Welcome to Southern Savers, where finding deals and steals is simple and rewarding!

See I told you, this would help!

Coupon Abbreviations
  • SC = Store Coupon
  • MC = Manufacturer Coupon
  • SS = Smart Source
  • RP = Red Plum
  • PG = Proctor and Gamble
Coupon Terms
  • WYB = When You Buy
  • B1G1 = Buy One Get One Free
  • .75/1 = 75 cents off one item
  • .75/3 = 75 cents off three items
  • EXP = Expiration Date

Going Nuts? I can help you understand coupon terms and abbreviations

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keeping it legal (1)

There are lots of opportunities or ways to bend the rules with couponing so I want to take moment to list two rules that should not be broken.  I know sometimes there are gray areas, but these two are black and white.

Only use one manufacturer coupon per item.

If you slip in more manufacturer coupons, just because you didn’t get caught doesn’t mean that it does not matter. The store will probably get reimbursed but the manufacturer will lose out. In the end this will come back and effect everyone by increasing the price of the products.

Ex: General Mills decides to give $1 million in coupons for Yoplait yogurt with the expectation that to use the $1 million in coupons that consumers will buy $4 million in products. When you buy less products than you use a coupon for you are decreasing the amount General Mills makes and increasing the amount that they spend…

  • A printable coupon and an insert coupon are both manufacturer coupons. Pick one to use if you are only buying one item.
  • On Southern Savers if an item has 5 or 6 coupons listed under it I am just telling you all of your options. Pick one per product you buy.

Do not make copies or scans of any coupon.

Each printable coupon has numerous security features in it that the company can quickly tell during the redemption process that it was a copy. If store scans or enters in a copy at will not be reimbursed for any of the copies. You might sneak it past the cashier but the coupon clearing house computers scan the much larger bar code and are not fooled.

How can they tell a copy of a printable coupon?

  • Each printable coupon has a unique security number on it. You can see that if you print 2 from your computer that each one you print the number is different.
  • Recorded in the long specialized bar code is information about you! Your IP address and printing habits along with redemption habits, they know it all.

  • There is a user ID that is individualized for your computer that is printed repeatedly in the very tiny print that makes the border for the coupon.

If you make copies of coupons the major coupon printing sites can quickly end your fun. They will block your IP address and you will denied access to their coupons forever.

What about copies of other coupons?

Any coupon that is released by a manufacturer is released with a certain budget planned for redemption. If the set a budget of $1 million, and release that many coupons, but then have redemption of $2 million then something is amiss. Whether it is caught or not someone will lose out, the manufacturer if it is not caught, or the store if it is caught.  In the end again their loss is not your gain.

  • PDF coupons are the enigma. The manufacturer has allowed you to print as many as you like. I would still only recommend using these in moderation. It is not Vitamin Waters plan to only give away their product for free they would like to sell a couple every now and then.

Can you print coupons from multiple computers?

Yes, this is okay. You are not breaking any rules. The limit is 2 per computer/ ip address.  If you have access to 3 computers and want 6 of a coupon that is okay. All 6 will have individualized security features and are legitimate coupons.

Is it okay to buy printable coupons online?

You do not ever want to buy a printable coupon online. There are some that sell them on eBay, you will have no way of knowing if this is a legitimate coupon or not. You do not want to unknowingly commit fraud.

It is okay to buy newspaper coupons online. There is nothing wrong with having more of one coupon as long as you do it legally. Newspaper coupons are not a regular problem with fraudulent use.

  • There are some that say that is against the terms on the coupon. Most sellers and companies (the coupon clippers etc) state that they are charging you a handling fee and not selling the coupon to clear up the legality of their of business.  This would be the same as you paying your mother to mail you inserts from her paper.
  • The folks that say buying more of a coupon is wrong go one step further and say that it is also wrong to send our coupons over seas. I think they have gone to far to say I can’t help out service men and women with coupons that are worthless to me!
    • April

      What about $4 off $20 coupons from CVS? Can you print those multiple times and use them?

    • Misty

      Thank you so much for posting this. This is just another reason why I love this site. You don’t try to cheat stores or manufacturers who are already being very generous in even sending out the coupons in the first place. Again thank you!!!

    • Thanks for posting these. There are a ton of ways to save money but doing it illegally isn’t the way. I would hate for manufacturers stop giving out coupons due to misusage! High Applauds to you for posting it and keeping this a great site to visit!

    • I cannot tell you how many times I have been asked if what I do is legal… including the cashier at Kroger! I have tried to explain exactly what you discussed, sometimes with clarity, sometimes without. Thanks for putting it all succintly and reminding everyone to be good stewards… not thieves! Blessings!

    • I have two questions about the grand deal listed at the end of weekly CVS deals…in the first deal it said you would pay with $2.98 in ECB (I think that was the figure), where did the $2.98 come from? Is that from a previous purchase and you already had those ECB? Then in the second deal it said you would pay $3 ECB (earned from deal #1-got that) + $6.50 ECB + coupons + cash. Where did the $6.50 ECB come from? Is that also from a previous deal? Pardon my ignorance, I really am new to this and trying to understand it all. I just learned of southern savers and began on Wednesday (4/22). Clarification on this would help lower my frustration level. I did read the ‘getting staarted’, but applying what I read to the different deals and scenarios helps me to understand it better. Thank you for your time and patience in answering my questions.

      • Jenny


        Those are ECB that I already have, since this is just my example of our plan.

    • Adrianne

      Thanks Jenny for clearing this up. I’m still new to this and didn’t understand.
      I didn’t scan/make copies, but on one of the websites someone had the $.50 off one Vitamin Water coupons and because it was a .pdf, I printed several. I’ve used a few, but now I don’t think I’ll use the rest.

    • Nick Riccio

      Quick question regarding printed coupons. For the first time I was denied a printed manufactured coupon ($1.50 OFF Any 2 boxes of Kashi Cereal). The store manager said there was a discrepancy between the expiration date and a 6 digit number that is listed on the coupon after the fine print to the RETAILER. Is this correct? Should those numbers match the expiration date? This was the first time I printed this particular coupon so I know for sure it wasn’t reproduced or was continuously printed.

    • Kelly

      Thank you for this post! I am still new to all this, so it is good to read this also. I am anxious to read you grey area post also! Thank you for all you do! I am constantly amazed at you site each week.

      You have changed my life and my family’s spending habits. Now when my kids(I have 4) tell me they are “out” of something (like toiletries), I don’t secretly grumble, thinking, “now I have to spend more money on that”. Now, I am so proud to take them to my “store” closet, and with a smile give them what they need, knowing that I paid pennies for it! I am so grateful. Thank you, Jenny, SO SO MUCH!!!

    • ashley

      I am sooo thankful that you have addressed this problem and hope that you will be addressing more problems in your second post!!! I have been hearing a lot of complaints from manager at major stores!! I honestly believe that manufacturers will cut down on coupons or evently cut them out bacause of coupon of coupon abuse! I try really hard to be ethical with my coupons and wish that everybody else would too. It really hurts all of us when people abuse coupons!! So i am so glad you are addressing these issues, because I know your site has an impact on people. I just hope they listen!!!

    • Natalee

      Thanks for passing this information along. I am really new to all of this and have had trouble printing online couplons & had thought about just copying a second one, and now I see why that is a terrible idea. Thanks!

    • Julieann

      I love your site. You are one of the handful of coupon websites that has strong ethics and won’t post anything that is remotely illegal or unethical. I think even for us more “seasoned” couponers, it’s good to be reminded about the rules.

    • Aymie

      Thank you so much for posting this. I am guilty as sin when it comes to copying internet coupons. I am also guilty to cut inside the border and so far they have always accepted that, but now you have me scared!

    • Sara

      How do you feel about companies that sell coupons such as the coupon clippers? I usually buy coupons from them if I miss the Sunday paper and you have the option to buy as many as you like. Is this wrong? I have been able to get 12 free Garnier Shampoo & conditioner by using the coupons that I purchased. I didn’t feel this was wrong because I am a single mother of 2 living on one small income and this will last us forever and save me so much money.

    • Tracy

      Thanks Jenny for all the hard work you put into this site. I get so upset when people post on this site and others about using coupons for things they didn’t purchase or when they take “peelies” off products in the store that they did not buy. It’s all stealing to me and is only going to hurt the couponers out there that do it legally and/or the honest way!

    • becka

      I am guilty as well for printing my two printed copies off and giving to a co-worker. I am fairly new to this coupon thing and had no idea. We do a lot of coupons swapping and internet coupons are in the pile. I’m worried now and feel really bad. Thanks for posting these items.

    • Tami

      Thanks so much for this post! I really appreciate it! I actually knew most of what you wrote, but I really appreciate what you did write. I don’t think most people intentionally try to be fraudulent, but just in case! It will also help so we can continue to use coupons in the way they were made. Companies make money and we save lots of money!

      Thanks for a fabulous site that I religiously follow!

    • Jennifer

      Hey Jenny! Thanks for posting this. I am confused about something… there is another website where you can print multiple Target coupons on the same page to save paper and you can print as many as you want… are these ok coupons or are they fradulent? I don’t want to cheat Target at all. I was just doing that to cut down on the amount of wasteful trimmings that I’ve been throwing away.

    • Rachel

      I would love to print out what you posted here and give it out at a class I teach on coupons. I would also like to use your site on a list of great coupon blogs. I just wanted to ask you before I did that.

      Thanks for all your hard work. There are a lot of my friends that rely on this site to save a lot of money.

    • Laura F


      I just want you to know that I started couponing in January and your blog was the first one I stumbled upon when searching for “help”. As a Christian woman I try to always do the right thing, even in couponing. Thank you for being so up front and honest. It makes me feel good to be a faithful follower of your blog knowing you are such an ethical person. Thanks for all you do!

    • Frannie

      Tracy, Regarding your post “about using coupons for things they didn’t purchase”, I see nothing wrong with using coupons to obtain free items, as long as they are items you will be using and not selling to make a profit. This helps families out that are on limited income (the single mom of two)who can’t afford everything their family needs. The manuracturers know exactly which coupons are out there, I don’t consider it cheating them if they put the coupons out there and we use them. For the most part, consumers generally do buy the product at full price after they have tried it.

    • What about catalinas? Are those “manufacturer” coupons? I thought I remembered hearing a long time ago that you could combine a catalina with a paper manufacturer coupon. Is that not allowed?

    • Maehing O

      Jenny great job on keeping it real, and legal. There’s pleanty to go around for everyone, and I wouldn’t want my coupons to go away because someone tried to trump the system!

      Again, for the 100 time… THANKS for all you do! You rock, how do you have time for the family? I hope that wizard IT hubby of yours has a miracle program to free up some of your time! :)

    • MiniMidgMom

      This is good info. I think I’m blocked at delMonte. My printer will not print certain pdf files and before I knew this I kept trying to print over and over while I was at the delMonte site. Now when I try to go back it always tells me my limit is reached. I thought about emailing and telling them I never got anything printed but figure they won’t believe me. Because of the same printer problem I copied and pasted some Target coupons into Word and now the format looks odd. But since I use them at Publix and Publix will not get redeemed for them I was going to see if I could still use them. I notice more and more coupons are printed inside the boxes or are for multiple items. I think this is one way that manufacturers are trying to make sure they still get their money. Manufacturers are decreasing sizes (look at a loaf of bread), decreasing quality, or finding ways to produce and package things that save them money while claiming to be ecologically sensitive, yet raising or keeping the prices the same. Couponing is my way of protecting my family from that. But I do not want to abuse it, because that is stealing. So play nicely, you can still save a lot while following the rules.

    • I have question that I would like some clarification on. I print coupons on my desktop. I reach the limit (usually 2). If it is a particularly good coupon then I have been going to my daughter’s laptop and printer to print off two more. Her laptop is connected wirelessly to my router. Is this doing anything wrong? Your comment about the IP address being coded into the coupon somehow made me wonder. Thanks for all the good posts that not only tell us about good deals, but educate us on how to do things within the rules ethically.

    • Becca

      Thanks for posting this. My Walmart in North Georgia no longer takes the internet manufacturer coupons because of fraud with them. I think it is a company-wide stance now. I was shocked and disappointed.

    • Sarah

      I was also wondering about the target coupons – I think I must have used the same website as Jeennifer which doesn’t seem to limit the amount of target coupons you can print off. I just assumed that everyone is the same as you and that it is legitimate. Most other coupons have a limit of 2 – am I doing the wrong thing by printing multiple copies?

    • Zee

      Thank you for the post! I learned new things and I am grateful to you!I will appreciate if you could answer my quaestion. While printing IP coupons I try to use both sides of the paper. Yesterday by mistake I printed the “back side” coupon at the same place where the “front side” one was, so I ended up with a doble sided coupon. I made a photocopy of one of the coupons to be able to use both. Are they going to reject the coupon, since I didn’t use the original printable, but the number of the copy is still identical?
      Thank you!

    • Allison

      Thank you so much for posting this. I am new to this game, just starting collecting coupons in the past month. I would not have known about the authentic code for each coupon and might have made copies had I not read this post.

      The Tresemme coupon that I used this week – I printed the coupon 6 times to do 2 deals at CVS this eek – I didn’t notice anything authentic on it, but I will be more careful in the future. Thanks again for everything you do here.

    • Teri

      Jenny or anyone, i’m off the subject but I can’t remember where on your site I saw a trial memebership for free music downloads. Thanks!!!

    • Becky

      Just another note: At Walgreens the other day the Assistant Manager said they have to be very careful with coupon stacking. He explained that there are coupons that say, “One coupon PER PURCHASE”, which is what the $4 Glade coupon says on it. I was trying to get 2 candles, but he could not take the 2nd $4 coupon. When I asked if I could do it in a seperate transaction, he said that would be fine. He also mentioned some employees had been fired for not knowing how to take coupons. SO… the moral of the story is: do what is right and it helps you, them, and the rest of us. Thanks!!

    • Laura F

      Becky, One per purchase means one per item purchased not one per transaction. You should have been able to use both $4 coupons.

    • JULIE

      ” A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches and loving favor rather than silver or gold.” Proverbs 22:1
      Thanks for your integrity. I love your website!

    • Rebecca

      Jenny, as everyone else has said, thank you for posting this. I have been reading on here where others are using coupons for products of a manufacturer where it specifically states a product, for example the Aveeno $10/3 coupon where it states that it is for positively ageless but they are not necessarily buying that particular product but others made by Aveeno. Is this right to do? Will Aveeno still reimburse the store for this coupon when it was not used to purchase what it states on the coupon? I know there are many other instances I have read this with other types of products. I am just wondering if it all works out the right way in the end? Just thought this would be the right place to bring up this question. I know you have a lot of questions to answer now due to this post, so thanks in advance for answering this one. I want to do the right and honest thing.

    • jessica

      I’ve been wondering the same thing as Rebecca…do you have to use the coupon for the specific item that it states. The Aveeno coupons are the perfect example…can you use it for any Aveeno product?

    • Thank you so much for this info. I am new at this and want to do everything right. I do have a question, my family has a couple houses together and we share the same wireless internet, we always use our own mailing address and names but with the iep (whatever that is) are we commiting fraud? Also one of us may do the shopping and use a couple of peoples coupons in one transaction (mulitple items- 1 q per item)-is that a potential problem? I do print out as many as the server will let me- usually 2 and figure the company allows this since they do have a cut off. Thank you again!

    • Tracy

      Frannie, you must have misunderstood my comment. I was meaning when you give a cashier a coupon and that item isn’t even in your cart. I am a single Mom of four and use coupons whenever I can (thanks to this great site I have saved a bundle on my grocery bills) but I don’t try to cheat Publix or any other store when I use coupons. All my coupons and groceries are accounted for–that was all I was trying to say.
      If there is a coupon that makes a product free I am ALL for it–nothing better than FREE!:)Happy savings!!!

    • Jenny,

      This was just a great Post and so were all the comments and questions.

      I have been concerned for some time about couponers “going over to the Dark Side” and thinking that it’s O.K. because the companies are RICH and won’t miss the money they lose when someone is dishonest.

      I always think about all the people involved in making the products,selling them, advertising them,trucking them to the stores, their jobs and their families, who are just like us and are struggling in this economy too. How would doing something illegal effect them eventually ? How would it effect all of us honest couponers ?

      So if you’re even a little tempted to push your couponing to the very edge of the cliff, please think about the consequences, not only to you but everyone else too.

      There’s nothing better than a clear conscience !


    • Nancy

      Can you use the coupons at coupons.com? I tried to give them to the cashier at CVS and they said that they were fake and I couldn’t use them. What do I do? Can I use them in a different store?


    • Mina

      Nancy, coupons.com is reputable. Some cashiers and even some individual stores balk at taking internet printed (IP) coupons. I don’t really blame them. After all, some have been stung badly by fraudulent coupons. Some people find that they have fewer problems if they print them in color. (I do that.) Also, if you are frequent customer, cashiers get to know your habits and remember if you have a habit of being a careful coupon user, or a have caused them problems in the past. Quite a few people have reported having IP coupons denied at various CVS’s recently.

      Like I said, coupons.com is legitimate. If you printed the Q from there, you shouldn’t have to worry about using it at a different store.

    • Holly

      Has anyone experienced this? Went to walmart, picked up a few items, only had 3 coupons, became distracted, paid and left only to discover my 3 coupons were not taken off. Go to customer service, who goes and gets the registers coupon bag and only 2 of my coupons are in there. Where is the 3rd one? Walmart can’t do anything about the missing coupon and kept asking me “are you sure you had 3?” I did have 3 and I wonder if cashiers help themselves especially with large orders. Any ideas, thoughts?

    • Holly, I had something similar happen to me at Kmart last week. I picked out my 25 items and figured my cost would be under $1. When the cashier totaled my order it came to about $6. As soon as I told her I didnt’ think that was right. She scanned my $2.50 Electrosol coupon and said, ” I might have missed this one.”

      There is no way she could have known what was missed unless he had missed it on purpose. I’m now rethinking why some coupons get missed my cashiers.

    • Holly

      Thanks Jeri, I really thought I lost my mind and coupon somewhere in walmart lol. I know I had 3. Everyone should be aware of this.

    • Elizabeth

      This is one of the reasons I make it a habit to hand the cashier my coupons one at a time. I can then make sure they are all scanned properly, and if the store doubles, that they are doubling properly. I’ve only had one cashier scowl at me and say something becasue I was not handing over the whole stack, but who cares? It’s my money, not theirs.

    • Jan

      Thanks Jenny. I just started using printable coupons this week and had NO idea that the perimiter was important – I just cut right through it like it was a dotted line! I haven’t made any copies so they are all ok but I will cut more carefully so as not to raise any eyebrows at checkout.