“Coupon is money,” says Victoria, my almost-three-year old, when you ask her “what is a coupon?” If coupons are money, since they help us keep money in our pockets, they are incredibly valuable. Did you know that manufacturer-issued coupons are valuable even beyond their expiration date?
What can you do with manufacturer-issued coupons after they have expired?
Use Them at Your Local Store
Some stores accept manufacturer-issued coupons after their expirations date. The easiest way for you to find out if any stores near you accept expired coupons is to call and ask. Take a few minutes to check with the Customer Service staff at the grocery stores and big box retailers near you to see if they’ll take them. It’s important to check with your local store because even though a store chain’s corporate office may not have a formal policy allowing expired coupons to be used, often store managers have latitude to broaden their policy if the local competition demands it.
For instance, Target does not have a formal policy that says all stores will accept expired coupons, but I am aware of many Target stores near me that have a store-specific policy permitting this. Why? Because these Targets are competing with a local chain that accepts expired coupons and not taking them was a significant disadvantage for them.
As of this writing, I have heard of some Target stores that take expired coupons, but am not familiar with any Walmart, CVS or Walgreens store that does. Please leave notes in the comments about any stores you know of that accept them.
Send Them to the Military
Military commissaries accept coupons well beyond their expiration date. That’s great news for military families, because many are living on a tight budget and face high food prices. Two organizations that will put your expired coupons into the hands of military families are:
Overseas Coupon Program. Expired coupons less than two months past their expiration date are a fit for this program. Coupons need to be clipped, sorted and counted, but they do make a huge difference in the lives of our military personnel. Visit Overseas Coupon Program’s FAQ page for more info.
Grocery Savings Tips. You can send your inserts and/or manufacturer-issued coupons directly to a military base of your choice from the list of they provide on their website. The list is updated monthly with new bases being added and bases that have enough coupons being removed for now. Find a military base in need of expired coupons here.
I cannot provide a personal review of their service and organizations, as I am just getting started with this myself, but I’m excited about this. I believe this is a small way I can show my appreciation for those that put themselves in harm’s way so I can live a life of freedom and democracy.
Learning Tools and Crafts
Yes, I think sending your coupons to the military is the way to go, but I’m also a realist and know that not everyone can or will do that. If you’re going to pitch the coupons into the recycling box, consider using them with your kids for learning and craft projects. They can cut them out, which helps learn how-to use scissors, play grocery store using coupons so your kids understand that they don’t spend as much when they use them. Younger kids can match like coupons, practice numbers, practice cutting them out and make a collage of their favorite products. Older kids can group and categorize coupons, do math and practice making change when coupons are used. Really, there are a million ways you can entertain and educate your kids with your old coupons if you get creative.
Your turn: What else? Are you aware of other programs and options for giving expired coupons a second life?