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December 29, 2021

Downturn or not, do you Coupon?

For shoppers, there always seems to be that fine line between “cash conscious” and “outright lunatic.”

People want to save money, but they’d rather walk through one of those full-body screening devices than dive into the dreaded, tacky, unforgivable world of Couponing.

Yet while a slumping economy is capable of some crazy things, could it really persuade seemingly normal consumers to take the coupon plunge?

Well, apparently, that leap isn’t quite the faux pas it once was. Slate’s Alicia Barney takes us all on a journey into the heart of obsessive Couponing, and the results might surprise you.

For one, this ain’t exactly your grandmommy’s Couponing. Couponing in 2009 isn’t the sit-at-the-kitchen-table-and-slave-over-a-newspaper-with-a-pair-of-scissors act it once was.

Sites like Coupons.com and (more locally) SmartCanucks.ca have given the subculture a flavour of the modern world.

Consider, too, that Couponing insider secrets aren’t all that privileged anymore. Where once only the most experienced bargainers knew how best to use Catalinas – the coupon that spits out of the grocery store register to be used like cash on your next purchase (which you should start right away using the conveyer belt dividers) – now everyone’s hip.

The biggest fear Couponers face, naturally, is the backlash from other shoppers, PO’ed that they’re making the cashier punch in a million different codes for a million different products.

But as Barney found out, the savings can offset your new status as social pariah. In fact, the ultimate goal of free groceries with coupons isn’t all that far off. Of an experienced Couponer’s trip to the supermarket, she writes:

“When every item was scanned, Rea’s total was $174.55. But after each coupon was validated, the number dropped – to $36.69, including $6.08 in taxes. She handed over $30 worth of store credits and charged the remaining 81 cents plus tax … on her debit card. She’d saved $167.66. Not bad at all.”

Intriguing, right? Read all about Slate’s coverage on the world of Couponing here, but if the prospect of (almost) free groceries is so apparently possible, why isn’t it that more of us are trying it?

By Jason Buckland, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...