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Coupons More Popular than Britney

Ylan Mui

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, 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.”

By Ylan Mui  |  April 21, 2009; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  Bargains , Faces of Frugality , Ylan Q. Mui  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: White House to Look at Credit Card Fees
Next: Looking Good in a Recession


A few thoughts in response:

Store brand items are still cheaper than the name brand items, even when you have a coupon!

Read the weekly store ads and plan your menus around them. You will save money. Stick with one or two stores for your shopping, and make a list!

In our area a coupon service called "Savings Angel" is popular, but I reject the premise that I should pay someone else to tell me where to use my coupons to save money each week! It's crazy, but people are buying into this. Why run from store to store to save with these coupons?

You're right about saving the coupons until the right time -- when the store puts these items on the store buster sale, attack!

Posted by: rjrjj | April 21, 2009 7:31 AM | Report abuse

Using coupons is an incredibly smart step. Don’t let the good stuff fall through the cracks! There is free coupon organizing software available at:
good luck
– Tom

Posted by: TAnthony1 | April 22, 2009 4:03 PM | Report abuse

And I thought I was obsessive about tracking where my grocery dollars are going, and analyzing the cheapest way/stores to buy the foods and goods I usually buy every two weeks!!!

I've gone so far as to type up a standard biweekly grocery list, and to keep a handwritten notebook comparing prices for the same fruit, vegetable, loaf of bread, grain product or shampoo at Magruders vs. Giant vs. Shoppers Food vs. Safeway, (which is how I figured out that Magruders is the cheapest), but I never thought of entering all that data onto an Excel spreadsheet.

I still think I would need to buy more brand-name items to make coupon clipping worth my time. I have almost ZERO brand loyalty, except maybe to one particular brand of soy products, which makes me a poor candidate for coupon shopping.

I guess it would make the most sense to clip coupons for personal care items like soap, shampoo, razors, etc., that almost always are sold by brand name, but it still does not make sense for generic bananas, broccoli, tomatoes or ground beef, which commonly come from unknown, unmarked sources at the grocery store. The only food I buy from brand names right now is one type of veggie links -- almost everything else I buy is generic (including whole bread -- I just read the labels to make sure I'm getting whole wheat, and then buy the cheapest whole bread available that week), although I am partial to certain brand name shampoos and conditioners.

Most foods I eat -- including soups -- I would just prefer to make myself from scratch, using raw ingredients like tomatoes, potatoes, onions, and herbs, etc. -- and these almost always come from un-labeled, un-couponed, sources.

Posted by: suedarcey | April 27, 2009 3:40 PM | Report abuse

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