Coupons that require the purchase of multiple items seem to be the bane of many of my readers’ shopping experiences. As a mother of three, multiple purchases are part of my stock-up strategy each week, but some shoppers are less than thrilled with having to buy more than one of something.
I was so ‘happy’ to see someone else complain about having to buy multiple products to use a coupon. We are empty nesters living on a tight budget. I use coupons whenever I can to spend my budgeted grocery money wisely. I too have stopped cutting out the coupons when I have to buy more than one of something. How many people have the storage for three of something, like big bottles of juice, cereal, detergent, paper products, etc? I sure don't. I realize food companies are targeting families because they are spending more money on food, but I sure wish someone would remember the retired people living on limited incomes.
I’ve touched on this issue before in my column, but many coupons do require shoppers to buy two, three or more of an item to receive a discount. In offering a $1-off-2 or $1-off-3 coupon, the manufacturer is looking to boost sales of multiple products, not just one. I was pleasantly surprised at how many readers wrote in with solutions to this dilemma.
I have a simple solution for your readers who do not use a coupon on a new item because it requires the purchase of more than one item. Go ahead and purchase the multiple items; if you do not like the item, donate the remaining item(s) to your local food bank. They will be more than thrilled to receive the item and you can take a tax deduction for the donated item. If you do like the item, you have another one to enjoy.
Your readers might like to do what my wife does – when she has to buy two items she donates one to church food pantry for the needy.
Also, as far as purchasing multiples of something you don't like, or may not use by the expiration date, these items are still very useful. I share them with my neighbors, or donate them to the local food bank. This is a great way to try something new and help others! I hope your readers will start doing this, and we can all help each other.
Thanks for your great tips.
These weren’t the only readers to write and suggest donating an extra item or two to the food bank to help others in need. Volunteering and donating to my local food pantry has long been a passion of mine. If you can afford to buy two of an item, you’ll get a discount for using a coupon and help feed another person too. I love it!
Smart Living Tip: Many of my single and empty-nest readers expressed that they would not use “two or more” of something before the product expired. Have you looked at the expiration dates on commonly used products? Depending on when I purchase them, I’ve noticed that cereal doesn’t outdate for 11 months or more. Ketchup and mustard are both good for more than one year. Ditto peanut butter and jars of jelly. Some items have even longer shelf lives. Canned vegetables, fruits and soups usually don’t outdate for two years or more. When people write and say “I only want to buy one because I will only use one,” the truth is that they likely will use another one at some point. Storing two of a commonly used product doesn’t take much more space than storing one.
The website www.stilltasty.com is a great resource too. It is a free, searchable database that allows users to see if food is still good after the date code on the packaging has passed. The site uses USDA and other food regulatory agencies’ guidelines to let you know if that old box of pasta on the shelf is still good. (Hint: It’s good for up to three years after the date!)
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Jill Cataldo, a coupon workshop instructor, writer and mother of three, never passes up a good deal. Learn more about Super-Couponing at her website, www.jillcataldo.com. Email your own couponing victories and questions to email@example.com.