The Truth About Couponing

November 8, 2013

During recent years, the topic of couponing is red hot, especially due to the status of the U.S. economy. Moms are eager to save money on household shopping. However, we all need to be careful of the potentially deceptive game of couponing. Here are two very important things to know about the couponing world.

Obtaining Coupons

First on the agenda is the issue of where and how to obtain coupons. Most couponers know that the Sunday paper can be a gold mine, especially the first Sunday of each month (when P&G coupons usually arrive). There are several websites on which to obtain really great printable coupons, including Practips (click here). Also, many manufacturers provide occasional coupons on their Facebook pages. All of these are great resources to save money.
The flip-side of sourcing coupons is that it can get quite expensive. Here's how:
I have personally seen shoppers buying extra newspapers, anywhere from two to ten, just to get more coupons. Where I live, the Sunday paper is $2.00. Right from the get-go, that could mean $20 extra dollars out of a grocery budget.
Buying Coupons
Another expense is when shoppers will purchase coupons online. You can buy multiples of the same coupon or buy multiples of entire inserts. There are websites dedicated to this or you can purchase them via eBay. Most of the time there is a shipping charge on top of what you pay for the coupons. When I first got started in couponing, I was tempted to take this route, but it resulted in too much time and too much money. It hardly seemed worth it -- redistributing grocery money into something my family cannot eat. 
Printing Coupons
I'll admit it, this one is always getting me. Just when I think I'll really get all the products for which I print online coupons, I'll forget about some of them and realize I just wasted the ink in my printer. Printing coupons frequently can deplete your ink quickly, not to mention the wasted paper.
Now that you know about the potential expense of coupons, here's my advice on how you can save money. 
1. You really only need one newspaper. If you have friends and/or relatives who get the Sunday paper, but don't use coupons, ask them if you can have their inserts. Chances are, they will give them to you...for FREE.
2. Don't buy coupons unless the savings FAR OUTWEIGHS the expense. Save your money for items you can get for FREE with the coupons.
3. Print only what you have PLANNED to purchased. Start by browsing through the coupons, matching them up with what you know you will buy. Then, print them out. Remember, if it's a must-have purchase, you can usually print two coupons per IP address. An additional tip: Print on the opposite end of the back side of your paper when printing single coupons. This usually applies when printing a coupon from Facebook.
The Truth About Wording
When planning your shopping trip, it's great when websites do the legwork for you. They will map out the deals at each store and tell you what coupons (or combination of coupons) to use to save money. Some websites will even tell you how much products will cost after coupons and in-store incentives. Drug stores usually give some type of cash back in the form of monetary rewards toward your next purchase. Here is where the tricky talk shows itself.

Beware of phrases such as "like paying only", "makes it only", "net price". These phrases are great when discussing grocery store purchases. However, in the drug store environment it can be deceptive. I have set up an example below to describe what I'm talking about.

Product A is $2.99 each
Product B is $1.99 each
Purchase Total is $4.98

Use a $1.00 off coupon for Product A
Use a $1.00 off coupon for Product B
Get a $2.00 store reward with purchase

Makes it only $0.98 or $0.49 each

Did you catch it? The problem with the above example is that the $2.00 store reward comes AFTER the purchase is made. Therefore, the shopper really pays $2.98 at checkout, not $0.98. Unless you already have store rewards when you walk in the door, the "makes it only" statement is misleading.
Couponing is wonderful for those who want to save money when shopping for the needs of the family. Learning where and how to get coupons without paying extra for them will help you stick to your budget. Understanding how to interpret the lingo will keep you from being deceived at checkout. I hope that you will continue your couponing efforts armed with the information you need to successfully shop for your household. Please feel free to forward and/or share this post with family and friends.
Have an interesting story about how you were tricked by wording? Please share it with the readers by posting a comment below.

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