Start A Coupon Train

A nifty idea for increasing the benefits of coupons is to start or join a coupon train.

At its most elemental, all you need is at least two people to start clipping coupons. One person puts all the coupons they don’t want in an envelope and mails it to the next person. They take out the coupons they want and put coupons they don’t want back in. They then mail it to the next person on the list.

From there, coupon trains can be organized under a jillion different principles, and purposes. It’s like a chain letter of savings!

Coupon Trains – Introduction [Grocery Coupon Guide via Frugal For Life]
Coupon Train Forums [Families.com]
(Photo: Getty)

Comments

Edit Your Comment

  1. sly100100 says:

    Wow! Never heard of this before. I love clipping coupons but somehow this just seems weird.

  2. Nicococure says:

    I’m a big coupon user, and I’m skeptical too. I doubt that by the time the train came my way it would have any coupons I actually want. If you buy lots of processed foods, there are plenty coupons. Coupons for healthy foods are much harder to come by.

  3. amoeba says:

    Does anyone have an experience with “COUPON TRAIN”? Do you Ben? (that’s why you posted?) I am also a coupon lover, but I don’t know if this will help. I either: will get more junk mail than needed or it is a scam.

  4. macgyver314 says:

    I remember reading in the news about 8 years ago that some woman went to prison for participating in a coupon train. Apparently it is a little known federal crime to trade coupons by US Mail. I’m not certain of the facts. As I said, it was about 8 years ago. It’s worth looking into though.

  5. Amelie says:

    Considering the short and bizarre expiration dates on coupons, I don’t know if this will work out so well. Back in the day, when coupons were more consumer friendly, I would go to my drugstore and get the coupon inserts from the left-over Sunday papers. I still have some coupons that are NED – no expiration date.

  6. Amelie says:

    @macgyver314: You’re an idiot. It’s not a federal crime to trade/give coupons. What is against the law is to send in multiple rebates using multiple or fake addresses.

    I received a threatening letter from the post office because of an online club I belonged to. Word was, someone from Proctor & Gamble infiltrated the club and sent our names to the Rebate Fraud Task Force. I laughed at the letter which wanted my signature on a statement saying, “If I was involved in fraud, I would stop.” Of course I didn’t sign it, but a number of little old ladies in the club were hysterical with fear, even though they had done nothing wrong.

  7. Chicago7 says:

    Sounds like a good way to pass around coupons that nobody wants.

    The only winner is the U.S. Postal Service.

  8. amoeba says:

    @zouxou: You made a good point to get coupons from Sunday papers left-over. I didn’t know that, so I will use this tip. I also never heard of someone being arrested for such “train”. But don’t be so harsh to our friend, LOLZ!

  9. amoeba says:

    I meant Sunday Paper from the Drugstore. LOLZ!

  10. The Dude says:

    What a terrible idea: The pain and annoyance of coupons, combined with extra sorting, mailing, and receiving ‘unwanted’ coupons.

  11. I used to get envelopes of coupons from my grandmother that i would pass on. The biggest problem was that my stores didn’t even carry many of the items she would send the coupons for.

  12. Ravenwaift says:

    I really love this idea and I plan to participate. Not everyone has a cat or a dog, and even if they do, they may not like the brands that I do. Therefore, I would, theoretically, recieve extras of my favorite coupons.

    This would also work for baby/children stuff, on gender-specific items, and other items like that.

  13. Ickypoopy says:

    At one of my old job’s, there was a basket in one of the break rooms full of coupons. People would bring in coupons they didn’t need/want, and someone would cut up all of the coupons from the news papers in the break rooms.

    I personally never used the coupons, but on many occasions witnessed people going through and taking some of the coupons.

    A communal coupon basket sounds much better than this train idea.

  14. deadhouseplants says:

    This is an awesome idea. Cause the idea of spending 40 cents in postage to get a 15 cent off coupon for Dial soap is pure genius. Let me tell you, and I need soap too, to rid the stench of sarcasm I suffer from.

    It’s called the internet, clipping coupons is an idea that is sooo needing to be out of date.

  15. K-Bo says:

    This sounds like it would take more time than it’s worth in many cases, but I’ve thought of getting a sunday paper and splitting the coupons with my best friend. Since she’s a mother of 3 with no pets, and I have no children and a cat, we wouldn’t use many of the same coupons, so why get 2 papers between us if all we want is coupons.

    I could also see taking in coupons if you have a group that meets like a playgroup or book club, but mailing them? Wouldn’t the envelope quickly get full enough with denture cleaner coupons that it will cost extra shipping?

  16. philbert says:

    You are so right. Pay 41¢ in postage to save a quarter on dial soap- duuuuhhhhh!!!!! File this under “no brainer”

  17. philbert says:

    Duh! 41¢ postage to mail a coupon that will save you 25¢. File this under “I’m an idiot”

  18. bohemian says:

    Since I don’t use most of the processed overpriced junk food and toxic housecleaning products that most coupons are for this would be pointless. The best coupons I have gotten were on products I already buy. The ones that really saved money were the affinity programs that sent me big coupons. JcPenney $10 off anything coupon. The Bed Bath & Beyond $5 of $20 or 20% off coupons that actually never expire even though they have an expire date. Most of the big box stores or mall clothing stores have customer programs to give you coupons.
    The few grocery coupons I do use I get from the online grocery coupon sites, they seem to have more variety. Target did a coupon program at the register for a while. They would spit out a coupon with your receipt based on your past purchases. $1 of paper towels or toilet paper (target brand) and things like that.
    You would save more money not buying the processed food and expensive cleaners than using coupons on them.

  19. RandomHookup says:

    Wow, the naysayers jump up to bash down an idea.

    First off, if you don’t really use coupons, don’t participate. The people that do this are pretty hard core and are often saving thousands a year.

    You keep the group small…4-8 people is the max and each person adds in new ones. If you don’t play nice, no one will play with you in the future.

    One thing people don’t realize is that coupon values vary across the country (and even newspapers in the same town). Kraft may put out a 75 cents off 1 in one part of the country and a $1.25 off 2 in another. The 75 cent one is more valuable if your stores double or triple.

    Can you save money with couponing? Absolutely. But it’s hard work.

  20. MameDennis says:

    I could imagine the coupon train paying off for some people… if you’re buying diapers all the time, you’ll be happy to have a retiree’s leftover coupons. Me, I’m happy with what I get in the paper.

    I’m honestly surprised to see so much coupon-bashing… I routinely save 20-30% on my groceries thanks to coupons. Admittedly, I buy meat and produce at the farmers’ market and similar venues… so most of what I get at the grocery store is pet food, baking supplies, and toiletries. Yes, I will happily take the $2 off coupon on a pack of razors, thank you.

    It takes me maybe 20 minutes to clip and sort coupons on a Sunday morning. It’s totally worth the effort if you’re organized.

  21. Musician78 says:

    I can’t do the coupon thing. I have neither the time nor the patience (especially the patience) to stand there holding up the line waiting for the cashier to go through each individual coupon in order to save 15 cents on this and 10 cents on that.

  22. Scuba Steve says:

    I enjoy coupons. I just wish that they had them for produce or meat products. I try to stick to the freshest ingredients and for some things I’ll get a coupon, but mostly just have to shop around for the best deals.

  23. scoopy says:

    Do like me and just put all the coupons in your neighbors mailbox. Do like me.

  24. RandomHookup says:

    @Scuba Steve:

    There are some coupons in those categories and they are usually called “winetags” (usually found around the necks of wine bottles). You only see them in certain parts of the country, but they are usually put out by the liquor distributors and are for “$1 off shrimp” or “$1.50 off turkey”. Some require a liquor purchase, but many states don’t allow that requirement.

    That’s where coupon trains (and trading come in). These will travel the country in exchange for coupons you can’t get locally.

    And most coupon trains include lots of coupons that don’t come in the Sunday papers, so there can be lots of variety that you couldn’t get otherwise.

  25. MameDennis says:

    I probably should just let this pass, but there have been a lot of references in this thread to 10-cent-off coupons… this is not an accurate reflection of the value of most coupons. Most are in the 50 to 75 cent range, and in my region, most stores double up to 99 cents. So, a typical coupon is worth $1 to $1.50. It adds up, and fast.

    If *you* don’t care to clip coupons, fine. But for many of us, it’s a very easy and very effective way to keep household expenses in check.

  26. nequam says:

    @MameDennis: I was just about to make the same point. Most coupons in my newspaper are in the $1 to $1.50 range. In my experience, it takes no more than 30 seconds for the cashier to scan the coupons. Combining coupons with sales, annual savings for my wife and I easily exceed $1500. And that’s based on a 15-minute weekly investment of time.

  27. sly100100 says:

    You know we have a couple of “scratch & dent” (thats what I call them anyway) stores around here, and I often check there first for dry goods, or cleaning products. I save a lot more there than I do on coupons. Given that coupons are generally for the name brand more expensive items. I can save almost half on items I use everyday.
    You just have to check the dates, and look of over the packaging to make sure it isn’t opened or anything.