First, a word of caution
Just like any activity, how you trade is as important as what you trade and whom you trade with. You’ve probably noticed various versions of the not-so-fine print on many of your coupons: "Coupon may be void if copied, transferred, reproduced, sold or exchanged." This verbiage is there to protect the manufacturer from coupon fraud, which hurts everyone. Coupon fraud includes printing multiple copies of a coupon, scalping coupons, copying/pasting or scanning a coupon to share without the manufacturer's permission, and other similar actions. Offering a friend a single coupon you don't plan to use is unlikely to result in any kind of illegal coupon use. Just take care when trading coupons online—especially printable coupons, which can be easily duplicated—when you don’t know the other individual well.
Here are five ways to legally and legitimately trade coupons, along with some hints and tips to get you started with each.
1. Leave your unwanted coupons at the grocery store for others to redeem
While the setup may vary from store to store, typically there’s an area at the front of each store where weekly sales flyers and coupons are displayed. Here are some tips to organize a swap area.
- Talk with the store manager.
- Tell the manager you would like to set up an official coupon swap box near the sales flyers.
- Ask if the store can provide a small table (if necessary) for this purpose.
2. Set up coupon swap boxes at other locations
Wherever you regularly go, you can be sure there are other couponers all around you. Setting up a coupon swap box is a great way to meet them! Here are some tips.
- First, consider only places that attract lots of people: daycares, preschools and schools, community centers, libraries, gyms, coffee shops, children's playplaces and museums.
- Next, if permitted, post an "interest letter" introducing your idea and asking passersbys to sign the list if they’re interested (this will help you know if the location is a good one).
- If there is interest, the next part is easy! Just set up a box labeled "Coupon Swap Box."
- It can be a good idea to post some guidelines for those who are new to coupon swapping. Rules might include a "no photocopying" policy for printable coupons, only adding coupons with at least one week before the expiration date falls due, etc.
- After the box is set up, "seed" it with some donated coupons and (if permitted) post a few signs around the premises to let people know the swap box is up and running.
3. Start up your own local or online coupon swap circle
There are a number of easy ways you could set up your own coupon swap circle. Here are some ideas.
- Create a post on the Krazy Coupon Lady Facebook page to invite swaps.
- Start a local Meetup.com group.
- If you already belong to a group, such as a babysitting circle or food co-op, ask if the other members would like to set up coupon swap meets.
- Organize a swap circle at your work place.
4. Host a coupon party
Coupon parties can be great fun and also a good way for everyone to save funds. Here are some tips.
- Invite only others who are experienced couponers (and who will likely have a good stash to trade and swap with).
- Provide drinks and invite others to contribute to a potluck.
- Put on some festive music.
- Set out labeled boxes to help categorize the coupons, and have each attendee put those coupons they don’t want into the appropriate boxes.
- Allow guests to browse through the full boxes and swap at will.
5. Give valuable coupons for gifts
In addition to the always-popular coupon books that many schools, sports teams, and scouting troops sell as fundraisers, you can assemble your own coupon books to give as gifts. Here are some tips.
- Freebies + coupons: Assemble some "freebies" and "samples" from your stockpile along with new coupons for those same items (the recipient can try out the freebies and, if they like the items, can then redeem the coupons for more). Read this great KCL post for more great gift basket ideas.
- Coupon matchups: Research store sales and do the work of coupon matchups for the gift recipient. For instance, if your local grocer has a sale on Oreo Double Stuff cookies, and you know your friend loves Oreos, clip an Oreo's coupon to the store sales flyer so s/he can save even more on these sweet treats!
- Favorites grab basket: If you know your friend well and can assemble a coupon "grab basket" of his/her favorite products, you have just saved the recipient time as well as money!
- Money-saving meals: Assembling coupons into baggies that can make up whole meals is another great idea. For instance, in one "meal baggie" you could include coupons for ready-made salad mix, roast chicken, frozen carrots, and Chips Ahoy cookies—yum!