Coupons and the SNAP Program
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Coupons and the SNAP Program

Posted on Thursday, August 29th, 2013 at 7:00 am
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Clipping CouponsCan you use coupons if you are on the SNAP program? Who uses the SNAP program, anyway? What are you allowed to purchase through the SNAP program? These are important questions, especially if you, or a loved one, is using SNAP. Here are some quick answers for you.

What is SNAP?
SNAP stands for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. It is a more modern version of what once was called “food stamps”. It is a program run by the United States Department of Agriculture. That is why Farm Bills can affect the SNAP program (and its recipients).

Who uses SNAP?
People who meet certain financial criteria may be eligible for SNAP. Typically, this means people who have a very low income. There are slightly different criteria for households that include a person who is age 60 or older. In order to be eligible for SNAP, a person must be a citizen of the United States.

Veterans who are totally disabled, permanently housebound, or in need of regular aid and attendance can also use SNAP (and so can their spouse and children). SNAP is also used to provide food to people who are affected by emergency situations (such as a hurricane).

What can you buy through SNAP?
Eligible food items include: breads and cereals, fruits and vegetables, meats, fish and poultry, and dairy products. People can also use SNAP to purchase seeds and plants that produce food for their household to eat.

You cannot use SNAP to by beer, wine, liquor, cigarettes, or tobacco. You also cannot use SNAP to purchase nonfood items such as pet foods, soaps, paper products, vitamins, medicine, or food that will be eaten in the store it is purchased from. In other words, most states won’t allow people to use SNAP to purchase a meal at a restaurant. Some exceptions are provided for people who are elderly.

Can you use coupons with SNAP?
Yes, people who are on the SNAP program are allowed to use coupons. Doing so is an excellent way to make those benefits stretch a little farther. Check the store’s policy before you use coupons.

Some stores will require the shopper who uses SNAP to pay taxes on the items that a coupon was used on. Other stores will require the shopper to pay the tax in cash. It is not legal for stores to do that. Even so, it appears that some stores will do it anyway.

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Good Tip: Saving money is important – especially if you have a lot of expenses like bills to pay, loans to pay off, and all the other things that drain your bank account. Figuring out a way to save money can feel tedious to some, and like a punishment to others. U.S. News suggests that you try one of these money saving challenges. The “No Eating Out for a Month” Challenge This one is self-explanatory. The goal is to avoid eating out for an entire month. This might be super easy for people who enjoy making meals at home. People who really enjoy dining out, or ordering food to be sent to their home, may struggle with this one. It’s worth a try because spending money on take-out is more expensive than buying groceries. The Pantry Challenge This one is a variation of the “No Eating Out for a Month” challenge. The goal is to use up all of your groceries before you buy more. It forces you to try and remember why you bought a food or beverage that you don’t know what to do with, and gives you the opportunity to find a way to use it. The one exemption to this challenge is the foods that have expired. Don’t eat them! Throw them in the trash. The “No Spend” Challenge Make a goal to avoid spending money during an entire weekend. The only exemption in this challenge is that you are allowed to pay bills. This challenge is interesting because it requires creativity. You must be creative and find workarounds for problems that you would typically solve by spending money. You may have a different outlook on spending after finishing this challenge.