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EXPERT AVAILABLE: MU Expert Offers Tips for Couponing to Save Cash

Dec. 07, 2011

Story Contact(s):
Nathan Hurst, hurstn@missouri.edu, 573-882-6217

The views and opinions expressed in this “for expert comment” release are based on research and/or opinions of the researcher(s) and/or faculty member(s) and do not reflect the University’s official stance.

By Kate McIntyre

COLUMBIA, Mo. – The TLC show “Extreme Couponing” showcases shoppers who use coupons to save hundreds of dollars on everything from soda to laundry detergent to a lifetime supply of mustard bottles. While many consumers lack the time – or patience – to sort and match dozens of coupons with store policies and discount days, a University of Missouri personal finance expert offers a few practical tips everyone can use to save money with coupons.

Robert Weagley, associate professor and chair of the Department of Personal Financial Planning in the College of Human Environmental Sciences, says that most coupon enthusiasts actually buy more and spend more time shopping than other consumers, so it’s important to make sure couponing is worth the effort.

“Couponing can save you money, but it can take a lot of time, and you may have better things to do,” Weagley said. “Don’t spend a lot of time traveling to different stores to save a few dollars here and there, as the costs in time and transportation could negate any savings.”

Weagley offers a few tips to collect coupons more efficiently:

  • Find coupons in the newspaper, on the Internet or in stores, and then organize them in files or envelopes so they’re easily accessible while planning or shopping.
  • Be aware of stores’ coupon policies and thoroughly read the coupon requirements before trying to use it. Many stores will double the face value of coupons or stack a limited number of coupons, which means you can use both a manufacturer and store coupon for the same item.
  • Record prices for items you normally use that often have coupons, and then shop when products are sold for reduced prices to maximize your savings.
  • If you find a good price on an item for which you have a coupon, see if your regular grocery store will match their competitor’s price so you can avoid visiting several stores.

Weagley says once you’ve started couponing, be aware of your shopping behaviors so you’re saving money, not spending it.

“Beware of buying products or quantities you don’t want or need simply because you can purchase them cheaply,” Weagley said. “If you don’t need something, you don’t need it — at any price.”

If you do buy too many of an item, Weagley recommends sharing your success by donating excess products to local shelters or food pantries. For more tips on budgeting, financial planning, and credit or debt management, visit the MU Office for Financial Success.

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