Coupons More Popular than Britney
A team of very nonscientific researchers have finally discovered the one thing that can distract the nation from Britney Spears: coupons.
According to the Omniscient Oracle of Google, the number of searches for coupons have outstripped those for the pop trainwreck since 2008. (Does that say more about coupons or about Britney?)
In addition, Coupons.com reported that Washington-area resident printed $2.85 million worth of coupons last month. The top items in this area were for ready-to-eat cereal, baby products and baking ingredients.
Clearly, a lot of people are saving money through coupons. I admit that I am not one of them -- yet. Who has the time? What difference does 50 cents off any General Mills cereal make anyways? Where are my scissors?
Ahhh, how a recession changes your perspective.
“A lot of my readers are now out of work. A lot of my readers are trying to make it from day to day,” Ashley Nuzzo, who runs the blog Frugal Coupon Living, told me.
She started couponing a year ago when she decided to stay at home with her new baby and the family had to live off her husband's salary. The blog began as a resource for her friends and family who demanded to know how she found her phenomenal deals: Ashley estimates she saves about $1,000 a month on groceries and toiletries.
Traffic to her site exploded as the economy tanked. Then Dr. Phil asked her on his show in February, and she's been swamped ever since. But we persuaded her to share some of her couponing secrets your trusty Small Change.
Don't spend it right away. This is the cardinal rule of couponing, Ashley said. Wait for a sale or other promotion and then double down by using your coupon as well. For example, Ashley found a $4 coupon recently for a razor that normally cost $9.99. Not a bad deal. But Ashley held on to her discount for a few weeks -- and the razor went on sale for $4.99. Then she cashed in and got the item for just 99 cents.
Stay organized. Ashley enters all of her receipts into Excel and tracks her monthly expenditures, as well as her savings. Not only do she and her husband refrain from charging purchases on their credit card, they also don't use their debit card. Ashley said cash keeps her accountable and is harder to hand over to a salesperson.
Set a bar. As a rule of thumb, Ashley refuses to buy anything unless it is discounted by at least 70 percent or costs less than $1. "I think of what I used to spend on different products, and I’m just shocked," she said. "If the economy changes, I'll just save the way I continue to save and just have more money in the bank.”
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