makes me happier than to see someone on food stamps working to stretch it as much as they can. I applaud those who will take the time to use coupons to help their bottom line whether they are on food stamps or just trying to keep from being on them.

    I have watched the Extreme Couponing on TLC and cringed at what some of them did to the stock on the shelves. It is wonderful that you are getting the word out to those new to couponing that this is not the norm. I will say that I did see one lady on Extreme Couponing that didn’t clear the shelves but she did get just what she needed and the man who pre-ordered so he could donate to his church.

    I appreciate that you at FabuLESSly Frugal have posted a code of ethics on your website and I am actually referring some of my new to couponing customers to you so they can see your guidelines and help me out as much as themselves.

    Thank you so much for letting it be known that it is not the norm on those couponing shows and please be patient with the cashiers when there are fantastic deals. We are trying to do our best and appreciate your patience. I think I have some of the best customers around =).

    • Cathy

      Thanks so much for giving us your perspective. I LOVE my cashiers at Albertsons 5&O in Boise. And thanks for sharing our site with others! 🙂

  • Christie Biggers

    Thank you for the article! I enjoy couponing and REALLY try to follow the rules and be considerate to other shoppers. I am often asked “Are you one of those EXTREME couponers?” My response: “No, I just use coupons”. I appreciate your website!!

  • Nina

    I live on a very low income and wondered why some products were totally gone from the shelves. Because of my low income I just have to do without the product because it cost too much for the other products at the normal cost.
    So yes, when I watched Extreme Couponing at my daughters I was shocked by people buying so much of one product. I am sorry but if you are a Christian and are doing this is the height of selfishness, and self control.

  • Cathy

    Wow. Thanks for all the responses everyone! The only power we have here is to educate! And I must say that we sure do love our readers!! Thanks for the personal support and compliments, and I apologize if I offended anyone with my food stamp comment. I certainly wasn’t putting anyone down for being on FS, was just proud to say that we didn’t. We DID receive some help from our church on really rough months, but we’re doing OK now! 😉 Hugs to you all!

  • Crystal

    I love that you’re talkng about clearing shelves. I’m new to couponing and I feel terrible when I go just to get a few of the product and it’s all gone. Then people see me with my one coupon folder and think I’m part of the problem. It gives us all a bad name.
    One thing in your post I do have a problem with is your reference to foodstamps. It seems like you think that using them is less than honorable. It’s great that you were able to keep your family off them. However, as a stay at home mom of young children, I feel no shame in having to recieve foodstamps to meet ends meet. My husband has been laid off most of the last 3 years. As a carpenter in an economy that is not building, it’s hard to stay busy and regular jobs don’t even pay as much as unemployment. Some of us need the foodstamps and the couponing to feed our families. Please keep that in mind when you brag about being off them. Before my husband went back to work recently, I couldn’t even afford the newspapers to get the coupons from. Couldn’t afford to fix my non-working computer to print them from home. So I repeat again, NO SHAME IN USING FOODSTAMPS. The honorable people out there that don’t abuse the system still deserve a helping hand. I plan on paying it back in amazing amounts now that I’ve discovered couponing.

    • Trish

      I don’t think what she said was meant to bad-mouth people on food stamps. She was merely pointing out that a lot of people are able to stay OFF them because of couponing and when people clear shelves it makes it harder for people to make ends meet. Thus, more people might need to turn to food stamps which puts a burden on everyone.

  • Jane

    I don’t agree with this ~ I mentioned it before, but placing an order is a key part of building a stockpile. Placing an order like the 20 boxes of dish detergent is another form of clearing the shelves. Since the demand for all these items are high, what makes us think that if we special order, all the others who does the same thing will get their share? And what about the items intended for store stocking? If all people who place special orders are attended to first, I don’t think the warehouse of ANY store can meet the demands. I hope ALL stores stop this practice and if it can’t be stopped, at least they have a rule that coupons will not be allowed as payment for all items on special order. If this is implemented, people will think twice before ordering 20 to 50 or 200 of items knowing they have to pay for them in cash.

    My honest thoughts.

  • Rebecca

    The hardest part I have are with the ridiculous comments of entitlement. Everyone feels because they are struggling then they should always be entitled to their 4 bottles of shampoo or 8 cans of soup etc. Obviously since so many people feel like that, stock is depleted quickly..but it is SO much easier to blame the show, right?

  • Chelsey McGee

    Thanks for posting this, I have been feeling really sorry for myself over the past few weeks as I go out and only find empty shelves. Yes I get rainchecks but have run into the item not getting back in stock before the coupon expires. I do always ask the cashier if it was just sheer numbers or a few people clearing and its been a mixture of both. I also appreciate some stores placing limits on the rewards…that way they can try to get it to go farther. I have also placed and order before but the store got so many for this item, it simply discarded it (Purex Crystals).

    Stockpiling takes time, not one trip and you have a 5 year supply of toothpaste. I get one or two at a time (usually just what I need for the reward to come up) and have gotten a nice stockpile of toiletries, cereal, and pasta.

    Something I am curious about is anyone else getting backlash from cashiers. I get a little from other shoppers but its more curiosity. Its the cashiers that have been the rudest recently. In the last month I have had 3 cashiers on 3 separate occasions call me “one of those women with those binders”, “you couponers shouldn’t shop this time of night, we’re busy”. Its the “those women” that gets to me. I have started leaving my binder in the car and just taking an envelope with my list in.

    Thank you to those of you giving the hot item lists to the store managers. I wish they would hire someone at the corporate level to compare the coupons and upcoming sales so they stores could be better prepared.

  • Taz

    Our local stores have a limit of three like coupons per item. You are also only allowed to do one transaction per day! Yes, I’ve noticed some clerks being very rude to couponers. I went to the store this morning with my list. Over half of my items were completely out of stock. The sales clerks have made me go to one store more frequently where I can do self checkout with a full cart of groceries and scan my own coupons. In order to get stuff on sale, You have to be in the store at 11 p.m. Find all your sale items then wait until midnight to check out to get the sales.

  • Trish

    You said everything I’ve been thinking, particularly in reference to clearing shelves for charity. I’ve been saying for a while that I don’t have a problem with buying extra to give to charity, but people aren’t being honest with themselves when they think it’s ok to clear shelves for that purpose. You’re hurting other people just so you can get the thrill of a deal, then trying to justify by donating some of it.

    My mom and I have a standing shopping trip to Target every Friday. It’s really the only day we can do it, and because it’s close to the end of the week there’s always one or two things that they’re out of. No big deal…except lately there are TONS of cleared shelves around the store and we end up leaving with less and less each week. I even witnessed a shelf-clearer in action, taking all of an item that I wanted two of. I managed to get in there before she took all of them, and had to listen to her huff and puff that she wasn’t getting ALL of them.

    We’re taking it in stride and just waiting out the storm, but it is still frustrating. I’m confident though that burn out WILL happen for the majority of these couponers. They’ll either give up or come down to reality and start to coupon at a more reasonable level.

    Until then, we all have each other 😉

  • requiredname

    Illegal acquisition of coupon inserts must be stopped.
    It’s the best way to stop the shelf clearing.

    Please call and report these issues to :

    News America Marketing (distributes Smart Source) 1-800-462-0852

    Valassis (distribues Red Plum) 800.437.0479

    CIC Coupon Information Corporation (703) 684-5307

    Don’t forget to contact P&G also!

  • christie

    I hear and see the frustration however also agree with some who have said they got 3 or 4 and then the shelf was empty…that in my opinion is not a “shelf cleaner”.

    Just some thoughts….I feel at least the drug stores never have enough stock of the ad items….they always blame corporate saying they control what is shipped to each store. You would think someone at the corporate level would know what items are going to be featured and order enough from the manufacturer.

    I get extremely frustrated when the drug stores do promos if you spend $25 then you get $10 in ECB, RR, or UP’s and they do not even have enough stock on the shelf for one customer to get the promo without having to get a raincheck…there is no excuse for this!!!They are trying to get you in to buy in quanitity yet do not have the stock!!!!

    A few weeks ago I am sure you remember when cvs was running a promo a lays chips and I saw on several blogs to get 15 bags of chips for free….you know as well as I do….I would be shocked if even one person got 15 bags of chips for free…..so I feel some bloggers encourage shelf clearing and are contributing to the situation.

    I do not advocate shelf clearing but do feel stores, bloggers, and consumers share some responsibility in this problem. Unfortunately complaining will not fix it…. Happy shopping! 🙂

    • cher

      i don’t think anyone here considers just because you take the next to the last items is considered self-clearing. it’s geared toward people who purchase what would be considered taking a half a case or more of product, taking 50% + of the product on the shelf, knowing others will be wanting to take the deal as well.

  • Lanelle Devlin

    This is a GREAT article – couldn’t have said it better myself! I copied an excerpt on my blog with several thanks to you and links back to the entire article.

    Our little group teaches ethical couponing at SWAP and class events and we are also working with the local stores to give them a heads up on match-ups so they can prepare.

  • Debbie R. /Seattle

    Who am I to judge people on food stamps/WIC etc. If they qualify for the program it is not my place to say they should have an old car or what they buy. My mother used to have other shoppers criticise her for what was in her cart because she was on food stamps. Mom would buy us some pop and ice cream and get grief from other shoppers. Lets count our own blessings instead of hurting others. 🙂

  • Ryan

    I just started couponing and I have joined a forum of locals. I’ve seen a couple people clearing shelves and I plan to call them out on it. It’s just not right! Even a good friend of mine that I thought was ethical confided to me that she steals newspapers! She is not that poor that she needs to steal newspapers. It’s rediculous. If my friend is that bad, I can’t imagine what others might do. Let’s keep the positive words going and let other couponers know that they’re hurting other families by taking too much.

  • Kim Gustafson

    Great job with all your explanations! I am a cashier at a grocery store here in northern IL. I totally agree with everything you printed and wish I could keep a copy at my register. We have double couponing, sometimes triple couponing, and sometimes double dollar couponing. Yes it is an advantage for our area, but as cashiers we dred it simply because many couponers do not have good manners. So please be patient with your cashier and follow the store policy, thanks.

  • Marilyn

    How many times are you legally allowed to print a coupon? I am new to this and the blog that I started with frequently has scenarios that call for 2 computers. Today I finally decided to conquer getting my printer networked so that I could print from my laptop. (that’s actually the one I’m comfy on) But then it occurred to me that I have 3 computers, so got that one networked to print as well.
    I’ve been printing coupons off all 3. Is this allowed? Ethical? Are you even allowed to use 2 computers?

    • Cathy of Fabulessly Frugal

      Hi Marilyn! So glad you’re here. You can absolutely print 2 coupons per computer. Thanks for asking!

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