Monday, Sep 24, 2018
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Coupon Queen

How to Handle Unused Coupons


My recent column on “coupon fairies” – people who leave unwanted coupons on store shelves for others to pick up ­– generated a lot of comments from readers and retailers alike. Not surprisingly, the store employees that wrote in were grateful that the issue of unwanted coupons littering shelves and refrigerator cases was addressed. Many consumers wrote with suggestions on what to do with extra, unwanted coupons:


“Dear Jill,

I just read your article about coupon fairies, and I wanted to share an idea with these generous souls that will allow them to still help others with the coupons they have left over. Many churches have a food pantry or food drives during different times of the year. Donate your coupons to a local church and allow them to use them to stock their pantries to serve the less fortunate in our communities. Keep that giving spirit alive! 

Amy B.”


“Dear Jill,

A local home for victims of domestic violence collects unwanted coupons in our area too. They prefer that the coupons not be cut as their wards cut coupons. They are always in need of donations & this is a small way to help.

Gwen R.”


“Dear Jill,

I read your column every Sunday. Thank you for all the useful tips. I enjoyed your column about the coupon fairies. We also had coupon fairies here. The stores here let it be known they did not want the fairies leaving coupons all over the store. So I take my unwanted and expired coupons to my local VFW for the Ladies Auxiliary. They then send these to our military bases overseas for the men and women and families in the military. Manufacturers will honor these expired coupons for six months after the expiration date for our military personnel overseas. I find this very rewarding and a win-win way to help. I get rid of all the coupons I don’t use, plus all of my expired coupons and I am also helping people and supporting our troops.

Jean B.”


“Our church accepts coupons, which they mail overseas to military bases. We just take them to church on Sunday. I am sure many other churches do the same thing. Love your column!”

Joy S.


“Hi Jill,

Just read your column on coupon fairies and saw that store managers are not too happy about them. You have probably addressed this in the past, but please advise your readers that they can send unused and expired coupons to our troops overseas! You do have to pay to ship them, but it is such a blessing for them to receive them and you can combine with others to share the cost.


Cathy M.”

While on the topic of expiring coupons, reader Gianna writes with a great question: When is it safe to recycle your coupon inserts?

“Dear Jill,

I am an avid couponer who uses your ‘clipless’ method of only cutting what I need and keeping the rest of the coupons in the newspaper insert every week. But how do I know when everything in the insert has expired and I can safely discard it without throwing out any coupons still valid? Got a trick for us for this?

Gianna P.”


Absolutely! On the first of the month, every month, I post a list of expired inserts on my blog at An insert doesn’t make the list until every coupon inside has expired. Simply check the list, and if your insert’s name and date is on it, it’s safe to recycle, discard, or pass on to another organization.

Smart Living Tip: Many readers echoed the sentiment to send unwanted coupons to military bases, as they can indeed be used six months after the expiration dates. You can learn more about this at the following websites, all of which will help you get started:, and

© CTW Features


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, Email your own couponing victories and questions to

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