Shopping with coupons is in, thanks to popular TV shows like "Extreme Couponing."
And the impact hasn't gone unnoticed locally.
Mary Kenyon, a longtime coupon user and member of Dupaco, says some of her favorite cashiers have seen an increase in couponers since the premiere of "Extreme Couponing."
"Unfortunately, they've also seen an increase in pushy people who think they are entitled to getting bags full of merchandise for free just because 'those people on TV' do," Kenyon says.
Kenyon started using coupons in 1979, when it was easier to find stores that offered double coupons, matching the face value of the manufacturer coupon. Today, the 53-year-old Manchester, Iowa, woman's coupon use nets her about 10 to 20 percent in grocery savings and 80 percent in health and beauty supplies savings.
Despite what "Extreme Couponing" leads viewers to believe, Kenyon says it's not possible to walk out of stores with $1,000 worth of merchandise for a mere $5 in Iowa, because area stores no longer offer double coupons. "That's not a reality for most of us," she says.
But tri-state area shoppers can still reap big savings when they use coupons correctly. Before jumping on the couponing bandwagon, learn to avoid these three mistakes that many couponing novices make:
- Purchasing something just because you have a coupon. You aren't saving money if you buy things simply to use a coupon and it isn't something you would normally purchase.
- Clipping coupons and then forgetting to use them. It doesn't do any good to cut coupons if you leave them at home. "Even if all you do is put them in a white envelope and put them in your purse, at least then you will have them with you," Kenyon says.
- Clipping the coupon and immediately using them, instead of waiting for a sale. For optimal savings, wait for a corresponding sale on the product. You'll begin to see a pattern: within a couple of weeks, the product also will be on sale.
Kenyon writes a weekly couponing column for the Telegraph Herald, and is working on a book about avid couponing, expected to be published in 2013.