Coupon etiquette

Want to use coupons without being rude? Here's a compilation of coupon dos and don'ts from Kara McGuire. Send your own tips to

Do follow the rules. Period.

Do buy enough to last you 12 weeks if the price is right. That's typically the length of the sales cycle.

Do have realistic expectations about your savings. Shoot for half off, not 90 percent.

Don't purchase coupons. There's debate about this, but some coupon advisers say the industry is trying to shut down coupon-clipping services and eBay sellers. The fine print says it voids the coupon.

Don't photocopy coupons. Internet coupon sites deliberately set limits on the number of copies of a coupon a user can print from each computer. Respect that.

Don't steal coupons. Believe it or not, stories of stolen coupons have been reported around the country. If the coupon is that valuable to you, buy another newspaper.

Do organize a coupon swap. That way you can get a larger quantity of a particular coupon a legitimate way.

Doread the coupon closely. Make sure you're using it properly.

Do ask for rain checks on items cleared from the shelves. Many stores will let you buy them later at the sale price.

Don't hold up the checkout line. Have your coupons organized. If you plan multiple transactions, shop during off hours. If it's busy, consider letting other people go in front of you or completing one transaction and getting back in line.

Do plan ahead. If you plan to buy a bulk number of sale items, ask the store manager how to do so in a way that doesn't wipe out the product for other shoppers.

Do ask. If you have a question about coupon usage, "get permission from the store manager," Rocha suggests.

Don't take the saying, "The customer is always right" to the extreme. Be courteous to store employees.

Do donate any unneeded items. No individual needs 1,000 tubes of toothpaste.

Sources: Jill Cataldo, Carrie Rocha, The Coupon Snippers of MN