Don't Throw Away That Newspaper Circular

There are so many ways to save when you shop. Here are just a few tips.
coupons

Americans only redeem three percent of all available coupons. That means while we manage to save $3 billion each year with coupons, we throw away another $57 billion in potential savings.

"That's a lot of money in the trash," said Teri Gault, CEO and founder of thegrocerygame.com, an online coupon savings resource. The average family of four spends more than $712 per month on groceries, she said. Why not try and shave some money off your food bill and put some of that $57 billion back in your pocket? Gault offers a few tips for doing so.

Strategic Thinking
Thegrocerygame.com includes a list of when to use the coupons in the Sunday paper and matches them by their zip code with in-store sales. "We know when to play a coupon. The idea of saving money on groceries is based on stockpiling. We stockpile and buy what we need with a coupon," Gault said.

When you use coupons in tandem with a store sale, you can cut $50 to $100 off your weekly food bill. If you live in an area with several newspapers, always opt for the Sunday paper with the biggest circulation. It will have the most coupons.

Generally speaking, the coupons for a newspaper are the same within a paper's metropolitan region, so there's no need to rush to the newsstand two towns over in a mad hunt for better coupons.

Newspapers aren't the only source for coupons. You can often find coupons in the phone book, offering deals such as money off the next time you call a plumber or a discount on dry cleaning. There are also coupons that come in the mail, through services such as Valpak or ADVO.

These coupons are targeted by zip code, so you'll find ways to save money at a local pizzeria or a nail salon, for instance. Don't forget to scour the paper for pharmacy coupons as well.

Maximum Savings
You can save the most money if you pair your coupons with in-store sales, which can significantly reduce the cost of goods. And you don't have to buy the same stuff each week. You can stock up on canned goods on sale one week and perhaps paper goods the next, Gault advises.

Today's consumers don't always use coupons for the savings, said Kip Cassino, VP of research for Borrell Associates, a media research firm. They often use them as a guide for comparison shopping, which can help them formulate general shopping plans.

"If you have a coupon that says a can of peas should be worth a nickel and the store sells it for a dime, you know that's a high price," he said.

Despite the changes, newspaper circulars are still the place to find coupons. PROMO Magazine reports that 88 percent of coupons are distributed in newspaper circulars. More surprising is that the Internet hasn't yet impacted coupon delivery.

A mere 0.2 percent of all coupons today are found online. So if you're looking for good grocery deals, your best bet will be to find them in that old familiar Sunday paper. That's where the bulk of food savings still lie.

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