It's National Coupon Month and it might surprise you to know that the average shopper saves just $7 on their weekly shopping bill using coupons. Why so little? “Because they fall for the hype,” says Jessica Crowe of TheHappyCouponer.com. “You should never buy something just because you have a coupon.”
Why manufacturers like coupons
The very first coupon was issued by Atlanta pharmacist John Pemberton to promote his new fountain-drink, Coca-Cola. To get more people to try his new soda, Pemberton passed out coupons to people on the street.
Today's manufacturers also use coupons for promotional purposes.
“Make no mistake,” says Crowe. “While it might appear that XYZ company is friendly and compassionate and they're trying to help you save money this week, what they're really doing is trying to get you to buy their product, and it will almost always cost you money.”
Whether it's a physical, digital or printable coupon, they all work the same. The manufacturer offers you a price-cut if you'll buy their product, and the ad is usually visually appealing to help suck you in.
“But it's important to remember,” says Crowe, “that you have to spend money to save money if you want to use that coupon. And that's where a lot of shoppers fail.”
For example, Crowe recently came across a coupon offering $1 off on the purchase of one box of Poptarts.
“Now, everybody loves Poptarts, right? And when you can get them for $1 off, that's a good deal. But my family doesn't need Poptarts. They're never on my shopping list and my family only asks for them if they know they're in the cupboard. Yeah, it sounds great to say I saved another dollar on my grocery tab, but not if I had to spend $2.98 on something my family doesn't even need.”
Wait until the item goes on sale
On the other hand, if it's a staple item in your household, you'll be tempted to buy it and use that coupon. But Crowe suggests waiting until the item goes on sale. “Because eventually it will. All manufacturers and stores have sales cycles that typically run from three to four months on almost every item in the store. Hang onto your coupon and wait for the item to go on sale before you buy.”
Donna Anderson is a frugal grandmother. She and her frugal daughter, Jessica Crowe, spend just a few hours to save hundreds of dollars off their grocery bill each week. Visit them at TheHappyCouponer.com for weekly coupon match-ups and coupon alerts.
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- Why it pays to collect multiple coupons
- Know your store's coupon policy
- What to do when your store stops doubling coupons
- 7 tips to save money before you even start clipping coupons
- Can you really save money with a coupon clipping service?
- Coupon etiquette: Mind your manners while you save
- The low-down on double and triple coupons
- National Coupon Month: Fun facts and actual statistics