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Jill Cataldo, Published April 11 2014

Coupon Queen: Multiple madness stirs readers’ ire, adoration

Coupons that require the purchase of two or more items continue to plague or delight my readers, depending on a person’s perspective. When readers complain about having to buy two or more of an item, others have responded with ideas – everything from, “It’s good to have one extra on hand,” to “Donate the extra one to a food pantry.” This advice hasn’t exactly sat well with some of my readers.

Dear Jill: I read your column every week, and I usually get good advice. However, my concerns are these – I am 61, single and live on a very limited budget. A large number of coupons I find in the paper are dollars off a purchase of multiple items. As I stated, I am single – why should my only option be to purchase more than I need just to receive the benefit of the coupon?

This seems to be highly unfair and targeted against those of us who are not as well off as “normal” Americans. Not to sound like a petulant child, but it IS most unfair. As much as I dislike doing so, I will continue buying store-brands as much as possible, as well as going to the dollar store.

– Linda P.

Dear Jill: What part of, “We don’t want to have to buy multiple products in order to use a coupon” don’t you understand? In every town across America you have these 30-, 40-, and 50-somethings that have more money than they have brains telling those of us who have Social Security and a small pension that we can donate our extras. We already find ourselves being held hostage by manufacturers that expect us 70-plus year olds to pay and pay. This foolishness has got to stop! It might even have the opportunity to stop with you, should you come to your senses.

– Stan S.

A: For what it’s worth, I don’t create the coupons – I just write about them. I’ll embrace the title of brainy 40-something though, as I genuinely try to help my readers save money. Here’s how I look at it: If I have a $1-off-2 coupon for cereal, and cereal is on sale for $1.99, I will buy two to use the coupon. Even if I lived alone, the likelihood that I will eat that second box of cereal before it expires is very high.

Remember, cereal’s got an 11- to 12-month expiration date. What if, in one month, my first box of cereal is gone, and when I go to buy another one, it’s now on sale for $3.99? In the long run, I would have been far better off to buy two for $2.98 with my coupon than to buy one for $1.99, and a second one later for $3.99 – totaling $5.98 for the same two boxes of cereal.

Readers do seem to be split on this issue. They’re either angry about multiple-purchase coupons, or they fully embrace them. There seems to be no in-between.

Dear Jill: I read your column every week with enthusiasm. A recent feature was about couponing and having to buy multiples. I don’t mind this at all! My stores have Buy One Get One Free (BOGO) deals in abundance every week, and if we get a $1 off of 2 coupon, we can apply it to the BOGO deal. For example, soup is BOGO this week and normally sells for $2.59 a can. I have a $1 off of 2 coupon. I just knocked the price for the BOGO down to $1.59. Dividing that by two means I just spent 80 cents per can – a steal!

– Rebecca S.

Smart living tip

If you’re truly opposed to buying more than one item at a time, your shopping strategy will differ somewhat from that of a strategic couponer. Bypassing coupons for multiple items means overpaying for brand-name purchases. And, without a coupon to reduce the brand-name item into a more favorable price range, you may find yourself purchasing more house-branded products.


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 jill@ctwfeatures.com.