Guess Who Clips the Most Coupons?

CouponsPop quiz: Which group do you think is more likely to use online coupons when shopping -- households with average incomes of $100,000 or more, or those bringing in less than $35,000?

You might think that the less wealthy household would be the more active coupon user, but you'd be wrong. The wealthier household is twice as likely to use coupons. So is the college-educated consumer, as opposed to one who did not finish high school.

The folks at Coupons.org recently released some startling data on trends in coupon usage in America. Here are some additional interesting tidbits:

  • The recession has had an impact on consumers' overall shopping habits, with coupon redemption up 63% last year.
  • Shoppers leave a lot of money on the table when they forget to grab coupons before they head to the store. It's estimated that $470 billion in coupon savings was available to U.S. shoppers last year, and only 1% of that was redeemed. Online shoppers had $2,504 available to them in savings, and only about 2% of that was claimed.
  • Coupons continue to evolve -- from Sunday circulars to online offers, and now delivered straight to users' smartphones, with some coupons accessed by simply scanning an image with a smartphone. Just last year some 15.6 million smartphone users used mobile coupons -- that's about 20% of them, more than double the number from the year before.
  • Traditional coupons are far from obsolete: Despite our new electronic age, 89% of coupons appear in print, in newspapers.
  • The top product categories for coupon use in 2009 were cereals, baking ingredients, bathroom tissue, entertainment (via magazines, DVDs, and games), and nutrition and diet.

The Millionaire Coupon Clipper Next Door

It isn't so surprising that wealthier Americans are the ones more likely to use coupons. The best-selling Millionaire Next Door books by William Danko and Thomas Stanley have shown us how typical American millionaires live -- and it's not in mansions, with expensive cars and hired help. As the authors point out, it's counter-productively expensive to look wealthy.

One time when it's not so smart to use coupons is when you're buying something you don't really need. Sure, getting 20% off of a $100 pair of shoes will save you a significant $20, but if you don't need those shoes, you're wasting $80.

An effective way to use coupons online is to seek them out just before you roll your shopping cart into the virtual checkout line -- or before you head out to a store, as many printable coupons are available online. Visit a search engine and enter the name of a store and the word "coupon."

When I searched for "coupon" and "Target" (TGT), for example, I found coupons for 15% off kid's furniture and free shipping on orders of $50 or more, among many other offers. Doing the same for Staples (SPLS), I found coupons for 20% off copies and print orders and free $10 gift cards with certain purchases. Searching for Sherwin-Williams (SHW), I found 25% off paints and stains. Those are just a few of many money-off deals available to those who want to get in on the couponing craze.

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Shirley Ruiz

Coupons may offer discounts, but they're also a form of advertising for companies. Whether you clip coupons from the Sunday circulars or print them from Printapons, you'll see ads for hundreds of products in the process

February 24 2012 at 2:55 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
cherofnc

That is exactly how the wealthy got wealthy. But they are expected to support the non coupon clippers. If we cut back a bit on all the enabling, perhaps the "poor" would learn a few savings methods.

February 23 2012 at 12:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
ilm9p

IT'S A FAIR BET THE SCUM ON WELFARE DOESN'T CLIP COUPONS.

February 23 2012 at 8:24 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
sherrylasch

I use coupons all the time.I never spend over 200 a month and thats on personal items and groceries.my stores here double up to 99 cents every day.I have a stock pile and don't buy what we don't need.but when my store has a deal 10 for 10.00 dollars I will load up if it is something we eat alot of.I can save any where from 30.00 to 50.00 at a time at the stores and I shop once a month.

February 23 2012 at 2:33 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
nikkitytom

I use coupons only if I would normally buy the item. Safeway's "two for one" is a good deal only if the items aren't perishable, I'll buy the pair if it's breakfast cereal or cake mix. But NOT if it's those damned berries or other fruit packed in plastic clam shells with half the produce rotting at the bottom. The secret is to make sure you would normally buy the items.

A lovely gesture I see sometimes in the grocery stores is someone leaving their unwanted coupons laying right on top of the item. Usually the coupons are for larger amounts too. It's a lovely "random act of kindness" and I really appreciate it when I see it.

I hate the download coupons, I work all day on the computer and i don't want to scroll through pages of products to find coupons and then have to download them or print them out. This is plain nuts,. Safeway even pushes this horrid scheme by posting the prices you'll get with the downloads. If you've forgotten to download, you pay the full price. I hate it so much I buy almost nothing from Safeway unless I have to.

If you want to make a customer angry just point out how much they're losing right there with a big sign. Most stupid marketing technique ever.

February 23 2012 at 1:32 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
jtim2010

I know what brands I use and I use coupons for those brands. Plain and simple. I save at least 22% and at times up to 60% off my bill at Kroger's, Target, and places like Staples and Fashion Bug. I do not buy things I don't need. My thoughts are, why spend money when you don't have to? If I am ordering something online, you bet your bottom dollar I have a coupon and won't buy unless I'm getting free shipping to boot. I make approx. $55,000 a year.

February 23 2012 at 12:03 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
loviatar40

I really can't use most food coupons. Food coupons are always for mac & cheese, hamburger helper, cookies.. things I rarely buy. The bulk of my grocery bill is from produce and meats, so coupons don't really do me much good. I cook most meals using basic ingredients, and coupons seem to be primarily for boxed and prepared foods. When I do find a coupon for something I want to buy, it's still usually cheaper to buy store brand. Maybe wealthier people use more coupons because they buy more brand name products.

February 22 2012 at 11:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
loviatar40

I really can't use most food coupons. Food coupons are always for mac & cheese, hamburger helper, cookies.. things I rarely buy. The bulk of my grocery bill is from produce and meats, so coupons don't really do me much good. I cook most meals using basic ingredients, and coupons seem to be primarily for boxed and prepared foods. When I do find a coupon for something I want to buy, it's still usually cheaper to buy store brand. Maybe wealthier people use more coupons because they buy more brand name products.

February 22 2012 at 11:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
loviatar40

I really can't use most food coupons. Food coupons are always for mac & cheese, hamburger helper, cookies.. things I rarely buy. The bulk of my grocery bill is from produce and meats, so coupons don't really do me much good. I cook most meals using basic ingredients, and coupons seem to be primarily for boxed and prepared foods. When I do find a coupon for something I want to buy, it's still usually cheaper to buy store brand. Maybe wealthier people use more coupons because they buy more brand name products.

February 22 2012 at 11:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
sjk09s

Here's the thing about coupons...sometimes they entice you to buy things you don't really need. Eh, I don't need that $5.00 can of peanut mix, but I have a 50 cent coupon!! That's how it is with me anyway.

February 22 2012 at 11:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply