The Truth About Couponing for Charity

After talking about one of the greatest aspects of Extreme Couponing, we got an email from a reader that we felt needed to be addressed. Here’s a bit of backstory:

A fruGAL set out at a local Walgreens Thanksgiving morning to take advantage of the amazing sales they were having. She encountered a group of women shopping and addressed her email to them.

Here’s the email:

“I saw the ad just like you did. I knew I had great coupons that would give me free products. I too was excited.  I arrived at the store 5 minutes before it opened because I knew that if I don’t take advantage of a good deal early, it disappears…

My list was simple, 3-6 Gillette, rubber bands, Secret Deodorant spray (depending on stock), the candy that was on sale and a few miscellaneous gifts that were deeply discounted. When the door opened, I saw you [ladies] push your way in and grab your carts and sprint off. I walked in and push [my cart] to the candy and by the time I got to the Secret display, it was wiped out (five minutes or less). You [each] had shopping carts… full to the brim with items that Walgreens had on sale. One [of you] was a new coupon lady. The other was teaching you. I felt sad for you because this is not the way to coupon.

I’m not sure how many bottles of Secret Deodorant spray you each had… All I know is I saw many, many bottles in each of your carts. I saw a different woman looking for the Gillette, which was also wiped out, she had come in specifically for a couple bottles. I gave her two of my five out of my cart – because it was the right thing to do. I overheard one of you say that you have tons of product already stockpiled and you would be donating what you got today to the homeless shelter….that comment irritated me. This is why:

The sales were awesome, amazing deals and EVERYONE should have the opportunity to take advantage of them. Why should a homeless shelter get 30 bottles of Secret Deodorant Spray, when another person who could be teetering on foreclosure, who might be out of work, who might have limited funds, who simply wants to take advantage of a good deal to get her daughters some nice smelling spray for Christmas (me), can’t because YOU wiped out the shelf in all of three minutes.”

Couponing for Charity Gone Too Far?

She brings up a great point that I know is a sensitive subject for many. Often in our haste to give back and donate to others, we forget that there are those who are in desperate need of a single item. They aren’t trying to build their stockpiles or amass a garage full of product. They are simply trying to get a good deal on ONE item, or they may go without. They are often attempting to use their couponing skills to keep from ending up in the very shelter those shoppers were trying to support.

I see that the intentions of her fellow shoppers were good. They were trying to do a great thing. But they were inadvertently doing more harm than good. They were clearing shelves in the name of charity, but at the end of the day, clearing a shelf is clearing a shelf, regardless of the motivating factor.

So while we implore you to give back when you are able, we also ask that you do so while being considerate to others. If a truckload full of deodorant is what you are looking to donate, call the store ahead of time and see if they would be willing to place an order. If that is not possible, be respectful of those shopping around you.

If your game plan was to donate 100 razors and you get to the store and find only 100 razors total on the shelf, adjust your game plan. Know that any homeless shelter will be grateful for ANY donation, be it 1 or 100 or anywhere in between.

The bottom line: you shouldn’t clear shelves for charity. And, speaking of shelf clearing, if you ever find yourself the victim of an empty shelf, use these tips to help you avoid leaving the store empty-handed.

I will now step off my soapbox and allow you guys to chime in. Here’s my question for everyone about couponing for charity:

Do you feel that charitable shopping in any manner is to be commended, regardless of the negative impact it has? Or do you feel there is an appropriate way to give back?

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  • If you have the stock, give some of THAT away. I would be one of those who went in to find everything wiped out. I really need the items that I can get for cheap or free. I support myself, husband and three kids on my own.
    A couponing friend of mine donated some stuff to me from her stock pile knowing our situation. I in return have given many toothpastes, deoderants, etc to family and friends who could use them. Everyone knows someone who is in a hard situation right now. I encourage those who have the extra stock to give to your neighbor, sister, friend, whoever is having a hard time. They may not need toothpaste today but I bet you when they do and are counting change until next payday like I do, they will think of you and be thankful they have you.

    • I hear you, Sarah. I’m in the same situation, but with one less kid than you’ve got. Still, every penny counts for us- and coupons are one of our “lifelines”, too- they make the difference between having to go to a food pantry for help, and being self-sufficient. Best of luck to you and yours- hopefully, people will read the post above, and think about the “marginals”, like us! 🙂

    • I too am supporting 4 of us on meager unemployment as my husband and I both lost jobs we held for over a decade each.. I have turned to couponing as a way to help feed MY children instead of a stockpile that rarely gets touched.. Donations are awesome, and believe me in better times we gave as often as possible to different organizations, but these women need to realize that their neighbors may be struggling as well. Instead of sitting these items on shelves in your garage so that you can marvel at your mass, leave some for those of us that will not only use it, but TRULY NEED it..

    • thanks ladies! One thing that I also did with the mass of Old Spice body wash/deorderant/Gillette razor/etc was make a gift basket for my dad and father in-law. It was nice to still be able to get them something even when I could not afford a darn thing.


      Funny thing – my sister actually texted me last night and thanked me for the toothpaste I had given her a while ago. She’s pinching pennies and it was one less thing she had to buy 🙂

  • While I don’t support the shelf clearing I have to say that arriving 5 minutes before any Black Friday Sale and expecting to get what you want it crazy. That’s why the rest of us wait there for an hour or two (sometimes more if I really want something.) I really hope this isn’t taken the wrong way.


  • I, too, cannot stand shelf clearers no matter what their motivation is. I have been in the situation of the email writer on more than one occasion. I was at our local grocery store one day and saw that they had their Purex detergent on closeout for $1.81 a bottle. I was going to get 2 bottles. However, I was pushing my son in one of the large car buggy’s and so I stepped aside to allow someone to pass by. As soon as I stepped aside a woman ran up behind me and took every bottle there was leaving me none. I was so frustrated. But, I’m determined to never be that kind of couponer.

    I recently sent a care package to my brother with some of the great deals I’d gotten that week and he was so grateful and said that a lot of what I sent was stuff he had just run out of or was about to run out of so it came at the perfect time. I think THAT is how responsible couponing is done.

    I’m about to send a care package to my friend who’s work has slowed to the point that she’s been told not to come in for over a week now and she is really hurting. I may not have the MONEY to send but I can help by sending some of the great deals I’ve been able to get. After all, if I was to send someone a quarter it won’t help anything but a tube of toothpaste that I got for a quarter is very valuable and helpful.

    I think the problem with people like the ones referenced in the email is that they have no balance.

  • While it might have been a nice gesture, shelf clearing should not be allowed no matter what the purpose! Why didn’t they just go through their stockpile? It irritates me because I took couponing up to save money. Plain and simple. With that said, others should be respectful. Yes, it may have been Black Friday, but it’s not nrcessary to buy every thing on the shelf! They should have pre-ordered. I sure hope they came to their senses.

  • I had a similar experience during the last Albertson’s TTV sale. I went in at 9 AM and here were two women with 2 carts each and they’d completely cleaned out the Emerald Breakfast to Go’s among other things. I was helping a new couponer that day and she told me she had caught them clearing the shelves when she went to get some, and they told her they were “shopping for the soccer team”. Another black eye for the soccer moms in my view!!

  • i had a similar to this but not on black friday with some cheap diapers we have 2 kids still in diapers and i was excited i went in to get two packs and there were ladies throwing them in their carts even when it says that walgreens limits. right 🙂 so i politely waited then snuck to the side to grab them knowing otherwise i wouldnt get them and the lady goes i need those last two for my coupons i think its a good deal im not sure im taking them to a church. yeah nice of you great that you feel like an amazing person donating to a church, im sure they love it too. but its sad people forget how many people DONT get assistance and those deals come in real handy. i dont call them shelf clearers i call them rude greedy jerks. 🙂

  • I believe it shouldn’t matter if you get to the store 5 minutes or 2 hours before it opens… people should not clear the shelves. Now, on Black Friday, it may be that you don’t get the item because of the sheer numbers of people, but really, a whole shelf…. In my opinion these people who fill carts with items in the name of charity are using that as an excuse, because admit it..getting free or extremely cheap stuff does give you a rush! My guess is that if they were honest about it, they would have to say the “rush or high” was a big part of their rude purchase. To clear out the shelves when there are other people who actually need the product now or as gifts is just selfish. I coupon to keep my own family off of Food Stamps and such. There simply is NO work for my husband. God blessed our family with an awesome 3/4 time position for me that has fabulous full time benefits. But we are a family of 4 living only on my income, which is less then $1,800.00 per month. We pay rent, insurance, car payment, student loans, and all the other bills, then use what is left for food and such, coupons are the only way we get some things. Couponing helps us get by with NO public assistance… I would have been so disappointed to go for needed items only to miss out because someone selfishly took them all. I think people need to use real common courtesy, common sense, honesty, and kindness in couponing.

  • I have often been frustrated by cleared shelves, though I don’t know if one person bought the entire stock, or 15 people each bought just a few items. If I saw someone clearing all of the items off of the shelf and I wanted to buy said item, I’d ask politely, “what are the chances that you could leave one of those for me to purchase? ” If they told me to go suck an egg, then I know that deal was not meant to be. I choose not to “extreme” stockpile as it’s just me and my hubby in the home, but if I bought the last two of something and someone asked me to share one, I would do it in a heartbeat. If we have fear and desperation in our hearts, that’s what we’ll have in our lives. Heck, if I was just buying something as a “spare”, and it was the last item on the shelf but someone said they were in need, I’d let them buy it instead.

  • If I am donating something I usually shop the last day of the sale at the end of the day so that people who want the item can get what they want. Or I will go to the store a couple of times during the week and get a few items at a time. I did not shop walgreens on black friday because I figured there would not be anything left by the time I got there and I do not like “fighting” to get what I want but usually walgreens limits how much people can buy at a time so I am surprised that the lady did not get what she went for.

  • My coupon pal said that on Black Friday, Walgreen’s didn’t limit amounts or transactions. I was up in the mountains cutting a Christmas tree, figured I would skip the madness that weekend and from the TV reports (was WalMart horrifying or what?) I think I made a wise choice!

  • I’ve had similar experiences several times (and written about it in the comments here), and it hurts. Several times other commenters have made comments along the lines of “just get a rain check!” and that does work sometimes…but not all the time, as we all know. Through the last couple of years, my family has endured a lot of financial shakeups (layoffs, job losses, etc.) and couponing was for survival, and also so that our kids could still have Christmas and other holidays–couponing was literally the way I paid for my kids’ Christmas presents last year. Now, we’re very fortunate because just lately my husband has found a job where his income is going to be more than double what we’ve ever made in the past and should be fairly layoff-proof, so in the future I expect that it’s going to hurt much less when I get to Albertson’s (or wherever) and find cleared shelves. But I don’t think I’ll ever forget what it feels like.

    (Incidentally, we also live way the heck out of town–it’s an hour’s drive, one way, to the shopping, and so I really, really can’t “just come back tomorrow when they restock.”)

  • THANK YOU for posting this! Common courtesy is no longer so common. We need to always remember that no matter the motivation, we need to be considerate of those around us. The fact that this situation happened on black friday had absolutely nothing to do with the issue at hand. One of my friends who taught me to coupon (for a family of six) told me she absolutely NEVER takes all of an item. It’s a rule I never break, and one other would do better to follow.

  • I totally agree with the letter writer, if you already have plenty at home and are buying only to donate, I don’t believe it is okay to take a lot of anything whether that entails clearing or not clearing the shelf. If there are say 20 of an item and you take 10 “to donate”, I do not think that is okay! The shoppers going there out of their way to get the deals may be the very person you will be “donating” to down the road!

  • Many times i have posted asking those who wish to donate waite till the end of the sale. I have to provide for my family on a VERY small income. More than not when i get to the stores the shelves are empty and I have wasted money on gas and time just to see many fellow couponers posting they purchased them just to donate. I do believe it is great to help others but PLEASE give those of us that are trying to help ourselves do it first.
    Thank You.

  • They are donating to charity and claiming it on there taxes at full retail price. This is not “with good intention”. I call BS on that reason. They are doing it to benefit themselves. People are rude and ignorant now a days its a shame.

  • I didn’t even bother to go shopping at walgreens. I knew the shelf clearers would wipe everything out. I am disabled and on SSDI and couponing is a must for my husband and I, or we do without. It’s that simple. I donate stuff too. But not at the expense of everyone else. You don’t have to have a ton of stuff to donate. They appreciate even a few things at a time which is what I can afford to do. I have been so discouraged about the stores being out of everything that I am shopping for deals less and less. I can’t get out often because of my health, and I can’t keep checking back when a truck comes in. I have a really hard time biting my tongue when I see people with tons and tons of product in their cart, and I just struggled to get in and out of the car and in the store all for nothing! Then I think of the woman who was on the couponing show that says to another customer “the early bird gets the worm- you should have been her sooner.” Ugh.

  • People….really?! I don’t coupon as of yet and I too have gone to purchase something that is no longer on the shelf, but does it matter if one person or a hundred people clear the shelf? The product is still gone. Plan ahead, go to another store, start a co-op something, anything but stop complaining about not getting what you want. As was mentioned above, there are a lot of people who have nothing! What we need to do is complain/suggest to the store managers (which they all know what the sales are going to be and what coupons are out there or going to be out there, just look at their ads especially Walgreens “coupon from most Sunday papers”) to order more product with this craze going on (couponing). For whatever reason someone is clearing a shelf or shopping for just one item is not really the point. The lack of stock is what causes the frenzy and the stockpiling. If the product was readily available I don’t think this would be so much of a problem. Last I looked this was still a free country. Yes mind your manners, don’t mace anyone, or trample anyone, be kind if you see someone is trying to buy the same product standing right next to you, but let’s put the blame where the blame needs to be. Store managers…stock up, realize that people are struggling and will be taking advantage of couponing whether it be extreme or for just one item.

    Now I will get off my soapbox.

    • That sounds really nice because obviously you haven’t started couponing yet. I started almost 3 years ago before TLC did all their shows and it became such a ridiculous craze. I stopped 4 months ago because I had had it. My family lives off one income with no benefits as well and I really got into it to save money. Once you start “really” couponing you will understand how freaking ridiculous it is and how mad you will be when you have taken hours out of your weekend to clip coupons, organize a couponing binder, put together shopping lists, planned out catalinas and coupon combinations, and made arrangements to get to the store early, only to find that some greedy person just ahead of you (or way ahead of you) has already taken everything in the name of “charity.” I know some couponers who are so beyond what you would ever need in a stockpile, but they are addicted to couponing and use “donating” as their excuse. They do it for the “high” of getting super cheap or free stuff, and then give it to places without checking first to see if there is a need or whatever. I have gone to the store before when my newborn was out of formula, yes formula, to buy more and it was ALL GONE because there was a couponing deal. That happens with pretty much everything that is a good deal these days, at most of my local stores. And I live centrally in Boise. I was sad to quit couponing but in the end the time/effort it was taking for mostly wasted results was not in any way worth it. And I guess that if the problem isn’t completely greedy people but also just the fact that there are so many people taking a few each, it is just as big a problem because that must mean there are just too many couponers out there and the stores can’t keep up. I think that even if they upped their stock unless people really made sure to special order it wouldn’t make a difference.

      • @ Tonya: I understand where you are coming from. My daughter has 5 children with one on the way…so “coupons” for a family of seven almost eight. Not only does she take the time to clip, organize a couponing binder, put together shopping lists, plan out catalinas and coupon combinations, she drags her 5 children to each and every store she needs to go to, so I’m sure she would be frustrated if the shelves were empty…my point was that the stores need to meet the demand of their customers or as others have suggested set limits. I feel everyone who coupons and stocks up works for that product, it’s not easy to coupon otherwise I would be couponing more, which I plan to do. It’s hard work and if you have done the work then you are entitled to as many products as you have coupons regardless of whether it is for charity or not. The point is people are upset that they did not get the product they wanted and others did in abundance…which goes back to stores making sure they have plenty in stock. But absolutely be kind and share the talent and wealth of couponing. What goes around comes around…. period.

    • I just want to make it clear before I write this that this is my personal opinion, NOT a complaint. I agree that store managers need to be more aware of what is on sale and the “hot” coupon items. It only increases their bottom line. Even if they hired a “coupon specialist” for a few hours a week to help them order these products. Couponing is all the rage right now and they need to keep up. However, people who clear the shelves are NOT being courteous to those standing at the shelves next to them, they’re only concerned about what’s in their carts. If they truly were doing this shelf clearing out of the goodness of their hearts they would be considerate to others. So let’s face it, they’re #1. NOT being honest, and #2. They ARE being, as stated earlier, “rude, greedy jerks!!” Yes, it is a free country. They’ll do what they want. I think the real issue is not what are freedoms are, but what is ethical?!

      • @Amy – I don’t agree that it’s about being ethical…because they are NOT doing anything unethical…morally wrong yes, but not unethical. Rude, greedy yes, I do not disagree. I’m just saying that there is more demand and stores should take that into consideration.

        • Yes, I stated that as well, I’m sorry you got hung up on the wrong terminology. I was just referring to coupon ethics here. I believe this site addresses this very thing multiple times.

        • @Lisa–the individual stores have NO control over what product is on sale. And since there IS all of those greedy shelf-clearing coupon shoppers, how are they supposed to know how much stock to order to keep on-hand so that “everyone” (which is how many for each sale….20? 100? 500?) can get some? Keep in mind also that for each warehouse that holds the items, supplies NUMEROUS stores. So if each store orders 500 of a product, realistically, is each store going to get that many so that they are “instock” for everyone? Especially if an item is free, or just costs pennies…people are going to hoard. Even if a store ordered 1000 of a product, if it’s free, there’s going to be someone who goes in there and grabs every last one of them, even if it’s all 1000. Not everyone, but enough that there will always be someone that won’t get what they had wanted. It’s not necessarily the individual store’s fault. I have talked to all three stores near me about ordering. Each one has said even if I order, there’s no guarantee I will get it because it all depends on how many is at the warehouse when they call in an order. The stores have no control over what is available for them to order at the warehouse. After you start couponing and find out what it’s really about, you will see that there’s a lot to learn about couponing.

        • Um… Lisa. Do you know the definition of ethics? If it is morally wrong, it IS unethical.
          ethics (from Google’s definition)
          1. Of or relating to moral principles or the branch of knowledge dealing with these.
          2. Morally correct.

  • My goodness, If you are going to really donate then why don’t you pre-order the items so that they are NOT being taken from the shelves! I wonder how many people say they are donating and are actually hoarding?

    • I’m sure there are a few that “plan” to donate but just never get around to it or say they’re going to do it but don’t say when……

    • Exactly!

      This is precisely what I did with all of the items we purchased for the Food Bank (last week’s post, I worked with management from 3 different stores (Fred Meyer, Target and Albertsons). I even had an “official” letter written on letterhead from my manager explaining what we were doing. This was helpful because even doing a special order (in such large quantities) they were hesitant to fulfill it. Once it was explained that I represented 25 people and it was for the Food Bank they were eager to help.

      Unfortunately, I think that many people misrepresent that they are purchasing to donate to charity as an excuse to clear shelves. Even if the intentions are true, you still need to use plain common sense and basic courtesy.

  • I am also in agreement of not clearing shelves, there is no reason to do when your have stores like walmart that will match those prices….I REALLY dislike selfish people!

  • I have to agree with Jeanie that people are going to clear shelves regardless of any peer or societal pressure. This begs the question why discuss people’s behavior but instead ask why the stores aren’t putting limits on the number of items someone can purchase in one visit. (Nobody needs more than 3 to 4 deodorants in one year.) This is especially applicable when the deals are so good like Black Friday’s. P&G has started putting limits on their coupons which I think is appropriate, even when it bums me out. For those of us that coupon the right way, we need to put pressure where it really affect change and that is with the stores.

    • Nobody needs more than 3 to 4 deodorants in one YEAR?? Really??? Is something wrong with my family then because we definitely go thru way more than that in a year. What kind of deodorant are you buying that lasts you that long? If I can find it that would be a money saver right there.

  • I have encountered the “shelf clearers” and its frustrated me as well.

    I generally buy for my family & to share with other family members that do not live with me who do not have the opportunity to do the couponing.

    Once every 4-6 weeks I go through my stockpile. Maybe there was something I thought we liked and I bought a few, and then we didn’t. Maybe its something that will be expiring with in a month (like cereal) that we may not eat. Last week I donated 12 grocery bags worth from my stockpile to ONE single family that is even worse off than me. Food, beauty items, bath items, you name it…it was there. This other family had it even harder so I gave what I knew we could do without.

    I have NEVER cleared a shelf and I don’t think its necessary. The sales rotate through. The coupons do as well. There is no need to do so. I have bought 52 boxes of cat food (purina one, when it was free) BUT I had to go get it 4 boxes at a time. It took me several WEEKS because I really don’t have time for multiple transactions in 1 day. But the shelf was NEVER empty.

    I think people need to use common sense. Are you ever going to use 100 cans of soup….perhaps someday…but really before it expires? Do you need 75 bottles of bodywash?

    Giving back is ALWAYS GOOD. I do the same. But being that I have a virtually non-existant budget, I have to do it on a smaller scale. Many times have I been disapointed by empty shelves – and often store managers blame couponers emptying their warehouses.

    I guess what I am saying is: Shop smart & Keep your fellow couponer in mind. Some of us NEED these items to make ends meet. I have a budget of $200 for a family of three for an entire month for food AND non-food items. That is IT. No more. It do-able but only with coupons.

    As for the 5min vs 2hr black Friday Sale. I drove by our Walgreens on my way to work… would not have mattered. There were only a hand full of people there. No huge crows. So I think spending 2 hours waiting in the cold is really un-necessay…..and aside from that….I’ve never seen a deal THAT special. I actually avoid shopping Black Friday all together and focus on online specials….no lines, no cold weather, no hassle!

  • My first thought was, “Couldn’t the reader just get a raincheck for what she wanted?”

    • I’ve had a rainchecks for MONTHS for some items and by the time the item returns to stock the coupon is expired. So rainchecks don’t always work out and on some specials they don’t do rain checks… such as Black Friday Deals.

    • Rainchecks are sometimes not available. Sometimes the ads will state, “Limited to stock on hand,” Also, if you need a coupon for the purchase, sometimes it is expired before the product comes in again. This happens most frequently with the TTV coupons from Albies.

  • I think it’s clear that the problem on Black Friday was not lack of stock, but lack of limits. But to stay on topic: I wanted to bring up a “donating to the shelter” issue my daughter ran into. Last year, she and her boyfriend thought it would be a good lesson for his little kid if they went & bought things and took him with them to the shelter to donate them. So they got their little cart full of stuff and proceeded to the shelter. She said when they got there with the goods, a worker brusquely waved a hand and told them to “throw it on that pile over there” & walked off. She said it was a mountainous pile, half a warehouse wide & reaching nearly up to the ceiling. Then I talked to a drugstore checker last week who had lived at a shelter recently, and she said they were given off-brand foreign-made toothpaste & other below-par stuff. I’m wondering, is there a disconnect here? If the shelf-clearers are indeed buying mondo amounts of high-quality stuff & supposedly donating it to the shelter, where’s it really going? Are they really donating it? And if so, is somebody skimming off the top? Anyway it was a totally bad experience for the little boy.

  • Thank you for posting this! I have seen people go through Fred Meyer with cart loads of items and stacks of coupons, telling people they are “donating all of it” and thats why they cleared the shelves. Really? We are such a greedy society. Greed is what caused the economy to tank and people to lose their jobs. People need to have EVERYTHING they want, causing huge debts and later turning to bankruptcy which has killed the economy. Why would it be any different when it comes to free items at Walgreens or any other store?
    People are greedy. They get a rush from filling their cart full of free stuff and justify doing so by announcing that they are “donating it”.
    I started couponing six months ago. I’m building my stockpile slowly, just like this website teaches you to do. You don’t need 40 toothpastes, deodorants, or shampoos. If your going to donate it, stop and think for a minute. Think about your family, friends, neighbors, and co workers. Many people are one step away from needing to visit the food bank. They rely on deals every week to keep them afloat. Lets help those in our community that we know first, so we do not need to over whelm our communities resources with more people using them.
    If you have a huge stockpile, start helping out people with it. If you need to “get a fix” by wheeling out a cartload of free stuff, special order it or wait until the last day of the sale.
    The people that are justifying this behavior are most likely the ones doing it. Please build your stock pile slowly and use the supplies you stock pile to help others.
    If you do coupoining the right way, I believe it can have a tremendous trickle down effect in your life. I save a lot of money every month by doing this. I deprive myself of my “wants” so that I can have a nice emergency fund for my family. There is no need to be greedy. If you want to donate supplies, go every week and get a few items. After awhile, you will have a nice amount to donate.
    We are a society that wants to do everything in excess. Its sad and it needs to change. There is a way to help people without hurting others in the process. Anything in excess is not a good thing.

  • I have taken up couponing as a way to save as much as I can for a family of 6 in a frugal and good stewardship sort of way – I have no stockpile. I wonder if our drive to become extreme-couponers has opened more doors to becoming couponing hoarders instead of allowing our months needs to drive our current family choices. I think there’s a fine line between good stewardship of our finances/goods and hoarding. I hope we all know where the line is.

  • *Giggle* I think I see the psychology behind the compulsive shelf-clearing….wonder if those that do this would consider taking up another sport…? Say, marathons for charity, or maybe softball? Just a thought! 🙂

  • I remember reading a post on a blog sometime around Halloween last year. The woman was bragging about buying about 80 bags of Halloween candy for really cheap and she said most of it she was going to donate to her kids school for their big Halloween party. I couldn’t help but feel sorry for all the parents who only wanted a bag or two for their kids to take to school or hand out at the door but now might not be able to afford them because of the greed of one person. This story has stuck with me for so long because it shows what happens when one person might think they are really doing a nice thing but it turns out to be not so nice.

  • Thank you for posting this. I took up couponing a few months ago with the help of my sister-in-law and this site in an effort to save money and to build the best home that I can with limited resources. Like most of you I spend a great deal of time and energy in this pursuit. My husband and I have a system where I will set up the coupons, transactions, and lists based on items that we need and use and he will spend his Sunday mornings going from store to store making these purchases so as to play fair and not clear out any shelves. It’s very important to us that we follow and understand that policies of each store, but also that we give the couponing subculture a good name.

    For this reasons it’s hurtful and embarrassing to hear of these stories of women and I’ve seen men do the same, rush around in a mad dash to dump whatever they can in their cart and attempt to bully checkout clerks into breaking the rules, allowing them an insane amount of transactions. It’s this no holds bar attitude that seems to give others the permission to give the rest of us dirty looks or make fun of us for our binders and coupon clipping. More than once, at the mere sight of my binder or coupons, without a single item in my cart, I have heard people refer to me a food hoarder or a crazy coupon lady, but without the cute connotation.

    We need to be mindful that while we’re out shopping, we’re not just representatives of our families, but also of our couponing community. While someone may not give a particular perpetrator an earful at the time of a shelf clearing incident, another one of us may bear the brunt of their animosity in the future.

  • At first I was a gung-ho couponer for my favorite charity. We help the needy in our community with a ministry that supplies non-food items. The ministry is called Tangable Touch…but as I heard story after story of the same family coming in every month for their “supplies” I thought why don’t we teach them HOW to get the good deals too. I too thought that if I got all the items on the shelf what would be left for them to buy. So now I only buy 4 newspapers, get only 4 deals worth of anything and feel more at peace about the whole thing.
    As a side note you may be wondering why I chose the number 4. That is the number of people in MY family and I think that is a reasonable amount for anyone to get, after all toothbrushes ect. go on sale at least once a month.
    Sharing and giving at a more sustainable rate,

    • TOTALLY AGREE, your family size should be one of your main factors in how much you get. The deals come back around and every one gets some and it makes for a win win!

      • I agree. I was getting 4 newspapers and that was growing my stockpile too quickly, even without shelf clearing! I built a ‘house supply’ box (toiletries, paper products, etc.) for my brother’s wedding and was still getting too much, so guess what I did? I reduced my newspapers to 2. Even though I will be ‘missing out’ on a few amazing deals, what would I do with the product already in my stock pile? Don’t be so ansy for the deal that you forget what you already have in your stockpile. Seriously? Who needs 20 boxes of toothpaste?

  • Hmmm, sounds like my experience at my local Walgreens for the same sale. I arrived at my 24-hour Walgreens an hour before midnight. I was there to get a few great deals for myself and my family and to teach my 2 sisters how to coupon. As we were shopping, a woman and her husband entered the store and began filling 2 carts. She told me they were shopping for the elderly and homeless, as if that justified her swiping. When we saw they were wiping out the shelves, we moved quickly from aisle to aisle gathering a few of each item on our list for each of us. We laughed a bit when she went to the checkout and we were all told that the store was limiting our purchases to 3 of each item per household so that more people can participate in the sale. Hooorraaayyy! After she checked out, she took her purchases to her car. When she reentered the store to fill her carts again, the manager told her she had already purchased 3 of each item and they wouldn’t sell any more to her. Yeah for that manager! We still missed out on a few items we really wanted because she swiped them so quickly, but we were grateful for a thoughtful manager.

    Don’t get me wrong, I give to charity abundantly and regularly, but I take the items from my personal stockpile. I don’t wipe out stores to give items away. I like to see many people be able to participate in a great deal and appreciate other shoppers who do the same.

    • yay for that manager too! I always check and ask if the walgreens I’m shopping at is Limiting. #1 reason is because I expect it because I think it should be that way, but stores in my area don’t apparently #2 reason is so that I know what to expect when looking for the deals I was planning on, if they are limiting chances are I MIGHT get it, if not… might as well turn around and leave….

  • I coupon to keep my family budget in tact. I am a stay at home mom who made the choice not to work at a well paying job in order to take care of my children, my home and my husband. We try to make every penny count and the only way to make it on our budget is to coupon.
    Shelf Clearing IS Shelf Clearing…if you have multiple coupons and there are only a few items left, then leave them for someone else. This isn’t only happening at Walgreens, but also at Albertson’s. If you are going in first thing on Sunday with your doublers, think about others as well.
    Some people really do coupon simply to make the budget work and NOT for the rush, and NOT for the “donations”, and not for the bragging rights, but simply to make it in a tight economy on their own means without leaning on government or family help. It’s called integrity.

  • I have been frustrated myself to spend hours preparing only to arrive at the store and find nothing. It frustrates me when stores advertise anything, be it electronics, deoderant or breakfast on the go, and don’t have a realistic stock on hand. I have never witnessed anything like the above but have sure been disappointed at an empty shelf. So … my question is, if I have 5 coupons for an item and I arrive at the store and there are 5 left, is it wrong for me to purchase all 5 items? Is it wrong only if it is the first morning of the sale, and fine if it is in the last few hours? Or is it wrong if I want to purchase 10, 30 or 50 items and clear the shelf, but not 5? Is it wrong if I am only married with no kids, or if I have 5 kids and a hubby? Is it wrong if we both work, or only if neither of us work? I’m not being sarcastic or antognistic, I truly want to know. Very rarely do I have more than 5 coupons for an item and I have on serveral occassions purchased the last 5, (or less) items on the shelf, I am just beginning building up a (realistic) stock pile for me and my family. I have no desire to hoard, or be rude or greedy for sure, simply save my family the most money I can and be a smart shopper. So how should I handle these situations?

    • I Have similar thoughts to you, Sometimes I get to the store and it has two or three on the self, So To me I don’t think It’s wrong to take the few I wanted to buy, even if that means now the shelf is empty. The person who comes after me will probably curse me for taking the last ones, but hey it was three! I really don’t see why people would take more than five of say bigger things like toilet paper, laundry detergent, etc because thats like months of supply and I’m sure it will go on sale again, but it is hard with the people that do take 10 or more of an item.

    • If you need the 5, you shouldn’t be afraid to take the 5. You are not doing it to ‘clear the shelf’ or for the ‘rush’. It is people who take 8ish or more (depending on the product) who don’t need it and are stocking up in a ridiculous way. You know, the “I need 10 of these NOW because they will NEVER go on sale again!” people. They buy that many each time in a panic because they don’t plan.

  • Just read your posted story and I totally agree. I am also a frugal couponer but I am a widow and I am on Soc. Security. I have to live on $800/mth and there many more out there of us who live on less than that. I HAVE to use coupons and take advantage of the sales or I can’t survive. I am soon to be 68 yrs old. I cannot work any longer. I also will be having major surgery in just 13 days with months of recuperation. I am one of those older ladies you see in the store that is heart broken because I cannot get the things I need to survive on my meager income. I am so discouraged because I can’t get to the store and “beat my way” past those of you who “have to have your stockpiles” so I am extremely lucky if I get to take advantage of any sales at all. Some weeks I am able to find a few but most I come home and want to cry. Why can’t people realize that just because I am not homeless doesn’t mean I am any less needy than they are. I DEPEND on those few coupon deals. Please PLEASE for heaven’s sake leave just a few for those of us not so fortunate. Thanks for letting me vent.

    • I hear you, I often help out my friend who is in serious need. She has lost nearly everything and is down to the bare bones in a tiny 1 bedroom place for her and her daughter. So I know that there are people out there that need the deals more than others. I don’t like to clear shelves and have been known to let shelf clearers know that. However, I must say that now that Rite Aid and Walgreen’s have started limiting their ups to 3 per person, per day, I have a much easier time finding what I need. I definitely agree with the limits and I don’t go super crazy over anything. It’s not worth it. I do call in orders if I am making a big order for the food bank ahead of time, so it shouldn’t affect the shelves. Hang in there Diane- there will always be good days and bad days when it comes to couponing. I was pleasantly surprised that I got to Walgreen’s yesterday at lunchtime and they had plenty of every item I wanted, I did my three transactions knowing that there was still plenty for the next people in line!

  • While donating to those in need is a wonderful thing, clearing shelves is not necessary to do so. Yes, it was Black Friday but this wasy body spray and body wash we’re talking about, not a flat screen TV. I have been couponing for years and backed off due to frustration of empty shelf after empty shelf. I don’t shop on Sundays but would always go out first thing on Monday morning, and told many times that they were cleaned out Sunday minutes after opening. I have a small stockpile that I literally built 1 or 2 at a time. I never clear a shelf and if there are only 2 left only take 1. That stockpile is helping now as I’m on bedrest and not working. Thanks to what I’ve built up we’re using the stockpile to save on our bills right now. I agree go back at the end of the sale and wipe it out then, let other people at least have a chance at it. Seriously, we’re to the point that every week is like Black Friday.

  • This is why I don’t spend hours organizing or getting my hopes up for those super great deals. Sometimes it just doesn’t work out: whether it’s from a shelf clearer or a 100 people buy one item.
    Just a side note: Some store managers do not have the ability to order up on the sale items. If these stores are anything like the large, national chains that I have worked for in the past, a buyer at the corporate office decides how much they get of everything and they have to make due. My local Walgreens cashier said this was a big problem for them recently with all the couponers, but all they can do is apologize. They don’t get a say in how much they get of just about anything.
    I don’t clear shelves, I don’t have a big stock pile, and I just want to save a few bucks if I can. I wish everyone would just remember that everything is better in moderation, and that includes couponing!

  • The only time I have cleared a shelf was the last night of the Rite Aid sale on Lysol wipes for our school. I got to the store 30 minutes before they closed and even then I left 2 on the shelf until I asked the checkers if they wanted any. Remember, the checkers are our best friends at the store and they rely on these deals too! Outside of this one example, my stock pile grows 4 items at a time. Two for my family and a once per month “tithe”. Yup, 10% of my stock pile gets donated once a month. Got 30 laundry detergents? 3 need to find a new home.

  • All growing up me and my Older Sister had the desire to give back during Christmas Time, we wanted to basically buy Christmas for my younger sisters and parents and pick out Angel Tree Kids and everything, but always stretched ourselves too thin and couldn’t do it. Now I coupon and have a little stockpile (just 1 closet, plus a little space in another for bigger paper towels and toilet paper) From couponing I had an abundance of personal hygiene items that My husband and I couldn’t use within six months, so I thought putting together hygiene kits to give to a homeless shelter or the church would be a good idea! I did hit the Walgreens Black Friday Sale (on Thanksgiving Day, and went back the next day for a few things they still had) But I did not buy more that FOUR things of a single item. The rest I planned to take from my stockpile that had an abundance I wouldn’t use. I totally understand the point of view that you are now in a position to donate, but Also understand others are getting the deals because that is something their Family NEEDS! Clearing the shelves is quite ridiculous, to be honest I think that getting more that 5 sunday papers worth of coupons is a little ridiculous, And I wish people would see that.

  • I work at a grocery store and all those who suggested to people to order ahead for a sale, this does not work. Even those of us who work at the store do not know what will be on sale the next week until the ad comes out. Only managers can know the sales ahead and they don’t tell anyone.

  • Cathy of Fabulessly Frugal

    Can I just say I <3 our readers!!!

  • I absolutely do not think its okay to fill carts with sale items and clear the shelves. Lately I have stopped going to Walgreens. Its a bit of a drive and I hated when I’d get there and stuff is gone. I love that Rite-Aid has limits (I still go there weekly) built in with their Wellness card, and honestly I wish more stores would do that. It seems to me its a lose-lose for the manufacturer and the store if only a few people clear the shelves and the rest of the customers are frustrated.

  • I know that some of the managers choose not to put certain things out that are usually free or nearly free with coupons. Like my local Walmart when the coupon was for Cascade 1.00 off and you bought the trial size it made it free or nearly free. The first time I went in there was a few on the shelf. The next week was going to buy two more and they had taken the product off the shelf and tag. When the coupon expired it was back on the shelf. It is a hassle for them. So between shelf clearers, store managers and the higher up corporate ordering it can be very frustrating trying to make couponing work. Too many empty shelves all the way around.

    • yes, this aggrivates me to no end! Walmart management will actually clear the shelves and remove the shelf tag or even the clip-strip if it was on there. They told me they did it on purpose and I told them that I will have to take my business across the street to Target where they actually want to MOVE merchandise! Whether they are paid in coupons or debit or cash, they point is they ARE paid. Why would you want to shoot yourself in the foot by not selling it?

  • I know I am going to get criticized for this but I did this at WAGS on black Friday and did this at CVS only just yesterday. Now I know how it feels to go and have shells cleared and no I do not need 100 dish soaps or other items. However I do not have a large stockpile of anything really however I have been in the shoes of the homeless shelters and I know how unfair it is when someone gets deodorant and you don’t. I know the feeling that at the church JUST ran out of detergent you so desperately needed. I cleared shelves on several different occasions, and this is done right before they get their load in. Or i will place soecial orers when available. And that is because I talked to my church and asked them what they needed. With times being tough the church did not receive as many donations dispite people saying that they are “donating”. Especially my church for that matter. For some items such as beauty no you don’t have to go and clear the shelf, and no it’s not right for everybody else, but I firmly believe I did my good. Because I was there handing out the secret body sprays, I was there giving YOU guys that are saying you are on the brink of foreclosure these items so that waynyoundidnt have to go and spend your money. I did what I could to help and that is enough for me, because I know I do donate. The people I bought these items for are just like me & you. I lived I. A motel for 5 years with my younger brother, parents and my two uncles. The church was the only place that were able to give us things we needed because we had to make sure we had that $45 everyday to pay for the room. (nobody would give us a home because of our credit). And there were many times when the church didn’t have enough because of the increasing amount of people that needed help. Yes those ladies that cleared the shelf should have gave some to you or left some, I usually leave some but in rare cases yes I do clear the shelf. But if anyone tells me they ere there for that item I would gladly give it to them. Just my two cents. A lot of people look down on the needy and worry about middle class. Middle class. Can coupon. They can get government help. They are just too proud too and I do not find it right that the shelters, church’s, and other organizations must have this conversation

    • So I see your point of view Arlene, and I have read your response several times to make sure I am understanding you correctly. I do agree with you on some of the points you make.
      In fact, I did shop at Walgreens on Friday with the sole intention of donating all that I purchased.
      The issue that I don’t understand and what I believe is the concern of the original shopper this post was referring to, is why donating gives you the right to clear a shelf. I know that you mentioned about doing your shopping right before they get their next shipment in, but that would have made no difference in this 3 day sale.
      I, too, understand what it’s like to have to rely on charities to provide the most basic of necessities and that is why I donate items every single week. However, I chose never to clear a shelf while I do my donation shopping trips. I went to 3 different stores on Friday evening and was able to purchase $178.72 worth of merchadise for free without clearing a single shelf. The one time that I found a shelf almost empty (Bic Razors) I choose to leave those there for other shoppers. I had no problem doing that because I know next week I will be able to find more freebies to donate as well.
      My simple point is, thank you for donating. Thank you for taking the time and effort to help those that need it.
      But, please consider when do you your next shopping trip for donation items that you consider purchasing only half of the items (or less) that you did on your last trip. Your charities will still be thrilled with the donations they receive from you and other shoppers will be able to purchase them as well.

    • i’m middle class and no I’m not too proud to ask and not every middle class person can get help/aid – my husband was without work for 6 months – we did not qualify for food stamps, wic (no kids the right ages), unemployment (he had left one job for a better job, but due to the economy tanking 10 months after starting) he couldn’t get benifiets. Thankfully we had saved during the good times, built a food stock pile (without coupons) and through the charity of others (who’m we paided when we could). My husband found a job, its still hard times for us – we own a house in another state that we rent (but it goes un occupied on average of 3 months out of the year-we’ve been in this position for 3 years – while we’ve tried to sell) so we have utilitiy and rent/mortage payments that need paid on 2 places.

      We are a family of 4 and I try to get the deals but often find the shelves cleared here too. I only get what we can eat in 6 months – my boys go through lots of cereal – the last cereal sale we did not get, so my stock pile from 6 months ago is all gone. We currently have to buy the generic/smaller boxes as they are cheaper just to get by each week. Those clearning the shelves in the name of charity need to do the clearing at the end of the sale not the beginning –

      Just my 2 cents

      • FurgalMT,
        I applaud your efforts as your family is going through these tough financial times, and I totally agree with you.
        Want to clear a shelf? Wait until the last day (preferably the last few hours!) and go for it!

    • “A lot of people look down on the needy and worry about middle class. Middle class. Can coupon. They can get government help. They are just too proud too ”

      I disagree. When you are a family of two adults it is nearly impossible to get ANY help from the government. No kids is an instant ‘no go’ for most programs. If you aren’t 100% certain on facts, please reconsider before you write things like this. I am very grateful for local church programs that helped my husband and I with food and toiletries before I learned to coupon, but you can’t pay your rent, your power bill or put gas in your car for job hunting with food and toiletries.

      That point aside, I am in agreement about helping- but shelf clearing, for whatever purpose- for me.. is wrong.

  • To be honest I love getting alot of items when they are a great deal…but there are alot of coupon crazies around me….what I have done to get what I want is master the restocking of product which most couponers do not…ie: Rite Aid is usually out of everything when I get there after church on Sunday, so I ask them when they are getting the truck of product for the week (they will have no problem telling you in most cases), I then return to the store that day and they are fully stocked (in my area its Thursday). If you don’t get a specific item don’t complain just get a raincheck, I do this frequently at Albertsons because the rainchecks are good for 30 days and doublers come out every other week usually. It’s easy to plan ahead in alot of cases, if you plan to purchase a large quantity or items, either order them in advance or order a large portion when you get the raincheck…no reason to fight your way to the store or argue over free products. As many of us couponers know , the same deal will most likely come around again in 90 days or less.

  • This is an unfortunate case and I’m sure any experienced couponer has witnessed the same thing firsthand. The saying is true that “money doesn’t buy class,” and the odds of seeing it in action are higher in the couponing world. Because the majority of us have to coupon for financial reasons (yes it’s fun, but I’d probably be polishing the marble in my mansion or counting gold bars instead of clipping coupons if it wasn’t a financial necessity), I think it’s the nature of the beast.

    Because we’re the “type” of people trying to save, we’re more apt to see this sort of thing more frequently. We’ve all got stories….before I was a couponer, I didn’t even know these stockpile-hoarder-types existed, and now I see them everywhere. When it comes to “charity couponing,” I think it’s perfectly fine to consider others while we are out running errands. However, that same consideration should go toward the other SHOPPERS as well. They are the “others.” If you care enough to pick up a tube of tooth paste for someone you know, care enough to leave one for the other person you don’t know.

    To the shelf-clearers: I think a little self- examination is necessary. Why are you doing it? What motivates you to give? Is it out of guilt because you cannot give as you would like financially? Is it out of a heart of boastfulness so others will see your “works”? Does it break your heart to think how many people go to bed at night without Secret Body Mist? (If so, you’re nuts!) I think this whole scenario is really a larger picture of a spiritual condition rather than a financial one.

    Personally, we are a family of four on one income and broke as a joke. After a little bit of experience couponing, it’s safe to say that I can pick up 2-4 items at a time and still build a giant stockpile (Walgreens and Rite-Aid shopping) without really trying, and that’s after I got over the “fever” of being a new couponer. Finding out you can get stuff for free can be a bit out of control at first. Especially if you’ve been financially strapped for any length of time. I try to have a little bit of grace and assume that the person might be new and just not “get it” yet OR that their mama didn’t raise them right, haha.

    When people don’t have much, sometimes they take more than they need out of fear. We are in a desperate time as a nation and I am not surprised (Example: That lady I saw at Walgreens with ten bags of teeth flossers. Really? No way she was going to finish them off on all 2 of her front teeth…but just in case. I just shake my head and laugh.).

    I could not be more grateful to be broke in the good ol’ USof A! It is a heck of a lot better than anywhere else in the world (In what other part of the world does poverty lead to obesity? Not saying it’s a plus, but I’m sure some Africans would take our place any day!) I might get tired of the eleven boxes of Fruity Pebbles we have to eat before the next sale, but there was a time I remember when I was a kid, when I ate generic.

    We are broke, but my kids get a mom that is home with them, a dad who gets to provide a roof over their little heads, and name-brand cereal. Two things I longed for as a kid- I think we’re pretty blessed.

    • Wow Jenny, you have great insight in ways I hadn’t really thought of before and I love this statement!

      If you care enough to pick up a tube of tooth paste for someone you know, care enough to leave one for the other person you don’t know.

      Perfectly sums up my opinion and thoughts on the subject!

    • Great comments! I especially liked this one: “Why are you doing it? What motivates you to give? Is it out of guilt because you cannot give as you would like financially?” Is so great, because I think the real reason is their love of shopping and couponing and giving to charity helps them feed their addiction and make it appear to be a positive thing. So I take it with a grain of salt when these “extremer’s” say they are only doing it for charity. They are also doing it to feed their own addiction. Homeless shelters need real food and real necessity items. They don’t need 500 bags of croutons, 200 bottles of hot sauce, and 100 packs of Tic Tacs! You can’t live on that!

  • I agree with that the ladies went to far. Unfortunately with the show Extreme Couponing they are showing people the wrong way to coupon. In my town there is a lady that has a couponing club. She charges an extremely high monthly rate to belong. With that she will teach you how to clear the shelves, scream and curse at store managers when they try to enforce their coupon rules, and how to clean out ever free newspaper box in the city. I live in an area that has been hi thard by the recession. My husband just went back to work after 2 years of unemployment. I am thankful that we have a free newspaper that has a limited SS insert in it each week. I am also thankful that our grocery stores issue a free Shopper each week with their ads in it. That saves me a ton of money that I can not afford to pay in order to get my coupons. If there is a good deal in the free newpapers I have seen these ladies take up to 200 newspapers cleaning out the box and when I asked for one I was told no, she needed it all for herself. I tried again to have just one and was told no that if I need items that bad then I could go to the food bank and get the free items she drops off. I was never so offended in my life. All this happened in front of my children so I was polite and walked away. I am still trying to coupon but it is tough when the local pay paper does not carry coupons and the free ones are gone.
    I think the people who act like this are horrible and they give the rest of us a bad name.

  • When I started couponing 6 months ago, I only had the Extreme Couponing show as my example. After a month or so, I took some couponing classes. There I learned about couponing etiquette, ethics and courtesy. I learned that I could have fun and save money without having to go “extreme”. My favorite quote was “No one really needs 100 bottles of BBQ sauce.”
    I give to family and friends when I have more than I need. I also started giving the coupons and information to some to help them learn how to save money. I have also given away coupons in the store. It makes me feel good and starts to pass on the savings to the next person.
    We can lead by example and word of mouth. Encourage others to take a class. Spread the word that we can all benefit from couponing. I really enjoy it and I would hate to think I was preventing someone else from enjoying it too.

  • I agree that people should be considerate of others and not clear the shelves. I run into this alot, too. I am on gov’t assistance and I am thankful to have it but I use my coupons to get those things that I can’t purchase with food stamps. It’s such a let down to know you need health/beauty supplies and you have a good coupon for it to get really cheap and the shelf is wiped out. I am glad that I have the assistance because some people don’t have what I have but I still have to make my money stretch as far as possible. I know the one income supporting 4 people feeling. I just wish the ones who are clearing the shelves would think about us, too

    • We’re using EBT, too- did you know that you can use food coupons with food stamps? When we first had to apply for them, we asked the gal at H&W about it, and she looked shocked- she told us that no one EVER asks that, but that YES, you can! You do wind up paying a very, very minimal amount of tax on them (we’re talking just a few pennies), but you can use them together, and stretch those food stamp bucks even further. Give it a try- I was scared/shy/pensive about doing it (well, heck, let’s be honest, I felt that way about using the card AT ALL, since I’d never taken assistance before), the first time that I shopped with EBT, but the clerks at the stores don’t even bat an eye. One more way to make it through the month! 🙂

  • I am a stay-at-home mom of two and we live comfortably on my husband’s income but without any room for extras. I mainly got into couponing hoping to save a little money to make room for some of those extras. I have never couponed extremely and don’t have a stockpile. I mostly just coupon for staples that I use in cooking a lot and personal care items that are a reasonable amount for a family of four as well as sharing with my mom who has a very limited income. I am always only after one or two of any item and find it very frustrating to always find the shelves cleared. Even when not couponing I am finding that shelves are constantly emptied of hot items that I may need. Because of this I have been considering giving up couponing because frankly even doing it a little bit is a lot of work. After reading many of the stories here in the comments I think my decision is made. I would rather pay full price for soup and razors since I can afford it and leave those extra one or two items for people that really need to get it for free. Bless everyone here that is struggling to take care of their families and make ends meet!

    • Wow Amber that is a very thoughtful thing to say. But I hope I speak for the majority here. Please don’t stop couponing. I know I would feel horrible if I thought you were paying full price just to try to make my life easier. I think what people are saying and asking for is courtesy. Buy what you need. If you want to make a large purchase then call the store and ask them to put it aside for you. I know I just did that today since I was purchasing 6 cases of an item.
      If we all just used a little respect and courtesy there is enough to go around.
      But PLEASE Amber don’t stop couponing. There is no need to throw away your money.

  • I stopped couponing at Walgreens for the very reason mentioned above. There is never any product left when I go. I ran into a similiar situation but at Target a few months ago. I was looking at getting cheap razors for my son who is in the military. Miss Shelf Clearer gave me 1 razor after I explained what I was doing, how kind of her!

  • Shame, shame, shame!! Shelf clearing is just plain rude. Emily Post would be rolling over in her grave!! Didn’t your mothers ever teach you to share? I don’t care if it is for charity or otherwise, the sale isn’t JUST FOR YOU. Let everyone share in the opportunity to save. You don’t need 100 sticks of deodorant in your stockpile. It would go bad before you could ever use that much. Stockpiles that help you get by for maybe 3-6 month sales cycles is reasonable. More than that is gluttony and hoarding, no matter how pretty it looks on your shelves. Donate THAT excess to charity. I really am concerned about the way people treat others in this day and age. I don’t usually comment on things, but this shelf clearing gives the rest of us ethical couponers a bad name. Stores are already changing their policies limiting deals because of people who do things like that. Sad… Sorry, just my two cents…

  • I am starting to equate Extreme Couponing to the line of people waiting at the bank in It’s A Wonderful Life. The ones who want all their money instantly, rather than take some and wait for another month to get more of their money are exemplified in Extreme Couponing Craziness. Remember how some decided they could do with less when they got to the counter, and then the other one wanted all of his money.

  • I agree 100% with not clearing the store shelves. I love to save money with coupons, as it streches my one income budget far. Oftentimes, it is the only way we can get name brand items. If you want to donate to charity call the store and place an order. It makes no sense to clear the shelves. Take what you need and maybe one more if you run out, but you are not being fair to the next person who may also desperately need a deal in order to get anything.

  • I totally agree with the letter. I appreciate the fact that the Walgreens in Twin Falls on Poleline only allows 2 register reward purchases until Saturday after 4:00. This allows me to go in on Wednesday and there are still items to buy.

    I think that we are all in this together and we should never clear a shelf just because we can.
    I do appreciate people that want to give but lets use our brains and realize that we can give a few and allow others to have the great deal as well.

    Once again I do appreciate all the readers on this blog and the lady’s that keep us up-to-date with the coupon world.

    Have a great Holiday.

  • Oh my gosh! I found myself saying AMEN to this post several times. I to have come across this situation many times although most of the time the stuff is not going to a homeless shelter but it is very frustrating and rude! This is especially bad when there is an overage amount that someone may need that overage to feed their children not in a homeless shelter but no less worthy of.
    Thank you for this post!

  • First off I must say that donating within reason and with the right intentions to charity is awesome! I know there are people who greatly appreciate it, but I also have to chime in a say that I completely agree and can identify with the author of the letter. I have found myself in this situation so many times (not just on black Friday). Too often I’ve gone to the store only wanting a couple of something and then seeing someone with a cart load and finding a cleared shelf. It doesn’t seem right that one couponer’s efforts can support not only their family, but a whole charity, while several other couponers who have done the work and who’s only hope is to support their own family are left with nothing. I’m somewhat new to couponing so I don’t have a great stockpile. This makes it really irritating when I actually need a product and I’m willing to pay full price, but there is none left because someone wants the joy of getting them all for free and being able to give them to someone else who wasn’t going to the store to get that exact item. From this perspective clearing shelves for charity doesn’t seem so charitable to me.

  • I know I am gonna catch a lot of heat on this comment but here goes… Some stores will only be prompted to restock when they see a FULLY cleared shelf. I know my Walmart does this. If I am kind and decide to leave one on the shelf, I can go back several days in a row and find that one still sitting there. If I wipe it clean, they will have it restocked in a matter of hours. That may not be the case everywhere but I know it is here. And I fight with the ethics of clearing or not but if it doesn’t get cleared completely, it WONT be restocked. Like I said, I know I will get some heat on this but it is just something to consider… just saying…

    • I used to work at a store and I know first hand that if we run out of an item or we are running LOW on an item we do restock it if there is any in the back. If there is not any in the back we have to wait for the shipments to come in before we can get them restocked. , One of my duties while i was working was facing the items on the shelf, and restocking the shelf so yes we do know when a product is low or out. maybe you should Ask the store if they have anymore in stock before you decide to clear that shelf, that would be the moral thing to do.

  • I googled “extreme couponing for charity” because I am interested in doing couponing to help support local shelters and the food bank, and this is what one of the top results was. I am so disgusted. “Some other people need a single item so give less to charities” was the message. Are you kidding me?! I agree when it’s people who stockpile the heck out of their own homes and don’t give back at all but when someone is giving to charity I don’t think it’s greedy at all to take many items off the shelves. I guess this is not a blog or website I am going to be supporting if that’s what you really believe in, cheating charities to save someone time who has ability to get it some other way. SMH.

  • And btw- I’m not doing it for “taxes”. *EYEROLL*

  • If you absolutely, GOTTA have that Secret deodorant spray, then it’s your responsibility to get there ASAP so you can buy it! Retail is first come, first serve, so if you really want something you can’t wait.

    This post is outdated, as nowadays stores have limits on how many items a customer can purchase. But even if it wasn’t, does it really matter if one person buys all the Secret deodorant? The store still makes the same amount of money, which is the ultimate goal. They don’t care what you plan on doing with all that deodorant!

    If money is your concern, then why are you buying name brand deodorant anyways? Even with coupons and sales, the name brand Secret deodorant is still more expensive than what you could find at a Dollar Tree or cheaper brand.

    TLDR: 1. Get to the store early if you really need that item for that price
    2. Buy cheaper alternatives.

    Taking advantage of economic opportunities isn’t greed!

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