As I was wandering the grocery store aisles earlier this month I spied a woman filling her shopping cart off a list she carried in her hand, but also sticking pieces of paper on products on the shelves and directly on the items from time to time. When I passed where she had been, I noticed that she was taping coupons onto the appropriate products.

I caught up with her and started up a conversation. This is what she told me:

It seems like such a waste to throw away coupons I won't use myself because I don’t use the product. I know that someone is going to buy the product, so they might as well get the discount the coupon offers. I'm already in the store doing my shopping and it only takes a few seconds to scotch tape the coupon onto the package. It just seems like the right thing to do.

I totally agree and it's a coupon “pay it forward” system. I know I would be thrilled if I went to purchase a product on my list and it had a money off coupon attached to it. Not only is it an simple way to help someone else save money, it's a great way to makes someone's day. I’m sure that anyone who reaches for the item they were going to buy to find a discount coupon attached will feel like a bit of luck shined on them that day.

Since seeing that, I have made an effort to pay it forward with coupons I don't need. Leaving coupons in stores for others to use is called “dropshopping coupons” (the opposite of shoplifting). In fact, I have expanded beyond grocery coupons and started to print out multiple coupons when going to a restaurant that offers online coupons. Then I simply handed them out or leave them where anyone can grab one if they want.

I realize that not all of the coupons I leave will be used, but many more will be than if they had ended up in my waste basket. It's truly surprising how a simple gesture like this can make somebody's day. If you use coupons and find yourself throwing some away from time to time, I encourage you to join the “pay it forward” coupon movement.

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