In a quest to save money, many shoppers use coupons. The question is, do these coupons really save you money? Are they worth the time you put into them finding them, clipping them, and remembering to use them at the store?
While the answer may have been yes before, I believe the answer is no. Many grocery stores have their own savings programs that require the shopper to have a membership card to take advantage of the savings they offer. These savings are advertised weekly, and each item is flagged on the shelf. This means that even if you were not aware when you came in the store, you now can see that an item is on sale, and many times opt for that one over all others. These sales sometimes make the generic items more expensive, and as long as you are not meticulous, you will save money somewhere. Because of these in store membership savings, many stores have changed their policies on accepting and redeeming coupons. For instance, a local store used to double all coupons up to 50 cents regardless of the amount of the total purchase. Upon instatement of their internal savings program, they mandate that only three coupons are redeemable per $10 of purchased merchandise. It seems to me that using the savings from the membership would be much easier than keeping track of all that!
Another reason coupon promotions do not offer the savings people think they will get, is because you only save money by using a coupon on a product you always purchase. For instance, if the coupon is for savings on a product like toilet paper or aluminum foil, you may save some money, and it may be worth it. However, if the coupon is for a name brand product that you do not usually buy, or for a product you generally opt for the generic version of, you are not saving yourself anything, but rather costing yourself. If you use the coupon to save money on a product you would not normally buy at all, how is that saving yourself anything? The only time I would consider this handy is when you have promised your children a special treat.
In addition, coupons are becoming more notorious for requiring the purchase of multiple items before you get the savings. So, if you cannot save the item and use the bulk later (as in a save 55 cents on two boxes of cereal coupon) then it is not worth it.
So my advice to use is to toss all those coupons out the door, unless you find them on items you frequently purchase, and if they are frequently on sale through your local store’s incentive program, then that is even better for you. Ultimately, though, in my experience at least, the better way to save money is through planning your meals around what you already have on hand and what is on sale.