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Next time you want to print a coupon to use on your favorite Procter & Gamble product – better act fast. If you don’t go shopping within a day after printing, your coupon might not be worth the paper it’s printed on.

P&G has narrowed the window of opportunity to use many of its print-at-home coupons from the traditional one month after printing, to just about the shortest possible length of time – one day.

“Please note that upon printing you will have 1 day to redeem this coupon,” visitors to the P&G everyday printable coupon page are informed upon selecting a coupon to print. Of the seven printable offers currently available, only one – for Puffs tissues – expires a month after you print it. The rest, for laundry and fabric care products like Tide, Gain and Bounce, expire the very day after you print it.

So if you want to save some money on Puffs, go ahead and print a coupon and stick it in your purse or wallet for whenever you get around to stopping by the store in the days and weeks ahead. But if you want to save some money on a P&G brand detergent or fabric care product – don’t print until you’re good and ready to shop.

So why the change, when most other printable coupons give you a month, and sometimes even longer, to make your purchase? Is it to incentivize consumers to make a purchase right away? To keep them from printing coupons and forgetting to use them? Or to help stop internet sellers from printing and selling P&G print-at-home coupons online?

“All three of the reasons,” P&G spokesperson Victoria Schooler told Coupons in the News, “helped lead us to this change.”

It’s easy to see how offering a coupon that expires tomorrow can create a sense of urgency, and prompt many shoppers to go ahead and make a purchase now instead of putting it off, or failing to do it at all.

That might work for everyday shoppers who are satisfied with saving a buck on a box of Bounce dryer sheets. But committed couponers often like to print their coupons now and hold onto them to wait for a sale, in order to get the best possible deal. And that won’t work anymore. From now on, you’re going to need to plan your printing much more strategically, waiting until you find that deal and you’re ready to shop. And only then should you print – running the risk that there may not be any more prints available. And savvy couponers who like to plan ahead are unlikely to be thrilled about that.

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But it may be some “savvy couponers” who helped create this situation in the first place. Printable coupon “fairies” are not as prevalent as they used to be, ever since Coupons.com cracked down and put new print controls in place. But there are still a number of “fairies” who print as many coupons as they can, in order to sell them in bulk online to couponers who don’t have the wherewithal to print that many themselves.

Now, with P&G’s coupons expiring within just one day, there’s little chance anyone will be able to sell very many online before they’re no longer valid.

Whether that’s a primary reason for P&G’s move, or just a side benefit, it won’t be the first time the company has gone to great lengths to thwart coupon sellers, shelf-clearers and fraudsters.

The fabric care division also took the lead a couple of years ago, when it began removing coupons for Tide, Gain, Downy, Bounce and other products from newspaper coupon inserts, directing readers to get them online instead. Later, P&G withdrew its brandSAVER inserts from many newspapers altogether, in order to help combat insert theft. And last summer, P&G began limiting the use of its Sunday insert offers to “two identical coupons per household per day”, and limiting the use of its printable coupons to just one.

So P&G’s printable coupons are not only the strictest in terms of how many you can use at once, they’re now the strictest in terms of the length of time they’re valid. Print, then blink – and you’ll miss it.

P&G never seemed to be a big fan of printable coupons anyway. Years after most other companies were offering print-at-home coupons, a skeptical P&G didn’t begin offering them until 2012. In recent years, P&G has been devoting more time and attention to its digital load-to-card offers. In fact, it’s been a long time since the company has even offered any printable coupons via Coupons.com, the internet’s leading printable coupon site – instead, P&G now has a much smaller selection of printables available only on its own website.

Is this a sign that P&G printables are now becoming so exclusive and restrictive, that the only logical next step is to eliminate them altogether?

P&G isn’t saying as much, just yet. “The fact that you are not seeing P&G print-at-home offers on third-party websites is part of the ebb and flow of our mix of coupon offers on different platforms,” Schooler said. “While where they find coupons may change from time to time, we remain committed to helping shoppers save money with a mix of print-at-home options, physical coupon offerings in the monthly brandSAVER, as well as coupons available via retailer shopper cards.”

So P&G printable coupons do still technically exist. Just don’t plan next week’s stock-up shopping trip around them. Instead, all you can do now is print a coupon, then use it or lose it – literally.

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