RSSSuper-Couponing Tips By Jill Cataldo
The latest tips and advice in couponing and all money-saving pursuits from renowned coupon expert Jill Cataldo.
My recent column on “coupon fairies” – people who leave unwanted coupons on store shelves for others to pick up ¬– generated a lot of comments from readers and retailers alike. Not surprisingly, the store employees that wrote in were grateful that the issue of unwanted coupons littering shelves and refrigerator cases was addressed. Many consumers wrote with suggestions on what to do with extra, unwanted coupons:
I just read your article about coupon fairies, and I wanted to share an idea with these generous souls that will allow them to still help others with the coupons they have left over. Many churches have a food pantry or food drives during different times of the year. Donate your coupons to a local church and allow them to use them to stock their pantries to serve the less fortunate in our communities. Keep that giving spirit alive!
I am hoping you might be able to answer a question for me. I figured if anyone will be able to help me find an answer it might be you! I live in the Quad Cities – the combination of Moline, Illinois; Rock Island, Illinois; Davenport, Iowa and Bettendorf, Iowa. I have been couponing for 10 years, and I am quite good at it. My problem is that in the Quad City Area, where there are hundreds of thousands of people, we get the worst coupons ever! Our coupon inserts only have a few coupons, and have more advertisements than actual offers. I believe we get about a quarter of the coupons that bigger cities get in their papers.
“I am just so confused as to how an area as big as ours in the Quad Cities gets such a small amount of coupons delivered in our paper compared to what a city like Chicago gets. Any information you might be able to give me as to why an area with a combined population of nearly 400,000 people barely gets any coupons would be much appreciated.
Why do companies put out coupons for products that I can’t ever find in stores? I’m getting more and more frustrated hanging on to coupons and looking for new things, only to find the coupons expire before I ever find the item to purchase it. What a waste of marketing dollars it seems.
Do you have a special ritual or method for getting through the checkout lane in a speedy manner? Some of my readers do, and I found many of their tips so thoughtful and clever that I’m going to share some this week.
I’ve never encountered rude customers in the lane when couponing. For the people that do, I wonder if these shoppers weren’t quite ready to present their coupons when they reached the cashier. It might be good to give those who are new to the game a few suggestions.
Coupons that require the purchase of multiple items seem to be the bane of many of my readers’ shopping experiences. As a mother of three, multiple purchases are part of my stock-up strategy each week, but some shoppers are less than thrilled with having to buy more than one of something.
I was so ‘happy’ to see someone else complain about having to buy multiple products to use a coupon. We are empty nesters living on a tight budget. I use coupons whenever I can to spend my budgeted grocery money wisely. I too have stopped cutting out the coupons when I have to buy more than one of something. How many people have the storage for three of something, like big bottles of juice, cereal, detergent, paper products, etc? I sure don't. I realize food companies are targeting families because they are spending more money on food, but I sure wish someone would remember the retired people living on limited incomes.
Is couponing easier in the city, the suburbs or rural areas? As a suburbanite who lives in Chicagoland, I have to argue that couponing usually is easiest in the suburbs, particularly if you live within a radius of a major city. Why? Shopping options tend to be plentiful, with several supermarket and drugstore chains competing for your business and your shopping dollars. It’s easy to hop in the car and make a quick trip, or, if you’re so inclined, visit multiple retailers in the same trip.
City shoppers can do well with couponing, too, as there are so many shopping options in the city. But what if you live in an extremely rural area?
Recently, a supermarket chain in my area announced that it was closing its doors, and the stores would reduce everything to 50 percent off. As you can imagine, my blog readers at JillCataldo.com were pretty excited about the opportunity to pick up groceries at great prices, busily discussing savings strategies in anticipation of these sales. With any clearance, you never know what you’ll find, so I cut and printed an assortment of coupons for products I liked and on which I hoped to find deals.
When the 50 percent off sale began, our store was packed with customers. I saw one shopper with a cart piled high with water softener salt. Another man had a cart filled with cat litter and cat food. Others were happily buying up usually expensive gluten free items at heavy discounts.
My shopping wish list? Diapers for my new niece, 100 percent maple syrup, baking products, frozen shrimp, coffee and canned dog food for my canine friend who’s suddenly gotten picky about his cuisine in his golden years. I was happy to pick up a few surprises, too. Frozen apple turnovers for $1.75 with $1 coupons? Yes, please! Boxes of snack crackers were 49 cents with the 50 percent off sale, and with a 75- cents-off-two coupon, I paid 23 cents for two boxes.
What’s a “coupon fairy?” Coupon fairies are people who leave unneeded coupons in the store for others to find. Do you do this? As it turns out, some of my readers do.
I read your column often, and I have a strange story about what I do with coupons. After I cut out coupons from the newspaper that I will use, I cut out about 200 more. Then, I will go to our local store and head up and down the aisles leaving these coupons on empty spots on the shelves. I will see people picking up the coupons that I leave, going through them.
I’ve devoted many columns to the topic of product shrinkage – where a product’s price stays the same, but the contents of the package are downsized. I continue to receive many more emails than I have the space to share each week, but a common theme runs through many of these letters: “Just charge us a little more and keep the product the same!”
I have to agree – this rings true to me too. I wouldn’t have to amend my cake mixes to get the same size cakes if my favorite brands would just raise the price a little and keep the mix the same. So why don’t they?
Here’s an email from a marketer with a perspective that may surprise you:
As price-conscious consumers, we always aim to maximize the value of whatever we’re buying – whether it’s a box of cereal, a carton of orange juice or a roll of aluminum foil. Product shrinkage – when companies downsize a product and don’t lower the retail price – continues to be an extremely popular topic with my readers. Here’s another sampling of the mail I’ve been receiving.
In a previous column, I shared an email from Marion, who noticed that a large bottle of mouthwash had half the fluoride strength of the smaller-sized bottle of the same brand. Marion was upset and felt that the larger bottle was being watered down to save money. I have to admit, on first read, I assumed the same thing. Why make the larger bottle half the strength of the smaller one? Reader Linda shares some light on this issue:
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