hances are you think you know what coupons are, how they work and that they’re something you’ll never use. Chances too are that you’re thinking of the old style paper coupons your grandmother used to clip from newspapers and magazines, carrying them around in her wallet or clipping them to her grocery list. If that sounds familiar, forget all you thought you knew.
Time Magazine reported in 2009 that by the mid-way point in the year 1.6 billion coupons had been redeemed in the U.S. While that number is incredible in itself, what is even more remarkable is who used them.
According to Time, the Nielsen Company reported that serious coupon users included people with incomes greater than $70,000, those living in affluent suburban and country homes, those run by a female head 54 years of age or younger, and those with large families. While the latter may be expected, the former sheds a different light on coupon use.
Nielsen also reported those least likely to use coupons included low income and one-member households, which leads to another little-known fact: that many of the country’s wealthiest people are actually quite frugal and achieved their wealth by saving money wherever and whenever they could. The difference here between those who have and those who have not, is that those who have find the time to save.
That’s the real key to couponing, and why your grandmother’s task looked hopeless: time. The difference today and why it’s important to take a fresh look at couponing is that saving money doesn’t have to mean hours spent flipping through and clipping from newspapers and magazines. Today coupons are available online through central sites, from a wide range of stores and through subscription services that email coupons directly to you.
Greatdeals.com is one site that sorts coupons by store and category and allows members to share coupons. The website promises an uncluttered, easy to understand user experience. One of the biggest advantages is the easy access to stores you already know and stores you may not have thought of for coupons.
Best Buy, Drugstore.com and Macys are just a few and show the diversity of stores who participate. A recent look at Macys on Greatdeals.com offered coupons ranging from 25 per cent off men’s and women’s North Face clothing to 40 per cent off bedding.
With sites like Groupon.com you enter your location, register and automatically receive coupons valid in your area direct to your computer. With a range including everything from travel to car detailing to restaurants there may be services you aren’t interested in but with the work managed for you, what is there to lose?
Financial guru Dave Ramsey, author of several financial self-help books and host of the nationally syndicated self-titled radio show, has jumped on the coupon bandwagon. He suggests those who have given in to the iphone trend make use of the phone to discover the many couponing apps available.
Apps like SnipSnap allow you to photograph coupons for use from your phone and the Yipit app sorts daily deals in your area and sends them in one summary email.
The advantage to these couponing sites and apps is the use of search engines and regionally specific criteria to help make the work of finding savings easier.
The next thing you need to understand is the power of coupons. Forget the days of being excited to save $0.50 off cereal, although once you discover the value of couponing you’ll realize enough of those $0.50 equates to a meal out you hadn’t planned on or an extra payment towards your debt. Think 25 per cent off the previously mentioned North Face clothing deal at Macys and you’ve saved $50 off next year’s winter jacket.
Once you discover the value of couponing, you may find yourself becoming a coupon expert. Like the experts seen on shows like Extreme Couponing you too will know the difference between buy one get one free and 50 per cent off, understand the value of stackable coupons and how to combine in-store discounts with brand discounts, see the value of buying in bulk to capture savings when they are available. Ok, maybe not. Chances are good though that you’ll never pay full price for toilet paper or cleaning supplies again.
Start today by investing an hour to check out the sites and apps available to you. Commit to watching those for a month, keep track of your savings and you too will understand the value of the coupon.
Linda Kelly is a working mother of two from Florida. Growing up she had a grandmother who clipped coupons for her own use and shared those she thought would be of interest to others. It took many years, but Linda now understands the value of coupons and has become her grandmother, but using internet search engines and apps to discover and share the wealth.