Using manufacturers' coupons

at the grocery store assures savings

By Lena Mitchell

Daily Journal

A shrinking economy has families looking for ways to shrink the budget.

Nothing could provide more immediate relief to reduce the family's food costs than using manufacturers' coupons.

"As an avid couponer, I regularly save 65 percent off my grocery bill just by using coupons," wrote one shopper who obtains numerous coupons on the Internet. "There is nothing like coupons to give a tight budget a little more room."

When this shopper calls herself an "avid" coupon user, she is only one of many shoppers who frequent the hundreds of Internet sites where coupons for thousands of products can simply be printed on one's home computer.

Some services allow customers to select the particular products for which they want to receive coupons so they don't spend unnecessary time searching through all the coupons that are available.

The average shopper can save more than 11 percent on the family groceries, according to the Carolina Manufacturer's Service, the nation's largest coupon clearinghouse.

Coupons are back

Both the shopper and the retailer benefit when coupons are used.

"It definitely helps with sales," said Jason Palmer, owner and manager of Palmer's Big Star Super Market on East Main Street in Tupelo. "A lot of times they'll put a coupon in the paper when they come out with new items and we try to make sure we have the item in stock."

In the early 1990s manufacturers reduced the number of coupon values they offered, feeling their advertising dollar could be used more effectively elsewhere.

Their research showed only two percent of all the coupons they printed were ever used.

However, these manufacturers determined that coupons were still a valuable way to get consumers to try new products and stay loyal to familiar ones.

In his online book, "Abe's Grocery Tips," Martin Abeshaus of Burlington, Mass., offers some ideas on ways shoppers can save using coupons:

n Sign up for a weekly e-mail from ValuPage (www.valupage.com) with notices of current coupon bargains and values.

n Increase the value of coupons by using them on "double coupon days" at grocery stores. Check with your local grocer to find out if they offer coupon doubling or tripling at certain times. In some cases you may pay nothing for an item.

n Organize your coupons so you can keep track of when they expire so you don't miss an opportunity to save.

n Take your coupons with you any time you shop. You may come across unexpected bargains.

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