Shopping with coupons has become almost a competitive sport, with cable television shows featuring people who get piles of groceries for little or no cash. Coupons are available in newspapers, magazines, in the mail or online for many different items. With a little time and organization, most consumers can find ways to save money with coupons.
Sixty-eight percent of American adults now use print coupons according to a survey conducted by Experian Simmons Research. The survey also found that 22 percent of these adults also use digital coupons obtained from email or the internet.
“While clipping coupons can be a simple and effective way to save money on every day expenses, it is important to purchase products that you or your family plan to use within a reasonable period of time,” says Warren King, President of the Better Business Bureau of Western PA. “Otherwise, the products could end up being a waste of money and storage space.”
Your BBB advises consumers to focus on meeting their own needs and understanding store or company policies for the best results from coupon shopping. To avoid disappointment, make sure you check the expiration date before trying to redeem a coupon. The BBB also offers the following advice on redeeming coupons:
- Check out who is offering the coupon. Consumers should check to see if the coupon is being offered directly by the store or if it is being offered by a third-party such as a partner or affiliate. If it is via a third-party, they might ask for additional information or require the consumer sign up for services to redeem the coupon. If so, the BBB recommends using extreme caution before sharing any personal information. Check the company out, free of charge, at www.bbb.org.
- Be cautious of pop-up offers. BBB advises coupon clickers to be wary of pop-up ad coupon offers on the internet that require you to immediately click to redeem. Clicking on the ad may automatically sign the consumer up for services they were not interested in receiving, causing them to be billed every month.
- Read the fine print. Carefully read the terms and conditions for the use of the coupon. Check for the expiration date, limitations of use and whether it is an online coupon good for only online purchases or if it can also be redeemed at the physical store location.
- Don’t fall for phony coupons via e-mail. Many fake coupons have been making the rounds via e-mail and just because it may come from a friend or family member, don’t assume the coupon is legitimate.
- Organize and make a list. Maintain coupons in files or envelopes that can be easily carried into a store. Consider grouping them by category or expiration date and only clip on products that you use or want to try. Make a list of all your needed items that have coupons prior to going shopping
- Ask a store if it will price match. Some stores will honor a competitor’s price on items that you have coupons for. This can save you the time and trouble of visiting several stores.
If you end up with more products than you can use after your clipping is done, consider making a charitable donation of the items. For more tips on saving money, lists of BBB Accredited Businesses by industry and Business Reviews you can trust on local companies, visit www.bbb.org or call 877-267-5222.”