Sunday, August 12, 2007

Why Yes, I Do Have a Coupon

Coupons are so declasse. They conjure up pictures of stay-at-home moms spending hours cutting up newspapers, organizing with recipe boxes, and then clogging up the check-out line at the supermarket with a zillion 20-cents-off coupons.

Better to stand back, adopt an air of weary superiority, and say "It's just not worth the minor savings to do all that work to collect on a coupon."

The only thing wrong with that picture is that it is totally, completely, financially WRONG!!!

Yes, I do coupons. Some weeks, only one or two; Other weeks, I become fanatical, matching coupons to menus and saving every penny I can. Either way, I do save money.

In my home city, the biggest mid-level supermarkets are Safeway, Albertson's, Fred Meyer's (Kroger's), WinCo and Food4Less. (I'm leaving out New Seasons, Wild Oats and Whole Foods, all of which have wonderful food and cost a fortune.)

At least once a month, Safeway publishes a "$10 off any purchase of $50 or more" coupon in the local give-away newspaper. A 20% reduction in grocery costs is nothing to sneer at, particularly when it can be combined with double coupons and sales. The trick to getting full value is to buy as close to exactly $50 in merchandise as possible.

Albertsons cleverly piggybacks onto Safeway ads by agreeing to honor any Safeway coupon. Voila! Two stores where the "double coupon" or the 20% reduction can be used.

The double coupons only double up to the first 50 cents. But even so, for items my family routinely uses, they are a great savings. As an example, my daughter and I both like Aquafresh's Extreme Clean toothpaste. The Sunday newspaper usually includes $1.00 off coupons for it. My only job is to figure out if $1.50 off Safeway/Albertson's price is more or less than $1.00 off Wal-Mart's. Wal-Mart doesn't double coupons, but sometimes their prices are so low that it is still cheaper just to use the coupon there.

Walgreen's coupons are great, while their regular prices are not. I shop at Walgreen's regularly, but only for coupon items.

It is ludicrous to suggest that cutting out coupons takes too much time. I do it while I'm watching TV. (Um, yeah--while I'm watching the news or the occasional documentary. And by the way, if you believe that, I've got a bridge in NY I could sell you!). I stuff them into an envelope that I leave in my car. No, they are not sorted by catagory--I don't hang on to that many extras.

Let's just say, I have decided I cannot afford be a coupon snob--they save me too much money that I'd rather save for other stuff, like, say reducing my debt. That's a GOOD thing!


Anonymous said...

I'm with you on the coupons! I'm a lazy coupon-users... I don't get the paper and just order the coupons I will use online.

I keep them in an envelope and glance through them before I go to the store. I just grab the ones for the stuff I'm buying and the ones that will expire before my next trip. If I end up with more coupons than is reasonable to use, I leave them on the shelf by the product and figure someone else will benefit.

Bottom line, a couple of bucks for the clipping service and a couple of minutes to place the order saved me $40 on my trip last week, so it's a good value in my book.

Anonymous said...

I used to love that $10 off $50 Safeway coupon. So wonderful that it comes with the free once-a-week teaser newspaper.

Anonymous said...

Well said.