In the wake of Great Recession, Americans have made a return to frugal living. They are no longer spending money with reckless abandon or putting every other purchase on the family credit card. Rather, they are becoming more economical by cutting back on some non-essential items. Shoppers have also rediscovered a simple way to save on everything from groceries to automotive repairs. We are speaking, of course, about coupons.
The Coca-Cola Company grew into one of the largest corporations on the face of the Earth thanks in no small part to redemption slips. These coupons were initially distributed through employees and sales representatives and were later mailed to potential customers and then placed in magazines as sales increased. According to food historians, about one in nine Americans had received a free Coca-Cola during the companies first quarter century of operation.
Where are we now?
According to Coupons.org, an internet research firm, coupon redemption skyrocketed by 63 percent in 2011. All told, Americans saved $3.7 billion dollars by clipping, printing, or swiping vouchers that are accessible to nearly anyone. The total dollar figure represents 3.3 billion coupons, which means people saved an average of a little over a dollar every time they redeemed one. That might not seem like a lot, but on a per capita basis, each American would have saved more than 10 dollars if he or she had simply used coupons. At the extreme end, most practiced coupon clippers save hundreds, even thousands of dollars per annum.
Who uses them?
You might think that coupons are only for old ladies, but you’d be wrong. The demographics of users is rapidly changing, becoming younger, more tech-savvy, and more affluent. Those who have access to the internet and are relatively well-to-do are far more likely to print and use redemption slips than any other group. Not to mention the fact that folks with a college degree are twice as likely to redeem digital coupons as Americans who did not finish high school. Why are younger users suddenly becoming so thrifty?
The simplest explanation is that it is easier to find the vouchers you want than ever before. As long as you signup, most major retailers will send you weekly coupons via email. All you have to do then is print them out and take them to the store. Some stores even let your redeem them online! It couldn’t get any easier than that!
What do we use coupons for?
The overwhelming majority of coupons that are used in the U.S. are redeemed for food purchases. The reason for this is simple—everybody needs food! About two-thirds of the total coupons that are circulated are used for food purchases. Usage almost always increases near the end of the year, since most major supermarkets utilize reward programs in order to increase sales during the holiday season.
How to use them?
Although digital coupons are growing more popular with each passing year, most redeemed coupons—nearly 90 percent—are still procured the old-fashioned way, i.e., clipped from newspapers. But that may soon change due to increased smartphone usage, which makes it easy for users to access mobile coupons. More than 20 percent of smartphone users accessed and may have used mobile coupons in 2011, which was more than double the percentage that accessed them in 2010!
Is it worth your time?
When most young shoppers think about clipping coupons, they think about their grandmothers saving fifty cents on apples or a dollar on instant coffee at the local market. But it’s not like that anymore! With smart searching and couponing, the average consumer can save about $100 in a single hour, according to Coupons.org. This is especially true in recent days, when food costs have risen dramatically and the average American is desperate for relief. Supermarkets are more than happy to give it to them, as long as they take the time to clip and/or print the voucher they proffer.
Of course, when you take the time to find these coupons, you must store them somewhere before you use them. Proper organization often means the difference between a viable coupon and an expired one. Let us take a moment to review 5 simple ways to find coupons and keep them in order for future use.
1. Locate deals online
The local paper will obviously give you access to local deals, but if you desire something outside of your environs, you will probably have to look online. The easiest way to find the best hebdomadal deals is to sign up to coupons blogs that feature weekly coupons from popular stores.
The reason why some astute shoppers save beaucoup bucks is because they combine store coupons with manufacturer’s coupons and use both during a big store sale. This can and often does result in discounts of up to fifty percent or more!
3. Buy one, get one
Whether you need coupons or not, buy one, get one deals are any easy and effective way to save on items you use every day.
4. Use store rewards
Whenever a cashier asks you if you’d like to sign up for a rewards program, do it! The process will only take a few minutes and it could save you hundreds of dollars each year.
5. Get an organizer!
Expect a lot of dirty looks and eye rolling if you walk up to the register with a stack of coupons in your hand…and for good reason! It can take several minutes to locate the right coupons in a large sheaf. Putting them into a coupon organizer with pockets lets you arrange them by category, expiration date, alphabet, or even by aisle. These helpful, handy devices often pay for themselves in a single shop.