It takes an average of one half an hour a week to cut and garner coupons. Is it worth it? First, and explanation of the terms:
Coupons: These are little pieces of paper that are distributed by companies as a promise to keep the amount of money printed on the face if you buy their product. Coupons range in value from 25 cents up to 2 or 3 dollars. The face value of the coupon can save you anywhere from 25% to 75% off the purchase, depending on the original price and if the grocery store happens to have that product on sale the same week that you use the coupon.
Double Coupons: Double Coupons is an event when the store will double the face value of any coupon you have up to a certain amount- usually 50 cents or 99 cents. The store will not double coupons that specifically have printed “Do Not Double” on them, but any other coupon up to that amount will be worth twice the value it says. What does this mean for the consumer? If you are buying dishwasher detergent at $2.99, and you have a 75 cent coupon, then you will actually get that detergent for $1.49 plus tax. Some stores promote double coupons in their sales ads that come out on Wednesdays, while others have a weekly continuous program that never ends.
Triple Coupons: Triple Coupons is a sales event where the store promises to give you three times the face value of a coupon, usually up to a certain price such as 50 cents or 99 cents. If you are buying that same dishwasher detergent at $2.99, with that same 75 cent coupon, you will actually pay 74 cents when that coupon is tripled. Or, if you have a package of rice that costs $1.20, and a 40 cent coupon, you will get that package of rice for free! Most stores limit how many coupons you can use during a triple coupon event, but they will double them after so many have been used. Others still impose a total limit of how much you have to spend before the price of the coupon is deducted in order to receive the deal of tripling the face value of your coupons. Other stores have no restrictions, and let you run wild.
How much do you really save? If you use 10 coupons each week at an average of 50 cents apiece, you save $5.00 a week, or over $260 a year. If you use those coupons at double coupon events or stores that continuously double your coupons, that’s $10.00 a week, or over $520 a year. Triple coupons obviously saves you the most, but the stores will only run this promotion up to once a month. But if you do a combination of double and triple coupons, you can save an average of $11.25 a week, or over $585 a year. And that’s just the beginning. If you use more coupons, or play your cards right during sales events where you use a coupon for an item on sale, you can save twice or triple those amounts every week.
So where do you get these coupons? Mostly from your local Sunday newspaper, mixed in all those weekly store ads. There are usually 2 or 3 sections filled with money-saving coupons, almost like cash waiting to be cut out from the pages. If you’re Internet savvy, you can find coupons on the Internet. Two popular sites are www.smartsource.com and www.coolsavings.com. You can also go to the website of your local paper (or any daily newspaper, really) and search on their site for grocery coupons. Most have them. Check with your grocery store first before going on a spree with Internet printed coupons, however. While almost every grocery store takes them, a few do have policies concerning self printed coupons. Another place to find coupons is in your grocery store. Those red machines that the cart always bumps into and the kids always pull all those coupons out only to scatter them all over the floor? Those are yours for the taking. Magazines occasionally come with coupons printed inside, as do tickets from sponsored events such as the local hot dog company sponsoring the minor league baseball team and printing a coupon the back of the ticket. Products also frequently come with coupons inside the packaging, to encourage buying their product again or another kind from the same brand. Want more? Ask neighbors for the newspaper sections they don’t use, or check your mail for coupons mailed to you by local savings clubs.
A few notes of caution- don’t buy an item just because you have a coupon for it. While it may seem like a great deal, if you are unsure if your household will eat it, or if you will want it after it’s home, don’t buy it. Even if it just costs a few cents after the coupon amount is applied to it, it will drive up your bill and waste your money if you shouldn’t have bought it. Ask yourself, “Would I buy this at full price?” If the answer is no, it’s probably not worth it, even for the deal. Put it back, and save some money where you need it. Another setback is if you buy one brand because you have a coupon, but another brand is actually cheaper without the coupon. Stores have lots of sales, and the combination of a sale and a coupon is always best. But if it’s not on sale, but you have a coupon, don’t assume that’s the lowest price you’ll get that product for. Look at the small print on the label that tells you price per ounce, and check other brands if you don’t have a specific one you’re partial to. Even though coupons do save a lot of money, it’s not always the way to save the most.