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Are coupons worth your time?

Survey finds savings are going toward necessities

by Lylah M. Alphonse  |  1457 views  |  1 comment  |      Rate this now! 

I carefully organized my coupons and remembered to bring them with me when I went grocery shopping this week. My reward was about a 10 percent savings off my total bill, and I was pleased with that. A couple of years ago, I would have taken that savings and treated myself to a little something -- a gourmet coffee, lunch out at work. But now? That bit of savings translated to a few more groceries in the cart -- and, apparently, that's the new norm for a lot of people.

A survey released last week by coupon company RedPlum found that more than half of those who used coupons put their savings toward buying basic necessities. Another 26 percent of respondents said that they use the money they save to pay down debt.

They're not just saving chump change, either: Sixty-five percent said they save as much as $50 a week. Not a bad payback on an hour or so worth of time.

RedPlum's "Mom Saver-in-Chief" Lisa Reynolds, host of radio show "Viva La Value," says she saves about $30 per shopping trip by using coupons, and invests only about 20 minutes of time each week searching for savings. "You look for the categories you care most about," she suggested during an interview in New York. Before coupons, she used to spend about $500 per shopping trip on her family of four. Now? "About $325," she said. "It's all about choices."

Another trick is to be aware of what you buy and where you shop. "Big warehouse stores don't always make sense," she pointed out. "Canned goods may actually be better at the grocery store."

The RedPlum Purse String Study, which was based on information gathered from more than 16,000 participants, shows that people are more money conscious than ever. While so-called "coupon queens" may rack up some spectacular savings -- Kathy Spencer of How to Shop for Free says she ends up spending less than $10 a week to feed her family of six, including pets -- their techniques might not work for everyone. "I don't think most people can do that," Reynolds said. But searching for coupon codes online and spending a few minutes paging through the circulars can make sense. "With about 20 minutes of work per week, you can save more than $1,000 a year," Reynolds pointed out. "Frugal isn't a bad thing any more."

September is National Coupon Month. Do you use coupons? What do you do with the money you save?

About the Author

Lylah M. Alphonse is a journalist, blogger, and mom and stepmom to five kids. She is a Senior Editor at Yahoo! Shine, writes about juggling full-time career and parenthood at The 36-Hour Day here at Work It, Mom!, and blogs about everything else at WriteEditRepeat.blogspot.com. Follow her on Twitter: @WriteEditRepeat.

Read more by Lylah M. Alphonse




1 comment so far...

  • I use a couple of coupons here and there, but I find that alot of the coupons I receive are for name brands which are still more expensive than than the store brand even with using the coupon. I work full time and don't feel like I have a lot of extra time to 1) scour all the store fliers to see what's on sale or what coupons they have that week and 2) drive to four different stores to save a couple of dollars. I tend to shop at the same two stores every week and I buy pretty much the same items. It takes me out of my comfort zone to come up with different recipes based on what's on sale. Plus I don't have a lot of time during the week to spend on making dinner since we have activities that take us out of the house in the evenings 4 times a week. I try to make something that will last two nights, twice a week so I'm not cooking every night. I spend about $200/week for the four of us.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Fabs on 9th November 2012

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