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Apr 10, 2014 11:14 AM

Is Anyone Food "Couponing"Anymore?

Many coupons don't apply to what I buy because there are a lot of highly processed foods in the Red Plum etc. offerings.
That said, I do cut coupons but find myself feeling like it's just not worth the effort anymore.
What I'm seeing is the value decreasing, and the amount you have to buy to qualify increasing.
More and more, coupons require you to buy 2 or more, and that's not how I want to roll with many items.

I wonder if the market in general is going away from coupons, dead tree version and otherwise.

I find the best strategy to save money is to look for sales, loss leaders and store brands, but I do have some brand loyalty, and any discount helps.

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  1. Like you, I find that coupons just aren't for food items I want to buy. In the other hand, I definitely coupon for shampoo, soap, paper towels, and that kind of thing. I'd love some produce coupons!

    1 Reply
    1. re: Hobbert

      Shampoo and paper products are about all I use coupons for, too. Sometimes I'll use one for cereal or yogurt, but I've started buying those things at TJ's lately, anyway.

      Produce coupons I could definitely get behind.

    2. I used to be a coupon queen but don't see much available that's exciting anymore. Sales are what I seek now. Might also be because I buy raw meat, produce, basic dairy more than prepared type foods? The really good coupons seem to be more online now and I'd rather spend my time here doing something more interactive.

      I liked the days where you saved the UPC codes and got great free (shipping included) kitchen gadgets. Those were the days, my friend!

      8 Replies
      1. re: coll

        Thanks. I almost feel guilty for wanting to just drop the coupons, but the time put in isn't paying off.

        I've never been the coupon queen, and have never figured out how to organize them very well, but I know I've done a lot better saving with coupons, say, 1-2 years ago and further back.

        1. re: monavano

          I had a little filing box I'd put in the shopping cart seat, with sections for certain categories. That's how many coupons you used to see back then, you needed an organizer. I sort of slowed down after someone actually stole my box from the cart while my back was turned!

          1. re: coll

            think of the thief as giving you a badly needed intervention.
            the theif gave you your life back

            1. re: westsidegal

              Oh I wasn't spending all my time, I was just joking about being extreme. Back in the '70s and '80 there were tons of GOOD coupons in the local papers and magazines, no internet then so it was just Weds and Sunday as I was reading the newspaper, clipping and sticking in my box. I did have a job and and life ;-)

              1. re: coll

                I agree about the coupons being good a few decades ago. I was a young, starving college student, paying my own way and trying to graduate without debt. That didn't happen, but still coupons, and yes they were mainly for convenience foods back then, too, were a godsend. You didn't have to buy multiple items and the coupons really made a difference. I no longer eat those processed foods, so I don't clip coupons much, but do so for some friends. They are not nearly as beneficial as they used to be. I wonder if those that "worked the system", i.e. extreme couponers, forced manufacturers to change the way they offer coupons. They don't want people to use coupons to the extent that the store owes the customer at the end of the transaction.

                1. re: gardencook

                  Getting a free cart of food or even money back seemed to be the goal for many.
                  The thing is, it's sort of like shoplifting- not a victimless crime when stealing, fraud or working the system results in higher prices for everyone.

                  Thanks for your feedback- I was curious if anyone else was noting the coupon value decreasing, and the number of items to qualify increasing.

                  Yesterday, I did a little shop and took advantage of a few coupons in the store's circular, stacked a couple coupons and took advantage of sale prices.
                  Got 40% savings, which is a near perfect storm that happens less and less frequently.

                  I'm generally hitting 25%-30% savings.

        2. re: coll

          <Those were the days, my friend!>

          If you're anything like the woman I knew, when my children were growing up, she'd spend more on the gas required to frequent her addiction than the money saved on the groceries she was buying compulsively that she didn't need.
          It was the thrill of the challenge that kept her going.

          1. re: latindancer

            Nope that's not me. I have a lazy streak a mile wide, and always way too busy to spend my time like that. I usually only have a couple of stores I frequent, for different items, and only go once a week at most. That hasn't changed for me since the '70s.

            I will admit I'm sort of obsessive about returning all my bottles for the deposit though, that hasn't changed since day one.

        3. I quit using coupons years ago, as I transitioned to less and less processed and packaged food. As you pointed out, both the fact that almost all coupons are for things I no longer buy, as well as for things that aren't really so much of a "value." Even shopping the sale flyers became irrelevant most places because so much of what they put on sale is junk I don't eat.

          I primarily do my grocery shopping at a now that focuses on GOOD national brands as much as possible, and offers a large variety of mostly organic produce - local when in season, and other local products from bread to honey to maple syrup to local jarred pasta sauce. Am I spending more on my groceres? Probably, yes, but am also saving as I quit buying things like boneless/skinless chicken breasts and went to alternative cuts, and my health is better as I quit buying processed stuff and, at this store, have organic meat, bison, wild-caught fish, food in BPA-free cans when possible, and am supporting a locally-owned grocery stocking locally-made products. I feel much happier shopping and eating this way than I did filling up my cart with a cereal I bought only because I had a coupon, and BOGO cheap, nasty steak.

          1. There is also the issue of loyalty programs that will get you the benefit of any coupon offer automatically if you enter your account number. I think that concept will eventually kill the dead-tree stuff. And there are reasons for stores to adapt that concept in that it makes it easier to track behavior for the purpose of predictive modeling.

            13 Replies
            1. re: nocharge

              Our Safeways have the ability to load coupons on your card, which is a pain.
              If I have my card, all discounts should apply without me spending the time on my computer.
              Also, the in-store weekly coupons in the circular are the size of your thumb.

              1. re: monavano

                I was at Safeway the other day. Checking out, the total came to $51. The guy at the register asked me if I had a Safeway Card. I said no. He then asked me if I wanted to get one. I declined. As I handed him three 20-dollar bills, he typed something into the POS system and gave one of the 20s back plus almost another ten dollars. I assume that realizing that I was paying cash, he could type in his own Safeway Card number and get some form of credit while saving me something like 20 bucks. Much appreciated.

                1. re: nocharge

                  Gas points would be the only benefit to him typing in his card number if that's what he did. That's the only thing based on the total sales amount.

                  1. re: weezieduzzit

                    I typed in my # for a person ahead of me who was visiting.
                    Thanked her for the gas points!

                    1. re: weezieduzzit

                      He probably got the gas points but no charge got the club card savings, which can be significant. That was really nice of the checker to do.

                    2. re: nocharge

                      Which reminds me to try once again to sign up for my Giant online.
                      The website is a disaster, but I really want to maximize my gas rewards.

                      1. re: nocharge

                        You might have appreciated him helping you out like that, but if in fact he did use his own account would Safeway appreciate it. I think not.

                        1. re: miss_belle

                          I doubt it was his own account. I think the cashiers have a generic store card that they can use for guests and people who just forgot their card, so that the customer can get the discount, but they won't get the gas points.

                          1. re: monavano

                            I thought of that too but you'd think he would have said something. Ah well.

                            1. re: miss_belle

                              Don't know with certainty what account was used, but the action was very much appreciated. And it did earn Safeway some goodwill in my mind.

                          2. re: miss_belle

                            in many stores, in order to use his own account, the checker would have been forced to completely forego any employee discount.

                            makes it VERY unlikely that he was using his own account.

                          3. re: nocharge

                            the grocery I frequent doesn't have a card, but the pharmacy does. All the clerks have a box of loyalty cards next to their register, and they just grab one out of the box and scan it when a customer comes through without a card.

                        2. re: nocharge

                          I agree, I get plenty of store discounts just buy typing in my number at checkout.

                        3. I still use coupons where I am brand specific-Heinz Catsup, KA flour and Hellmans mayo to name a few.

                          I also use coupons for basic pantry items I like to keep on hand-boxed pasta, jarred sauce, chicken broth, canned tuna, sugar, baking supplies like baking powder and soda

                          Now with a soon-to-be-teenage son I use them to buy the occasional snack foods. Potato chips, Doritos and the like are expensive and he and his friends can eat!

                          One thing I don't do is cut coupons any more since we no longer get the paper. I get most of them online.