I've noticed I am not finding as many good coupons and discounts as I did during the recession. I'm not an extremely frugal person, but I do clip coupons and look for deals when I can. I have no interest in "extreme couponing," but I do want to reduce my grocery bill by at least 20 percent if possible.
According to a recent article by CNBC, it's not my imagination. Coupon usage is waning, according to a new report. Redemption of coupons fell by 14.3 percent, but not because people such as myself aren't willing to hunt down deals. It's just deals are not as easy to find. Inmar, a leading coupon processor, reports that companies are being a bit stingier with coupons.
Declining face value of coupons
I've noticed the face values of many of my regular coupons have declined. I used to be able to save $1 on a six-pack of my favorite health food soda. Now, the coupons only offer a 50 cents discount. Even though I still clip that same coupon from the grocery store flier, I'm only saving half as much. I've noticed it does impact my bill. My way of dealing with the increase has been to purchase my sodas in a case since the grocery store offers 10 percent off case discounts.
Raising my 'grocery IQ'
Another way I deal with the skimpier discounts is by raising my so-called "grocery IQ." I've figured out that many grocery stores essentially hide the low-priced items on the higher and lower shelves. They also put a lot of impulse purchase items at the registers. I stick to my shopping list and never buy anything from the register as I'm waiting for my turn. I also avoid using the super-sized shopping carts that trick me into buying more. Whenever I just use a basket for my groceries or a mini-cart, I end up spending about half as much money.
Avoiding spending peer pressure
Even though I don't have as many coupons that I can use, I can reduce my spending by shopping alone. I find that I am tempted to buy more when I shop with family members or friends. If I go solo to the grocery store, I come out with just the basics I need to cook meals for the week. I also have more time to check expiration labels and do price comparisons when I'm shopping alone. My relatives sometimes want to speed through the grocery store, which means I can't find the best deals.
Using the Internet deals
According to the article, I fit the demographics of the typical Coupons.com user. I'm between the ages of 30 and 55, female and a homeowner with children. I'm college educated. I have started receiving coupons now through my text messages. It's exciting for me to switch to the digital coupon experience because I feel like it's making less negative impact on the environment. The paperless coupon world is a lot easier to manage in my opinion and it's a "green" option.
I think companies may think they can save money by limiting deals, but eventually the trend will return to higher coupon usage. Coupons definitely motivate me to pick on brand over another brand. In the future, more people will just use digital coupons instead of paper ones.
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