By Mary Parker Draper, Extension Agent – Smith County
Turn on the television, browse any store’s website, open the Sunday paper, or look in your mailbox and chances are you will find a mountain of coupons ready for “clipping.” While couponing is big business and a way for shoppers to save on their grocery bill, couponing also helps manufacturers promote and sell additional products while learning about consumers. As a shopper, it is important to think about why you are couponing and how couponing could save you money or tempt you to spend more. Before you grab your scissors or download the latest offer from your phone, consider the following.
According to Dena Wise, former professor and Consumer Economics Specialist with University of Tennessee Extension, manufacturers issue coupons for reasons that include increasing the likelihood that shoppers will purchase an item. “When shoppers see a savings offer on a particular product they use or would like to try, they are more willing to add the product to their shopping cart. This may be a new item the manufacturer wants to introduce, or it may be an established item whose sales have lagged,” said Wise.
Beyond increasing sales, manufacturers may issue coupons to encourage shoppers to try new items earlier than they might have without the coupon discount. Coupons are also useful in helping manufacturers learn more about their shoppers, determining shopping habits and which shoppers are price conscious.
Coupons can also be helpful for shoppers looking to reduce their grocery bill. However, Christopher Sneed, UT Extension Specialist, says shoppers must think carefully about the purchases they are making even if they have a coupon in hand. To help shoppers save more when couponing, Sneed offers the following tips:
- Compare prices. Often the in-house brands are less expensive than national brands even with a coupon offer.
- Be realistic. Coupons may tempt you to purchase more than you need. Be sure to consider expiration dates and whether you have enough room to store extra items.
- Be honest. Would you purchase the item if you did not have a coupon offer? Coupon savings mean little if your family will not use what you are buying.
- Think about your time. Couponing takes effort and planning. Be sure the savings balance with the amount of time you are spending.
- Stick to your list. Even if you are using coupons, it is important to have a grocery list and to follow that list. Don’t let coupons lead to impulse spending.
If you have the time, coupons can help you save money on the groceries you need for your family. Careful planning along with discipline can help you make the most of coupon offers.
Ice Box Pie
- 1 packet of unsweetened Kool-Aid (any flavor – strawberry, cherry, or orange works well)
- 1 can of Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed milk
- 1 8 oz. container Cool Whip
- 1 graham cracker crust
Mix Kool-Aid with Eagle Brand milk. Then fold in Cool Whip. Pour into graham cracker crust. Refrigerate. Submitted by Janice Lynch, Grant FCE Club.