Most strategic shoppers rely on grocery coupons to help save on their groceries. However, industry statistics show that a very small percentage of shoppers are heavy grocery coupon users. I have been a “heavy” coupon user for over a decade, and I am used to other shoppers watching me in the checkout line and making comments like, “You sure like coupons, don’t you?” I always smile and say, “Actually, I really like money. Using coupons is one way to have more of it!” Best of all, coupons are FREE money. If you’d like your share of free money, keep reading!
There are plenty of free grocery coupons available, if you know where to find them. In fact, in 2005 manufacturers issued 323 billion coupons with a face value of $375 billion. We used less than 1% of them, a savings of about $3 billion, leaving over $370 billion of savings on the table. Because 88% of those coupons came from the Sunday newspaper, the key to getting your share of those savings is finding an easy way to use Sunday newspaper coupons.
I understand that coupons may seem too difficult to use. However, an average coupon user saves approximately 12% per year on their grocery spending, which translates to roughly $12 per week for the average household. An organized coupon user will spend about 30 minutes per week managing their coupon savings, which is the equivalent of earning at least $24 an hour (after taxes) for pretty easy work seatgeek coupon . If you can find a coupon organization system that works for you, you can expect to save several hundred or thousand dollars a year. You will find that the savings you realize will justify the time spent organizing coupons.
Your first step is to get a good coupon organizer. You do not need to spend a lot of money on a fancy coupon organizer to save with coupons. In fact, the best organizer I’ve ever had cost me $3 at an office supply store. To save the most with coupons you should have a coupon organizer that makes it easy for you to find coupons when you need them. Otherwise, you will end up getting frustrated with coupons and may give up on them quickly.
The key to saving the most with coupons is to save all of them every week. You do not necessarily have to cut them all out. In an average week, there may be 100 coupons between the two weekly circulars in the newspaper (one is labeled “SmartSource” and one is labeled “Valassis”). If you were to cut out and organize all of them every week, it would take quite a bit of time. If you were to cut out only the coupons you think you might use and throw the rest of the circular away, you will miss out on future deals when an item goes on sale which matches one of the coupons you threw away. Even if it was an item you wouldn’t have planned to buy, it could end up being free with a coupon. If you don’t use the item, you could always donate your freebies to charity to help others at no cost.
To save the most time and money with coupons, simply cut out the coupons you know you would use and save the rest of the circular. That way, if you see a great bargain later using a coupon you passed up, you can always go back and find it.
Coupon codes and promo codes allow online shoppers to obtain discounts that they normally wouldn’t when purchasing an item. Extreme couponing allows carts full of products to go out the door for pennies. In this depressed economy, people all over want to know “how to coupon?” All these discounts and in fact the entire method of coupon shopping, is doomed.
Why are coupons doomed? There are a number of reasons to support the doom of both printed coupons and electronic coupon codes. New technology is a prime reason. Limiting fraud is another. Finally, new forms of advertising and discounting will combine to form a new method of shopping.
Technology such as behavioral pricing, advanced customer segmentation, and dynamic demand pricing allow online retailers to price discriminate at finer and finer levels than ever before. This means that combining vast amount of customer data available in merchant databases like purchase history, customer demographics, and social media, online merchants can deliver different products and pricing to each site visitor. Imagine that you tweet your friends that you want to buy a new computer, and you post about this on your blog or in a comment. Amazon, knowing that you have searched for computers recently and finds links on a blog comment that tracks back to your profile, increases the prices on all computer items presented to you across all categories. Using browser history, demographics and a global purchase history, a merchant presents an upsell offer bundling a number of high-end related items.
Dynamic pricing isn’t limited to websites and the online world. The New York Mets plan to roll out dynamic pricing for seats across the entire stadium. There have always been premium games against the most popular teams, but imaging getting a discount because a star pitcher got injured or paying more because the team is suddenly in contention in September. How much longer until this spreads to grocery stores? Picture paying more for a box of Cheerios because Corn Flakes are out of stock, or a quarter more per gallon of gas on the way home from work at 5 o’clock versus the price at 11 o’clock at night.
Advanced loyalty cards and mobile payments will also change how coupons and discounts work in the real world. Electronic discounts loaded directly to a loyalty card or account won’t require customers to bring printed coupons with them to the store. They will simply be credited automatically at checkout. Eventually customers will be able to manage their loyalty accounts online, and select which coupons, deals, and special offers to load directly from merchants, the sponsoring companies, or even individual products. Mobile payments will work similarly, with discounts being credited to accounts directly after visiting a promotion site or liking a company on their Facebook page or the social media site. With all the additional customer data these advances will bring merchants, they will be able to reward their best customers with specials, better manage inventory, and in general the power will shift from consumers to merchants.
Besides presenting more targeted marketing preventing fraud and abuse is important for both merchants and sponsors. Brick and mortar stores have started to limit coupon use at the shopping trip, account, and monthly levels. Extreme couponing, where cart-fulls of product go out the door for pennies after absorbing 30 to 60 minutes of checker and bagger time, is ending. Double coupon days are finished, as are the acceptance of printed coupons from the internet. The sharing of coupons and buying multiple papers for the coupons will end as retailers again limit the use of both specific coupons and total coupons over periods of time such as a rolling 3 month period. Additionally, for the printed coupons that are distributed, expect to see anti-counterfeit properties coming, such as Nano-holes that provide a bright shimmering effect. With the individualized electronic discount and personalized promo codes, and the uniquely coded paper coupons, sharing, trading and duplicating these will be impossible, or at least beyond the casual shopper.