Some smart shoppers insist that using store brands, buying goods on sale, and stocking up beats using coupons. The Almanac agrees that shopping is less complicated when coupons are not used. The store brand shopper can invest a little time finding which store brands he or she likes, then buy them over and over. There are no time-consuming searches for certain new products that are bargains when coupons are used.
Having said that, people who are willing to invest time in clipping and saving coupons save an average of 11.5% on their grocery purchases, according to the Promotion Marketing Association. Here are some tips for saving money with grocery coupons.
It Takes a Lot of Coupons
Many brand-name foods and household supplies have periodic coupon offers, and the devoted coupon user gleans coupons from the Sunday paper every week. Coupon clippers with big families save coupons from their newspaper, then wangle the coupon inserts from friends and neighbors who take the newspaper.
Manufacturers’ coupons from the newspaper are not like rebates or coupons from the Internet; typically they are not limited to one purchase per household. If you have 4 coupons for Pete’s Atomic Salsa, you can buy 4 jars from the same store at one time.
Coupons often have a printed warning that they are void “if transferred.” This is done to discourage buying and selling of coupons. It is not intended to thwart the consumer who is clipping coupons from a newspaper ad she received from her neighbor.
Having duplicates or triplicates of the same coupon makes couponing more efficient since you only have to hunt down one brand. Perhaps you will be able to buy enough of the product that it will last until it is featured in the coupon insert again.
It Helps to Have a Sense of Adventure
The coupon-using shopper who insists on buying only their favorite brands will suffer through many coupon-less spells. Champion coupon users agree that a person must be flexible in the brands they consume. Folks committed to the coupon lifestyle may go through six different kinds of margarine in a year, along with countless new products, all purchased at good discounts.
You Still Need to Compare Prices
Some products are so expensive that using a coupon with them is still no bargain. Determined coupon users study the sale ads and buy products on sale with their coupons. They prowl store aisles armed with their entire coupon file, watching for unadvertised specials that they can buy with coupons.
It Takes Organization
Coupons must be clipped from the newspaper regularly and, experts agree, filed immediately. Coupons strewn around the house buy no groceries. Sort the coupons into a file that is compact and portable, such as an accordion file for checks, or envelopes in a sturdy box. The best filing method is to sort the coupons by type of food and use dividers or envelopes so coupons can be located quickly.
Most coupons have expiration dates, so a person will need to go through their file several times a year and discard expired coupons. Coupons with big discounts that expire soon can be pulled out and used on the next trip to the store.
Having Internet Access Helps
Coupons are offered over the Internet, but be cautious: counterfeit coupons have been distributed there. Some of the companies that put out the Sunday newspaper coupon inserts also offer free coupons on the Internet. Sometimes stores will refuse to accept Internet coupons that you print out at home. This problem stems from some fraud cases involving coupons from the Internet. The legitimate Internet sites usually allow only one copy of each coupon to be printed.
The Coupon Mom, at offers a free service that saves the time spent sorting coupons. Coupon Mom keeps track of coupons offered in Sunday newspaper inserts. Instead of clipping and filing individual coupons, you just save the whole insert. When you make a grocery list, web surf to Coupon Mom and type in the products on your list. Coupon Mom responds by telling the date of each insert that has coupons for the items you plan to buy.
You May Need Storage Space
It is more efficient to buy several packages of food at one time — and if the price with coupon is low enough, why not buy a bunch if you have coupons? If you consistently buy what is on sale you will often be buying foods before you run out. So storage space may be an issue as you stock a mini supermarket at home.
Be a Considerate Shopper
Before entering the checkstand line, stop and get out all coupons you have for the items in your cart. The coupons must match the merchandise in every way: same brand, same product, same size, and the coupons must not be expired. If you don’t have the right coupons, don’t ask the checkstand clerk to bend the rules; the store could be charged with fraud.
There is Some Work Involved…
People who do well with coupons tend to treat them as a hobby. They don’t begrudge the time required, and take delight in their best buys. The truth is, it can be a profitable hobby. The cash you save with coupons does not have to be earned at work, and you save the labor that would be needed to pay taxes on that money.

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