The flyer in the front of the Sunday newspaper shouted, “Over $200 in coupons inside!” Considering the average U.S. family of four spends around $8,513 a year for groceries according to the U.S. Department of Labor, couponing is serious business for food manufacturers.
Obviously, food manufacturers don’t make more money simply by discounting merchandise – if they did, they would just reduce the price. The intent is for you to see a coupon for a product you don’t normally purchase and think, “Hey, 50 cents off! I’ll give that new cereal a try.”
Not ones to be left in the cold, the major grocery chains have created coupon plans of their own with “reward cards” designed to offer added discounts to registered customers. Unfortunately, you will trade data for discounts as registration is required for most of these programs.
However, if you clip only the coupons for products you normally buy, take advantage of a reward card, shop the weekly sales, and cut back on the relatively expensive convenience foods, you can save anywhere from 15 to 45 percent each time you shop. By utilizing the double or triple rebate offers that many grocery stores offer on manufacturer’s coupons you can see your savings increase even more. In real dollars that could equate to saving $1,277 to $3,831 a year, which could easily mean the difference between taking a family vacation or not.
We’ve all heard the stories of people who got a week’s worth of groceries for $12 because of coupons, but let’s start small here. Remember that bigger does not always equate to cheaper. Shop the price per ounce instead.
Clipping coupons may seem like more effort than it's worth, but the payoff is instantaneous. It’s the everyday spending decisions such as this that can make the difference over time between a comfortable retirement – or none at all.