There’s little doubt it: frugality is in, extravagance — out. Coupons are the new black. But will clipping all those coupons actually keep you in the black?
Today, we tackle a few questions that are on many shoppers’ minds as they approach the cashier: do coupons really save you money? Can I save without using coupons – and how?
On Mint Answers, here are some of the responses from community members like you.
Click on the links below to read more answers or to chime in with your response.
I’m seeing more and more shoppers using coupons at grocery and convenient stores. I always ask the people with coupons if they really save a lot of money. I’m very curious because it seems like people get addicted to buying more with these coupons. Do you save money or do you over-spend by buying more than what you need?
1. The wise consumer CAN save money using coupons (often a LOT of money). One of the keys, like you said, is to avoid the temptation to buy more than you need.
One of the best ways to use coupons effectively is to maintain a good 3 months’ supply of non-perishable food and condiments. That way, you buy things when they are on sale or when you have the coupons instead of being forced to buy them just when you need them.
Another important thing to remember is that you should make sure that the coupon is saving you more than you would save if you were to buy the generic brand.
Make sure to compare unit costs. This grocery price calculator provides a way to calculate an item’s unit cost with and without coupons.
2. You can save money with coupons if it was something you were going to buy anyway.
The real key to saving money with coupons is what is called coupon stacking. That is when you have a manufacturer’s coupon for a particular item and the store has it’s own coupon for that same item. For example: The store is selling Cheerios for $1.50 a box and you have a coupon for $1.00 off one box of Cheerios, so with both coupons you only pay $0.50.
You can get manufacturer’s coupons online or in the newspaper and sometimes in the mail. A lot of stores with club cards also offer what are known as e-coupons and they are completely digital. One interesting thing is usually you can use an e-coupon and a printed coupon for the same item, so you can maximize your coupon savings.
I’m busy and can’t be bothered with coupons. What are some other ways to save money on groceries.
1. First, here’s a laundry list post from Five Cent Nickel: How to save money on groceries
Of the things on the list, I think “make fewer, larger trips” is one of the most important. I shop daily, and I almost always go beyond my shopping list. Luckily, I stay within an overall budget, but if grocery overspending is a problem for you, well, stay out of the supermarket as much as you can.
2. Don’t shop for convenience, always read the store ads and go to the stores where the things you want to buy are on sale. Fewer trips and buying in bulk helps, too.
3. Don’t buy “convenience” foods – i.e. skip the pre-cut, pre-washed fruit and vegetables and go for whole fruits / vegetables that you have to wash and chop yourself.
Bonus question:How many germs are on paper money?
At any given time, how many germs could there be on the paper money I use every day?
We’ve been wondering that ourselves. Have the answer? Or a money question? Go to Mint Answers and ask away! While you’re there, feel free to answer questions from other community members. Come back often, as we introduce new enhancements to this feature.