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Consumer
Coupon clipping pays off
NORTH PALM BEACH, Fla. (12/29/08)--The recent spike in food prices has triggered an increase in coupon use, and Steven Boal, founder/ CEO of Coupons.com, estimates savings can be as much as $150 to $200 a month (Bankrate.comDec. 5). That savings can be a significant boost for a family trying to make ends meet in today’s economy. Using coupons can help control costs at the grocery store--all you need is access to the internet, a printer, or the weekly newspaper. That’s reason enough to start clipping and use the money you save for other expenses or for a slightly higher contribution to your company-sponsored retirement plan. According to a poll conducted by the Consumer Reports National Research Center for ShopSmart magazine, the average female grocery shopper spends approximately $116 a week, or over $6,000 per year (ConsumerReports.org March ). To counteract the effects of higher food prices, trim your grocery bill by clipping coupons:
* Take a risk. Instead of buying the same thing every week, use a coupon to try a new product at a lower price. Store-brand items can be half the price and just as good as name-brand products. But if the coupon is for a more expensive name-brand product, you may not experience any savings with a coupon if the price already is high. * Be loyal. Shop at stores that offer a loyalty card--a reusable electronic coupon you swipe at the register. These cards offer savings on hundreds of items every week on both name-brand and store-brand options. You may be able to save even more by combining loyalty card offers with manufacturer’s coupons. * Go double. Call local stores and ask if they have double coupon days. Check the rules to see if your 50-cent coupon may be worth a dollar. It may pay to switch your shopping day to take advantage of the coupon deals. • Go online. Get manufacturer’s coupons from the Web. Sites such as SmartSource.com, Coupons.com and CoolSavings.com are just a few. Use your search engine to find coupons for specific items. * Check for weekly deals. If you shop at a regional grocery chain, check the Web site for special offers. Although you can get coupons from newspapers and magazines, many retailers are economizing by going electronic with their circulars. * Stock up. Use coupons to fill your cupboards--especially when you can get 50% or more off the regular price. If you have cupboard and freezer space, buy the maximum amount the coupon allows, but only if you actually will use perishables before the expiration date. If you have storage space, buy paper products, cleaning supplies and items with a long shelf life.
For more information, read, Tough Times Series: Gouged by Groceries” in Home & Family Finance Resource Center.
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