Free Online Grocery Coupons – Are They Worth the Trouble?

14
April

Grocery coupons are something of a paradox for most consumers. They always offer a discount, but often that discount is on food no one is likely to eat or for large bulk purchases that may go bad. Some discounts are also so small that they are only valuable in aggregate, and the complex web of deals and rules means that is difficult to tell which coupons are worth using at all. Still, stories of “coupon warriors” saving as much as fifty to ninety percent on their grocery bill through aggressive use of coupons is tempting, especially to households who are on a limited income. The fact that most grocery stores now aggressively distribute coupons via the Internet also helps to make them more appealing.

The only way to make online coupons work is to conduct a lot of diligence and research, and to take advantage of the fact that most customers will not use coupons highly, thus companies are more willing to hand them out. The best way to do this is to pick a single grocery store and constantly survey its prices for deals and coupons. Mid-to-low range grocery stores are the most likely to offer discounts, so it is best to pick one located in the suburbs where local market conditions force them to keep prices down. Even if these stores do not offer in-store coupons, they will have lowered their prices in order to attract customers, allowing customers to get the most from their coupons. Many of these stores also have “buyer’s club” programs which permit customers to receive an additional discount on purchases in exchange for having their purchase history submitted to the company database in order to determine the effect of certain prices and promotions. The discounts offered by these programs are considerable, and often they open up special offers and exclusive web coupons that only members gain access to.

Beyond store coupons there are manufacturer’s coupons. These are generally handed out in order to promote a new product or service, or to help force sales of something that has suffered a loss of brand image or market share. There are many online forums that monitor the deals and coupons being offered by food manufacturers, helping to aggregate all of the deals in one place for the assistance of consumers. Anyone who buys the same thing over and over again should find out the manufacturer and sign up with them, as they generally have some sort of e-mail only coupon or deal service. Most companies have some sort of incentive program to try and get customers buying from them again and again, and they usually maintain some sort of e-mail service through the product’s website, sometimes even offering coupons right up front. Manufacturers coupons are to be accepted anywhere the products are sold, which makes them often better for consumers who travel around a lot.

There are also companies which do nothing but distribute online coupons for manufacturers, and it is often possible to simply type in one’s grocery list and get a few dollars off from assorted manufacturer promotions. These sites may also have a forum or e-mail list to allow visitors to keep informed of potential deals, although the sheer volume of coupons from so many manufacturers means that they often bombard the visitor with deals and information they don’t care about. Careful filtering through these sites can bring about a considerable savings, however.

It is important for people who are going to save using online grocery coupons to be both dedicated and flexible. It will probably take an hour a day to hunt down, print out and collect all of the assorted coupons, and store clerks have no time or tolerance for coupons that have expired or aren’t for the items they are scanning through the check out. Therefore true “coupon warriors” need to know what they are buying before they enter the store and also be willing to change up their grocery list from week to week in order to maximize their savings. The same items are rarely on sale for two weeks in a row, and so coupon users need to be flexible and willing to change up what is on the menu in order to get the most out of their coupons.

This post was written by

jason – who has written posts on Budget Clowns.
Father of three and married to a lovely women. Always looking for ways to save money, and invest it properly for my children's future.

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